2014: The Year in Psychic Fail

mzarathustra1It’s that time of year again: Time to review some of the psychic predictions made for last year.
Sylvia Browne is out of the picture now, but as Illuminutti has pointed out, she made one last set of predictions that turned out to be very wrong. How did the upstart psychics fare?

Nikki, “Psychic to the Stars”

I covered Nikki’s predictions two years ago (and I’m still waiting for Stallone to nab that Tony nomination). It seems her style has really evolved since then. Her predictions have become more specific and less cataclysmic in nature, making them more believable than “the map of the world will change” or “Earth will fall off its axis a little more”. However, she still has that peculiar habit of combining world-shattering events like food riots and massive earthquakes with events so mundane that you wonder why the spirit world would even bother to communicate them (the death of a royal horse, marriage for Oprah).

Nikki claims that a ton of her 2014 predictions came true, including health problems for Cher and Avril Lavigne, a “space tragedy”, and the deaths of four celebrities. This year, she has unpacked a whopping 290 predictions for the new year, not including a list of dozens of public figures who may die and/or have health issues. That’s a good strategy. If you throw enough shit at the wall, something has to stick, right?

Let’s take a closer look at Nikki’s listed predictions for 2014. Out of 45 celebrity predictions, three were accurate (“Mathew McConaughey nominated for an Oscar”, “12 Years a Slave winning numerous awards”, and Rob Ford’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel). Four, if you’re very generous and include “Cher has to watch her health”. Cher is 68 years old. Everyone in their late 60s has to watch their health.
Most of the predictions on Nikki’s list were absurdly vague (“Danger around Justin Beiber”), and several were ludicrously safe bets (“A country music legend will pass”). Of the seven relationship breakups she predicted, not one actually happened. She predicted a “slight accident” for Tom Cruise and cautioned Johnny Depp to be careful around motorcycles, but said nothing about Bono’s bike mishap. Not even the predictions that seemed highly likely (“Miley Cyrus full body cast”) came to pass.

Nikki’s success rate for world events is even more dismal. The Egyptian pyramids were not sucked into a giant sinkhole, a gorilla did not devour its trainer, and the Empire State Building was not attacked by terrorists. The Coliseum Colosseum did not partially collapse, civil war did not break out in the U.S., and Mt. St. Helen’s Helens did not erupt. Her obsession with bird attacks didn’t pan out, either.

Birdemic_13

Maybe next year.

I predict that in 2015, Nikki will finally hire an editor.

T.B. Joshua

This year’s Top Fail award goes to T.B. Joshua, one of Nigeria’s most successful televangelists. His megachurch, The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN), broadcasts his sermons to millions on its own channel, Emmanuel TV.
Joshua’s predictions merit special attention, because he presents them as information imparted to him directly from God – old school prophecy in action. Let’s examine just one of the many prophecies Joshua unveiled in 2014.

On March 8, a video made up of clips from Joshua’s July 28, 2013 sermon was posted to Emmanuel TV’s YouTube channel. During that sermon, Joshua asked his audience to pray for an Asian country to help avert an airplane crash that could happen there. He indicated the plane would have some kind of problem that could be detected while it was still on the ground. “I see a balloon,” he said.
If the plane crashed, almost 200 passengers would die.
Joshua explained that God had revealed the name of the Asian country to him, but he wouldn’t reveal it for fear of disrupting air travel to and from that nation.
The video then segues into clips of news stories about Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, the plane that had just vanished.

The March 8th video is impressive, I have to admit. Here’s a guy in Africa, predicting a major Asian air disaster more than six months before a Malaysian airplane goes missing in one of the weirdest unsolved incidents of modern aviation history. Sure, Joshua was a little skimpy on the details, but that’s a remarkably on-target prediction, right?

Maybe not so much. Another video, showing an unedited version of the same July 2013 sermon, tells a rather different story. In this clip. we hear Joshua clearly say that the plane will crash just metres from its takeoff point…a key detail that somehow didn’t make it into his official video.

God revealed the crash to Joshua, yet Joshua has (obviously) played no part in locating the plane. A full day after searchers started looking for it in the Indian Ocean, he suddenly suggested that very area as the site of the crash, and revealed for the first time that some sort of confrontation or hijacking involving “strange people” was the root cause of the tragedy. He confidentally asserted that wreckage would be found in the ocean within a week.

what

WHAT ABOUT THE BALLOON, THO?

Okay, so one of T.B. Joshua’s prophecies was a bit wonky. Let’s all give him the benefit of the doubt, and see how he did with other 2014 prophecies over at the blog T.B. Joshua Watch.

Terry and Linda Jamison, the world’s “most documented” psychics

The California-based Jamison twins revealed dozens of 2014-2015 predictions during an online radio broadcast (Beyond the Gate) aired on January 6, 2014. They called 2014 The Year of the Truth Revealed – lots of uncloseted skeletons and exposed corruption. They also explained that Light Beings are helping us form crystalline bodies, increasing our “manifestation potential”. So, uh, enjoy that.
They also accused Lady Gaga of stealing their costume designs from the ’80s and ’90s.

They offered some helpful career tips (computer skillz) and a few investment tips (oil, gas, biotech, and wellness).

On their website, they have a page devoted to predictions made on this show that came to pass in the latter half of 2014. However, after listening to the broadcast on YouTube, I have a hard time matching their predictions to any of the events listed on this page. They did make a few successful predictions on the show –  that Republicans would win the Senate, for instance – but I didn’t hear them talking about the specific events on the list. They just matched real-world events to the vague statements they made. For instance, their airy prediction about “breakthroughs in prostrate cancer” is matched to a vitamin D study, even though they didn’t give any such details on-air. This is classic retrofitting in action.

Bizarrely, though, they can’t even get their retrofitting quite right. They write that Nicole Kidman’s father died in the Philippines amidst rumours of pedophilia and participation in a “child murder ring”. In reality, Antony Kidman died in Singapore. He was not under investigation for anything at the time of his death, because the International Common Law Court of Justice mentioned in blog posts about him is not an actual legal entity. It is a loose collaboration of individuals with no background in justice or law enforcement, acting under “common law” principles in the same manner as Sovereign Citizens or Freemen-on-the-Land. The allegations of Satanic ritual abuse and sacrifice that have been brought to light by the “Court” are extremely dodgy. I don’t say that lightly. The man who started the Court and popularized the Ninth Circle Satanic pedophile/murder ring meme and is now the primary investigator of its supposed crimes is a personal friend; for years, I supported his work with the survivors of Canada’s residential school system. In recent years, however, he has shown signs of mental strain and gullibility, traveling the globe to collect evidence that he believes implicates the pope, the English royals, and influential politicians in everything from mass child abduction to cannibalism. The International Common Law Court of Justice he established has presented no concrete evidence to support any of these accusations. The sole source of information about the Ninth Circle consists of testimony from various alleged victims of the cult, and they haven’t presented any evidence, either. As the stories spread via videos and blog posts, more and more people embrace them uncritically without asking for one iota of proof, just as the Jamison sisters have done. It is a disappointing and alarming trend.

Other “predictions” were flat-out wrong. “Homeopathy will be helpful” in the treatment of depression? Sorry, ladies: Sugar and salt and water won’t cure anything.

homeopathy one weird trick

Sidney Friedman

U.S. mentalist Friedman’s predictions are, by far, the most entertaining of 2014.

  • “Garlic is in the news.”
  • “Chivalry returns.”
  • “A shock wave, perhaps literally or perhaps figuratively, is felt in Russia.”
  • “Remarkably, for the first time, a poll finally finds one person who actually approves of Congress.”
ouija-lunch-box

I predict bologna sandwiches today.

LaMont Hamilton

Not one of pyschic LaMont Hamilton’s predictions for 2014 came to fruition, largely because they’re silly. He predicted scientists would find that diseases can be spread by our thoughts, that a mirror universe would be discovered, and that a former U.S. President or First Lady would die. He accurately predicted the Bitcoin crash, but attributed it to a faulty algorithm rather than plain old human greed. He also predicted that “nano-chemicals” would produce cars that don’t need to be washed as often as regular cars. His less-silly predictions crashed and burned, too:

  • An electrical fire at the NSA’s new Utah data center will be linked to sabotage. Nope.
  • The Nobel Prize in Chemistry will go to Alivisatos, Seeman, and Mirkin for their work on DNA nanotechnology.
    Nope. It went to these fellows for their work on super-resolved fluorescence microscopy.
  • At least 2-3 Congresspeople will resign their offices before the Fall elections.
    “At least” is a clever little qualifier that can save almost any dumb prediction from certain death. Clearly, though, Mr. Hamilton doesn’t pay much attention to how many resignations we see in an average Congress. The numbers are always higher than this.
  • The original 1969 USA moon landing site will be reported as damaged or vandalized by another country that lands on the moon.
    Nope. And c’mon, this is just goofy. No one was even planning a moon landing for last year.

Better luck next year, ladies and gentlemen.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup: Stolen Imaginary Friends, Bigfoot Bears, & The Clinton Chronicles Redux

imaginary friend

  • With the recent passing of British comedian Rik Myall, you might have had nightmarish flashbacks to one of the most astoundingly awful films of recent decades: Drop Dead Fred. Or maybe you had fond flashbacks, because you were one of the people who cherished that movie. But did you know that the movie’s title character was stolen?
    Sometime in the late ’90s, I read the fantasy short story “Mr. Fiddlehead”, by Jonathan Carroll, in a 1990 collection of the year’s best fantasy and horror. In the story, a woman falls in love with her BFF’s imaginary childhood friend after he materializes as a carroty-haired, freckled, impish man. He appears only when the woman who created him is in emotional distress. He delights the two women with his practical jokes, childish sense of humour, and magical powers.
    I was appalled that Mr. Carroll had recycled the plot of a terrible movie.
    What I didn’t bother to notice at the time was that “Mr. Fiddlehead ” had already appeared in Carroll’s 1989 book A Child Across the Skytwo years before Drop Dead Fred was released. Somebody had recycled a plot, but it clearly wasn’t Carroll.
    The IMDB page for Drop Dead Fred credits one Elizabeth Livingston for the story. It is her only listed story credit. The script was written by Anthony Fingleton and Carlos Davis. Davis’s only other screenwriting credit is a TV children’s movie  from the early ’80s. What is he doing these days? Possibly working on the long-rumoured remake of Drop Dead Fred, his one and only big-screen effort.
    Are we dealing with out-and-out theft, or with the sort of “inspiration” that Yann Martel used to refashion Moacyr Scliar’s Max and the Cats into a slightly different (but infinitely more famous) story? That’s a judgment call. But I would absolutely love to hear Ms. Livingston, Mr. Fingleton, or Mr. Davis explain how their shitty movie somehow ended up with the central character from a story they didn’t create.
    UPDATE: After additional research, I have found that Elizabeth Livingston is a freelance writer/editor who was a book editor with Reader’s Digest for many years. She co-authored two children’s books.
    In a 1991 interview with Fantazia magazine (reproduced here), Rik Myall said of the screenwriters, “They’d been talking with a mutual friend, Elizabeth Livingston, who was writing a story based on her little daughter’s imaginary friend, Drop Dead Fred. They decided it would make a better film than series and approached me.”
    This doesn’t clear up the mystery, of course. It just establishes that Livingston was not simply the pseudonym of a writer who didn’t want to be connected to the movie.
  • Happy World UFO Day! International Business Times has a fun piece about a video hoax that involved both the secret space program and yet another alien corpse.
  • Two years after Melba Ketchum released the profoundly weird results of her Bigfoot DNA study, the group of UK researchers that was conducting a parallel study has announced its findings. Researchers at Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology, led by Bryan Sykes, have spent the past two years analyzing 30 hair samples suspected to be from Bigfoot, Almas, and the Yeti. The upshot? Not a single hair came from an unknown animal. Most were from bears. The rest came from horses, deer, wolves, raccoon, sheep, cows, a porcupine, a human, and a tapir. Curiously, a hair sample from the Himalayas turned out to be a match for a prehistoric polar bear.
  • Mother Jones has compiled one of the largest lists of Hillary Clinton conspiracy theories ever. We’ll be seeing lots of these in the run-up to the 2016 elections. One of the latest, crafted by a JFK researcher who loves boobies, is that Chelsea Clinton is actually Webster Hubbell’s daughter. Morrow also asserts that Bill Clinton is a serial rapist, and claims that a large number of U.S. presidents (including, um, Nixon) were secretly bisexual.
chelsea

Oh my glob, a morphing .gif. HOW MUCH MORE EVIDENCE DO YOU NEED?!

 

Sandy Hook Truth, 9 months later

It has been about seven months since I first looked at the Sandy Hook Truth movement, an assortment of individuals who believe they have uncovered evidence of labyrinthine conspiracies behind the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre.
These intrepid investigators have had nearly nine months to crack the case wide open and tell us who really did the crime, and why. Let’s take a look at what they’ve found by comparing/contrasting aspects of the “official story” with some of their results. After that, I’ll list the Sandy Hook Truth movement’s best evidence.

The Official Story

On the morning of December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, in the home they shared in Newtown, Connecticut. He then drove his mother’s Honda Civic to Sandy Hook Elementary School with four semi-automatic firearms licensed to Nancy. He took three of the guns with him when he entered the school.
Using a  Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle, he shot his way into the locked building at approximately 9:35 AM local time. Between that time and about 9:49 AM, he killed principal Dawn Hochsprung, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, teacher Natalie Hammond, first-grade teacher Victoria Soto, teacher’s aide Anne Marie Murphy, substitute first-grade teacher Lauren Rousseau, and 20 students who were 6 years old or younger. 6-year-old Dylan Hockley was autistic. Lanza shot all but two of his child victims multiples times; 6-year-old Noah Pozner was shot 11 times. All of the staff members died trying to stop the gunman or shield their students. Ms. Murphy covered Dylan Hockley’s body with her own. Throughout the school, teachers and faculty members hid children in closets and bathrooms, thereby saving an untold number of lives. 
Six children fled Ms. Soto’s classroom and escaped from the school, making their way to the driveway of a home owned by Gene Rosen.
Before police could reach him, Lanza returned to Soto’s classroom and shot himself in the head with  a Glock 10mm.
His motivation remains obscure, but Lanza reportedly suffered mental and emotional problems that left him socially isolated and unable to work full-time or complete college. Around the time of the massacre, Nancy Lanza told friends she was considering leaving New England and attempting to enroll Adam in college for a third time.
Adam had access to the weapons because his mother was an avid collector who had taught both of her sons how to shoot.

The Truther Stories

The most popular alternate theory of Sandy Hook, by far, is that it was a government operation engineered to push through restrictive gun legislation, psychologically destabilize Americans, make blood sacrifices to the Devil, and/or distract us from “more important” things that are happening.
Some Sandy Hook Truthers agree with the general outline of the official story, but suspect Lanza was a victim of government-sponsored mind control (according to one Truther, Lanza’s mind control programming could be linked to Satanism, the Illuminati and Lady Gaga).
Some Truthers think Lanza may have had accomplices, and this is not completely unsupported speculation, as Connecticut State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky did mention other “potential suspects” when arguing that unsealing warrants in the case could compromise the investigation.
Other Truthers have floated the idea that the shooter was not Adam Lanza, but a man named Scott Vollmer. Vollmer was apparently singled out because his mother Janet taught kindergarten at Sandy Hook, and the school nurse seemingly confirmed to a reporter that the shooter’s mother taught kindergarten at the school (see “The Nurse” under Best Evidence, below). Also, Vollmer is said to be an event manager for New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, a vocal advocate for increased gun control. In reality, Vollmer was a director of special events for Bloomberg TV’s catering company, Flik International. Not exactly the guy you would handpick as an assassin.
Other alternative suspects include: A three-man Israeli hit team, the FBI, three people in a purple van, and men in the woods (whom Truthers have still not identified; see “The Man in the Woods” under Best Evidence).
But not all Truthers buy into the notion of alternate suspects. For example, YouTube user “ReviewManify” has posted a video titled “There Is No Shooter” in which he discusses – and dismisses – the Vollmer theory before telling us that there is no evidence that even one child died in Sandy Hook Elementary. Funerals and grieving parents notwithstanding, “There ain’t no proof of that.” So, no shooter. Problem…solved?
Florida professor James Tracy came under heavy criticism when he suggested basically the same thing on his Memory Hole blog, but he later clarified in an interview with Miami’s WLRN that he believes some people died at Newtown. He went on to publish his Sandy Hook articles on the website of Global Research, a Canadian outfit that has also declared the Srebrenica massacre a hoax and argued that Rwanda was really a massacre against Hutus, not Tutsis.
There are also Truthers who have argued that Adam Lanza does not exist and Sandy Hook was not actually a school.
The idea that no one died at Sandy Hook has led to the harassment of several people involved in the tragedy. The first person to come under heavy attack from Sandy Hook Truthers, strangely enough, was not a city official or a government agent. He was Gene Rosen, the retired grandfather who sheltered six escaped kids in his house until their parents arrived. For reasons I can’t even begin to fathom, some Truthers decided Mr. Rosen was not only an actor portraying a helpful Newtown resident, but could also be a pedophile, a liar, and/or a government agent. He has allegedly been harassed and slandered by conspiranoids who think he’s a paid “crisis actor” or a Satanist. The anti-Semitic wing of the Sandy Hook Truth movement is certain that Gene Rosen’s ethnicity is a key to his involvement. A YouTube user posted a music video about “creepy Gene”, to the tune of The Monkees’ “Daydream Believer”. Rosen has also reportedly received threats on his life. Yet not one shred of real evidence has been presented to back up any of these slurs. Truthers tried to prove that Rosen was a professional actor, but that turned out to be a different Gene Rosen.
The official Sandy Hook investigation is ongoing, and the final report may not be released until late autumn. But by the end of February, there was already a bumper crop of Sandy Hook conspiracy documentaries online, including Mark Howitt’s Sandy Hook: The Documentary, “Sandy Hook Massacre: A Closer Look” by Tina Charby (one of several Truthers who has pointed out “suspicious nuns” at Sandy Hook), and Sandy Hook Shooting: Fully Exposed  by “ThinkOutsidetheTV”. That last one went viral, resulting in a long Snopes entry. Press TV (Iran state television) had already decided that Israelis were probably to blame, as had retired professor and conspiracy researcher James Fetzer and the bizarro “anti-Zionist” publication Veterans Today (see Fetzer’s article “Did Mossad Death Squads Slaughter American Children at Sandy Hook?“).
The rush to judgment spawned countless red herrings, like the rumour that Adam Lanza’s father, Peter, was scheduled to testify on the Libor banking scandal at the time of the massacre (here is an example of that rumour in action, from an Infowars forum user). It turned out that Peter Lanza, a GE exec, had no link to the scandal. Max Keiser.com and Occupy Corporatism were among the alternative media outlets that worked to squash this rumour, alleging that it originated with Sorcha Faal, the same peculiar conspiracy-monger who was behind one of the least credible conspiracy theories about Michael Jackson’s death. Another red herring was that Nancy Lanza’s car was actually registered to a man named Christopher Rodia. Truthers went crazy connecting Rodia-Lanza dots (Andrew S. MacGregor even made the Rodia vehicle the linchpin of his FBI-did-Sandy-Hook theory) until blogger Joe Quinn helpfully pointed out that police-scanner references to Rodia had nothing to do with Sandy Hook.

Best evidence

I’m going to leave out the sillier evidence, like the Batman/Sandy Hook connection and the Freemasonic links and the allegations of Satanic ritual sacrifice.

Gun grab
The gun theory of Sandy Hook, which is definitely the most popular one out there, posits that the Powers That Be are so desperate to dismantle the Second Amendment and disarm the people that they stage mass shootings to help ramp up popular support for restrictive firearm legislation.
If that’s the case, then Sandy Hook was a miserable failure. The massacre actually mobilized the pro-gun community, and bills to restrict sales of semiautomatic weaponry and legislate tougher background checks for prospective gun buyers were shot down. In the end, cries of “gun confiscation” were cries of wolf.
There’s no question that elements of both the pro- and the anti-gun lobbies have exploited Sandy Hook and the Aurora incident, but there’s no smoking-gun evidence (no pun) that anyone engineered the massacre just to take away guns. By this logic, any incident involving firearms could be a staged event. And that’s exactly what “media lookalike” proponent Ed Chiarini of Dallas believes; he has stated that not one of the school shootings in the U.S. was a real event. Each and every one was faked.

Actors
The “actor” theory of Sandy Hook holds that no one actually died. The whole thing was an exquisitely stage-managed fake event in which crisis actors and/or other professional performers were hired to portray bereaved family members, eyewitnesses, and even shooting victims.
No one has managed to locate the bogus Sandy Hook students and their families. Are they in Witness Protection? Underground bunkers? Ed Chiarini believes some of them have gone back to work as actors, athletes, and performers. For instance, Robbie Parker (father of 6-year-old victim Emilie Parker) is actually skateboarder Tony Hawk, and the late Emilie is an “actress” who has also “portrayed” the daughters of Bachelorette contestant Emily Maynard and Taylor Armstrong of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Adam’s Lanza’s father, Peter, is really comedian Michael McDonald from MADtv. The part of Lt. J. Paul Vance was played by John Goodman. You get the drift. You can see more of this weirdity on Chiarini’s website.
Henry Makow, a Canadian who used to call his conspiracy site “Save the Males”, believes he can spot the actors’ “handlers” by what kind of purses they carry.
However, many Truthers, like Mark Howitt, dismiss the actor theories as absurd and divisive. Some of them have even become casualties of the theories; Dan Dicks of the Canadian alternative media outlet Press for Truth says he was accused of being a Crisis Actor at one point, and Ed Chiarini has proposed that Sonia of the Truther Girls conspiracy radio show is played by 30 Rock actress Tina Fey. In the description for one of her Sandy Hook-related videos, Sonia sensibly points out that no actor would be foolish enough to impersonate a grieving parent on national television – he/she would instantly be outed by relatives or acquaintances, and if not, recognized during auditions. There goes his/her career. In another Sandy Hook video, Sonia opines that the actor theory provides an easy target for those who wish to undermine Sandy Hook trutherism; who in their right mind is going to believe the Truthers if they go around insisting that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is really Henry Winkler?
Other Truthers, like James Fetzer, are willing to entertain and promote the actor theory without necessarily embracing it. As I have mentioned in my previous posts on Chiarini, I suspect “actor-based reality” theories may be rooted in the Fregoli delusion or something similar.

Sealed case documents and unreleased evidence
This is a prime example of the fallacy that if you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. Nearly every Sandy Hook Truther has complained at some point in the last nine months that case evidence is being withheld or isn’t being released quickly enough; the authorities must either be hiding it to conceal “what really happened”, or the evidence simply doesn’t exist because nothing happened.
But it is not just the big bad authorities who don’t want the evidence released. The parents of at least three of the child victims have campaigned to prevent case evidence such as crime scene photos from being made public. Dylan Hockley’s mother, Nicole Hockley, said to a Hartford press conference, “What purpose would releasing these documents serve? The shooter is dead and in terms of checking first-responder procedures they have all the information they need. The media won’t learn anything either. I will defend this as long as possible.” Her husband Ian Hockley, Mark and Jackie Barden, and Jimmy Greene and Nelba Marquez-Greene joined her in signing a petition to block the release of certain information related to the murders of their children, including 911 calls. In a letter to the Hartford Courant, Dean Pinto (father of 6-year-old victim Jack Pinto) also urged that the photos and calls not be made public.

If you have to wonder why parents would want to keep crime scene photos and case documents out of the hands of the media, think back to the JonBenet Ramsey case. Did the media use discretion in their handling of autopsy photos and 911 calls? The Globe tabloid triumphantly published six leaked autopsy photos, in full colour. Would you like to see death photos of your murdered child, or friend, or niece, as you stand in line at the grocery store or flip through channels?

The nurse
An unassuming school nurse named Sally Cox has become a central figure in Sandy Hook conspiracy theories.
Because of a large divorce settlement and her son’s educational needs (Adam was mostly homeschooled), Nancy Lanza was not employed. Nonetheless, there were (erroneous) reports that she worked as a schoolteacher. This led to a great deal of confusion in the wake of her son’s spree killings, because there were (erroneous) reports that she was (or had been) employed as a kindergarten teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary. There were even (erroneous) reports that Nancy had called in sick that day, and Adam targeted the class she usually taught. Later, there were reports that Nancy may have been a volunteer teacher’s aide for Adam’s class at the school, years earlier.
On the night of December 14, WUSA reporter Andrea McCarren approached Ms. Cox and asked her if she knew the shooter’s mother. Cox affirmed that she did. McCarren then asked her if his mother was known to be a good kindergarten teacher, and Ms. Cox said that she was a very loving woman, good with the children.
Her response truly is a bit baffling, because we now know that Nancy Lanza never worked as a teacher at all, anywhere (she was a stockbroker back in the ’90s). Nor has it been confirmed that she volunteered at Sandy Hook when Adam was enrolled there. It’s quite possible that Cox knew Nancy, but that has never been confirmed, either. Truthers would pounce on this flawed report and some minor inconsistencies in Cox’s accounts of that day, but what does any of it prove? Even if the school nurse lied about knowing Nancy Lanza and/or seeing the gunman – and I’m certainly not saying she did – that would not be evidence of conspiracy.
Another red herring popped up when Truthers revealed that no one named Sally Cox was registered as a nurse in the state, not knowing that “Sally” is an old-fashioned nickname for “Sarah”. Sarah Cox is, indeed, a fully-qualified and registered nurse in the state of Connecticut, and has been employed at Sandy Hook for over 15 years.

The guns and inaccurate media reports 
Initially, there was a lot of confusion as to which guns Lanza used, and where they were found. Sandy Hook Truthers hold up a few apparent discrepancies in the earliest media reports as solid evidence that the entire official story is a sham, ignoring the fact that early reports are often inaccurate. At first, Adam’s older brother Ryan (who was not even in Newtown on the morning of December 14) was reported to be the shooter (which helped spawn conspiracy theories, of course).
There has been extensive analysis of the media gaffes and spectacularly shoddy reporting that occurred in the hours after the massacre (see, for instance, Paul Farhi’s piece in the Washington Post). In my opinion, the bad reporting on that day serves as evidence against a cover-up, because a massive conspiracy would have micromanaged the media, feeding reporters carefully selected tidbits. Instead, it was the usual media free-for-all, with news outlets so desperate to get something – anything – into print or on the air that they seized upon rumours heard from bystanders, statements taken from traumatized witnesses, and other unreliable sources. This is reflective of a general decline in media standards, as far as I’m concerned, but that’s a whole other post.
Some early reports indicated that only two guns had been found inside the school; this was later amended to three guns, with a fourth left in Nancy Lanza’s car. To make things more confusing, some reports stated all four guns were inside the school, and NBC’s Today Show reported that Lanza shot his victims only with handguns.
These early-report errors were soon straightened out, but the Sandy Hook Truthers continue to use them as a foundation rock of their theories. You can see an example of this in a Veterans Today article by Jim Fetzer and Dennis Cimino, in which they highlight “the Bushmaster hoax”.

Emilie Parker’s Dad
Robbie Parker has been raked over the coals by every Sandy Hook Truther on the planet. Why? Because he laughed, and then cried, at a press conference. That’s pretty much it. He was laughing at something when he approached the mic to speak about his murdered 6-year-old daughter, but within seconds he was weeping and speaking emotionally about what his family was going through. Truthers decided this was a performance. Some even suggested that Emilie wasn’t dead at all; she posed with the President days later (this was actually Madeline Parker, one of Emilie’s two younger sisters).
While excoriating the rest of us for buying into the media’s epic lies, Truthers have whittled the entire spectrum of human emotion down to “sad” and “not sad” – if you exhibit both, you’re screwed. You will be permanently branded a member of the conspiracy. This has happened not just to Robbie Parker, but to several other parents of Sandy Hook victims. The Sandy Hook Hoax website maintained by Jay “New Age Messiah” Johnson has an entire page dedicated to exposing them.
For those who accept the “crisis actors” theory, there is an intriguing paradox here: Wouldn’t professional actors be more convincing than actual grief-stricken people? An actor would already be in character before the cameras even started rolling. Authentic emotion, however, obeys no such rules. Many times, I have seen tears and laughter at funerals and memorial services.
Like the actor theory, this “not sad enough” line of reasoning doesn’t cut it with all Truthers. Sonia of the Truther Girls observed in one of her Sandy Hook videos that it’s difficult to judge people’s emotional responses to the loss of a child, particularly if we haven’t experienced such loss ourselves.

The coroner
Truthers like James F. Tracy point to the answers given by Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver during a December 15, 2012 press conference (see video below)  as proof that he didn’t really do a thorough job of examining the victims’ bodies, if he did so at all. An editor at Global Research finds it “startling” that Carver only conducted seven of the autopsies himself, though it is far from unusual for assistant coroners to do autopsies, particularly when there are mass deaths.
Carver’s answers are rather peculiar, and his behaviour strikes me as awkward and odd, but there’s nothing here that can’t be chalked up to fatigue, and/or a reluctance to reveal information that the police didn’t want to reveal yet. From Carver’s comments, it seems he has had some bad experiences with courtroom testimony in the past and is painfully aware that committing yourself publicly to anything can have serious repercussions. For instance, he knows it would be improper to speculate about the weapons, since that isn’t technically within his field of expertise. Truthers make much of his statement that he doesn’t know if the children were standing or seated when they were struck, but without knowing the layout of the classrooms and the relative positions of the shooter and the victims, that’s not something that can always be determined at autopsy.
In keeping with his “crisis actors” theory, Ed Chiarini attempted to prove that H. Wayne Carver is actually the late “Mafia hitman” Richard “Ice Man” Kuklinski, who died in prison in 2006.


The man in the woods
This is one of the genuine enigmas in the case. A WABC news helicopter captured footage of at least one adult male, dressed in camouflage, dashing through a wooded area close to the school, being pursued by police officers. This occurred around 12:24, over two and a half hours after the shooting stopped, according to the ABC News timeline of events. Who was this man?
We know that there were at least two arrests at the school immediately after the shootings – Chris Manfredonia, father of a first-grade student, was apprehended near the school and briefly detained. He reportedly said he was en route to his daughter’s classroom when he heard shooting, so he remained outside the building. A second unidentified man was also briefly detained, and police determined him to be a bystander, according to Snopes. Either of these individuals could be the man that one student reportedly saw handcuffed on the ground near the school.

But the man in the woods remains an unknown. According to the last sentence of a December 27 article in the Newtown Bee, a law enforcement source stated the man in the woods had a gun and was an off-duty tactical squad (SWAT) officer from “another town”. No Truthers have confirmed this, nor have they uncovered the man’s identity, so we have no idea why he was there or why he was apparently running away from police. One witness, seen in this video, told a reporter that he and other observers saw a handcuffed man in camo pants being led out of the woods and placed in a police car. Was this Camo Man, or someone else?
One theory holds that Manfredonia is Camo Man, but why he would be fleeing into the woods has not been explained.

Adam Lanza’s death certificate and inaccurate date stamps
Truthers accessed an electronic version of Adam Lanza’s death certificate (the Social Security Death Index Record) via geneology websites like Ancestry.com and Geneology Bank, and breathlessly reported that Lanza died on December 13…one day before the massacre. Truthers like Jeffrey Phelps are aware that this date is probably a typographical error that might not even exist on the original document, but that doesn’t stop them from presenting it as evidence.

One of the most popular pieces of Truther evidence is that some of the webpages created on behalf of Sandy Hook families seem to have existed prior to the shootings. For example, the United Way Sandy Hook support fund was created three days before the massacre, according to the Google timestamp. But as a Salon article points out, wonky timestamps are more the rule than the exception; one Fox News article on Sandy Hook is dated by Google as having been published in 1983. That’s 13 years before Fox News existed, and 9 years before Adam Lanza was born. Also, webpages are sometimes repurposed.

The drill
Since 9/11, conspiracy researchers have embraced Webster Tarpley’s theory (outlined in his book 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA) that training exercises and drills conducted by law enforcement and military personnel are sometimes used to mask false flag attacks. They will point to training exercises that occurred in proximity to a real event as evidence that someone in authority knew all about it in advance. During a January 18 interview on The Alex Jones Show, for instance, James Tracy said the Newtown massacre was a “drill that went live”. Holocaust revisionist Nick Kollerstrom, in a Veterans Today piece written with Fetzer, attempted to draw parallels between Sandy Hook and the 7/7 bombings in London, another “drill that went live”. Somewhat paradoxically, Kollerstrom opens his article by introducing the possibility that the Newtown shootings didn’t actually happen.

Here’s the deal: On the day of the Sandy Hook shootings, an “active shooter drill” was being conducted at a school in the community of Carmel, New York, by the Putnam County Emergency Response Team (ERT), a unit comprised of specially-trained officers from the sheriff’s office and two area police departments (Carmel and Kent).  This, presumably, is the drill that Tracy contends “went live”.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. Two days after Sandy Hook, the Southeast Brewster Patch newspaper reported that the drill was part of regular ERT training, and that the Putnam County ERT commander had phoned Newtown police to offer ERT assistance at the school. He was told the ERT would not be needed, since police had already secured the scene. Nonetheless, Truthers insist the ERT must have been involved. The team even plays a key role in an alternate timeline of Sandy Hook events compiled by Andrew S. MacGregor – though McGregor doesn’t present any actual evidence documenting ERT presence at the scene, because his scenario is wholly speculative.

Truthers have also responded negatively to a FEMA course offered under the auspices of the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (part of Connecticut’s Division of Emergency Services and Public Protection), titled “Planning for the Needs of Children in Disasters”, that was held six times in November and December 2012, including on the day of the Sandy Hook shootings. Frankly, I don’t know what this has to do with the massacre. The course deals not just with school violence, but with natural disasters, fires, and other emergency situations that could befall any school at any time. I view this as another red herring.

Henry Makow and others have catalogued “evidence” that Sandy Hook was part of some other, unspecified, drill.

The Bottom Line

The Sandy Hook Truthers will continue their investigative efforts, but this will probably be the last post I devote solely to their results. I have five good reasons for this:

1. Twenty children and six women are dead, beyond question. Adam Lanza is dead, beyond question. Nancy Lanza is dead, beyond question. I have not seen any persuasive evidence that the key figures in the investigation are not who they say they are. Keep in mind that hoaxes involving even one fake person always collapse under their own weight. Look at the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, the Kuwaiti incubator babies fraud, and the Catfish case; they were all exposed by just a few diligent people within weeks.
2. The Second Amendment is firmly intact.
3. The noise-to-signal ratio is incredibly high in the world of Sandy Hook Truth. Red herrings vastly outnumber genuine leads. After nine months, we still don’t have viable alternate suspects, smoking-gun evidence of a conspiracy, or anything else of substance. The majority of the Truthers have never been to Connecticut and have not spoken to anyone close to the case.
4. Truthers working in multiple countries have not yet supplied answers to the few unanswered questions that remain about the tragedy. If they can’t even figure out who Camo Man was, I doubt they could expose an epic false flag operation.
5. Bizarre, groundless conspiracy theories pop up after every mass shooting, as I discussed in another post.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup

The Black Death was caused by aliens, the UN hates your herb garden, and robots want to sexually harass you. Happy Wednesday!

cute_kawaii_robot_by_trubuteofdistrict13

  • This week’s Tea Party lesson: The best way to forestall thuggery is to become a thug. Many believe the UN’s Agenda 21 environmental sustainability program is the uber-conspiracy to end all conspiracies. According to various theories, it will outlaw veggie gardens, confiscate private property, force everyone to move into cities, kill off useless eaters, and maybe even turn us into those human batteries stored in strawberry Jell-O. Glenn Beck has written a horror novel about it, Alex Jones has twigged out over it, and one Oklahoman has reached his breaking point. Al Gerhart, co-founder of the Sooner Tea Party, is so eager to see his state’s anti-Agenda 21 House Bill 1412 passed that he threatened to dig up dirt on Senator Cliff Branan and basically blackmail him into getting it read, sending Branan a creepy-ass email in which he stated Branan would “regret it” if he didn’t do his best to push the bill through the House.
    1412 had only been on the shelf for two weeks. Thanks to Gerhart’s impatience, his entire party is now under investigation by the state Bureau of Investigation, and the sponsor of Bill 1412 pulled it after Gerhart publicly accused Sen. Branan of having an extramarital affair. Nice work. Now Oklahomans may never be able to grow carrots ever again.
  • Aliens disguised as Grim Reapers may have been responsible for the spread of bubonic plague? And they might do it again? Makes sense.
  • You’ve probably seen photos and videos of the Japanese robot that looks somewhat like a giant, mint-green Lego man, scooping up realistic dummies and setting them down someplace else. That’s basically all this particular robot is programmed to do. His designers hope he’s the prototype for a sort of robotic homecare/nursing assistant that will be able to move disabled and elderly patients into and out of beds. But somehow, in the goofy twilight world that is the Internet, “Kenji” the lifting robot has become a psychotic stalker. Beginning shortly after the robot’s unveiling in 2009, stories like this one at Gizmodo claimed Kenji was “programmed to love”, but went off the rails and began obsessively pursuing and molesting a female lab worker. Not sure how “aimless groping” got confused with “love”, but it doesn’t really matter – the Kenji story is bunk, of course. We love robots. They don’t love us. And “Kenji” is actually RI-MAN, created not by Toshiba but by RIKEN (their latest lifting robot, created in collaboration with Tokai Rubber Industries, reminds me a little of the freaky teddy bears in Duckman). For some reason, the stalkerbot story just won’t die, and Brian Merchant of Vice’s Motherboard blog has done some digging to find out where it began. Where did the name Kenji come from? Well, probably this unfortunate dude – one of the first known robot murder victims.

If you combine these stories, you get the heartwarming Pixar sequel in which WALL-E and EVE settle down on a farm, only to have that cute little tree EVE planted uprooted by officious UN bureaucrats, and all their radicchio and parsnips destroyed by plague-spraying Grim Reapers from Mars.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup: The Top 10 Conspiracy Theories About Popes and/or the Vatican

popemark

The retirement of Benedict XVI has unleashed a shit-tonne of conspiracy theories. In a March 1 interview with Howard Stern, Alex Jones declared Benedict stepped down because of “transvestite orgies”. Others insist pedophilia must be involved, though there is scant evidence to support that. There’s also talk of a secret dossier about clerical misdeeds, last year’s “Vatileaks” scandal, and Vatican money laundering. What the conspiranoids aren’t talking about is Benedict’s advanced age, or the fact that he attempted to retire three times before being elected pope.

Conspiracy theories about the pope and the Vatican are so easy to believe, in large part, because the Vatican of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has been visited by more than its share of conspiracies, cover-ups, and scandals:

  • The very establishment of Vatican City as an independent state may have been based on a forgery, the Donation of Constantine.
  • During WWII, several high-ranking Nazis were able to flee Europe with Vatican passports, thanks to a sympathetic bishop.
  • In the early ’70s, a minor investigation by the New York City district attorney’s racketeering squad led to the discovery that organized crime figures had trafficked millions in dollars worth of stolen and forged stocks all over the world…and roughly $1 billion of those bogus stocks resided in Vatican Bank vaults (see Richard Hammer’s The Vatican Connection).
  • A decade later, powerful Vatican officials were found to be part of a vast banking scheme that involved fictitious financial institutions, controlled from behind the scenes by the sinister Licio Gelli and members of his faux Masonic lodge, Propaganda Due (P2).
  • Recently, it has come to light that the cover-up of child molestation within the Catholic Church went all the way up to the Vatican.
  • Then there is the abduction of 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi from the Vatican in 1983, which was badly mishandled by Vatican authorities, likely leading to the girl’s murder.
  • Then we have the tragic worldwide legacy of residential/industrial schools, magdalenes, and Catholic-run orphanages. From 1950 until the early ’70s, Irish nuns sold infants on a first-come, first-served basis (see Mike Milotte’s Banished Babies: The Secret History of Ireland’s Baby Export Business).

Add to this a couple of Dan Brown novels, anti-Catholic frauds like the Taxil hoax and The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, and a parade of memorable Catholic villains in film and literature, and it’s no wonder so many non-Catholics are willing to believe the worst.

Leaving aside the more outré conspiracy theories, like Leo Zagami‘s Illuminati/Satanism nonsense about the Jesuits and the Pope being able to summon demons (aliens) from other dimensions and Ed Chiarini’s belief that Benedict is actually Robert Blake, here are the Top 10 Conspiracy Theories About the Pope and/or the Vatican:

10. There was a female pope. The fable that one pope was actually a woman in disguise first surfaced in a thirteenth-century chronicle written by the Dominican historian Jean Mailly. Mailly recorded that in 1099, a pope went into labour whilst mounting “his” horse, and was subsequently dragged and stoned to death by the outraged citizens of Rome. Accounts written later in the same century can’t agree on a date for “Pope Joan‘s” or “Pope Joanna’s” rule, and today most historians realize that the recorded popes were the only popes. There simply isn’t a mysterious two-year gap in which Joan/Joanna could have served.
The legend of a lady pope spawned another legend that still persists, though: That each new pope must submit to a gender test in which an examiner feels his privates to ensure he has well-formed testicles. This test even appears in the very first episode of The Borgias, when Rodrigo Borgia/Alexander VI (Jeremy Irons) resignedly sits on a toilet-like chair so a papal lackey can thrust a hand beneath his gown and declare “Habet duos testiculos et bene pendentes (he has two well-hung testicles)!”. However, there is no evidence that gender exams have ever been conducted on popes.
9. The Soviet Union and/or the CIA was behind the attempted assassination of John Paul II in 1981. Even though would-be assassin Ali Agca was Turkish, Soviet involvement was something John Paul himself reportedly suspected at one time, as Russia was certainly not pleased with his support of the Solidarity labour movement in Poland. The problem with this theory is that not even the so-called “Bulgarian connection” initially described by Agca has been confirmed, much less a KGB plot.
8. The Third Secret of Fatima was suppressed for years, and/or the publicly revealed Third Secret was fabricated because the real Secret is too explosive. The three child seers of Fatima were entrusted with three secrets by the Virgin Mary, but it was not until WWII erupted that the only surviving seer, Lucia Santos, revealed the contents of the first two secrets and wrote down the third. Pope Pius XII expressed no interest in the Third Secret until 1957, and even then merely squirreled it away in a safe without reading it. It wasn’t until 1980 that John Paul II told a small audience in Germany that the Third Secret involved an epic disaster that would kill millions – possibly a nuclear holocaust. Yet he waited a full 20 years to have the Third Secret published, after revealing it had foretold his own attempted assassination.
Some Catholics still weren’t satisfied. They decried the published Third Secret as a fake, insisting the real secret was too politically sensitive and/or damaging to the Church to be revealed. Others pointed out that Lucia wanted the secret to be published before 1960, meaning the Church had suppressed it for over 40 years.
7. The “black pope” of the Jesuit order is the true ruler of the Vatican and/or the world. Jesuits have long been the favourite target of anti-Catholic crusaders, and conspiracy theories about their shady doings abound. In some conspiranoid circles, it is believed the general of the Jesuit order is secretly revered as the “black pope”, and that it is he – rather than the dude in the hat – who controls the Vatican. Here is just one of many recent examples of this theory.
6. The Knights of Malta, headquartered in the Vatican, control the world, and Opus Dei is a cult-like organization that is trying to extend its tentacles into every major government on the planet. Robert Anton Wilson was perhaps the foremost modern proponent of the idea that the Knights of Malta exert a massively disproportionate influence on world events, and were behind everything from Nazi infiltration of the CIA to the Vatican bank scandals of the ’70s and ’80s (see his article in a 1989 issue of Spin, for example). David Icke has speculated that Benedict was “fired” by the Knights of Malta. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, with its Opus Dei villains and ancient conspiracies, gave expression to concerns about the cult-like devotion and prominence of Opus Dei members.
It’s true that Opus Dei and the KoM contain many powerful, highly-placed members, but Catholic “secret societies” don’t seem to be any more dangerous than other fraternal organizations.
5. Pope Pius XII was complicit in the Holocaust. Catholic writer John Cornwell has even gone so far as to dub him “Hitler’s Pope” in his 1999 book of the same name. However, many commentators have discredited Cornwell’s claims, pointing out that Pius XII spoke out against the persecution of German Jews and was not sympathetic to the Nazi cause. Even Cornwell has conceded that Pius’s “scope of action” was very limited in regard to Hitler.
4. “The EU is a means of undoing the Reformation and extending Vatican sovereignty over Britain”. So reads the title of an opinion piece by Adrian Hilton published in the 30 August 2003 issue of The Spectator. Hilton (along with a few like-minded critics of the European Union) contends that the establishment of the EU fell perfectly in line with the Church’s aim for a one-world religion, or at least a pan-European one. But Catholic hegemony has not materialized in Europe over the past decade, and is incredibly unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future.
3. Islam was invented by the Catholic Church as a means of controlling Middle Eastern peoples. This bit of WTFery comes from Alberto Rivera via Christian pamphleteer Jack Chick, the same guy who brought us John Todd and Edna “I Married Satan” Moses.
Rivera was a Spanish Christian who in the ’70s began claiming that, during his time as a Jesuit priest, he learned from his superiors that Muhammad had been conned by priests and nuns into believing he was the prophet of a new religion. Their aim was to destroy the Jews and non-Catholic Christians of the world, paving the way for Catholicism as the one-world religion (see Chick’s comic-book tract The Prophet).
He also alleged the Church faked the Fatima apparitions, created Nazism, and killed JFK (among other things).
When Rivera realized the Church was also behind Freemasonry, he left the priesthood and denounced Catholicism. As payback, the Jesuits abducted and tortured him.
Chick was so taken with Rivera’s tale of Catholic treachery that he turned it into a fawning biography and several comic-book tracts. Other, more diligent, Christians subsequently discovered that Rivera had never even been a priest.
2. John Paul I was murdered. In his 1984 book In God’s Name, David Yallop contends that the “smiling pope”, who died just 33 days after taking office, was killed, probably because he was planning to dismiss and/or excommunicate high-ranking officials who were also Freemasons, investigate the massively corrupt Vatican Bank, replace Chicago cardinal John Cody, and permit Catholic women to use artificial birth control.
The Vatican tried to counter Yallop’s claims by commissioning Catholic author John Cornwell to write his own book on John Paul I’s death. Cornwell disappointed them by publishing A Thief in the Night, which argues that although John Paul may have died from a pulmonary embolism, people close to John Paul I tampered with his body after discovering it.
1. The pope is not the pope. The pope is a powerful guy, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that there are dozens of pretenders to the hat, known as “antipopes” or “conclavists”. These faux popes often lead small, cultish sects. The French-Canadian Apostles of Infinite Love were led by two popes, one of whom was under investigation for an array of alleged extortion and sex-abuse offenses for 34 years. The Palmarian Church in Spain has had three popes since 1978, and also declared its own saints and martyrs (including, inexplicably, Pope Paul VI). Until their last pope died in 2011, he had some competition from another Spaniard named Joaquín Llorens, who made himself Pope Alexander IX in 2005. There’s even a pope in Kansas – David Bawden. Bawden claims there hasn’t been a legitimate Roman pope since Pius XII, and in 1990 (at the relatively tender age of 30) was “elected” pope by a conclave of laypeople that included himself and his parents, Kennett and Tickie Bawden (owners of a thrift store called The Question Mark). Bawden calls himself Pope Michael I. His Apostolic Palace is a rundown farmhouse he shares with his mom.
The creepiest of these pretenders is the Australian cult leader William Kamm, a thrice-convicted sex offender who says he is Benedict’s rightful successor. He also seems to think John Paul II will be bodily resurrected at some point.

Thanks to Schwarherz for venturing into the wacky world of antipopes.

Origins

Bet you’re all excited to hear more about chemtrails, aren’t you? Yeah, me neither.

Swallowing The Camel

The Origins of Halloween

There we are, that’s better. My name is Schwarherz, and I run the Heathen Ramblings blog. SME and Hans are taking a little break for their sanity, so they asked me to come talk to you about Halloween. It would seem that some “former Satanists” and “former Pagans” who “found Jesus” (he was behind the couch the whole time! Who would’a thunk it?) have said some…interesting things to say about the origin of this particular holiday.

Satan

This guy had nothing to do with it.

That’s right, if your preconception of the origin of Halloween involves “Satan” or “The Devil” you can throw it out the window right now. If you don’t think you can do that, then I won’t be able to teach you anything and you might as well stop reading now. I’ll wait for those of you who are closed-minded to leave.

They gone? Good.

Now, Halloween is special (and, in this case, by special I mean not special at all) among religious holidays in that it has multiple origins. First I’ll discuss the one that many people are apparently unaware of: Samhain (don’t try to pronounce it, you’ll only embarrass yourself).

Celtic Knot

Samhain is a Gaelic/Celtic festival that marks the beginning of winter, and thus the end of the harvest season. As such, it is also a Day of the Dead. Traditionally it is held at the halfway point between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice. This can be…tricky to calculate from year to year, so in more modern times it is simply rounded to October 31 or November 1. In many traditions, including Wiccan and Celtic traditions, it is believed that the veil between our world and the “otherworld” is thinned on this day. This allows spirits of the deceased, among other entities, to cross over and interact with our world. One of the more common traditions in the Pagan community is to set an extra place at the table on Samhain for the spirits of the dearly departed to attend and spend time with their loved ones once more. In ancient times all kinds of sacrifices were made. However, as Samhain is at its core a harvest festival, humans were rarely sacrificed. Most sacrifices were, in fact, livestock and other items that were truly “harvested.” Living sacrifices have fallen out of favor with the modern Pagan community as the times have changed. Today any sacrifices made tend to be things like bread crumbs and grape juice/wine and, of course, human sacrifices are completely forbidden. Quite the contrast to the tales of “door-to-door sacrifice collectors” and the like, is it not? Other practices included carving of harvested materials into faces to ward off evil spirits, bonfires, and general revelry.

Cross

The other origin of Halloween lies within Christianity itself. All Hallows Eve is the first day of the Hallowmas, a holiday commemorating all of those who have been beatified. It starts on October 31 and finishes on November 1 with All Saints Day. November 2 is All Souls Day, and commemorates the souls of those who have yet to be purified and reach Heaven. Personally, I was raised Lutheran and converted to Paganism when I was 13, so I admittedly don’t know much about Hallowmas. I’m also not going to trust Wikipedia 100% on something like this. If you’d like more information on it I would suggest a trip to your local library or bookstore (just…stay away from the conspiracy junk, ok?).

Glen Beck "Arguing With Idiots" book cover

Avoid things like this

As for the other rumors that have been spread around by these phonies, it almost makes me feel dirty just responding to them, but here goes.

Druids burned candles made of human fat: Unfortunately, due to the persecution of Pagans in the last several hundred years we may never know the truth of this. However, as the Samhain sacrifices were done via fire this seems unlikely in the extreme. Also, because human sacrifice does not occur in modern-day Paganism, any rumor of this occurring in the modern era has to be ruled as completely false or done by those only claiming to be pagan.

Sacrifice of Virgins and Door-To-Door Sacrifice Collectors: To my knowledge, no deity demands a virgin sacrifice. Also, as stated previously, sacrifices of humans was rare in the Druidic community. Usually those sacrificed would be a criminal of some sort. Think of it as an ancient form of the death penalty, as it were. Occasionally there would be willing sacrifices, but those were volunteers, not “door-to-door” by any means. Door-to-door sacrifice collectors just would NOT have happened. Population growth was too important to the ancients.

Coexist

All-in-all, you have to realize, what these “former pagans” and “former satanists” want is attention. Maybe they truthfully grew up in an abusive or neglected home. Perhaps they grew up showered in attention and then emerged into the real world; upon which they discovered that not everyone was willing to give them their undivided attention. Or maybe, just maybe, they truthfully believe that paganism and Satanism are the same thing, and that both deal with the Christian devil (neither do) and, since they couldn’t find anyone who had converted, they invented one. Themselves. Whatever their backgrounds or motives, their intentions are the same. Attention. Whether for themselves or for their churches. They become the grown-up (or in some cases elderly) versions of the little kid that everyone wants to backhand in the grocery store because their parent won’t discipline them. The difference here is that YOU can discipline them. How? Call them out on their lies (they will get very angry and accuse you of being “them” but ignore it), politely tell them to “keep their opinion to themselves” or, best yet, completely ignore them. Let them disappear into obscurity.

The truth always wins out in the end.

semperveritas

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup

Fake nuns with fake Anthrax, real vampires, UN conspiranoia, hateful lies about hate speech, and Bigfoot’s disgusting ancestry

  • After years of top-secret lab work, Dr. Melba Ketchum has announced the results of her DNA analysis of alleged Bigfoot hair and tissue samples (including, perhaps, the “Bigfoot steak” that was central to the Sierra Kills hoax). The upshot: Bigfoot isn’t an ape or a human. It’s descended from an unknown primate and a human female, who mated about 15,000 years ago. Ew. Ketchum is calling for Bigfoot to be afforded full Constitutional rights, as an aboriginal. Best title about this, to date: “Boffin claims Bigfoot DNA reveals BESTIAL BONKING“. Not even avid Sasqwatchers are wholefootedly accepting Ketchum’s results, though; Bigfoot Lunch Club, for instance, shares a few of the same reasonable doubts expressed by the Houston Chronicle‘s “SciGuy”, Eric Berger (and the rest of the scientific community).
  • In the Serbian village of Zarozje, a different inhuman beast is supposed to be amuck. The mayor and the village council have warned locals that Zarozje’s legendary vampire, Sava Savanovic, might be pissed off and looking for blood now that the abandoned mill where he has dwelt for years untold has finally collapsed. In all apparent seriousness, officials have advised villagers to stock up on garlic and religious paraphernalia to keep Savanovic at bay. But given the vampire’s tourist appeal, garlic might not be the only thing that smells in Zarozje…
  • “Big Brother is watching, and he really is gay.” That’s the title of a chapter in Dr. Michael Brown’s book A Queer Thing Happened to America. In a recent webcast of an interview with Brown, Rick Joyner of MorningStar Ministries claimed that at a Christian conference he attended in Switzerland last summer, Swiss attendees refused to use the words “wife” or “husband” to describe their spouses. Instead, they used the word “partner”.  Asked why, a Swiss man supposedly informed Joyner that gender-specific titles for your significant other are classified as hate speech in Switzerland; you can actually go to jail for saying you have a wife or a husband. I’m calling BS on this one. Such radical restrictions on free speech would raise an international outcry, and there simply isn’t one. Either Joyner was misinformed, or he’s lying. His claims are remarkably similar to hate crime urban legends and misinformation that have been circulating in the Christian community for years: Hate crime legislation will prevent pastors from preaching against homosexuality, gays are trying to ban straight marriage, legislation could forbid homeschooling parents from sharing their opinions on gay marriage with their kids, etc.
    When it comes to human rights, gays are not at the top of the list, as a particularly nasty bit of proposed legislation in Uganda shows.
  • The last time I wrote about fake nuns, there was a serial killer/cult leader involved. This time, a fake nun in England simply sent some white powder to politicians and aristocrats because she was annoyed by their worship of Satan. Over the summer and autumn, 71-year-old “Sister” Ruth Augustus mailed envelopes stuffed with some harmless substance to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Baroness Scotland, Baroness Kennedy, and MP Edward Leigh.  On the envelopes Augustus had written “devil worshipping”, “freemason”, “sex with 30 plus women”, “stop this evil devil worshipping”, and “stop these evil devil-worshipping freemasons.” The one addressed to Baroness Scotland also bore a swastika.  Augustus refers to herself as a disabled Catholic nun who works for a children’s charity, but she does not actually belong to any Catholic order, and does not seem to be employed by any charity organization.  For sending “noxious substances” through the mail, she has been ordered to undergo mental health treatment and serve a two-year community order.
  •  Also this autumn, the entire town of Gypsum, Colorado, rallied behind a 9-year-old cancer patient named Alex Jordan, a boy no one in the community had ever met. According to a Jordan family friend, Alex’s parents relocated to Gypsum earlier this year so the boy could spend his final days in the mountains. He was dying of leukemia, after defeating it two years earlier. From his hospital bed, Alex enthusiastically followed the local high school football team, the Eagle Valley Devils, over the Internet. As soon as they learned about their number one fan, team members signed a football for Alex, began displaying the letter A on their helmets, and even wrote his name on the fence that surrounds their field. Soon, hundreds of other locals joined a Facebook page in support of Alex. When they learned at the end of October that Alex had died, Gypsum residents mourned the brave little boy who had become the Devils’ unofficial mascot. But, as in the cases of Kaycee Nicole Swenson, Jonathan Jay White, and Anthony Godby Johnson, a few people wondered why no one had actually seen this kid or his parents. The only individual with a known connection to the Jordan family was that mysterious family friend who had first mentioned him to local reporters and football parents, 22-year-old Briana Augustenborg. As it turned out, Augustenborg had created “Alex” out of thin air, for reasons that are not entirely clear (she didn’t attempt to raise any money, and didn’t accept any gifts or donations). Alex Jordan now joins a long list of cancer-related hoaxes that preyed upon the tenderhearted.
  • Meanwhile, UN conspiracy theories are in full bloom – and they’re actually getting a bit of mainstream attention. A small but vocal coalition of U.S. senators led by Rick Santorum is opposing ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, arguing that it will impinge upon parental rights, if not actually make every disabled child a ward of the New World Order global superstate (a view shared by the Home School Legal Defense Association and other homeschooling advocates). Other Republicans have succumbed to Agenda 21 paranoia, believing the UN and Obama are conspiring to forcibly relocate rural dwellers, and/or control their minds.

I would love to combine all these stories into a TV series about a gay, undead Bigfoot. He must defeat a bogus nun who pretends to have cancer and sends hate mail to the UN.

 

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup

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  • Leah Haley was by far one of the most interesting alien abductees on the scene today. She has a couple of firsts to her credit: She was the first to write a children’s book designed to help kids view their alien abductions as positive, edifying experiences, and she was the first to claim she was inside an alien spacecraft when it was shot down by the U.S. military. Now, however, Haley believes that every last one of her “alien” encounters was actually a military abduction, or MILAB. In March, she told UFO blogger Jack Brewer that none of it was real; it was all a cover for government mind control experimentation. Farewell, Ceto.
  • In related news, Charles Hickson passed away on September 9. Hickson was involved in one of the strangest UFO encounters ever reported, the Pascagoula incident of 1973. He and his 19-year-old fishing buddy, Calvin Parker, were supposedly levitated into a spaceship and examined by eyeless, carrot-nosed aliens.
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his government leaders are proof positive that once you deny the Holocaust (or any major, well-documented historical event, for that matter), you no longer have to live in reality. In June, he declared that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman sentenced to stoning for adultery in 2006, wasn’t really given a death sentence – that was all a media hoax. An Iranian official had already tried to stifle the worldwide outcry against Ashtiani’s sentence by stating, in contradiction to all previous statements, that Ashtiani was also convicted of murdering her husband (she was actually acquitted). And Youcef Nedarkhani, the Christian minister sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam? He’s really on trial for rape and extortion, even though the court documents only mention blasphemy.
  • Face discovered in testicular tumour“. Stay classy, Telegraph.
  • Who is the artist known as the Philadelphia Wireman? His or her enigmatic metal sculptures were salvaged from the trash in the early ’80s, and since that time there have been murmurs that they’re a hoax perpetrated by John Ollman of the Fleischer/Ollman Gallery. The Wireman’s pieces are currently on display there.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup

Australian toilet vampires, yo.

  • The Too Much Time on Their Hands Award goes to the group of archeology students who supposedly saw a UFO last week while digging for Bigfoot remains in Kemerovo Province, Russia.
  • When it comes to weirdness, Henry Makow’s Save the Males website is a goldmine. And today’s top story doesn’t disappoint: Two Australian MPs give each other a “Masonic handshake” while Prime Minister Julia Gillard – a “Satanic lodge head” and “toilet vampiress” – looks on approvingly. WTF is a toilet vampiress, and what do toilets have to do with Satanism? This letter to Makow from Aloysius Fozdyke explains it all. You may recall that Fozdyke, an actual Satanist, made up a deathbed confession by a fictional Satanist he called Frater 616. Apparently he did this for some giggles, but Makow takes The Order of the Toilet very seriously. Incidentally, I don’t care what Masons do with their hands.
  • I guess this was bound to happen: The Obama Body Count. The good news is, it’s completely bogus. Victims include the author of a nonexistent book (Jihad at the Voting Box), several names that lead exactly nowhere, a childhood classmate of Obama who was supposedly murdered when Obama was 9 years old (“since Islam demands that a boy spill another’s blood before the age of ten”), people connected to Reverend Wright and Larry Sinclair (one of whom died when Obama was 11), and a guy named Gandy Baugh who also appeared on the Clinton Body Count lists. They also have the wrong name for the D.C. Madam (and fail to explain why Obama was responsible for her suicide). Several conservative sites posted this email in 2008, and still refuse to accept that it’s not legit.

Canada’s Top 5 Strangest Conspiracy Theories (in honour of Canada Day)


This is a tricky post because Canadians, in general, are not a paranoid people. Our conspiracizing is mostly limited to things like, “They must put extra caffeine in this Tim Horton’s coffee, eh?” (which has been thoroughly debunked, BTW). In fact, we have so few conspiracy theories that people have to invent them for us. There’s the “mysterious” disappearance of the famous Avro Arrow, and… uh… that’s pretty much it.
But every country has its rumours, myths, legends, and conspiracy theories, and odds are always excellent that a few of them will be completely insane. So here are a few of ours (eh?).

1. Hitler lives in Antarctica

In 1938-39, the Nazis’ New Swabian expedition set up secret bases in Antarctica and stashed some sacred relics like the Spear of Longinus in the MuhligHofman Mountains. At the end of the war, Hitler and a few cronies were smuggled out of das bunker and ferried to one of these Antarcticic strongholds in a special submarine. They made their way to the South Pole, where a gigantic (but hidden) entrance leads into the paradisical depths of the hollow earth. While the rest of the Nazis were sobbing, wetting their pants, or chomping into their cyanide capsules, Hitler and the crew were sipping pina coladas and singing German drinking songs with aliens. Then, with the aliens’ help, they built a fleet of UFOs with which to conquer the world.

To be honest, this barely counts as a Canadian theory. The escape-to-the-South-Pole part of it was created by neo-Nazi f**cktards in other countries, who combined the bogus “secret diary”l of Admiral Byrd and other Hollow Earthiness with rumours of Hitler’s last-minute escape from Berlin and the weird rantings of Admiral Doenitz. Voila! The stupidest frickin‘ conspiracy theory you’ve ever heard. In Canada, it was adopted in all seriousness by Holocaust denier and all-around jackass Ernst Zundel, who threw in the ET/UFO stuff – because nothing says credibility like aliens living in the hollow earth with Martin Bormann, am I right?
Zundel has since been deported from Canada. Shame we couldn’t send him to the South Pole to hang with his buddies.

Is there any truth to this mess? Well, Hitler did send an expedition to the Antarctic in 1938 to claim a teensy chunk of the region for Germany. This expedition discovered the MuhligHofmann Mountains, though whether they actually hid anything there is anyone’s guess. And the Nazis were fans of Horbiger’s World Ice Theory, which held that Aryan supermen evolved in the coldest climes. Then, after the war, Admiral Doenitz reportedly said something about a Nazi fortress in “the eternal ice”, though no one seems to know precisely where or when he said it. That’s about it for the “evidence”. No reports of aliens being fond of weinerschnitzel have come in yet.

2. Quebec was in on 9/11

This little gem comes to us from an online group of amateur sleuths called Hawks Cafe. As detailed in their documentary 9/11: The Criminal Enterprise and its Pattern (available on Google Video), they followed the money straight into their own asses and proved that 9/11 was the result of an international sabotage conspiracy involving the Clinton administration, the USAF, Boeing and Boeing Canada, NORAD, the Canadian aerospace company MacDonald Dettweiler, and many others. The manpower for this colossal undertaking was provided by the Rizutto crime family, a Montreal-based offshoot of the Bonnanno syndicate. The workforce included U.S. postal workers, U.S. truckers, U.S. air traffic controllers, and everybody else in the U.S. except maybe dental hygienists. They’re still looking into that.

This Boeing-Quebec theory never really caught on among Canadian Truthers. Huh.

3. The North American Union

When Prime Minister Brian Mulroney ushered in NAFTA in 1988, the first step toward Amerida was taken. Sure, we’re not there yet, but it’s going to happen any day now.
The theorists say another fateful step was taken in 2002, when the U.S. and Canada signed an agreement to utilize each other’s militaries in the event of national emergencies, civil unrest, or what-have-you. Some shrilly insisted that the H1N1 pandemic would provide the ideal pretense for U.S. soldiers to come in and take over the country’s natural resources and much-envied comedy troupes.
Canadian conspiranoids sidestepped the fact that Canada has no choice but to make reciprocity agreements with neighboring nations, because our military – well, here’s the deal. Canada has no military. That’s the biggest Canadian conspiracy and cover-up of all, ladies and gentlemen. We say we have a military, and we even pretend to use it from time to time, but it’s just a few volunteer improv comedians in uniforms their moms sewed for them.

In 2008 a CBC miniseries, Trojan Horse, borrowed some of these ideas. In the film, Canada merges with the U.S. and the country is divided up into five zones, fully under U.S. control. Then the U.S president (played by Tom Skerritt) tries to manipulate Amerida into invading Saudi Arabia. Some conspiranoids saw Trojan Horse not as just another crappy CBC thriller-filler designed for a slow primetime week, but as an actual blueprint for what the U.S. government and/or Tom Skerritt plans to do to Canada.

4. Satan is Alive and Well in Canada

According to Lawrence Pazder’s Michelle Remembers, the very first mass market book on Satanic ritual abuse, one of the two headquarters for the secret, worldwide “Satanic Church” is Victoria, British Columbia. It’s a lovely seaside city, as English as its name implies and very popular with tourists. New Agers seem to like it, too. But Satanists?
Well, according to the late Dr. Pazder, you won’t actually see them because they masquerade as wholly average, middle-class Victorians. Then, at night, they horrifically torture their own children, other people’s children, and kittens. Michelle Pazder, Dr. Pazder’s patient-cum-wife, claims her own mother offered her to this cult when she was a young girl. She was put through a seemingly endless string of bizarre rituals involving lots of psychodrama and snakes, then imprisoned in a mysterious chamber for a month-long ceremony called The Feast of the Beast.
Sounds plausible-ish so far, right? That’s because I haven’t mentioned the part where Michelle describes in great detail a staged car crash that never happened, or the murder and dismemberment of her imaginary friend, or the climactic moment when Satan himself showed up for the Feast and the Virgin Mary (speaking French, for some reason) also showed up to protect Michelle from his fiery tail. Add to this the fact that elementary school records show Michelle was not actually absent from school throughout this month of beast-feasting, and you have little more than the script for a B horror movie.

Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, other allegations of murderous, child-abusing Satanic cults popped up in far-flung parts of the country. In Hamilton, Ontario, two little sisters in foster care were prompted to tell stories about their mother and her boyfriend worshipping the devil, filming child pornography, and eating babies. Though no criminal charges were ever laid in the case, both parents lost custody due to the unproven allegations. Years later, the mother resurfaced in desperate need of a kidney transplant. She has not spoken to her daughters since they were taken away from her.

A far less severe, but equally weird, incident occurred in the little farm town of Manning, Alberta in 1991. Disgruntled parents entered the elementary school on the first day of classes and held the principal hostage, demanding that the reading textbook Impressions be removed from the curriculum at once because some of its fairytales and illustrations contained symbols they associated with the occult and witchcraft. They were particularly troubled by the story “Inside My Feet” by Richard Kennedy, about a boy who tricks a pair of magical boots into taking him to the giant who kidnapped his parents. ‘Cause we all know that real witches and occultists have magic boots, right?

5. Chemtrails.

I haven’t seen a chemtrail, even though I look for them every single day, but they’re everywhere. A jet flies by, and poof! Chemtrail. Another jet flies by at a different altitude and poof! Another chemtrail. Pretty soon there are five, six, maybe even seven hundred of the fluffy bastards polluting our pristine Canadian skies with… something or other. Beware!

Bonus Conspiracy: Alex Jones Talks to Russia Today about Canada. (Gawd, if that’s not a marriage made in Stupid…)

And to show you how *well-informed* Jones and crew are about Canada’s political scene, here’s a clip of Webster Tarpley and Jones repeatedly referring to our Governor General Michaelle Jean as “that guy”, and failing to understand that our senators are appointed, not elected. They express genuine amazement that Canada is a constitutional monarchy.

Other Sources:
1. The Nizkor Project‘s page on Zundel’s UFO theories
2. Hawks Cafe documentary 9/11: The Criminal Enterprise and its Pattern (2007)
3. Trojan Horse (2008)
4. – Michelle Remembers by Michelle Smith and Lawrence Pazder (1980, Pocket Books)
– Interpreting Censorship in Canada
by Allan C. Hutchinson and Klaus Petersen (University of Toronto Press, 1999)