The Health Ranger Might Want to Kill You

 

zyklon        potato

 

Mike “Health Ranger” Adams is on the warpath. The frequent guest host of The Alex Jones Show has enjoyed an unprecedented amount of mainstream attention this year, even appearing on Dr. Oz’s TV show in May to discuss his shiny new “food lab” (where he diligently searches for trace amounts of heavy metals in processed foods and beverages). But Adams has a deeply paranoid side, and that side came out roaring last week. On Monday, July 21, he published a glorious example of Godwin’s Law on his Natural News website: “Biotech genocide, Monsanto collaborators and the Nazi legacy of ‘science’ as justification for murder.”
In the tradition of Ben Stein’s “science leads to killing people“, this piece argues that biotech in the food industry is analogous to the (pseudo)science used to justify the Holocaust. Publications that support GMOs, then, are every bit as bad as the German institutions that funded Nazi medical experiments – they are “Monsanto collaborators”, in Adams’ words. Journalists who criticize the Food Babe, Dr. Mercola, or Adams himself are members of a “radical cult”, enablers of “GMO genocide.”

As always, Adams’ evidence that GMOs are deadly is absurdly thin. He cites the Seralini rat study as proof that GMOs cause cancer, and that’s basically it. This article isn’t any different from all his other anti-GMO rants, until he gets to the part about a recent speech by German President Joachim Gauck, in which Gauck commended the key players in Operation Valkyrie (the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1944). Adams interprets Gauck’s central message thusly:

it is the moral right — and even the obligation — of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity.” (emphasis in original)

He goes on to list some Monsanto collaborators (wiki editors, leftist publications, food companies, etc.) before issuing a call to arms, encouraging someone to

“create a website listing all the publishers, scientists and journalists who are now Monsanto propaganda collaborators. I have no doubt such a website would be wildly popular and receive a huge influx of visitors, and it would help preserve the historical record of exactly which people contributed to the mass starvation and death which will inevitably be unleashed by GMO agriculture (which is already causing mass suicides in India and crop failures worldwide).”

Someone heeded that call almost instantly. Just as Tea Party websites popped up within 24 hours of Rick Santelli’s CNBC rant back in 2009, a Monsanto Collaborators site manifested just days after the Health Ranger’s creepy Nazi article was posted. It features an image of Auschwitz, superimposed with the names of several journalists and science writers who have criticized anti-GMO activism, defended GMOs, or questioned the Seralini study. There are links to stories about the “GMO” suicides among Indian farmers (a myth that has been debunked here, here, and here), and an ominous declaration that “responsibility for these deaths falls upon those individuals and organizations shown on this site.”

This is precisely what Adams wanted to see. In his July 21st article, he expressed the hope that the anti-GMO community will spawn a few Simon Wiesenthals, willing to track down Monsanto collaborators so they can be brought to justice. It should be noted that he attempted to soften his Valkyrie analogy by stating that he does not condone vigilante action, and would simply like to see Nuremberg-style trials for cereal manufacturers and science reporters.
Adams warned that anyone who becomes a Monsanto hunter should hide behind total anonymity, for his very life will be in danger. And that’s exactly what the creator of the Monsanto Collaborators site tried to do.

Here’s where things get a little weird. Adams, in an update to his article, stridently denies that he played any part in the website’s creation, and even urges his fellow activists to avoid it. Being a seasoned conspiracy theorist, he reasons that Monsanto Collaborators was put up by the “biotech mafia” to discredit anti-GMO activists (he also believes the biotech industry ensnares journalists and activists in elaborate sexual blackmail schemes, in order to turn them into shills). However, the Genetic Literary Project claims it has confirmed that Adams is the financial backer of the new website. Sadly, they haven’t provided any evidence of that to date.
UPDATE: As I was writing this post yesterday, This Week in Pseudoscience posted the results of their examination of MonsantoCollaborators.org, and there are strong indications that the site was put up by someone in the Health Ranger’s inner circle. The most compelling indicator is that Adams’ article didn’t appear anywhere online until after 11:00 PM (GMT) on July 21. It was posted to Facebook at 11:05 (GMT), and the first comment on the Natural News article was made 10 minutes later. However, MonsantoCollaborators.org was registered earlier in the day, at 4:21 (GMT) in the afternoon.
(thanks to David)

To my knowledge, this is the first time that one of Alex Jones’ most popular guests has made implied threats of violent retribution against a perceived enemy. His bizarre outburst comes at a time when he is struggling to put his conspiracy-mongering behind him and rebrand himself as a saner, calmer health activist. It also comes at a time when the anti-Monsanto, anti-GMO movement is at peak strength, gaining thousands of new supporters by the second. Boycotts, petitions, and protest rallies are sprouting all over the planet and garnering serious attention from mainstream media outlets. And now, at this pivotal moment, Adams decides to unleash subtle threats of violence and false accusations of genocide? It seems that if anyone is inflicting severe damage to the anti-GMO cause, it’s Adams himself. If he keeps this up, he’ll become a very different kind of ranger…

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Top 10 Stupidest/Weirdest Jack the Ripper theories

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125 years ago yesterday, the last known victim of an unknown serial killer was found stabbed and eviscerated in her dismal rented room in London’s East End Whitechapel district. Over the previous two months and ten days, this man had murdered at least four other area prostitutes, desperate and impoverished women in their forties. At 24 or 25, Mary Kelly was the youngest victim of the Whitechapel killer.

The killer had seemingly made a name for himself, quite literally, by writing letters to news agencies and professionals associated with the investigation. One of these missives was signed “Jack the Ripper”.  It is now believed, by former FBI profiler John Douglas and others, that this particular letter was a hoax sent by someone other than the killer. (Douglas and Olshaker, 2000)

Ripper - Signature

So it’s unlikely we’ll ever know what the killer really called himself, or what his name was. Nonetheless, theories about his identity continue to abound, even after countless other serial killers have come and gone. There’s something about the events of that dingy time and place that smear the public imagination like a mysterious, fascinating stain. At least once a year, some new theory about the killer finds its way into a mass market paperback or the pages of the Daily Mail. A few are worthy of consideration, but then there are the theories that are so tragicomically absurd you have to wonder if the writer is any saner than “Jack” was. Leaving out the obvious hoaxes (such as the James Maybrick and James Carnac “diaries”), here are my Top 10 Stupidest/Weirdest Jack the Ripper theories:

10. A “Satanist” named Robert Donston (or D’Onston) Stephenson

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Donston entered the Whitechapel saga by way of Aleister Crowley. In an essay penned about half a century after the murders, Crowley relates the story of lovely authoress Mabel Collins, a devotee of Theosophy who became estranged from her male lover (Donston) by a treacherous female lover (Baroness Vittoria Cremers). The Whitechapel murders had already begun by the time this domestic drama was playing out.
Crowley believed that “Jack” was a cannibal, consuming parts of his victims’ bodies right at the scenes of his crimes. So did Miss Collins and the baroness. One day, as they were discussing how it could be possible for Jack to do such a thing without getting blood on his shirtfront, Captain Donston donned his opera cape for them and showed them how easy it would be for a man to protect his shirt with the dark, heavy fabric. Cremers thought little of this until she crept into Donston’s room, hoping to retrieve a packet of Mabel’s love letters to save the woman from any blackmail or embarrassment. In a trunk beneath his bed, she discovered five dress ties stained with blood.
On December 1, 1888, the Pall Mall Gazette published an article (here) in which the anonymous author postulated that the murders were black magic ceremonies designed to imbue the killer with power, in accordance with instructions in the writings of Eliphas Levi. The locations of the murders, Anonymous explained, would form a cross (Crowley changed this to a five-pointed star). Crowley dismissed this theory, believing (as many did) that there were seven “Ripper” murders in Whitechapel, but wondered if Donston had written the article, and if the killer had been following some astrological pattern in his selection of crime scenes (an idea brought to his attention by crime reporter Bernard O’Donnell).  After conducting his own research, Crowley concluded that at the time of each murder, either Saturn of Mercury was precisely on the Eastern horizon.
The interesting story of Captain Donston is exactly that: An interesting story. Donston was known to Crowley only as “Captain Donston”, and it’s unlikely he ever met the man in person. It seems all his information about him came from old Vittoria Cremers, a member of his O.T.O. lodge. Later writers discovered that an alcoholic confabulist named Robert “Roslyn” D’Onston (or Donston) Stephenson had lived in London at the time of the murders, and he was deemed a prime suspect by some Ripperologists (notably, the late Melvin Harris).
In a 2003 book, Jack the Ripper’s Black Magic Rituals, career criminal Ivor Edwards resurrected the black magick/Donston theory, positing that the Whitechapel killer really did plot out the five murders to form a giant shape (a vesica piscis). The snag in this theory is that D’Onston Stephenson was a patient at London Hospital at the time, being treated for neurasthenia. He checked himself into the hospital in late July, one month before the first murder, and checked out on December 7, one month after the last murder. Edwards gets around this by pointing out that the hospital was in the Whitechapel area. Security was so lax, he maintains, that curiosity-seekers regularly snuck onto hospital grounds to catch glimpses of John Merrick, the Elephant Man….so isn’t it plausible that Stephenson could sneak out, slay prostitutes, then sneak back in without being observed? Four times?
The evidence here is ridiculously thin, and Edwards pushes the envelope even further by insisting that Stephenson murdered his wife, Anne Deary, in 1887 (it isn’t even known if she died at this time). The only real, discernible connection D’Onston Stephenson has to the Whitechapel killings is that he had his own suspect in mind; Dr. Morgan Davies, one of the physicians at London Hospital. He reported his suspicions to the police, and gave a statement to Inspector Thomas Roots of Scotland Yard after his release. Other than this, and the secondhand tales of an old girlfriend, there doesn’t seem to be the slightest bit of evidence against Mr. Stephenson. Note that among three people who championed the black magic theory of the crimes, there were three different designs attributed to the killer (a cross, a star, and a vesica piscis).

9. Crowley

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before his Telly Savalis phase

Aleister Crowley was not known to be a violent man, despite rumours that he sexually tortured at least one of his wives. Yet the notion persists in some quarters that if you’re an occultist, you probably kill people. Crowley was portrayed as a pedophile serial killer in the web series lonelygirl15, and more recently has been called out as a Jack the Ripper copycat by historian Mark Beynon and blamed for six of the deaths linked to the bogus Curse of King Tut.
And, since he lived in London during the 1880s, why not make him Jack the Ripper as well? After all, he expressed interest in the murders, and had a theory about the killer. Good enough.
Crowley has never become a mainstream suspect (that is, no Ripperologists have written books about him), but he has been mentioned by fringe conspiranoids who dabble in true crime.

8. Lewis Carroll

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In 1996, an elusive character named Richard Wallace published Jack the Ripper, Light-Hearted Friend. It consisted almost entirely of anagrams formed from passages of a preschool version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Sylvie and Bruno. These scrambled, barely coherent verses were supposed to prove that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) was one sick bastard, and probably slaughtered prostitutes alongside his friend Thomas Vere Bayne when he wasn’t doing math. This makes for some pretty hilarious reading, as this review shows. Of course, if you rearrange words in Jack the Ripper, Light-Hearted Friend, you can probably prove that Richard Wallace is actually Donald Trump.
Sadly, this hot mess was taken halfway-seriously at the time of publication. Harper’s excerpted it, Ripperologists and anagram enthusiasts went out of their way to refute it, and Lewis Carroll fans facepalmed themselves into concussions.
This was not Wallace’s first book about Carroll. In The Agony of Lewis Carroll (1990), he exposed “hidden smut” in Carroll’s books in an attempt to prove that Carroll was gay, which rather works against the idea that he murdered female prostitutes. 

Another writer, Thomas Toughill, sussed out clues to the Ripper’s identity in Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Gray, concluding that portraitist Frank Miles was the killer. He published his findings as The Ripper Code in 2008 (remember, kids, adding the word “code” to your title adds credibility).
Even if the passages Toughill highlights pointed unambiguously to Miles, though, wouldn’t this merely show that Wilde thought Miles was a good suspect? He was a playwright, not freaking Inspector Maigret.

7. The Demon of the Belfry

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In April 1895, nearly seven years after the Whitechapel murders ended, two young women in San Francisco were raped and strangled inside  Emanuel Baptist Church. Blanche Lamont, 20, disappeared first. Nine days later, 21-year-old Minnie Williams vanished. On Easter Sunday, one of the church ladies opened a cabinet where teacups were usually stored and discovered Minnie’s body. Blanche’s body was soon found in the church belfry.
Because he was seen with both young women shortly before they went missing, a 23-year-old medical student named Theo Durrant was charged with the murders. He was the assistant superintendent of the church Sunday school.
At trial, Durrant’s defense attorney argued that the real killer could have been the church minister, John George Gibson. Gibson had been a pastor in Scotland until resigning from his post in 1887. Between that time and his arrival in the U.S. in December 1888, Gibson’s whereabouts are unknown.
Durrant went to the gallows in 1898, and few doubt that he was the “demon of the belfry”, as reporters dubbed him. But Robert Graysmith, author of Zodiac and Zodiac Unmasked, took note of that gap in John Gibson’s resumé. It matches up perfectly with the dates of the Whitechapel murders; Gibson left his post at least 8 months before they began, and arrived in America one month after they stopped. Coincidence?
Well, yeah, probably. First of all, the Emanuel Church murders – while certainly gruesome – were considerably less vicious than the Whitechapel murders. It would be essentially unheard-of for a serial killer to de-escalate in such dramatic fashion. Secondly, Durrant’s behaviour before and after the murders was peculiar. He offered outlandish theories about white slave trafficking to the aunt of Blanche Lamont, and was seen arguing with Minnie Williams the day she vanished. Gibson, on the other hand, isn’t known to have said or done anything unusual at the time of the murders. (McConnell, 2005)
An intriguing footnote to all this is the sensational Salome trial that occurred in London twenty years after Durrant’s execution. In the wake of the murders, Durrant’s sister, Maud, had turned to dance. Though she had no professional training, she was able to establish herself as a performer in England, specializing in “Salome dances”. In 1918, she staged Oscar Wilde’s Salome in London, and came under attack from a right-wing publication. The editor accused her of being a lesbian “honey trap” and a German spy, sent to undermine the morals of British patriots. Maud Allan sued for libel, but the unfortunate fact that her brother had raped and killed two women worked against her. She lost the suit.

6. A mad doctor

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Doctors came under heavy suspicion in the Whitechapel case because it was assumed, at the time, that anyone who could mutilate a body and remove organs in a short amount of time must have some degree of surgical skill. This is not the case, but that hasn’t stopped Ripperologists from implicating physicians and surgeons by the dozen. A few of the most notable:

Dr. Stanley
In the 1920s, Australian journalist and MP Leonard Matters introduced a bizarre theory: That a late physician he identified only as “Dr. Stanley” had gone on a prostitute-killing rampage because a prostitute had given his son an STD. He was searching for one prostitute (out of roughly 800 in the district), so he simply murdered each one he questioned until he found his real target – Mary Kelly. Supposedly, Matters had read the doctor’s deathbed confession in a South American newspaper, but he never produced the article.
Sadly, this lame theory was the subject of the first full-length treatment of the case, Matters’ The Mystery of Jack the Ripper (1929), and became the basis for the 1959 film Jack the Ripper.

Sir William Gull, Royal physician
Though he was elderly and partially disabled by a stroke at the time of the murders, Stephen Knight selected Dr. Gull as the central figure in his Freemason theory (see #3).

Sir John Williams, Royal gynecologist
In what has to be one of the weirdest Ripper theories of all time, Tony Williams implicated his own ancestor in his 2005 book Uncle Jack, proposing that the royal OB-GYN killed prostitutes and harvested their uteri as part of a research project aimed at curing his wife’s infertility. This had something to do with being a Freemason.
This September, an equally ridiculous book was put out by a woman who claims to be Mary Kelly’s great-great-granddaughter. Antonia Alexander claims Mary Kelly had an affair with Williams. He then killed her for some reason or other. The proof? His blurry photo is in a locket that supposedly belonged to Kelly.
You can find details of the Williams allegations in this Daily Mail article. 

Dr. Thomas Barnardo
Dr. Barnardo was not actually a doctor, but he identified himself as one throughout his life. He established a string of children’s charity homes between 1870 and his death in 1905.
Aside from pretending to be a doctor, Barnardo had a more-or-less unblemished reputation as a philanthropist right into the 1970s, when the late historian Donald McCormick suddenly decided he would make a decent Ripper suspect for his book The Identity of Jack the Ripper (though his suspect of choice remained the cross-dressing Russian assassin Pedachenko – one of the silliest Ripper hoaxes ever). Gary Rowlands, in his chapter of The Mammoth Book Of Jack The Ripper, expands on McCormick’s theoryBarnardo’s lonely childhood in Ireland, combined with religious zealotry, caused him to go on an anti-prostitute murder crusade. He only stopped killing because a swimming accident deafened him.
I don’t know about Rowlands, but McCormick was a notoriously shoddy historian; one of my favourite bloggers, Dr. Beachcombing, calls him Baron Munchausen, and accuses him of fabricating a creepy poem that “Jack” supposedly wrote.
It’s true that Barnardo worked in the slums, and claimed to have met victim Elizabeth Stride shortly before her murder. Other than this, how much evidence links Barnardo to the Whitechapel murders? None. Seriously. None.

Dr. Morgan Davies
Robert D’Onston Stephenson suspected Dr. Davies merely because Davies routinely discussed the murders with another patient at London Hospital, acting them out in some detail and opining that the killer was a sexual sadist. As a man familiar with mental illness, it wouldn’t surprise me if Davies had a better grasp of criminal behaviour than the people around him.

Francis Tumblety
Tumblety was not a real medical doctor, and in my opinion could still be a viable suspect. He also had an odd connection to the assassination of Lincoln.

5. Famous painters.

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Walter Sickert.

Sickert, like Crowley, is another person who apparently came under suspicion because of his interest in the case. Most people know of this from Patricia Cornwell’s 2002 book Portrait of a Killer, but Cornwell was not actually the first to suggest Sickert’s involvement. That dubious honour would go to Donald McCormick, who mentioned Sickert in his 1970 book The Identity of Jack the Ripper. Also in the 1970s, a man claiming to be Sickert’s son (Sickert had no known children) declared his dad had been chummy with the heir to the throne, Prince Alfred Victor (the Duke of Clarence, himself a Ripper suspect). According to Joseph Gorman, AKA “Hobo” Sickert, the duke knocked up a poor Catholic girl named Annie Crook around 1885. When the Queen and the Prime Minister discovered this, they were horrified, and arranged for Miss Crook to be abducted and “lobotomized” by the royal physician, Sir William Gull. Someone connected to the royal family then murdered the illegitimate child’s nanny, Mary Kelly. The illegitimate daughter of Annie and the duke, Alice, later became one of Sickert’s mistresses….and Hobo Sickert’s mother. Therefore, he could be considered an heir to the throne. All of these details proved to be false, and Joseph Gorman/Hobo Sickert admitted as such to the Sunday Times (June 18, 1978), though he continued to insist he was Sickert’s son.
The late Stephen Knight, whom we’ll meet shortly, incorporated the Annie Crooks story into his conspiracy theory about Freemasons and royals, asserting that Sickert had been part of a plot to murder prostitutes on behalf of the royal family.
In 1990, Jean Overton Fuller published Sickert and the Ripper Crimes, in which she laid out a theory that Sickert was the one and only Jack (incidentally, she was friends with Crowley associate Victor Neuberg, and was quite familiar with the D’Onston Stephenson story).
Then Patricia Cornwell took on the case. Thanks to her popularity as a crime novelist, Portrait of a Killer became a bestseller and unleashed a fresh flood of interest in Sickert-as-Ripper. In 2012, the Royal Opera House even parlayed Sickert’s fascination with Jack into a moody ballet, Sweet Violets
Cornwell’s theory rests heavily on Sickert’s supposedly deformed genitalia, alleged DNA matches between genetic material found on “Ripper” envelopes and on envelopes mailed by Sickert, and what she considers telling imagery in some of Sickert’s portraits. She points to the blurred or distorted faces of women, arguing that they represent the mutilation of the Ripper’s victims. Sickert was, unquestionably, inspired or intrigued by infamous London crimes involving prostitutes, though he didn’t begin to express this until nearly 30 years after the Whitechapel murders. In 1907 he painted Jack the Ripper’s Bedroom (below), and the following year he did a series on the Camden Town murder.

Walter Sickert Jack the Ripper's Bedroom

While it’s true that some of Sickert’s paintings are murky and vaguely disturbing, he also painted delightful street scenes and whimsical caricatures of ballet-goers. Furthermore, his Camden Town series was meant to be enigmatic, even baffling, in the style of Victorian problem pictures. And while the DNA evidence seems compelling, it should be noted that the envelopes and stamps from which DNA was extracted belonged to letters widely believed to be hoaxes (e.g., the “Openshaw letter“). There’s a good discussion of this evidence at the Casebook: Jack the Ripper site.
There is nothing in Sickert’s background to suggest that he was prone to violence. At the time of the murders, he may have been living and painting in France.

And speaking of painting in France…

Vincent Van Gogh

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Van Gogh is a recent addition to the suspect pool. Painter and writer David Larner spent five years (2006 – 2011) compiling research for his unpublished manuscript, Vincent Alias Jack.
Larner first suspected Van Gogh while trying to recreate Irises; the face of Mary Kelly simply jumped out at him from within the folds of a flower. You can see Larner’s side-by-side comparison of the Kelly crime scene photo and the painting here (WARNING: graphic imagery). Hello, pareidolia.

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“When you see it, you’ll shit bricks,”

But the painting isn’t the only “proof”. Apparently, Van Gogh is a good Ripper candidate because he consorted with prostitutes, hacked off part of his own ear (Catherine Eddowes’ ear was hacked off), and might have been in London at the right time. Larner also believes – with no solid evidence to back him up – that Van Gogh was responsible for the 1887-’88 Thames torso murders, which are only seldom linked to the Ripper. That’s about it.

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Besides, serial killers can’t paint.

4. Jill

A surprisingly popular theory at the time of the murders was that “Jack” was actually a woman, possibly a midwife who worked in the area, or a wife so enraged by her husband’s fondness for prostitutes that she decided to slaughter as many of them as she could. Possible “Jills” include murderess Mary Pearcy, who killed her lover’s wife and child in 1890 (the only female Ripper suspect to be named close to the time of the murders), and Lizzie Williams, wife of suspect Sir John Williams (according to this theory, she was driven insane by her infertility and began ripping the uteri out of prostitutes). Sir Arthur Conan Doyle favoured the theory that “Jack” was a lady, and his fans continue to put forward female suspects. For example, Constance Kent, who admitted (perhaps falsely) to killing her 4-year-old half-brother in 1865, has been named by E.J. Wagner in The Science of Sherlock Holmes.

3. Freemasons

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This theory was the brainchild of a young British writer named Stephen Knight, published in 1976 as Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, but the elements of it were culled from a variety of sources:

  • Retired doctor Thomas E.A. Stowell‘s article “Jack the Ripper – A Solution?”. This piece, published in the November 1970 issue of The Criminologist, proposed that the Ripper was an aristocrat who stalked, killed and eviscerated Whitechapel prostitutes in much the same way the aristocracy stalked, killed, and gutted deer. This young man was suffering insanity from the latter stages of syphilis, so he might have harboured great resentment against prostitutes for giving him the disease, which ultimately killed him. Stowell  hinted that this aristocrat was none other than an heir to the throne, Prince Albert Victor (the Duke of Clarence).  Stowell claimed this information came from personal notes of Dr. Gull (Stowell knew Gull’s daughter) – but Gull died two years before the duke.
  • The tales of Joseph Gorman Sickert
  • Conspiracy theories about English Freemasons
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The Duke of Clarence

Knight somewhat elegantly stitched together these loose threads to create the mother of all weird Jack the Ripper narratives: The Duke of Clarence impregnated a poor Catholic girl, Annie Crooks, and entrusted the care of his illegitimate child to Mary Kelly. Kelly and four of her friends unwisely decided to blackmail the royal family, and in retaliation Queen Victoria dispatched Dr. Gull and a gang of other prominent Freemasons to silence the women. One by one, they were lured to their deaths. The men kept their pact of silence for the rest of their lives because…well, because they were Freemasons. Bros before hos, yo.
As it turned out, this was all a complete waste of everyone’s time. The duke died of influenza just four years later.
The idea that a stroke-paralyzed physician would drag himself around the East End just to shut up a handful of prostitutes who wouldn’t be believed, anyway, makes for a good comic book and very little else. Over the years, however, people have grafted more Freemasonic suspects onto the theory, including Churchill’s dad.
Walter Sickert, incidentally, gave painting lessons to Winston Churchill.

2. The author of My Secret Life

This theory is weak for several reasons, but the first and foremost one is that we don’t know who wrote the book. My Secret Life was an erotic novel released in serialized form, beginning around the same time as the Whitechapel murders (the exact date of publication isn’t known). The author was listed simply as “Walter”. Hey, maybe it was Walter Sickert!

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In their 2010 book Jack the Ripper’s Secret Confession, David Monaghan and Nigel Cawthorne propose that “Walter” left clues about his identity as the Whitechapel killer throughout his book. Monaghan came up with this theory after noting the resemblance between passages of My Secret Life and the 1894 confession of Chicago serial killer Herman Mudgett (“H. H. Holmes”), particularly Walter’s description of a corpse floating in the Thames. Never mind that all of the Whitechapel victims were found on dry land.
Even if “Walter” truly had violent tendencies, there just isn’t enough here to draw a link between him and the murders. Weirdly enough, though, Holmes himself was named as a suspect by one of his descendants.

1. Hitler

I used to think this was a theory of my own invention, but it turns out some other lunatic already put the pieces together.
Bear with me, here. This is bulletproof. All you have to do is take the Stowell/Sickert/Knight theory that the Duke of Clarence had a role in the Whitechapel murders, and combine it with a fringe theory that the duke faked his death to begin a new life in Germany as one Adolph Hitler. Sure, the duke would have been considerably older than the man we know as Hitler, but didn’t Eva Braun describe Adolph as an “elderly gentleman” when she first met him?

But seriously, folks, any theory of the Whitechapel killings should take into account John Douglas’s profile of the killer. Based on victimology, the locations of the crime scenes, and especially the manner of the murders and mutilations, Douglas concludes the sole perpetrator was an asocial malcontent who might have worked for a butcher or a mortician, if he was able to hold a job at all. He lived or worked in the area. (Douglas and Olshaker, 2000, pp. 67-70)

In 2006, police affirmed that if they were looking for the suspect today, they would be knocking on doors in and around Whitechapel, rather than searching far afield for artists, dilettantes and Freemasons. They even issued a composite sketch of the Whitechapel killer.

Police_composite_of_Jack_the_Ripper

It was Freddy Mercury all along.

Sources:

Douglas, J. and Olshaker, M. The cases that haunt us. (2000). New York, NY: Scribner.

McConnell, V.A. (2005). Sympathy for the devil: The emmanuel baptist murders of old san francisco. Lincoln, NE: Bison Books.

The Iceman Lieth

Was Mafia assassin Richard Kuklinski full of sh**?

I’ve had Richard “Ice Man” Kuklinski’s claims on my mind for some time now, and with the FBI recently scouring Detroit for Jimmy Hoffa and a movie starring Michael Shannon as Kuklinski being released in May, this seems as good a time as any to examine what the notorious hitman had to say prior to his death in 2006.

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Who was Richard Kuklinski? 

Born in 1935 to an alcoholic, abusive railroad brakeman and a fanatically Catholic mother who also administered beatings freely, Richard Leonard Kuklinski dropped out of the eighth grade to become a full-time hoodlum, stealing cars and robbing houses in Jersey City and Hoboken.

At 19 he became a serial killer, murdering homeless men in the alleys of New York, Newark and Hoboken. He claimed he killed at least 50 men just for the pleasure it gave him. He experimented with different killing techniques, as he would throughout his life. He was soon working as an enforcer and contract killer for New Jersey’s DeCavalcante crime family, which would later serve as the model for the fictional DiMeo crime family in The Sopranos.
At 6’4″ and 250 pounds, with a hair-trigger temper and an array of weapons, Kuklinski was an incredibly deadly force. He was such a skilled, trusted hitman by 1960 that he began doing work for the New York crime families, earning up to five figures per job. Yet he continued to live in low-income housing in Jersey City, thanks to his penchant for gambling.  (1)

He married a good Catholic girl, Barbara Pedrici, in 1962. This was his second marriage. He had two sons (the elder was Richard Jr.) with his first wife. He claims he sliced off his first wife’s nipples when he found her in bed with another man, but didn’t officially separate from her until the eve of his marriage to Barbara.  (1)

Though Barbara had three miscarriages and a difficult fourth pregnancy in 1962 and ’63, and the couple had no money, Kuklinski didn’t take a single contract during this period. He worked a series of low-paying, menial “straight” jobs. The closest he came to organized crime was bootlegging copies of cartoons and X-rated movies while working in a film lab. Then, with two other guys, he reverted to stealing truckloads of merchandise. He shot two men in a fit of road rage, killed four others when a buyer who tried to renegotiate the price of a stolen load of wristwatches, and tortured and killed two men who attempted to steal a load of stolen goods from his crew.
So far as his family knew, though, Kuklinski’s only job was copying cartoons in a Hell’s Kitchen lab. They weren’t aware that he was actually copying porn movies in a lab controlled by a member of the Gambino crime family. He worked long hours, often staying in the lab through the night. When a union representative confronted him about this, he killed the man and disguised his death as a hanging in a public park. In 1971, he murdered a bouncer at the Peppermint Lounge for showing him disrespect.
It was around this time that he quit his lab job and began distributing and financing porn. One Christmas, he killed a porn producer who refused to repay a $1500 loan, even though the man’s brother was a captain in the Gambino family.  (1)

In the early ’70s, Kuklinski got himself heavily into debt with a Gambino associate who was partners with Roy DeMeo, and DeMeo pistol-whipped him. But he ended up being so impressed by Kuklinski’s fearlessness – a quality they shared – that he began giving him jobs. Once again, he was a hitman and enforcer for the Mafia.

demeo

Roy DeMeo

DeMeo had worked his way up in the Gambino crime family. His headquarters was the Gemini Lounge, a seedy bar on Troy Avenue, Queens. DeMeo was involved in a broad range of criminal enterprises, notably stripping stolen cars, but in the ’70s he assembled a team of hitmen and made contract killings his specialty. His outfit became known as the Murder Machine. By the early ’80s, he had attracted the attention of the Organized Crime Task Force of the Queens D.A.’s office. Detectives Kenny McCabe, Joe Wendling, and John Murphy put the Gemini Lounge under unofficial surveillance, learning the faces and names of every frequent visitor to the lounge.  (2)

By 1969 the Kuklinskis had three children, two daughters and a son. In the mid-’70s Richard purchased a lovely three-bedroom split level in Dumont, New Jersey, where he and Barbara hosted neighbourhood barbecues and pool parties. They went to church every Sunday, and the kids were enrolled in private Catholic schools.
Meanwhile, Kuklinski killed one of his two partners in the porn distribution business on DeMeo’s orders. Immediately afterward, he shot a stranger in another fit of road rage.  (1)

Altogether, Kuklinski killed over 100 people in at least 18 states, including Hawaii.  (1, 3)
In the ’70s and ’80s, he was involved in some of the most infamous killings in Mafia history (more on those shortly). But it was his crew of relatively small-time cat burglars that brought him down; after killing no fewer than four of his associates between ’81 and ’83, Kuklinski finally caught the attention of New Jersey law enforcement. A sting operation resulted in his arrest in ’86, and in ’88 he was convicted of four murders (a fifth case against him was dropped for lack of evidence).

Between 1991 and his death in 2006, Kuklinski gave a series of chilling interviews to HBO. These were turned into three America Undercover documentaries. In the first, chewing gum and wearing a sweatshirt, he calmly ran down his crimes – the cyanide, the strangulation, the time he wore elevator shoes to infiltrate a disco. He showed a flicker of humanity just once, as he talked about his ex-wife and children.
In this first interview, he made no mention of his most dramatic claim – that he, along with three other men, had kidnapped and murdered Jimmy Hoffa.
In his second HBO interview, aired in 2001, he explicitly stated that he did not kill Hoffa (but knew who did).  (3, 4)
Then, just before his death in 2006, he supposedly gave a very different story to true crime writer Philip Carlo, who documented it in his book The Ice Man.

Hoffa

hoffa

The task of making Hoffa “disappear forever” had been handed to a childhood acquaintance of Kuklinski, identified only as “Tony P.” or “Tony Pro” by Philip Carlo (obviously meant to be Anthony Provenanzo, a Genovese caporegime who was also  vice president for Teamsters Local 560 in Union City, New Jersey).  (5)
Provenzano enlisted Richard and two other Jersey men to help him. Kuklinski was told only that a union guy in Detroit was making trouble for the Genovese family, and had to be killed. That was all he wanted, or needed, to know.
On the afternoon of July 30, 1975, the quartet drove to the Machus Red Fox restaurant outside Detroit, as arranged, and Tony P. conversed briefly with Hoffa in the parking lot. Then Hoffa got into the car, and Tony drove several miles before giving Kuklinski the signal to knock the mark unconscious with a “jawbreaker” and stab him to death with one powerful thrust of his hunting knife. They bundled the body into the trunk, and Kuklinski was left with the risky job of driving it back to Jersey while the other three guys caught a bus out of town.
Back in New Jersey, Kuklinski took Hoffa’s body to a Mafia-affiliated junkyard in Kearney and deposited it into a 50-gallon drum, which he then burned and buried on the property.
Kuklinski thought the man had looked familiar, but didn’t discover who he was until later.
Around 1978, one of the killers began to talk to the FBI. Kuklinski was hired to take him out. This man, according to Carlo’s book, was Salvatore Briguglio, an official in Union City’s Local 560. Prosecutors subpoenaed Briguglio and several other suspected conspirators to appear before a federal grand jury on December 4, 1975, but they could never pin Hoffa’s disappearance on them.  (1, 5)
In March 1978, Briguglio was shot to death near the Andrea Doria Social Club in New York’s Little Italy. This seemingly had nothing to do with Hoffa; Briguglio had been scheduled to appear in court with Anthony Provenzano and Harold Konigsberg for the 1961 murder of Anthony Castellito.  (5)
According to several people, including his wife, Hoffa had expected to meet with Anthony Giacalone of Detroit and Anthony Provenzano on the afternoon he vanished. But Provenzano wasn’t even in Detroit that day; he was in Union City. The car that picked up Hoffa was likely driven by a man Hoffa looked upon as a son, Charles O’Brien.  (5,6)

The following account is drawn from the work of Dan Moldea, author of The Hoffa Wars. He has pieced together what federal investigators believe is the closest we will ever get to the truth about Hoffa’s death. Some of the information came from Ralph Picardo, a former driver for Provenzano.
Hoffa had gotten on the wrong side of Provenzano and Pennsylvania crime boss Russell Bufalino. Hoffa and Provenzano even came to blows in prison. On the morning of July 30, O’Brien picked up three of Provenzano’s henchmen at a Detroit-area airport and drove them to a house where he was staying, not far from the Machus Red Fox restaurant. These three men were Sal Briguglio, his brother Gabriel, and and another New Jersey Teamster official named Thomas Andretta. All three would subsequently be named as the suspected assassins by the federal grand jury. Moldea suspects that Frank Sheeran of Teamsters Local 326 in Wilmington, Delaware, was another conspirator/witness.
In the afternoon, O’Brien picked Hoffa up at the restaurant and drove him to the house, where the men were waiting for him.  (5)
Picardo alleged that Hoffa’s killers stuffed him into a 55-gallon drum, loaded him onto a truck in Detroit, and shipped him to an unknown destination. His remains were later squashed in a car-compacting machine. This, too, was brought before the grand jury.  (6)

Kuklinski claimed that after Briguglio started talking in ’78, the barrel containing Hoffa’s scorched remains was dug up, squashed in a car-compacting machine, and shipped off to Japan as scrap metal.  (1, 4)

Though he had talked about his work at great length with the HBO crew years earlier, Kuklinski waited over 20 years to publicly confess his role in Hoffa’s disappearance. I don’t know how you feel about all this, but my response was basically

nope

The thing with Hoffa’s disappearance is that isn’t as mysterious as the average person thinks it is. As you can see from the above passage, the feds had a pretty good idea who was involved, and who was connected to those guys. Kuklinski’s name did not come up once. Former FBI agent Robert Garrity, one of the investigators of Hoffa’s disappearance said, “I’ve never heard of him, and I’ve never heard of the writer [Carlo].” Bob Buccino, the former head of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice’s organized crime division and a member of the task force who ultimately brought Kuklinski down, was reportedly also skeptical of the claims in Carlo’s book.  (7)
In fact, you’re not going to find a single seasoned Hoffa or Mafia investigator who buys Kuklinski’s story. Yet Carlo would have us believe that this hulking maniac, who would literally murder other drivers just for looking at him funny, was so skillful and so meticulous in his work that he managed to slip past every Mafia-savvy federal agent, police officer, and investigative reporter in the nation for nearly 30 years, like Caspar on steroids.

totallylegit
Also, who would drive from Detroit to Jersey with a former Teamster boss in his trunk? They don’t have car-crushing machines in Detroit?

Now let’s look at three other infamous hits in which Kuklinski was supposedly involved: The murder of Bonanno family boss Carmine Galante; the assassination of the head of the Gambino crime family, Paul Castellano; and the death of Roy DeMeo.

Carmine “Lilo” Galante was a big-time narcotics trafficker, instrumental in the French Connection, and he took over control of the Bonanno family after Philip Rastelli went to prison in 1974. The other four New York families deeply resented Galante’s domination of the drug trade and its profits, so they began plotting to take him out.
On the afternoon of July 12, 1979, three men in ski masks burst onto the patio of Joe and Mary’s Italian-American Restaurant in Brooklyn and opened fire on Galante, his cousin, and three other members of the Bonanno family. Galante never saw it coming; the little man nicknamed for a cigar died with one clamped between his teeth. Only two of the men survived, and these two (Baldo Amato and Cesare Bonventre) were suspected of having some involvement in the hit.  (8)

galante crime scene

The Galante crime scene

Numerous men have been floated as suspects over the years, but Kuklinski has never been on the radar in relation to the murder of Carmine Galante; the only person to suggest he could have been one of the gunmen was Kuklinski himself. His version of the story is extremely detailed – right down to the restaurant decor and the “rubbery waves of heat” coming from the sidewalk that day – but it simply doesn’t match up with the event. Kuklinski’s claims are in bold, with the facts as they are told in Selwyn Raab’s Five Families following:

– He identified the owner of the restaurant as Galante’s cousin Mary. Joe and Mary’s was actually owned by Galante’s distant cousin, Giuseppe Turano, who was one of the three men killed that day.
– Galante entered the restaurant with two guys, one of whom – Bonventre – was in on the job (as DeMeo explained to Kuklinski). Galante showed up alone that day, dropped off by a nephew. Everyone who was on the patio during the shooting had joined Galante later. Clearly, Kuklinski and/or Carlo relied on popular accounts of the shooting, which indicated (erroneously) that Amato and Bonventre were acting as bodyguards for Galante that day and accompanied him into the restaurant.
– Kuklinski arrived before Galante and behaved like a regular customer until the other two gunmen appeared. Surely, Giuseppe’s son John – who was shot by one of the three men – would have noticed an unmasked gunman moving toward the patio. Everyone agrees that all three shooters entered and exited the restaurant at the same time, wearing masks.
– Kuklinski started toward the exit as soon as the other two assassins started firing, got into a car driven by DeMeo, and was gone by the time it was all over. Again, all three gunman left the restaurant together and got into the same getaway car.
– DeMeo told him that one of the guys with Galante – Bonventre – would leave the table at some point, giving the signal. Kuklinski watched him exit the restaurant. By all other accounts, Bonventre did not leave the patio. He remained there throughout the attack and exited the restaurant shortly after the shooters did. In fact, that’s what tipped people off that he could have been involved in the hit; he and and Amato were almost literally on the heels of the three assassins, yet made no effort to stop them.

This cockamamie story serves to expose other tales Kuklinski told as bogus. For instance, DeMeo and his boss Anthony “Nino” Gaggi were supposedly so impressed by his expert handling of the Galante murders that they cut him in on a huge cocaine deal, even sending him to Rio to negotiate a shipment. But if Kuklinski didn’t kill Galante, why would Gaggi reward him in this way?

Castellano

Paul Castellano

Paul Castellano

Paul Castellano was made head of the Gambino family not so much because he earned it, but because he had married Carlo Gambino’s sister. This gave him a lot of pull, but by 1985 John Gotti was plotting to take him out and replace him. Kuklinski claims he was given the contract to shoot Castellano’s right-hand man and chauffeur, Tommy Bilotti, by Sammy Gravano. Someone else would take care of Castellano, he was told.  (1)
It would not be possible to overestimate the importance of this assassination in Mafia history. Gotti, a relative unknown, shot to gangland superstardom because of this hit. Ever see that A&E show Growing Up Gotti? Yeah, well, you wouldn’t have had to suffer through that if it wasn’t for this hit. It was a seismic event, and once the dust settled, the terrain of the Gambino family was never the same.
The plan was cooked up by Gotti, Robert DiBernardo, Joseph Armone, and Gravano. Their people allegedly broached the idea with three of the five New York families, and received unofficial sanction for their hostile takeover. Frank DeCicco provided vital inside information; Castellano would be meeting with a trusted group of capos – himself included – at Sparks Steakhouse in Manhattan at 5:00 PM on December 16, 1985. Gotti chose eleven assassins for the job. Four of them would wait near the entrance to Sparks and take out Castellano and Bilotti as they approached.
The hit went off precisely as planned. The four gunmen swarmed Castellano’s Lincoln Town Car and fired a hail of bullets into the two men. All team members escaped in getaway cars.  (8)
Again, Kuklinski’s account deviates significantly from the known details of the event. His claims are in bold:

– Gravano told him straight out that Bilotti was his target. The eleven guys handpicked by Gotti were not given their targets until just hours before the hit.
– He walked to Sparks by himself, window-shopping along the way. He did not know who the other assassins were, or where they were. The assassins met in a nearby park for a “dress rehearsal” shortly before 5:00.
– He chose a spot across the street from Sparks. The gunmen had already selected their positions by the time they arrived. This would not have been left to chance; it was a tightly coordinated hit.
– He fled on foot and hailed a cab. The assassins had getaway cars waiting for them on Second Avenue. What kind of hitman hails a cab from a crime scene, anyway?

Gravano would later cut a deal and testify against Gotti, admitting to his role in the murder of Castellano. He did not mention Kuklinski. Even after Kuklinski fingered him for the murder of Peter Calabro, Gravano never explicitly stated that he knew him, though it certainly would have been to his advantage to finger Kuklinski for the Castelleno hit. “Yeah, I know that guy. I hired him to take out Bilotti.”

I will repeat that no one familiar with organized crime recognized Kuklinski after his arrest. In Selwyn Raab’s Five Families, his name is given as “Kukinski”. This might say more about Raab than it does about Kuklinski, but isn’t it curious that a journalist who followed Mafia affairs for the New York Times for a quarter of a century had never heard of the guy? Just how does a Polish hitman standing six and a half feet tall slip under the radar?

DeMeo

In Carlo’s book, Kuklinski never really respects Roy DeMeo. He’s grateful for the work DeMeo gives him, but he secretly nurses resentment over DeMeo’s bullying and plans to kill him someday.
In February 1983, he finally got his chance. DeMeo feared murder charges would soon be laid against him for the murders of “Jimmy Esposito” and his son (Nino Gaggi was already in jail for this crime). Kuklinski feared that DeMeo, desperate as he was, would roll over on him. So he shot DeMeo as they were parked in DeMeo’s car near Sheepshead Bay. He placed the body in the trunk and strolled away.
Even Carlo admits, in a postscript to his book, that Kuklinski probably wasn’t involved in DeMeo’s death. The generally held view is that Castellano ordered him killed because he couldn’t be trusted, and the hit was carried out by one or more of DeMeo’s own crew members. Again, several men have been named as strong suspects, and Kuklinski was never mentioned by anyone. Also, the motive he gives doesn’t make a lick of sense, and his details are again inconsistent with known facts. For instance, the Eppolito (not Esposito) murders had occurred four years earlier; Gaggi had already served his time, and the case was closed.

Anthony Bruno left the Castellano and DeMeo murders out of his 1994 biography of Kuklinski, The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer. He has explained that he simply couldn’t verify them.

Kuklinski also claimed he was in on the murder of John Favara, a neighbour of John Gotti. Favara accidentally struck and killed 12-year-old Frank Gotti, John’s youngest son, with his car in the spring of 1980. Kuklinski said Gotti’s brother Gene, a few other men and himself beat and tortured Favara to death. Several men have been named in relation to the case, and one of them was Gene Gotti, but Kuklinski has never been mentioned – except by himself and Carlo.  (1)

Some of Kuklinski’s other dramatic – and unprovable – claims:

  • When he was 5, his parents told him that his 10-year-old brother Florian had been struck and killed by a car, and he believed them. Years later, however, he claimed that Florian really died from one of their father’s beatings, and his parents told police Florian had tumbled down a staircase. How would he know this? It seems unlikely that either parent would ever admit to obscuring the cause of their child’s death, and Kuklinski obviously didn’t witness his brother’s demise.
  • He accidentally beat a neighbourhood bully named Charley Lane to death with a clothing rod from his closet when he was just 13 or 14 years old. He stole a car and drove the corpse two hours south to a swamp in the Pine Barrens, where he removed all the boy’s teeth and hacked off his fingers to delay identification of the body. (1)
    I can find no information on a Jersey City boy disappearing or being found dead in 1948 or 1949. There are at least two versions of the story; in Carlo’s book, young Kuklinski is already crime-savvy enough to steal a car, make a clean getaway, and dispose of a body, while in Bruno’s book he merely leaves the body in the courtyard of his apartment building. Carlo states the boy’s body was not found.
  • Between 1955 and 1960, he killed no fewer than three people after disputes in bars. His second murder was committed outside a Hoboken pool hall about 5 years after he killed Lane. A young Irish policeman who was getting on his nerves had fallen asleep in his car, so Kuklinski set it on fire. This man is known as “Doyle” in Carlo’s book. There may be at least two versions of this story, because elsewhere Kuklinski claimed he beat a man to death with a pool cue when he was 18. In 1959 he stabbed another man and beat a bouncer to death with a hammer.
  • In his late teens and early 20s, he headed a crime ring of 4 or 5 other young guys. They called themselves the Coming Up Roses. The gang was approached by a member of the DeCavalcante crime family and asked, point-blank, to “take care of” a man who was causing trouble. It was Kuklinski who walked up to the mark’s parked car outside a Hoboken bar one night and shot him in the head with a .32 revolver. Each member of the gang received $500. After that they were given many jobs, including stealing $3 million in cash and gold from an armoured-truck warehouse in North Bergen.
    This robbery would have been bigger than the Great Brink’s Robbery of 1950 (which was the nation’s largest robbery at that time), yet it didn’t even make the New Jersey papers. Huh.
    Later, under orders from the DeCavalantes, Kuklinski killed two of his own crew members. The names Philip Carlo gives for these two men are apparently pseudonyms.
    All of this supposedly occurred before Kuklinski was 19.
  • In February 1956, he killed three men who confronted him in Jersey City and dumped their bodies in a cave in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
  • He was the only hitman known to have worked for all five New York crime families (plus the two in New Jersey), according to Philip Carlo’s book.
  • One of the porn films he copied at the lab where he worked in the ’60s was Dogf**ker, starring Linda Lovelace. But that movie was made in the ’70s. This is just one of numerous examples of Kuklinski and/or Philip Carlo juicing up the narrative with BS details. Remember that bouncer he killed at the Peppermint Lounge in ’71? Well, that bar closed in 1965 and didn’t reopen until 1980.
  • In Florida, he killed a rapist (on DeMeo’s orders) by cutting off chunks of his flesh (including his penis) and setting him adrift in the ocean to be devoured by sharks. Immediately afterward, he killed three young men at a rest stop because they had taunted him on the road.
  • He blew off the head of a motorist stopped at a traffic light with a double-barreled shotgun, from a motorcycle.
  • Strictly as an experiment, he shot a random pedestrian in the head with a crossbow.
  • In Honolulu, he threw a man off the balcony at a five-star hotel.
  • After a robbery in New Jersey, he tired of the bickering of his four cohorts and decided to feed them cyanide-laced sandwiches. All four men died within minutes. He did not dispose of the bodies. The following day, he poisoned the man who had arranged the job.
    Four men being found dead in the same room would be a big deal, even in New Jersey. Yet this didn’t make the papers, either.
  • On more than one occasion, he took victims to a rat-infested cave in Pennsylvania, cocooned them with duct tape, and left them there to be devoured. These murders-by-rat were supposedly videotaped, with a motion sensor triggering a light as the rats moved in to feast, and Kuklinski says he gave the tapes to his clients to prove the “marks” had suffered.
  • He poisoned several people with cyanide in restaurants, while dining with his victims, yet managed to get out the door without being apprehended or questioned. Each and every one of these deaths, he claims, was attributed to heart attacks – meaning the EMTs and medical examiners somehow failed to detect any of the telltale signs of cyanide poisoning (cyanide rictus, the distinctive odour of almonds, etc.).
  • He poisoned more than one victim with cyanide merely by spilling it on their clothes. He would approach the mark in a bar, “accidentally” dump his cyanide-laced drink on the guy, then walk away. The cyanide, he explained, would gradually soak through the victims’ clothing and into their skin.

Then there’s the issue of the ice cream truck assassin…

Who was Robert “Mister Softee” Prongay? 

Kuklinski supposedly met Robert Prongay (spelled Pronge by Carlo) in the early ’80s, at a New Jersey hotel. He and Prongay were possibly stalking the same victim, and they quickly discovered they were fellow assassins. They enthusiastically traded techniques and war stories. Prongay claimed to be a former Special Forces member, trained in the use of explosives and poisons. Kuklinski said he was particularly impressed by Prongay’s use of a Mister Softee ice cream van as a surveillance vehicle, his ingenious use of cyanide in spray form, his remotely-controlled grenades, and his habit of freezing bodies before he dumped them to obscure the estimated time of death. Kuklinski began adopting some of Pronay’s methods in his own work. Prongay, in turn, was fascinated by Kuklinski’s use of rats.

Ice Cream Man

TV Tropes has an extensive list of killer ice cream men under the label “Bad Humor Truck”. Zero points for originality, Ice Man.

Their friendship came to an abrupt end in 1984. First, Prongay asked Kuklinski to kill his wife and young son for him. Then he told Kuklinski of his plan to poison a community reservoir just to kill members of a single family. Outraged, Kuklinski shot him.

What do we really know about Robert Prongay? Basically, nothing. We are told by Carlo that he was found shot to death in his ice cream truck in 1984, but his death didn’t make the papers. Other sources state that his body was discovered hanging in a warehouse on Tonnelle Avenue. There are no known photos of him. His background is a blank. No one in the world – other than Kuklinski – has ever talked about the guy. Carlo tells us Kuklinski pled guilty to his murder in 2004.
There are several possibilities here. One is that an ice cream assassin really was tooling the streets of North Bergen in the ’70s and ’80s, stashing bodies in his freezer. Another is that Kuklinski really did know a criminal ice cream man, and created a bullshit story around the guy, transforming him from a small-time hood into a crack military-trained assassin to obscure the unimpressive truth.

The Prongay conundrum turned out to be the tip of an iceberg. The more I delved into Kuklinski’s world, the less credible he became. Nagging doubts and unresolved issues multiplied, until I was finally faced with some deeply troubling questions.

Did Kuklinski really work for Roy DeMeo?

I began to realize that there isn’t a lot of concrete evidence actually connecting Kuklinski to DeMeo. The only person besides Kuklinski to publicly declare that Kuklinski was an associate of DeMeo is another highly questionable character by the name of Greg Bucceroni. This fellow crawled out of the woodwork a couple of years ago, telling Dr. Phil and any journalist who would listen that he was a Gambino associate at the same time as Kuklinski, that he had been a teenage prostitute for the Gambino family, that the Mafia tried to hire him to kill Mumia Abu-Jamal prior to his arrest, and that Philly businessman Ed Savitz once tried to pimp him out to disgraced Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky. Bucceroni alleges that Kuklinski often traveled between Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York on behalf of DeMeo and Robert DiBernadino, trafficking in illegal porn, working as an enforcer, and of course murdering people.
To date, there is no solid evidence that supports any of Bucceroni’s stories. Not even the Philadelphia Daily News, a glorified tabloid, really bought into him. In fact, reporter William Bender essentially called him out as a liar. The Patriot-News reporter who broke the Sandusky story, Sara Ganim, said when she first spoke to Bucceroni, he presented her with fresh allegations against the coach and other members of what he said was a vast pedophile ring, but couldn’t or wouldn’t provide any details. He said he didn’t know the surnames of his abusers. Later, however, he gave a laundry list of prominent names to other media outlets. When Ganim decided not to run with his unverifiable accusations, Bucceroni resorted to sending her harassing emails and naming her in profanity-laced tweets. Other writers who have had dealings with Bucceroni report similar experiences. Check out Kyle Scott’s posts on Bucceroni at Crossing Broad for more info.
So what we seem to have here is one conman propping up the stories of another conman. Interesting stories? Sure. Convincing evidence? Nope.
Bucceroni is the one and only person who has ever named Kuklinski as a close associate of DeMeo, though several members of DeMeo’s crew became informants.

In their 1992 book Murder Machine, Jerry Capeci and Gerry Mustain didn’t mention Kuklinski at all. Capeci does not buy his stories about Hoffa, Castellano, and DeMeo, and refers to him  as “heretofore unknown”. In other words, while intensively researching DeMeo and his crew, Capeci and Mustain didn’t hear squat about a gigantic Polish hitman.

In The Ice Man, Carlo explains that informant Freddie DiNome tipped off investigators to Kuklinski’s work for DeMeo. I can find no evidence for this. If you come across some, kindly let me know.

On the other hand, the film lab where Kuklinski copied porn was linked to the Gambino family; it was owned by Robert DiBernardi, and one of the theatres he sold stolen porn to was owned by DeMeo. And Kenny McCabe of the NYPD allegedly confirmed to author Anthony Bruno that Kuklinski’s vehicle had been parked at the Gemini Lounge in Brooklyn on several occasions in the early ’80s, when DeMeo was under surveillance. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean he worked for DeMeo outside the film lab. 

Was he a hitman?

Six of the seven murders that can be linked to Kuklinski are those of his own associates, people who worked with him on relatively minor jobs involving theft, or people who owed money: Robert Prongay, George Malliband, Louis Masgay, Gary Smith, Paul Hoffman, and Daniel Deppner. Then there is the case of Peter Calabro, which is rather questionable. All seven murders were committed within a short timespan (198o-1984). Kuklinski was convicted of two of them in 1988, pled guilty to two others, and (according to Carlo) pled guilty to the murders of Pronge and Calabro in 2004.

The first murder that can be definitely linked to him was committed in 1981. Louis Masgay, 44, purchased a lot of stolen merchandise from Kuklinski’s buddy Phil Solimene to stock a little store he owned in Paterson, and one day Phil and Kuklinski decided to rob and kill him. Richard wrapped the body in plastic and tipped it into a cold-water well near a warehouse in North Bergen. He wanted to try freezing a body, as Mister Softee sometimes did.
George Malliband was killed in the first week of February, 1982. A small-time hustler from Pennsylvania, friendly with Kuklinski, Malliband supposedly owed DeMeo $35,000. He tried to weasel his way out of paying on time by hinting that he could harm Kuklinski’s family…and Kuklinski, though brutally abusive to his wife, was so protective of his daughters that he would actually spy on them during parties. He was instantly enraged. He shot Malliband five times, shoved his body into a barrel by removing one leg, and dumped the barrel on the grounds of a chemical plant.
The plant owner found the barrel almost immediately, and it didn’t take police long to learn that Richard Kuklinski was the last person to see Malliband alive.
Meanwhile, DeMeo had decided to switch coke suppliers, and had no intention of paying for the last shipment he received from his original suppliers, a pair of Brazilian brothers. He wanted Kuklinski to travel to Rio a second time and take out both brothers. That’s how Kuklinski became an international assassin. It would not be his last overseas job, he claimed.  (1)

One murder that has been linked to Kuklinski serves as the strongest evidence that he was, in fact, a Mafia-linked hitman. Yet this case is extremely problematic. The hit was allegedly ordered in 1980 by Gambino underboss Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, and the mark was a crooked NYPD detective by the name of Peter Calabro. The exact reasons for the hit aren’t known, but it has been alleged that Calabro’s former in-laws suspected him in the 1977 drowning death of his wife, Carmella, and turned to Gravano for “help” (in the Carlo/Kuklinski version of the story, Calabro hired DeMeo himself to kill Carmella).

Gravano

Sammy Gravano

Here’s how the murder went down, according to Kuklinski: He waited in his van near Calabro’s home in Saddle River, New Jersey, maintaining radio contact with Gravano, who was tailing Calabro. When Calabro attempted to drive around the van, Kuklinski fired the shotgun given to him by Gravano through the windshield of his Honda Civic, killing him with a single shot.  (1, 4)

The murder remained unsolved for over two decades. In 2003, Gravano was charged with soliciting Calabro’s murder. Why? Because Kuklinski took credit for the hit and told the feds it was Gravano who hired him. Beyond that, there is no evidence connecting Kuklinski to Calabro’s murder. Kuklinski had kept this murder under his hat until 2001, when he was interviewed by HBO for the second time.
He agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence (rather than a death sentence), and he also agreed to testify against Gravano. The young state police detectives who questioned Kuklinski claim he provided details that only the killer would know.  (1)  Just what those details are remains a mystery. And no one has answered  a rather obvious question: Why would Gravano, one of Mafiadom’s most prolific hitman himself, hire Kuklinski to do a job like this? He had to hire someone else for the Castellano hit because it was done on a street crawling with Christmas shoppers and steakhouse patrons who could recognize him, but he could easily have pulled off a covert nighttime hit like the Calabro shooting himself. It doesn’t make much sense. Several jailhouse informants have stated that Gravano bragged about killing Calabro himself, for whatever that’s worth.
At any rate, Kuklinski died before Gravano went to trial. The murder charges were dropped for lack of evidence.

The third and fourth murders for which Kuklinski was convicted in ’88 were those of Gary Smith and Daniel Deppner. In late 1981, Percy House, one of the members of a small burglary ring Richard ran, was arrested, and fingered Kuklinski as the boss, though he knew Kuklinski only as “Big Rich”.
Later, the ex-wife of missing crew member Danny Deppner provided state police detective Patrick Kane with Richard’s full name. This woman told Kane that Kuklinski was a hitman, and that he and Deppner had murdered crew member Gary Smith in December 1982 by giving him a poisoned hamburger, then strangling him. Sure enough, Detective Kane learned, Smith’s body had been found stuffed beneath a bed at the York Motel in North Bergen two days after Christmas in 1982. Several people had rented the room without noticing it.

York Motel

Worst housekeeping ever.

In May 1983, Deppner’s body was found near a reservoir in West Milford. He had been poisoned with cyanide, then shot. It would later emerge that he had been killed in the apartment of Richie Peterson, boyfriend of Kuklinski’s elder daughter, Merrick. Peterson had even helped Richard dispose of the body. Kuklinski told young Richie that Deppner had died of a drug overdose, and Richie believed him.
Then came the discovery that gave Kuklinski his nickname, the Ice Man. In August 1983, Louis Masgay’s partially defrosted corpse was found in Rockland County, New York (by other accounts, he was found in Palisades Interstate Park near Orangeburg, New Jersey). Though the corpse appeared fresh, an autopsy revealed shards of ice in his chest cavity, indicating he could have died much earlier.
It was Percy House who broke the case open, finally admitting to Detective Kane that he knew “Big Rich” had killed Masgay, Smith, and Paul Hoffman. Then Kane learned that a fourth guy, George Malliband, had an appointment with Kuklinski on the day he ended up in a barrel. Kukinski’s attorney would try to pin everything on House.
The Masgay case contains a mystery: How did Kuklinski freeze the body? Carlo claims it was kept in an ice-cold well, while the authorities seem to believe it was kept in an industrial freezer. So far as we, though, Kuklinski didn’t have access to a freezer large enough to hold a man’s body. 

Pat Kane worked obsessively on the Kuklinski cases for over four years. Initially, his bosses didn’t think there was anything to them because the MOs were so different in each murder: Strangulation, shooting, poisoning. How could they possibly be the work of one individual, a family man? Kuklinski was a “film distributor” on paper, and had a clean record (with just two complaints for road rage incidents).
Nonetheless, Kane was certain he was on to something. And he kept hearing rumours that Kuklinski was not only a killer, but  a hitman with Mafia ties. Given the body count, that wasn’t hard for Kane to believe. So he cooked up a plan to lure Kuklinski with a decoy client, an undercover cop. The man selected for this job was an enthusiastic ATF agent, Dominick Polifrone. In early 1985, Phil Solimene agreed to introduce him to Kuklinski as a weapons dealer.
It wasn’t until September 1986 that Polifrone finally met Kuklinski face-to-face. Kuklinski asked him to acquire some cyanide, and Polifrone asked for some firearms. Unaware that their phone conversation was being recorded, Kuklinski presented one of his associates (identified as “John Spasudo” in Carlo’s book) as an arms dealer who could get Dominick some “metal” for an IRA client. The two men then chatted about cyanide and all the interesting ways there are to kill people. Kuklinski was admitting, for the record, that he had murdered people.
They arranged to meet at a rest stop on October 2 so Kuklinski could hand over a “hit kit” consisting of a gun and silencer. As they hovered over the trunk of Kuklinski’s car, Dominick floated the idea of poisoning a wealthy young client by cutting his cocaine with cyanide. Kuklinski took the bait, telling Polifrone it could be done. Again, the conversation was recorded.
On Halloween, they arranged to meet up at the rest stop for a third time. This time, Dominick would bring the young coke buyer he supposedly wanted Richard to kill. Detective Paul Smith posed as the buyer. Kuklinski didn’t show. He was too busy conducting business in South Carolina and Zurich, according to Carlo’s book. The team waited tensely until another meeting was set up for December 6. This was a key meeting, because Kuklinski finally named two of the people he had killed: Deppner and Smith. During and after a fourth meeting, on December 12, he and Polifrone made arrangements to meet up again five days later and poison the coke buyer with a cyanide-laced sandwich; Dominick said he could supply the cyanide and the sandwich, which seemed to suit Kuklinski just fine.
On December 17, Polifrone handed Kuklinski a bagful of egg salad sandwiches and a tiny vial of white powder that looked like cyanide. He would pick up their mark and bring him back to the rest stop in about half an hour, he said. Kuklinski said he would swap his car for a van (a safe place to poison the buyer) and return to the rest stop in twenty minutes.
It didn’t take him long to realize the cyanide was fake. He pulled his car over and tested some of it on a stray dog – to absolutely no effect.  (1)

State police detectives were staking out his house in Dumont. They watched him return home around 10:00 AM with a load of groceries. Deputy Chief Bob Buccino gave the order for Kuklinski to be arrested there, and fifteen police vehicles rapidly converged on the scene. Oblivious, Kuklinski bundled a sick Barbara into the car, planning to take her out for breakfast, and drove directly into a solid line of cop cars. It took several men to subdue Richard once he was out of the car.

busted by a sammich

Busted by a sammich.

It seems clear, in hindsight, that Kuklinski at this point in his life was like a scared animal, frantically defending his small amount of turf by recklessly killing anyone who could conceivably pose a threat to it. But his own account of these last years of freedom paint a much different picture, of course; in his own mind, and in Carlo’s book, he was a jet-setting mastermind with his fingers in firearms, foreign currency, and Swiss bank fraud. He committed scores of contract murders, killed a few more people in fits of road rage, freed a dozen trafficked children from the dungeon of a pot dealer in New Jersey, and took down an Arab blackmailer in Zurich with a quick spray of cyanide.

In addition to the murders of Masgay, Malliband, Smith, and Deppner, Kuklinski was charged with the April 1982 murder of Paul Hoffman, a crooked pharmacist who supposedly supplied him with cyanide for many years. This was another profit-motivated killing; Hoffman was willing to pay a large sum of cash for a stolen load of Tagamet, and Kuklinski again conspired with his good buddy Solimene to simply bump him off and take the money. He shot and bludgeoned the man to death, stuffed his body into a 55-gallon drum, and brazenly deposited the drum near a Hackensack diner he frequented, Harry’s Luncheonette. He claimed that even though the barrel was in plain sight, no one discovered what was in it. One day when he dropped by for lunch, the barrel was gone.  (1, 3)
Hoffman’s body has never been found.
There is very little doubt that Kuklinski committed this murder, but the charges were ultimately dropped for lack of evidence.

In his second HBO interview, it is stated that Kuklinski became a hitman only after meeting Roy DeMeo. Prior to that time, he had never killed for money, and told DeMeo he thought he could do it. This story changed later, when Carlo interviewed Kuklinski. Suddenly, Kuklinski had been a teenage hitman, so proficient in the art of contract killing that he was already in demand at the age of 19. No one except Carlo accepts this. Even the makers of the movie The Iceman rejected it completely.

How accurate is the movie The Iceman?

The film makes no mention of Kuklinski’s more outrageous claims (Hoffa, DeMeo, etc.). This is because the script was based on Anthony Bruno’s book, rather than Carlo’s book. Even so, it relies on Kuklinski’s own accounts of his crimes, so it is probably not even remotely accurate. This is one of those films in which “inspired by a true story” is stretched to the outermost limits.

Son Dwight is left out of the picture. Barbara is “Deborah”. Murders of non-Mafia associates are transferred to powerful Mafia-linked figures. For instance, the Christmastime murder of Kuklinski’s associate “Bruno Latini” becomes the murder of a character based on Anthony Gaggi and Paul Castellano, Roy DeMeo’s bosses in the Gambino family. In reality, as we have seen, Kuklinski played no role in the assassination of Castellano.
The names of DeMeo’s closest associates are altered, and the name of “Mr. Freezy” (Mister Softee) isn’t given at all.
In The Iceman, Kuklinski is drawn into the Mafia through his work in the film lab, and Roy DeMeo essentially forces him to become a hitman. Kuklinski claimed just the opposite; he was an expert contract killer by the age of 19, and his stint at the labs was just a way to make ends meet. It was not DeMeo who introduced him to the Mafia.

The bizarre sneezing-in-the-disco scene in Iceman was actually even weirder in real life, according to Kuklinski. He had decided to kill a Bonanno family lieutenant inside a popular New York disco – a spectacularly risky move that doesn’t seem at all like his usual style. He had recently learned about poisons and acquired some cyanide from Paul Hoffman, and one night he showed up at the mark’s favourite disco in an absurd “gay” getup: elevator shoes (remember, he was 6’4″), a red hat, wildly coloured clothes. Instead of spraying cyanide on his mark, Kuklinski jabbed him with a syringe as he scooted past him on the dance floor.  The man was dead before Kuklinski left the club.
Kuklinski didn’t start using cyanide in spray form until the 1980s, after he befriended ex-military assassin Robert Prongay (Mr. Softee).  (3)

Kuklinski did not save a teenage girl from a sexual predator. That story, it seems, was created out of whole cloth just for the film.

In the film, Kuklinski is just as he described himself; a Jekyll and Hyde. But the dividing line between the upright family man and the raging sociopath was not clearly demarcated between his work and his home life, as it is in the movie. Michael Shannon’s Kuklinski controls his temper around his wife and daughters, for the most part. In reality, Kuklinski was physically abusive to Barbara, and so controlling with his three children that one daughter, Chris, claims she lost her virginity to a stranger at age 12 just to feel she finally had control over something – her own body. Kuklinski blackened Barbara’s eyes, caused her to miscarry, shattered furniture, destroyed mementos. He told his daughter Merrick that he would have to murder the entire family if he accidentally killed her mother, so she and her sister carefully packed a bag and worked out a plan to run for their lives, just in case.

Why I don’t believe Kuklinski, in a nutshell

1. He was a prolific liar. Even people who believe most of his story, like Bruno, acknowledge that not all of his stories are true.
2. There is simply no concrete evidence that he was a hitman.

Here’s what I think happened: Kuklinski was a minor-league criminal running a B&E gang, bootlegging porn, selling stolen merchandise, etc. In the early ’80s he lost control of his crew, and some members starting getting into trouble, so he began picking them off one by one, just like Jesse James did in the twilight of his criminal career.
He had long been telling people he was a hitman, and after his arrest he decided to pass himself off as a world-class Mafia hitman. An avid – but not very careful – reader of true crime lit since boyhood, he used famous crime scene photos and twice-told gangster tales to piece together an impressive life story, inserting himself into some of the Mafia’s most notorious murders. Many people bought it.

I do believe that Kuklinski and his siblings were severely abused as children, because the Kuklinski clan spawned two remorseless killers. His younger brother, Joseph, served 33 years in Trenton State for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old neighbour.
I believe that he did work, in some capacity, for DeMeo (perhaps merely as a porn supplier).
I believe that he killed at least six of his associates. The fact that he was busted for nearly all of them indicates he was not a professional killer.
I believe that he was a career criminal. He had very few legit jobs in his lifetime, yet his income was steady and he was able to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.
In my opinion, the rest is bullshit.

How did Kuklinski pull off one of the biggest hoaxes in criminal history?

First of all, he chose the right profession. Hitmen often work alone, are crazy paranoid about surveillance, and kill people to whom they can’t be connected – usually without even knowing their names. If a Mafia hitman tells you he killed 100-200 people over three decades in two countries and at least 18 states, that’s a tough thing to refute. I cannot conclusively say that Kuklinski never worked as a contract killer. I can only cast doubt on his claims by pointing to the lack of corroborating evidence for them.
Kuklinski was a serial killer. There’s no question about that. His real killing experiences may have enabled him to spin plausible-sounding tales about contract murders.

Secondly, Kuklinski was a sociopath. He was a convincing liar, and a reasonably intelligent man. He knew how to fill the credibility gaps in some of his stories. He was smart enough to know that DeMeo’s Gemini Lounge was under surveillance, and to make up the story about always meeting DeMeo near the Tappan Zee Bridge. As DeMeo’s “secret weapon”, he supposedly didn’t have to rub elbows with the other killers in DeMeo’s crew very often. This would explain why he wasn’t known as a Gemini Lounge regular.
He was also smart enough to come up with an excuse for living in a nice, but hardly extravagant, 3-bedroom house in New Jersey when he was pulling in millions every year: Gambling. Sure, he could send his kids to private schools and buy lovely furniture for his wife, but he pissed away several grand on a regular basis in poker games and casinos. This lie unraveled when the man who prosecuted him, New Jersey Deputy Attorney General Bob Carroll, said to HBO, “He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t gamble.”  (3)

Thirdly, he stuck to a principle that liars and hoaxers throughout history have found extremely useful: Go big or go home. By seeding his stories with some of the biggest names in modern Mafia history, Kuklinski effectively armored himself against accusations of trickery. Who would pretend to kill people for Roy DeMeo, or finger Sammy Gravano for a murder, unless he was legit? No one would be so bold. No one would be so foolish.
Paradoxically, it was this name-dropping that made me start questioning Kuklinski in the first place. Like most everyone who watched the HBO interviews, I was mesmerized and appalled by Kuklinski, and had little reason to doubt he was a hardcore contract killer. Then his Hoffa story hit the news, and I suddenly realized that not all of his stories were necessarily true. This ultimately led me to what I believe today – that Kuklinski was not a contract killer and did not work for the Mafia outside of the porn-bootlegging business.

Maybe Iceman is the perfect name for him – he pulled off an amazing snowjob. In fact, he wins the second posthumous Pants Afire Award. Irony.

pantsafireaward1

Postscript

It’s nearly impossible to dig into any subject without bumping into conspiracy theories these days. Here’s one about Kuklinski, courtesy of Ed Chiarini (the Texan who believes John Stossel is Freddy Mercury, Winston Churchill was also Lionel Barrymore, etc.): Richard Kuklinski did not die in prison in 2006, but became the chief medical examiner of the state of Connecticut, Dr. H. Wayne Carver. In Chiarini’s view, Kuklinski/Carver was a key player in the Sandy Hook massacre hoax.
Chiarini is losing his touch. Sure, I could believe that Robert Blake was the Pope, but the resemblance between Kuklinski and Carver is extremely slight (they’re both large and bald, basically).

Sources: 

1. The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer by Philip Carlo (St. Martin’s Press, 2006)
2. Roy DeMeo episode of Mobsters (originally aired on the Biography Channel October 24, 2008)
3. The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer (1992)
4. The Iceman Confesses: Secrets of a Mafia Hitman (2001)
5. The Hoffa Wars by Dan E. Moldea (Paddington Press, 1978)
6.My Afternoon With Jimmy Hoffa’s Alleged Killer” (1999) by Dan E. Moldea, Moldea.com
7.Man’s claim that he killed Hoffa is dismissed as a hoax“. Detroit Free Press. April 18, 2006.
8. Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires by Selwyn Raab (Thomas Dunne Books, 2005)

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.

Following the Chemtrails III.5: Aerial Spraying Operations, Past and Present

Now that we’ve covered anti-radar chaff, let’s look at other military and civilian operations that involve aerial spraying. Parallels have been drawn between every one of these practices and chemtrails.

 

Biological and chemical warfare

Cold War era U.S. and British experiments that involved aerial spraying of “surrogate biological agents” are discussed below (“Biowarfare Simulation Tests”). Here, we’ll look only at instances of actual chemical and biological warfare agents being sprayed from aircraft over enemy nations.

WWI

This was, of course, the first air war. Blimps were used to a limited degree in this and earlier conflicts, mostly for reconnaissance and bombing, but now every nation involved was equipped with powerful planes that could reach astonishing new heights (you may recall that the very first contrail sighting was made during this war).
Surprisingly, although chemical warfare was employed by several nations (the French started it off), there was no aerial spraying of chemical weapons during WWI. Chemical weapon tanks and spray systems suitable for mounting on planes had not been developed yet, so more complicated methods of delivery were employed. The blistering agent sulfur mustard (mustard gas), for instance, was deployed mostly via canisters and artillery shells. Mustard gas wasn’t dropped from planes (in bombs) until 1924.

By the way, here’s an interesting fact: Mustard gas was originally named LOST, after the first four letters of the surnames of the German scientists who devised a large-scale production method in 1916, Wilhelm Lommell and Wilhelm Steinkopf.

In Germany, chemist Fritz Haber was the man behind the chemical curtain. He led the teams that developed chlorine gas and other deadly poisons, as well as innovative gas masks with absorbent filters to protect German troops.
Unlike the average chemical warfare engineer, who is divorced from the terrible fruits of his labours, Haber didn’t hide away in his lab. He took a very active role in chemical attacks, even personally supervising the first successful deployment of chlorine gas at the Second Battle of Ypres on April 22, 1915. Some of the French and Canadian soldiers huddled in the trenches could only stare in fascination as the greenish-white cloud of gas drifted closer and closer, until it hit them. Then their lungs burned and they had to gasp for every breath. Some died within minutes, while others fled in terror. Haber was pleased with his work; the attack had been far more successful than anyone anticipated.
Some have attributed the suicide of his wife Clara, one week later, to this success.
 
The year after the war ended, Haber received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the  Haber-Bosch process, which revolutionized the production of nitrogen-based explosives and fertilizers.
In fact, a whole Rappaccini’s garden of useful-yet-poisonous chemical compounds bloomed in the years after WWI, thanks to wartime chemical warfare research.

The French introduced the deadly gas phosgene in 1916. The Germans responded with chloropicrin, an insecticide. Generally, though, there was a reluctance on all sides to open up the Pandora’s box of chemical agents, partly because the Hague Convention of 1899 forbade the use of poisonous gases in combat. This reluctance is evidenced by the British use of “balloon dope”, a strong-smelling sealant, in fake chemical warfare releases known as “stinks”. The idea was to disorient, preoccupy and intimidate the enemy without actually gassing them to death. To the same end, the Germans cultivated sneezing and vomiting agents like “Blue Cross” (diphenylchlorarsine).

Biological weapons were not as advanced as the chemical agents at this time. Then as now, they were deemed a risky, last-resort kind of weapon because they could have unintended results. You can’t control a germ the same way you aim a bomb or a bullet, and trench diseases were enough of a problem already. When germs are weaponized for combat, the goal is often to debilitate the enemy rather than kill them. War injuries are more bothersome than fatalities, tying up more resources for longer periods of time. But even nonlethal germ warfare has its risks, particularly retaliation with more dangerous agents. No biological agents were deployed against troops in WWI.
The Germans allegedly did, however, spread a disease called Glanders among enemy horses and pack animals.

Research After WWI 

Between world wars, in 1921, the French War Ministry established the world’s first large-scale, peacetime biological and chemical weapons program, and Stalin began what would someday become the world’s most extensive and secretive bio-chem program. Its vast, terrifying scope would not be fully known until the mid-1990s.

In Canada, bioweapon and biodefense research secretly began in the late ’30s. Prior to WWII, a team of military defense researchers led by Frederick Banting (another Nobel Prize winner) conducted a series of experiments to test the efficacy of aerial germ warfare. In October 1940 they sprayed sawdust from a low-flying plane to see how it would disperse, and were soon given the go-ahead to mass produce germ weapons, including anthrax, on Quebec’s Grosse Ile. In 1941, joint Canadian-British open-air testing of bio-chem weapons began in Suffield, a sparsely populated stretch of prairie near Medicine Hat, Alberta. The Brits were delighted to have so much open space for experimentation. They began with metallic cadmium mixed with the strongest explosive available, RDX, producing toxic fumes capable of causing fibrosis of the lungs.

In 1943, Porton Down, the UK’s bio-chem research facility, became the first to claim an effective bioweapon. Over the previous year, researchers had conducted a series of successful anthrax-bombing experiments at Scotland’s Gruinard Island (where bomb tests were also conducted), using sheep as test subjects. The tiny island became so toxic, it had to be vacated for the next forty years.
The U.S. got a slower start, but soon caught up. In 1943, a bio-chem weapons research and development facility called Camp Detrick (later renamed Fort Detrick) was established in Maryland, with businessman George Merck as its first director.

WWII

The poison gas attacks of WWI were horrific enough to scare WWII combatants away from aerial chemical warfare. And although the head of the U.S.’s new biowarfare division, Theodore Rosebury, decided airplanes would be the “most useful means for the dissemination of infective agents,” they were far from knowing precisely how to produce weaponized germs on a huge scale and disperse them without compromising their potency (the Gruinard tests, though successful, were considered too small-scale).  (1, 29)
As in WWI, fear of retaliation in kind was a strong deterrent against first use of bioweaponry. The anthrax bombs were ready to go – Camp Detrick produced the first 5000 of them in May of 1944 – but no one wanted to unleash them.
As far as gases went, all combatants stockpiled the old standbys from WWI (phosgene, mustard gas, etc.) along with the blistering agent Lewisite. The only new poison gas (and the first completely odorless one) to be developed was Compound Z or Compound 1120, accidentally discovered by Canadian researchers. While heralded behind closed doors as a remarkable advance, Z was not deployed at all.  (3)

The fear of chemical warfare was strong, and the hazards really hit home in the Bari raid of 1943, when 81 officers were killed by a release of their own mustard gas.
The poster below, issued around 1943, used cartoons and goofy rhymes to familiarize soldiers and civilians with the tell-tale odors and symptoms of the major weaponized gases. (source)

The fear didn’t prevent all sides from dropping and spraying toxic things from the air during WWII, however.
The Allies used toxic pesticides – notably DDT – to de-louse their own soldiers and kill off mosquitoes (see “Crop Dusting”, below).
Japan’s infamous biological and chemical warfare unit allegedly dropped packages of plague-infested fleas over Chinese cities and sprayed germs (plague, typhus, smallpox) over Chinese reservoirs.
The only other known acts of biowarfare in WWII were Germany’s sabotage of the drainage systems in Rome (they first confiscated all the anti-malarial medications in the region, knowing the mosquito population would skyrocket) and the OSS‘s non-fatal food poisoning of Hjalmar Schacht, Hitler’s pre-war financial wizard. Schacht turned out to be a very poor choice of target. Not only had he been shunted aside by the Nazis before the war even began, but he was part of Operation Valkyrie, the secret Nazi plot to kill Hitler. (4)

Zyklon B

In 1919, Nobel laureate Fritz Haber became the head of a new chemical-company consortium, the German Limited Company for Pest Control, or Degesch.
In the early ’20s, a group of Degesch chemists modified a cyanide-based pesticide called Zyklon A (“Cyclone A”), first synthesized by Ferdinand Flury, to create the more potent Zyklon B. This team was made up ofWalter Heerdt, Bruno Tesch, and Gerhard Peters. For two decades, Zyklon A and B were used mainly to fumigate grain, though they could also be used as de-lousing agents and rat poison. In the U.S., Zyklon B was used as a de-lousing agent on Mexican immigrants.

Unfortunately, some of the developers of Zyklon A and B later became dedicated Nazis. Flury was elevated to the position of Surgeon General during the Third Reich. And when Nazi scientists decided to use Zyklon B in the gas chambers of the death camps, it was supplied first by Degesch, then by Stabenow & Tesch, the pest control company established by Bruno Tesch in 1924.
In 1946, Tesch and a fellow executive were put to death by the British for their role in the Holocaust. Three years later, Degesch exec Gerhard Peters was sentenced to five years in prison by a Frankfurt court for his role. The only scientist in this group who had any damn sense at all was the inventor of record, Walter Heerdt; he fled Germany in the early ’30s, returning later to testify against former colleagues at Nuremberg.

Zyklon B  is still used as a pesticide in the Czech Republic, which is rather disturbing – the Nazis first tested it on Roma children from Brno.

The study of Zyklon B, DDT, Agent Orange, and other pesticides that turned out to be extremely toxic for humans can tell us much about chemtrail theories, especially the depopulation theory. Note that when Zyklon B became a tool of mass murder, it was not simply dumped from airplanes over the camps.

After WWII

From the end of WWII straight through Vietnam, several nations (including the U.S. and Canada) simulated chemical and biological attacks by spraying “surrogate biological agents” from boats, planes and vans, trying to figure out how far and fast a disease like anthrax could spread. These experiments are covered below (“Biowarfare Simulation Tests”).

The weaponization and stockpiling of germs and chemicals moved at frantic pace throughout the Cold War, with the USSR and the U.S. amassing astonishing amounts of the organophosphorus nerve agents like VX, bacteria, toxins and viruses. Canada, Britain, and the U.S. were signatories of the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which barred the use of bio-chem weapons, but it wasn’t actually ratified in the U.S. until the ’70s. And there was no prohibition against defense research.

In the ’50s, the U.S. biological warfare lab at Fort Detrick diligently built up a germ warfare arsenal. Led by a very young microbiologist named William Patrick, researchers cultured and tested and weaponized a range of bacteria, viruses, toxins and rickettsia that could be used to incapacitate, if not kill, large numbers of men. Anthrax, botulinum toxin, Q Fever and tularemia (“rabbit fever”) were considered the best options. They were non-contagious and not necessarily deadly (if treated right away), yet they could take soldiers out of commission for weeks or months. At the same time, however, the researchers worked on such lethal, highly contagious viruses as smallpox and plague.
In addition to extensive animal testing, Ft. Detrick conducted live-virus experiments on Seventh-Day Adventists (conscientious objectors), infecting them with Q Fever, then treating them with antibiotics when symptoms appeared. In addition to Q Fever, about 50 varieties of virus and rickettsia were deemed suitable for biowarfare. Thereafter, gallons of Q Fever and a few other viruses were produced at the Pine Bluff Arsenal.

At least one live-virus test of aerially sprayed Q Fever was conducted over Utah’s Dugway Proving Ground in the ’50s. A spray tank with nozzles was affixed to an F-100 Super Sabre , the fastest jet in the world at that time, and a slurry containing the virus was sprayed over the desert. No human subjects were used in this test, but three soldiers manning roadways during the experiment contracted Q Fever, and so did the pilot, proving the virus was still effective when sprayed from the air. In fact, it traveled over 50 miles to infect the soldiers.

The Korean War and Cuba

China and Korea alleged the U.S. used biowarfare against them during the Korean conflict, and an international team assembled by the World Peace Council, led by British biochemist Joseph Needham, concluded that biological agents had been deployed dozens of times in North Korea by the U.S. military. The U.S. vehemently denied, and still denies, that this occurred even once, and the Air Force’s dismissive and even hostile attitude toward bioweapons during this period seems to indicate that they were still considered unreliable. They were thought to be untested, tricky to use, and ethically questionable. There were also concerns that germ warfare agents couldn’t be contained, and would backfire on any force that employed them. Yet the conclusions of the Needham report stuck like glue.
Ephemeral, hard-to-prove allegations of biowarfare would surface again in the ’80s, against the Soviet Union.

In the early ’60s, Pentagon officials collaborated with Ft. Detrick on a secret plan to douse Cuba with biological agents in the event of conflict, cheekily referred to as “the Marshall Plan”. The germs would not be fatal to most Cubans, but were expected to kill many of the elderly and sick.
Around the same time, General Mills developed the line-source disseminator, an aerial spray device that could continuously disperse chemical/biological agents from planes (if you’re surprised that a company known for its breakfast cereals was elbow-deep in defense projects, check out Project Pigeon). The preferred method of germ dispersal, however, was packing hundreds of tiny “bomblets” full of viruses or bacteria into missiles, then dropping the missiles from the highest altitude possible to spread the bomblets over a broad area.
The “Marshall Plan” was never put into action, and despite years of dreaming up outlandish ways to kill or humiliate Castro, the U.S. never deployed bio-chem agents against Cuba.

Vietnam 

If WWII was largely a war against disease-carrying bugs, Vietnam was largely a war against plants. The thick jungle foliage of North Vietnam provided perfect cover for the Viet Cong, enabling invisible troop movements and sneak attacks. This led to the introduction of one of the most notorious chemical warfare agents of our times, Agent Orange.
Technically, Agent Orange was not a weapon intended to kill people. But its side effects were horrific. For six years (1965-1971), this potent mixture of defoliants (among many others) was sprayed in massive quantities over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia as part of the U.S. military Operations Trail Dust and Ranch Hand. This was not the first large-scale use of herbicide in war (in the the ’50s, the British Army sprayed herbicides in Malaysia to kill off the crops of Communist rebels), but it would be the deadliest.
“Agent Orange” has become shorthand for any toxic substance, and some chemtrail researchers aren’t afraid to draw a parallel between it and whatever they believe is contained in today’s jet contrails.

Should you and I be concerned? Yes, very concerned as the long term effects of chemtrails are no different than crop dusting…and Agent Orange.” – presscore.ca

Experimental spraying of some of the “rainbow herbicides” (not including Agent Orange, which was introduced in 1965) began in 1959. The goals were to kill off food crops, driving rural dwellers into the cities of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), and to destroy vegetation that provided cover for the Viet Cong. The plan was highly successful on both fronts. Roughly 500 million acres of forest were heavily damaged or destroyed, and the population of South Vietnam swelled from 2.8 million people in 1958 to 8 million in 1971.
To disperse the herbicides, C-123 planes were outfitted with specially designed spray tanks that could hold up to 1,000 gallons of liquid. In under 5 minutes, each plane could spray a swath of land 80 meters wide and 10 miles long, and the average spraying sortie consisted of 3-5 planes. (6)
Nearly 20 million gallons of “rainbow herbicides” were sprayed over the course of at least 6,542 missions. Helicopters were also used in spray operations. (7)

The South Vietnamese had been told of the spraying in advance, and were assured the herbicides were not harmful to humans, animals or the soil.  (8)
But the defoliants had disastrous effects that outlasted the war. The average concentration of the herbicides was 13 times higher than the USDA-recommended application rate for domestic use. And a very dangerous compound lurked within one of those rainbow herbicides.

Why was Agent Orange so toxic? 

Agent Orange was made up of equal parts 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D).
2,4,5-T had been widely used as an agricultural defoliant since the ’40s. At first, producers and consumers were blissfully unaware that the manufacturing process contaminated 2,4,5-T with an extraordinarily toxic byproduct, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). TCDD is usually referred to as dioxin (technically, though, it’s one of several dioxin-like compounds). It is one of the most dangerous chemicals ever synthesized, capable of causing all the same adverse effects as dioxin.
If produced with rigorous temperature control, 2,4,5-T can contain only about .005 parts per million (ppm) of TCDD. But in the early days of 2,4,5-T production, before anyone grasped how toxic TCDD was and how much of it was being created, quality control was uneven. As much as 60 ppm of TCDD.could end up in a single batch. (9)

Two industrial accidents served as a dark warning that something in 2,4,5-T was extremely dangerous. The first occurred in 1949, at a factory in Nitro, West Virginia. An explosion caused dozens of workers to break out in pustules, a condition characteristic of dioxin poisoning now known as chloracne. Former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushenko bears the scars of chloracne after his 2004 TCDD poisoning.
But at the time of the Nitro explosion, no one knew precisely what caused the skin condition, and no one was curious enough to get to the bottom of it. One physician, Raymond Suskind, did monitor the affected men for the next several years, and reported an array of physical ailments that turned out to be common effects of TCDD. In the ’80s, this same doctor falsified a series of 2,4,5-T studies at the behest of Monsanto, which was facing lawsuits from Vietnam vets and other people exposed to dioxin-contaminated Monsanto products. (8)
The second serious 2,4,5-T accident happened in 1953, in a Germany factory. A leak exposed numerous factory workers to pesticide fumes, and most of them broke out in pustules and suffered serious health problems. Researcher Karl-Heinz Schulz identified the toxic agent as TCDD, and published his results in 1957. This laid the groundwork for an understanding of chloracne and the other health effects of TCDD. Unfortunately, chemical manufacturers ignored Schulz’s findings. Production of 2,4,5-T continued without a hitch.

Did they know how dangerous Agent Orange was? 

From approximately 1951 to 1974, prisoners at Pennsylvania’s Holmesburg State Prison were used as guinea pigs in research experiments commissioned by the Army, Dow Chemical Company, and Johnson & Johnson. The prisoners were volunteers, but they were not apprised of all the risks associated with the chemical agents that were being tested on their skin.
In studies conducted in the early ’60s, Dr. Albert Kligman injected TCDD into 70 of the prisoners on behalf of Dow. Dow was one of the seven companies producing Agent Orange, and wanted to know why some factory workers were developing chloracne. All 70 of the prisoners developed severe chloracne lesions, which were left untreated for seven months.

Dr. James Clary, who helped develop the special spray tanks for Agent Orange dispersal, claims he and other scientists working on the project were aware that Agent Orange contained elevated levels of dioxin. Because the military required such high volumes of the stuff for Agent Orange, 2,4,5-T was being produced at breakneck pace, with slapdash temperature control – hence, more TCDD. Seven companies had military contracts to produce Agent Orange, and there is evidence that at least some of the executives knew it contained TCDD.  (8)
But the end users were not necessarily aware of this. Not even the commander of naval forces, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, knew what was in Agent Orange. When he found out, following the death of his son, he became a strident advocate for full disclosure and aid to vets affected by TCDD.

As in Reservoir Dogs, the naming of the rainbow herbicides was arbitrary and gave no indication of what they were capable of doing. Agent Pink (which I’m sure no one wanted to use) also contained TCDD, and the Army began spraying it a full three years before Agent Orange was added to the rainbow (in 1965). So Pink is certainly responsible for some of the havoc attributed to Orange.
Up to 3 million Vietnamese citizens (not including unborn children, many of them stillborn) and thousands of military servicemen were affected by Agent Orange alone. The TCDD in Agents Orange and Pink caused a range of severe birth defects, cancers and skin diseases. (6)

To the credit of the international community, opposition to the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam was swift and strong when the State Department revealed the existence of the spraying program in March of 1966. Resolutions were immediately introduced to the UN, charging that the U.S. military was violating the Geneva Protocol. In 1969, Nixon declared the U.S. would never use chem-bio agents offensively. And this was before a 1970 paper put an end to the use of 2,4,5-T in the U.S.  By the mid-’70s, 2,4,5-T had been banned in most parts of the world.
In 1975, President Ford declared the U.S. would never again engage in herbicidal warfare (defoliants are now prohibited in combat under the Chemical Weapons Convention).
Numerous studies on the effects of TCDD and Agent Orange have since been conducted. You’d think this would have put an end to TCDD contamination, but sloppy production continued in chemical plants all over the world, and more accidents occurred. There was the Seveso catastrophe in Italy in 1976, the Yu-cheng accident in Taiwan in 1979, the Sturgeon (Missouri) chlorophenol spill of 1979, and the dioxin chicken scare in Belgium in 1999.

One of the places where 2,4,5-T was produced for Agent Orange was a facility in Verona, Missouri, owned by a subsidiary of the Northeastern Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company. Wastewater and contaminated clay in the vicinity contained levels of TCDD some 2,000 times higher than the dioxin content in Agent Orange. (8)
In the early ’70s, a company called ICP (no, seriously) was hired to remove this toxic sludge.* ICP, in turn, contracted with waste hauler Russell Bliss in the small community of Times Beach, Missouri, to actually get rid of the stuff. Unaware of just how toxic the waste was, Bliss blended it with oil and mud and sprayed it on roads and barn floors to keep down dust. He even sprayed the mixture on his own property.
So many residents and horses were sickened that a decade later, after an EPA investigation, the government purchased the entire town of Times Beach and destroyed it.

sign posted near Times Beach after it was doused with TCDD-contaminated waste for 10 years

 

Other aerial spraying in Vietnam

The U.S. attempted to flood parts of the Ho Chi Minh Trail via cloud-seeding, a program called Operation Popeye. It was largely unsuccessful. We’ll examine this and other weather modification efforts in another post.
The Pentagon had floated the idea of spraying anthrax over the trail, but decided against the use of germ warfare. There were fears that the disease would spread along the trail, possibly sickening and killing people and livestock in three countries.
In 1968, over 1000 sheep were killed in Skull Valley, Utah, when a plane from Dugway Proving Ground accidentally released a large amount of the nerve agent VX. VX was not used during Vietnam (or any other war), but in the early ’90s it fell into the hands of a murderous Japanese cult.

Since Vietnam: No aerial spraying, and no biowarfare

Since Vietnam, the only documented, large-scale deployment of chemical weapons has been Iraq’s use of mustard gas against Iranian troops and Kurdish people during the Iran-Iraq war (1981–1988), and this didn’t involve direct aerial spraying. In the Halabja massacre of March 16, 1988 (now classified as an act of genocide), more than 10,000 Kurds were affected or killed by mustard gas deployed by bombs dropped from Iraqi Mirage and MiG planes.
The only other notable use of a chemical agent occurred during the 2002 Nord-Ost hostage crisis in Moscow, when Russian Spetsnaz forces pumped an unknown gas into the ventilation system of the theatre in an attempt to knock out the Chechen terrorists and extricate the hostages. To this day, we don’t know what they used (fentanyl is the likeliest suspect). Hostages and captors alike died from overdoses of the gas.

In the ’80s, the Soviet Union was accused of using mycotoxins in support of Communist armies in Cambodia and Laos, and later using them against Afghanistan. Several people in remote villages reported being sickened or burned by a “yellow rain” that came from helicopters. However, the allegations were never confirmed. Two researchers identified yellow dust collected by soldiers as ordinary bee pollen, while others reported finding no mycotoxins in plant samples.

BZ

At the end of the Adrian Lyne film Jacob’s Ladder, a postscript tells us that BZ, a powerful glycolate agent that can produce hallucinatory effects and extreme confusion, was tested on U.S. soldiers during Vietnam. While I wouldn’t recommend believing everything you read in a movie, this is actually true. BZ was administered to an unknown number of soldier guinea pigs during the Edgewood Arsenal experiments.
Also, a Pentagon study known as Project Tall Timber was designed to test the effectiveness of the M138 bomblet filled with BZ in a tropical forest environment similar to Vietnam (Hawaii’s Waiakea Forest Reserve). In the spring and summer of 1966, the bomblets were statically ignited (not sprayed from aircraft).

The only suspected uses of glycolate agents in combat occurred in Mozambique in 1992, when government forces accused South African troops of using BZ on them, in 1995 when the Serbs used BZ or a similar agent in the Srebrenica massacre, and in 1998, when there were allegations that members of the Bosnian Army used BZ and/or other incapacitating agents against two Sarajevo suburbs, Ilidza and Nedarici.
None of these alleged incidents have been confirmed.

Bioterrorism

If the Soviet mycotoxin allegations are false, then biological weapons have not been used in wartime since the Japanese attacks of WWII. But as we have seen, research and massive stockpiling were conducted throughout the Cold War and beyond. South Africa’s Project Coast is a particularly chilling example. Though none of its horrific schemes were ever put into action, at least one of its alleged participants, Dr. Larry C. Ford, poisoned two women and collected over 200 vials of dangerous bacteria and toxins (including salmonella, cholera and botulinum toxin) in his California home, for some unknown purpose. He committed suicide in 2000, while under investigation for the attempted murder of his business partner (he opted for a bullet instead of poison, the coward).

State-sponsored programs may have refrained from biowarfare since WWI and chemical assaults since the Iran-Iraq war, but an array of germs have been stockpiled and used as weapons by terrorists and religious cultists throughout that time.

– In 1946, members of a group known as Dahm Y’Israel Nokeam (“Avenging Israel’s Blood”) infiltrated the bakery that supplied bread to the Stalag 13 prison camp near Nuremberg, where several thousand SS troops were imprisoned, and coated 3000 loaves of bread with an arsenic mixture that sickened at least 1900 prisoners.
– In 1972, two teenage white supremacists in Chicago were arrested for plotting to poison the city’s water supply with Salmonella typhi, which causes typhoid fever. (11)
– The Rajneeshees poisoned food with salmonella in at least ten restaurants in Oregon in the early ’80s, in an attempt to complete their takeover of a municipal government. Investigators discovered a fairly sophisticated bio lab hidden on the Rajneeshees’ ranch, where nurse Diane Onang experimented with several pathogens, including ones that cause dysentery, tularemia and typhus. She even attempted to weaponize AIDS.  (4)
– Aum Shinrikyo is known for its sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway, but scientists belonging to the cult also weaponized anthrax and botulinum toxin. Fortunately, the several biological attacks they launched in Tokyo failed. The only known attack with the nerve agent VX was committed against Ryuho Ohkawa, an Aum opponenet, in 1994 (he survived).
– In December 1999, during the Russian assault on Grozny, Chechen rebels blew up two chlorine tanks in the city. No Russian soldiers were affected
– It’s interesting that the largest intentional mass poisoning in history, employing potassium chloral hydrate, potassium chloride and cyanide to kill over 900 people, was also carried out by a religious cult – the People’s Temple of Jonestown. The camp “doctor” (actually a former intern), Larry Schacht, initially experimented with culturing botulinum toxin, staphylococci, and a fungus that could mimic meningitis symptoms as a means of killing everyone, but the work proved too challenging for him. He settled on cyanide, and ordered an amount capable of killing 1800 people from a chemical company in California.  (12)

Chem-Bio Warfare and Chemtrails

One of the most popular theories about chemtrails is that they are part of a vast depopulation scheme (in fact, as we’ll see in the next post, chemtrails started as a depopulation theory). By peppering us with chemicals or metal oxides and/or obscuring sunlight for long periods of time, this theory goes, someone out there hopes to sicken and kill us in order to have all the world’s resources to themselves.

A subtheory that could be called the biowarfare theory of chemtrails surfaced in 2003, with the claims of chemtrail researcher Clifford Carnicom. Carnicom claimed he received the news from another researcher, who heard it from a military source. Carnicom’s unnamed source said the polymer fibers supposedly present in jet contrails have freeze-dried bacteria or viruses attached to them, along with metals (barium, aluminum) to absorb sunlight. The heated metals keep the pathogens alive during dispersal.
Spraying germ-dusted polymers from 40,000 feet in the air would be an unnecessarily complicated, highly inefficient way to spread germs. Any of the other methods examined in this post would make more sense – yet there’s no evidence that any of them are currently being used for biological attack.
As we’ll see in another post, this is only one of many reports and theories about chemtrails that Carnicom has put forward.

A handful of tests conducted at the request of private citizens by small, independent labs indicate that various pathogens, medicines and chemicals have been found in ground and water samples, but there is insufficient proof that any of the material came from contrails. Ground-based pollution, poor sample collection techniques, sample contamination, and lab contamination are likelier explanations.
The depopulation theory of chemtrails will be examined more closely in a later post.

Since WWI, our fears of large-scale chemical or biological attack have led us down some very dark paths. The damage wrought by our own paranoia has perhaps outstripped anything a mere germ or nerve agent could ever do.

Fuel dumping 

Fuel dumping is occasionally mistaken for chemtrail spraying, as any large amount of liquid coming out of a plane can appear suspicious. Photos of fuel dumps have been presented as “smoking gun” chemtrail evidence, and some chemtrail-watchers maintain (without any evidence) that fake fuel dumping masks chemtrail-spraying operations.

Pilots dump excess jet fuel in order to meet the weight requirements for safe landing. Fuel is usually dumped at high altitude so it will dissipate in the air, exiting from special ports on the wings.  One useful way to distinguish fuel dumping from wingtip contrails is to note the distance between the plume and the plane. Remember, contrails appear a short distance behind the plane, because it takes some time for the ice crystals to form. Dumped fuel, on the other hand, comes directly from the fuel-dumping ports. There will be no distance between the plume and the plane. Online, you’re going to find a lot of confusing information about this. The fuel-dumping Navy E-6A TACAMO in the photo above, for instance, is often identified as a chemtrail plane, and emails posted on a Rense.com page convincingly insist this particular plane has no room for extra fuel nor a fuel dumping system. Those plumes must be chemtrails! You have to scroll nearly halfway down the page before you reach a comment from a former TACAMO pilot who sets the matter straight: There are fuel dump chutes on the E-6A, and they are located exactly where you see them in the photo. Even if the E-6A was a chemtrail plane, it should be noted there are only about 16 of them in existence.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for fuel dumping stipulate that fuel must be dumped at a minimum altitude of 2,000 feet, and that a dumping aircraft must be at least five miles away from other aircraft. 
Air traffic controllers are instructed to direct planes dumping fuel away from populated areas and large bodies of water as often as possible. The same guidelines apply to military aircraft, and most air bases  permit fuel dumping only in designated areas.
Obviously, fuel dumps contain more chemicals than jet exhaust or contrails do (the ingredients of jet fuel and jet exhaust are laid out in the first post of this series), and some of the fuel undoubtedly reaches water, vegetation and soil. The good news is that because fuel dump systems are costly and the newer jets don’t actually require them, many aircraft are not equipped with them.

This is not to say that the FAA regulations are always followed, or that fuel dumps haven’t caused serious problems, especially in residential areas close to large airports. For example, in 1998, a World Airways flight dumped 13,000 gallons of jet fuel over Glen Burnie, Maryland, prior to an emergency landing at Baltimore/Washington International Airport, dousing a mother and son in fumes that reportedly caused skin irritation and headaches. The incident spurred state representatives to sponsor legislation that would have required Baltimore/Washington International to monitor and disclose all fuel dumping incidents. The airport opposed the bill as “unworkable”, and it was ultimately shot down. 
In Canada, there have been 577 recorded instances of fuel dumping since 1993.

 

Cloud seeding and hail mitigation

We’ll be getting into a lot more detail about cloud seeding in a post about weather modification, but it’s important to mention it here because it is a somewhat controversial (yet very common) use of aerial spraying that is frequently mentioned among chemtrail-watchers.

Cloud seeding doesn’t create new clouds. When successful, it turns existing clouds into rainclouds using silver iodide, dry ice, or liquid propane. Silver iodide is the most commonly used substance. Put very simply, cloud seeding is the introduction of particles that can serve as nuclei for ice crystal formation. Under the right conditions, the cloud will precipitate (rain or snow).
For clouds to be successfully “seeded” with silver iodide, they must contain supercooled liquid water (below 0 Celsius). Under the right conditions, the silver iodide’s crystalline, ice-like structure will trigger the nucleation of ice crystals.
Dry ice or propane, on the other hand, cool the air so that ice crystals can nucleate from vapour, even without any existing droplets or particles.

The same basic method is used for hail mitigation, which aims to reduce the size of hailstones that form in a cloud (as its name makes clear, the process can rarely eliminate hail entirely). This is done primarily to prevent crop damage.

Cloud seeding can be done with ground-based generators or projectiles (rockets, anti-aircraft guns, etc.), but the cloud seeding done over drought-ridden areas is almost always accomplished with silver iodide flares dropped from small, low-flying planes.

There is conflicting evidence as to just how effective cloud seeding can be. The American Meteorological Society is only vaguely supportive of the practice, noting the many drawbacks and uncertainties of weather modification and encouraging further research. An eight-year experiment in Oklahoma and Texas, conducted over a 5,000-square-mile area, showed that cloud seeding increased rainfall, the length of storms and the area in which rain fell. But in 2003, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences declared research had not yet produced evidence that weather modification can create “verifiable, repeatable changes in rainfall, hail fall, and snowfall”. A 2010 Israeli study offered disappointing results.
Those who deem cloud seeding effective worry that forcing precipitation in one area may deprive another area of rainfall. Cloud seeding operations have even been accused of causing droughts, and numerous lawsuits have been filed against cloud-seeders by outraged farmers over the years.

In spite of the doubts, there are state-funded cloud seeding programs in 11 drought-prone U.S. states and one Canadian province (Alberta). Typically, private companies are contracted to do the work.  (13)
A few countries, like Niger and Russia, have sporadic national programs carried out by their air forces (the Russian one has been almost comically unsuccessful). The Inter State Committee Against Drought in the Sahel sponsors cloud seeding in several West African nations. China, which has extensive cloud-seeding programs, famously boasted that scientists in Beijing’s Weather Modification Office staved off rain during the 2008 summer Olympics by strategically launching 1,104 rockets containing silver iodide from 21 sites in the city. It seemed to work, but the results of their cloud-seeding programs are still being debated.
Because it’s an expensive process with no guarantee of success, few individual business operations hire cloud seeders. The notable exceptions are large ski resorts, which have paid cloud seeders to increase snowfall on their slopes.

A widely-circulated video (below) features a secretly recorded “chemtrail pilot” describing “silver iodide weather manipulation”. The tone of the video makes it all sound very sinister, but the pilot is openly discussing methods that have been in use since the ’50s. Note that the cameraman presents zero evidence that anything other than ordinary cloud seeding or hail mitigation is being conducted by the company.

Cloud seeding to increase precipitation, hail mitigation and fog suppression are the only weather modification services that can be offered at present, because that’s all we know how to do. Contrary to bizarre stories about HAARP-created hurricanes, and an overly enthusiastic military “study” released in 1996, we don’t possess the means of artificially controlling entire weather systems, steering thunderstorms and whipping up tornadoes and whatnot.

Part of the problem with cloud seeding is that we literally don’t know clouds at all. Precisely how and why clouds form and behave is still a matter of intensive study, with cloud physicists still conducting research into why lightning develops in some stormclouds but not others and how cosmic rays may affect cloud nucleation (just last year, CERN published results from a study called Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets, or CLOUD).

Firefighting

Aerial firefighting drills and even actual firefighting are sometimes mistaken for chemtrail spraying, despite the extremely low altitudes of the planes.

The first firefighting planes were modified WWII bombers, and most firefighting planes still use the same gravity drop system; tanks are fitted with doors that open to discharge their contents. This type of system requires aircraft to fly at extremely low altitudes (around 200 feet), which takes highly skilled pilots.

Since the early ’70s, The U.S. Forest Service has used military aircraft from the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard (in addition to aircraft owned by private companies under contract) to help fight wildfires. For this, a small number of C-130H planes have been modified to carry tanks known as Modular Airborne FireFighting Systems (MAFFS).
Aerial firefighting uses different combinations of water and the following flame retardant chemicals:

  • Ammonium-based retardants with water-thickening agents added (either clay or a guar gum derivative).
  • Fire-retardant gels. These are thick slurries made up of superabsorbent polymers that absorb hundreds of times their weight in water, creating millions of tiny water droplets surrounded by  a polymer shell. These “bubblets” form a thermal shield over surfaces.
  • Firefighting foam (similar to fire-retardant gels, except the bubbles contain air instead of water)

Fire retardants typically contain preservatives, wetting agents, and rust inhibitors, and are often coloured with red ferric oxide to mark where they have been dispersed.

Aside from the ferric oxide, metals are not used in firefighting, so this would not account for elevated amounts of aluminum or other metal oxides supposedly being found in environmental samples.

Everblue: The Great Evergreen Conspiracy

The photo above (original source unknown), and a lot of photos and videos just like it, regularly appear online as a “chemtrail plane in action”:

You may notice that in a lot of these photos and videos, “Evergreen” is emblazoned on the side of the plane. So what are these sinister Evergreen planes that spray plumes of poison upon us from such low altitudes?
Actually, it’s just one plane. It’s the Boeing 747-100 Supertanker, modified by Evergreen Aviation specifically to fight fires. Evergreen has been contracted to aerially fight fires for 60 years, so it stands to reason they would want to develop bigger, better firefighting aircraft. Their other firefighting aircraft are mostly helicopters.
The Evergreen Supertanker is the largest firefighting aircraft in the world. It can hold over 20,000 gallons of flame retardant, and can fly slightly higher than the average firefighting aircraft – up to 600 feet. It was used for the first time in 2009, fighting fires in Spain and California

Currently, the U.S. Forest Service is not employing the Evergreen Supertanker for its firefighting efforts, as discussed in an Evergreen Aviation statement issued last month.  Forest Service regulations limit the agency to tankers that hold a maximum of 500 gallons. The expense of maintaining the Supertanker and keeping it on standby can’t be met with call-when-needed contracts like those offered by the Forest Service, so Evergreen takes only exclusive-use contracts. The Supertanker is not a military aircraft, and Evergreen is a private corporation that has both military and civilian contracts.

Among many chemtrail researchers, Evergreen Aviation is something very different. It’s a a CIA front, and instead of having one Supertanker, it has an entire secret fleet of them – a cleverly disguised death squadron. Here are some examples:

A post at Aircrap.org declares that Evergreen Air is a CIA front company for U.S. chemtrail operations, based out of Pinal Airpark (formerly Marana Army Airfield) near Tucson and McMinville, Oregon. The entire article is cut and pasted from a 2011 “article” by one Joan Biakov, “Evergreen Aviation Admits to Chemtrail Contracts with USAF”. The title is massively misleading, because the article itself says nada about USAF-Evergreen contracts.  Zero evidence to support the CIA claim is provided. Biakov thinks tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes can be artificially created and controlled with ground- and space-based lasers, making me wonder why she’s concerned about airplanes in the first place. Why am I starting to get the feeling this Evergreen conspiracy theory is a little thin on facts?
When I spoke to the woman who filmed the “chemtrail planes” video, she explained that she became suspicious of Evergreen because the company denies its presence at Pinal Airpark, posts armed guards, and will not allow private planes to land at Pinal (a public facility). These would all be excellent grounds for suspicion and concern. But I learned that Evergreen Aviation does not deny its presence at Pinal (in fact, they have a website devoted entirely to their operation), and that routine military training exercises are sometimes conducted there (which could account for temporary closures and extra security).

Let’s see what Intel Hub has to say. Here’s a 2011 article titled “Former Secret Chemtrail Facility Revealed, Evergreen Air“. Also a misleading title; the only facilities mentioned are the two openly occupied by Evergreen.
But wait, they have a chemtrail whistleblower! Back in  2010, Intel Hub reporter Shepard Ambellas interviewed a man who said he had worked at Evergreen’s Arizona installation in the early ’90s. He helped outfit 727 and 747-C planes with liquid discharge tanks and aerosol spray devices. He also spotted mysterious triangular aircraft and fully-functional WWII bombers in the hangars.

— sarcasm break —-

I’m sure this guy is legit. He showed Ambellas some documentation to back up his claims (Ambellas doesn’t provide any of it to us, but that’s OK. I don’t need to see it to know it’s authentic). He won’t reveal his name or even give a pseudonym, so you know he’s a real whistleblower. Every good whistleblower realizes that when you possess sensitive information that could get you killed, the safest and wisest thing to do is to keep your identity a secret while exposing that information. The bad guys won’t dare go after you if you expose them anonymously! I mean, your death would look way too suspicious! The cops and reporters would be all over that!

Also, I think it makes a lot of sense that the Supertanker was unveiled with massive amounts of publicity and continues to be heavily promoted, while the nearly identical tankers developed 30 years ago were deployed without a peep. When you have a unique, costly product with lots of overhead expenses, it’s always a good idea to keep it hidden from 99% of your potential customers for a few decades.

— end of sarcasm break —

Okay, so let me see if I can get this conspiracy theory straight. Evergreen planes, including the Supertanker and possibly a hidden fleet of Supertankers, are engaged in a secret chemtrail-spraying program that somehow involves agencies of the government. Let’s say the CIA is one those agencies. The whole “firefighting” thing is just a cover for Evergreen’s real raison d’etre: Spraying metallic and/or chemical stuff on us from ridiculously low altitudes, for some nefarious purpose(s).

But the U.S. Forestry Service, a powerful federal agency, refuses to employ the Supertanker for its ostensible purpose, which would help make the firefighting cover story look believable? And the CIA can’t find a way to override that decision? How does this make sense? 

There’s only one part of the Evergreen conspiracy theory that’s solid. Evergreen does (or at least did) have CIA ties. According to a series of articles published in the Oregonian in 1988, Evergreen’s founder, Delford Smith, admitted to “one agreement under which his companies provide occasional jobs and cover to foreign nationals the CIA wants taken out of other countries or brought into the United States.”
Other evidence cited in support of a CIA-Evergreen link is weak. A would-be terrorist by the name of Russell Defreitas told authorities he wanted to blow up the fuel tanks at JFK International Airport because he had seen missiles destined for shipment to Israel via Evergreen International when he worked there, years earlier.
Also, Pinal Airpark was the base of operations for known CIA front companies (Intermountain Aviation, Air America) during Vietnam, and as previously noted, some military training still goes on there.

The Supertanker probably came under suspicion for two other reasons: It sprays stuff, and Evergreen states on its own website that it’s looking into non-firefighting applications such as oil spill containment (spraying oil dispersants), chemical decontamination and weather modification

What they mean by weather modification is, of course, cloud seeding and hail mitigation. Those are the only types of airplane-related weather modification we have. But as we’ve already seen in the ridiculous “chemtrail pilot” video above, chemtrail-watchers assume there could be some other, secret form of weather modification happening. 

What all of the Evergreen conspiracy people fail to grasp is that there is one Evergreen Supertanker. ONE. It can’t be spraying an entire state, much less the entire Western world. And judging by last month’s plea to the public, Evergreen isn’t making enough money from one Supertanker to justify the creation of any more. There isn’t a Supertanker fleet, and there isn’t going to be one anytime soon.

 

Non-Agricultural Pesticide Spraying (Vector Control)

A pesticide is any substance intended to kill pests: small animals, insects, weeds, bacteria, fungi, etc. When pesticide is used on a large scale to destroy disease vectors like rats, mosquitoes or lice, the process is known as vector control.

Military forces have long sprayed pesticides in theatres of operation where disease-carrying insects pose a threat to ground troops. This began in WWII, with the use of DDT to kill off typhus-bearing lice and Anopheles mosquitoes (the 450 species that transmit Plasmodium, the micro-organism that causes malaria). The spraying was only part of the Allies’ anti-malaria campaign, though. Soldiers were also encouraged to keep their bodies well-covered at all times and sleep beneath mosquito-proof netting.

 Dr. Seuss created Ann, the killer mosquito, as part of the army’s anti-malaria campaign.

 

Domestically, air forces often spray over hurricane-affected areas to reduce the mosquito population and prevent the spread of disease.
USAF pesticide spraying is usually carried out by the 910th Airlift Wing. The unit has six Modular Aerial Spray Systems (MASS), with four aircraft modified to carry them. Each MASS can hold 2,000 gallons of liquid and can spray 232 gallons per minute, dispensing 3-15 gallons per acre. It’s one of the only units equipped for the task (the 757th Airlift Squadron hasfour C-130H2 aircraft modified to accept MASS units, which were used for pesticide spraying in the wake of Katrina, but these planes aren’t available for aerial spraying on a full-time basis).

On the municipal level, many cities have pest control programs to prevent the spread of West Nile virus, combat local tree pests, or lessen the nuisance factor of certain bugs. The work is sometimes contracted out to the lowest bidder, and/or conducted jointly with area universities.
For example, the city of Winnipeg’s Insect Control program sprays insecticide (“fogs”) in many public areas during years when the mosquito population is expected to be high, in addition to larviciding operations focused on the region’s primary vector species, Culex tarsalis and Culex restuans. They currently use permethrin and malathion for fogging, which is done not by aircraft, but by truck-mounted aerosol sprayers. They also have spraying programs aimed at three elm-destroying pests, the Spiny Elm caterpillar, cankerworms and Elm Bark Beetles.
The program provides 8-hour advance warning of all fogging operations to the public via their website, and gives the names of all pesticides used.

Aerial insecticide spraying has fallen out of favour when it comes to vector control, because it can kill off non-targeted bugs and annoy the hell out of granola-eaters like myself. It must be done at very low altitudes (about 100 feet) to be effective, requiring skilled pilots and considerable expense. Largely for these reasons, public health workers that are fighting malaria in Africa, where the disease kills an estimated 3000 children every day, prefer the time-honored method of spraying the interiors of individual homes. This practice faces harsh resistance from organic cotton farmers who worry their product will be decertified if tainted by the slightest amount of insecticide, however, so NGOs dedicated to ending malaria in Africa (Roll Back Malaria, Malaria No More, etc.) tout mosquito netting treated with chrysanthemum-derived pyrethroid insecticides as the most effective method of stopping the disease. Unfortunately, a 2003 study found that an average of 55% of African households given treated bed nets actually used them over sleeping children. This amounts to roughly 20 million children – an impressive number, but far from enough to make an impact.  (14)

The major problem with any long-term spraying or netting program is that insects will eventually develop resistance to the insecticides. This is what happened during the World Health Organization’s mosquito eradication campaign in the ’60s, as discussed in the DDT section below.

Crop dusting

Crop dusting is the aerial spraying of insecticides and herbicides over crops for the purpose of killing off certain insects and weeds. Fertilizers and seed can also be aerially sprayed, a practice sometimes referred to as “topdressing”. Crop dusting has been done regularly all over the world since the 1920s.
The first aerial pesticide spraying experiment was conducted over an Ohio field on August 3, 1921 – interestingly, by the same Lt. Macready whose La Pere plane left the first known persistent contrail over Ohio’s McCook Field that same year. The USAF was exploring a broad range of uses for aircraft in those days, and pesticide spraying had potential military applications. Disease had ravaged the trenches of WWI.

DDT

During WWII, a synthetic pesticide known as DDT was used to de-louse soldiers (lice carry typhus), and as vector control against malaria-spreading mosquitoes. This was the first use of airplane-mounted spray devices during wartime.
The chemical had been sitting on the shelf, so to speak, for over a century before a Swiss researcher discovered its powerful insecticidal properties. Allied planes were rigged with specially designed tanks to spray the “new” pesticide in mosquito-infested regions.

DDT proved so effective against pests that it was introduced as an agricultural and household insecticide back home after the war. It was hailed by many as the answer to malaria, one of the world’s oldest and most stubborn diseases. Beginning in 1946, 250 tons of DDT were sprayed on Sardinia, reducing its malaria rates from 75,000 to 9 in just 5 years.  (14)
The fledgling World Health Organization launched a global mosquito eradication campaign with DDT a few years later (excluding Africa, where malaria was – and is – most difficult to defeat). This effort consisted of spraying the interiors of individual dwellings twice a year, using 2 grams per square foot of DDT. Malaria rates plummeted. The campaign was so successful that in the early ’50s the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine published a series of lectures with the triumphant title Man’s Mastery of Malaria.
Then problems developed. Chicken deaths and ephemeral suspicions turned rural villagers against DDT spraying, Ghandi voiced opposition the program on religious grounds (the intentional killing of living creatures), and – worst of all – mosquitoes and other pests were developing resistance to DDT. By 1962, the London School of Hygiene was fretting about this. At the same time, concerns about the toxicity of DDT were growing.

the cover of a 1947 DDT handbook issued by the USDA

Even in the early ’50s, some scientists considered DDT too toxic for general use. There was little federal regulation of pesticide production at that time, so chemicals could be put on the market with minimal testing and very little quality control. The problems with DDT are manifold. The big problem is, it’s a persistent organic pollutant that bioaccumulates, remaining in the food chain until animals near the top (mostly birds) sicken and die. Concerns about its effects spawned one of the most influential and enduring works of environmental literature, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962). The book was not just about DDT, but all the synthetic chemical pesticides.
At the time Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, there were two classes of insecticides in wide use: Chlorinated hydrocarbons (DDT, chlordane, endrin, etc.) and organic phosphates (parathion, malathion, etc.). Surprisingly, Carson identified endrin as the deadliest of all. It seems DDT became the focus of public concern not because it was the most toxic insecticide, but because it was the most popular one. By this time, over 30,000 tonnes were being sprayed annually. Entire nations relied on it as a vector control to halt the spread of malaria, typhus and dengue fever. Many African countries and large parts of India still use it to prevent malaria, coating the interiors of homes and businesses.
Nonetheless, WHO halted its mosquito eradication program in 1969, and no comparable effort has been undertaken since.

In 1971 and ’72, in response to public pressure, the EPA held DDT review hearings that lasted for seven months, resulting in the insecticide being banned for most uses.

Why was DDT being used in Africa and India even as Westerners campaigned fiercely against it? Because it worked. When DDT was sprayed, malaria went away. When the spraying stopped, malaria swept through the land like a scythe.

It is seen as the lesser of two evils. Would you rather die of malaria now, or live a much longer life that may end by DDT-related health defects?
This devil’s bargain is still hotly debated among scientists, public health officials, and think tanks, with barbed comments flying in every direction. Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute and Africa Fighting Malaria promotes DDT use. So does the Hudson Institute.  (14)
WHO plans to phase out DDT use within the next decade.

Believers in the depopulation conspiracy theory have a divided opinion of DDT, too. Some view it as part of a flat-out chemical assault on humanity, banned only because a few brave souls fought doggedly against the establishment. Others think DDT is a boon to mankind, and was banned by those who want us to die from malaria or bubonic plague. Marjorie Mazel Hecht, in a 1997 edition of the LaRouche organizations’s Executive Intelligence Review, declared, “DDT is the ‘mother’ of environmental hoaxes.” In Hecht’s opinion, the EPA had already proven it to be safe after seven months of hearings, then administrator William Ruckelshaus banned it solely because it had saved millions of lives.

Spraying Today

There continue to be major concerns about the toxicity of the chemicals used in crop dusting. For instance, the safety of Roundup, the world’s most popular brand of herbicide, has been called into question (8), and the neonicotinoid pesticides are strong suspects in mass bee deaths (colony collapse disorder). But there is really no way that crop dusting could be honestly mistaken for “chemtrail spraying”. It involves small planes rather than jets, and is done at extremely low altitudes by skilled pilots (we’ve all seen North by Northwest, right?). No metals are involved (metal-based insecticides were phased out years ago). If you tried to alter the weather or cool the climate or kill vast numbers of people by spraying selected crops with pesticides at low altitude, you would fail.

Oil Dispersal 

When you spill a lot of crude oil (I mean a lot of oil), there a limited number of ways in which you can clean it up. That’s why every time there’s a massive oil spill or leak, crackpots leap out of their basement labs to share their ideas about staunching the flow with giant vacuum cleaners or giant mattress pads.

One of the slightly saner methods of dealing with marine oil disasters is the use of chemical oil dispersants, which are commonly sprayed from low-flying aircraft. As mentioned earlier, the 910th Airlift Wing of the USAF Reserve has an Aerial Spray Squadron equipped with six Modular Aerial Spray Systems (MASS) and four C-130H planes modified to use them. Each MASS has a 2,000 gallon capacity and can spray up to 232 gallons of liquid per minute. We’ll be seeing the MASS again in a post about chemtrail whistleblowers.

The use of dispersants is controversial, and there are serious concerns about the health effects of the dispersant Corexit, used after both the Exxon Valdez and Gulf oil spills. But as with firefighting and crop dusting, aerial oil dispersal just doesn’t fit neatly into any possible chemtrail scenario. We’re talking about low-flying, easily recognizable aircraft performing a highly specific task. This can’t account for “strange” contrails, barium in the water, or anything else connected to the chemtrail phenomenon.

Ionospheric experiments using aerosols

Ionospheric research plays a huge role in chemtrail theories, and we’ll be getting into a lot more detail about it in later posts dealing with HAARP and weather modification. For now, we’ll just lightly touch on the subject, even though the experiments mentioned here don’t involve airplanes.

The ionosphere is the multi-layered zone of electrons and electrically charged atoms and molecules (ions) that surrounds our planet. If the atmosphere was a parfait (everybody likes parfait), the ionsphere would be like the whipped cream topping, mixing with both the chocolate shavings (the exosphere) and the top layer (the thermosphere), where the air is so thin that free electrons can bounce around for short periods of time before being captured by positive ions. The negative free electrons and the positive ions are attracted to each other by the electromagnetic energy from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, but are too energetic to remain in an electrically neutral molecule, creating a plasma. The plasma in these ionized portions of the atmosphere is the ionosphere, which extends from a height of about 30 miles above the earth’s surface to more than 360 miles. This is where auroras are made.

Northern Lights over Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

 (source)

The ionosphere has mirror-like effects, making it an excellent reflector of radio waves. Countless military and civilian operations rely on it for their communications systems, groups as diverse as the U.S. Navy and the BBC. Much of the ionospheric research mentioned here is done, in large part, because of concerns that such communications will be disrupted or even shut down entirely by solar activity or “enemy” technology, but scientists are deeply interested in the chemical composition and behaviour of the ionosphere.

Studying the ionosphere is problematic. Its lower levels are below the orbital altitudes needed for satellites, yet far too high up for balloons or aircraft. Nonetheless, ground-based tests utilizing sounding equipment (ionosondes) and satellites began in the early ’60s.
Then, in the mid-’60s, scientists hit upon the idea of using rockets to shoot barium into the ionosphere, creating “clouds” of barium particles that would be ionized by the sun’s ultraviolet light, then become trapped by Earth’s magnetic field, making magnetic field lines briefly visible to ground- or air-based observers. These “clouds” are essentially artificial auroras.
In later experiments, barium clouds were released from satellites. Lithium and aluminum have also been  used. These aerosol (particle) injections have been observed to stimulate a number of changes in the plasma of the ionosphere, contributing greatly to our knowledge of how the upper atmosphere works and responds.

Not all the post-’60s ionospheric experiments have involved particle injection, though. Radio research – much of it “passive”, in scientific parlance – is now the primary source of information about the ionosphere. The Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, made famous by the movie Contact, was originally set up to study the ionosphere. Now it’s one of many incoherent scatter radars used in ionosphere research, along with coherent scatter radars like the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network.
HAARP, the shadowy behemoth at the heart of so many chemtrail theories, uses high-frequency radio waves (up to 3.6 megawatts, roughly three times more than a typical broadcast radio transmitter) to accelerate the electrons in the ionosphere, creating artificial auroras and even bullseye patterns.

But we’re only dealing with aerosol tests at the moment, so here are some of the ionospheric plasma injection experiments that involved barium or other substances:

  • In June 1976, a barium plasma injection experiment was performed at the ERDA test facility on Kauai (ERDA was absorbed into the U.S. Department of Energy the following year, so that’s probably why you’ve never heard of it).
  • In 1989, barium injection experiments were conducted with the CRIT-II rocket to investigate the critical ionization velocity theory first proposed in the ’40s.
  • The Active Plasma Experiment (APEX), conducted throughout the ’90s, was a joint project involving several countries. The APEX and MAGION-3 satellites were launched into orbit in 1991. In January 1999, U.S. researchers launched a sounding rocket from the Poker Flats Research Range into the ionosphere. Aluminum was used in this experiment.
  • In the Combined Release and Radiation Effects satellite (CRRES) experiments of 1991, NASA and Air Force researchers released barium and lithium vapours from the satellite over Brazil, creating balls of blue-green light in the sky. The CRRES satellite was launched in 1990. The project was intended to provide information about the magnetosphere and magnetic disturbances in space (which can affect power transmission and satellite communications).
  • The Coqui experiments: In the spring and summer of 1992 and again in early 1998, NASA (in conjunction with the Arecibo Observatory) launched Nike-Tomahawk, Black Brant, IX and VC sounding rockets into the ionosphere from Puerto Rico to create artificial disturbances in the ionosphere, studying its reactions. Instead of barium, the project used trimethylaluminium (TMA). The Coqui launches were declared a success by NASA, although the chemical payloads of the rockets were never recovered and there was strident opposition to the experiments from locals who worried about the environmental and health effects of TMA.

Today, many chemtrail researchers perusing research papers on these barium experiments see the words “barium” and “cloud” and  conclude that contrails and/or some of the clouds we see in the sky could actually be man-made barium clouds. I have found excerpts from this 1980 paper on numerous chemtrail websites. But barium particles released into the lower levels of the atmosphere (the troposphere or stratosphere) are not going to behave the same way as particles released into the ionosphere.

Confusion is understandable. The plasma physicists who deeply understand this stuff could probably fit into a shower stall.

Biowarfare Simulation Tests

In the ’50s, fears of Soviet biological and chemical warfare ran high in the West, and several nations decided to conduct simulated biological/chemical “attacks” to find out just how far a pathogen released into the open air or water could spread. Canada, the UK, the U.S., and several Scandinavian countries conducted such tests. In the U.S., these experiments included:

– The release of pathogens into the Ft. Detrick ventilation system
Project 112 (1962-1973), officially denied until CBS News exposed it in 2000
Project SHAD (a 112 subproject)

What we’re going to examine here are the aerial spraying tests. Zinc cadmium sulfide was chosen for the trials because it fluoresces under light, making it easy for researchers to track its dispersal. Also, the particles used were similar in size to inhalable anthrax, considered to be the Soviet biowarfare agent of choice.
In 1953, in Fort Detrick’s Project Saint Jo, cadmium was released over Winnipeg, St. Louis, Minneapolis, the Monocacy River Valley, and Leesburg. Testing continued over Minnesota, Texas and Florida throughout the ’50s. The first three cities were selected because they were close in size to Moscow, Kiev and Leningrad, respectively.  (4)
The Army’s Operation LAC, conducted in ’57 and ’58, was the largest-scale testing ever undertaken by the Chemical Corps, extending across much of the nation east of the Rockies. LAC used a modified  C-119 “Flying Boxcar” borrowed from the Air Force to release zinc cadmium sulfide particles. A typical flight would cover 400 miles and release about 5,000 pounds of particles, which were found up to 12,000 miles away from the flight line. One of these spraying operations occurred directly over my hometown.

That same year, joint military/CIA tests involving airborne S. marcescens and B. globigii bacteria were conducted in New York City and San Francisco (sprayed from ships and vans). Stanford University doctors were baffled by a sudden outbreak of S. Marcescens, which resulted in one death.  (4)

Britain’s secret biological warfare experiments, conducted by Porton Down scientists from 1940-1979, were nearly identical. Most of the experiments used germ-like substitutes. In the aerial spraying tests conducted between 1953 and 1964, only four personnel were directly involved in dispersing the zinc cadmium sulfide particles, using a  Venturi aerosol generator mounted on a Valetta plane. Salisbury was the first test site. Cadmium was sprayed 40 miles away from the city, continuing for 100 miles with a pound of suspension sprayed per mile.  (15)
In 1963, trials off the coast of Dorset sprayed E. coli and B. globigii from a ship called the Icewhale, using agricultural sprayers. After the Icewhale experiments, air experiments were conducted using a modified cameral bomber to hold up to 1000 gallons of bacteria suspension. In 1967, E. coli and B. globigii were sprayed over RAF Tarant in Dorset. In ’68 and ’71, several joint USAF/Ministry of Defense. Detection Demonstration trials were conducted over Lyme and Weymouth Bay. These seem to have been the final tests involving aerial spraying; the subsequent Dice trails (conducted 1971-1975) employed a modified Land Rover to spray S. marcescens, an anthrax simulant and phenol. (16)
Fluorescent particles were also sprayed from modified vans in Cardington, Bedfordshire and in Norwich, Norfolk.

The “Fluorescent Particle Trials” raised tremendous public outcry when they came to light in the ’90s. There is concern about the long-term health effects of cadmium exposure. Residents in sprayed areas had not been informed of what was going on, and no toxicological tests had been run immediately after the trials. Cadmium is a toxic metal known to cause respiratory problems. All the workers involved with the spraying wore full protective gear.  (15)
In 1997, the U.S. National Research Council’s Subcommittee on Zinc Cadmium Sulfide published a Toxicological Assessment of the Army’s ZCS Dispersion Tests. The conclusion was that no adverse health effects had occurred.
Two years later, in the UK, a National Academy of Medical Sciences inquiry led by Dr. Peter Lachmann concluded the tests were not harmful, as industrial emissions release far more cadmium into the air than the vans and planes did. Though the Ministry of Defense cooperated with this official inquiry, Lachmann was not even told about the Dice trials.  (15)
A 2006 Imperial College study originally found that throat cancer rates were unusually high in Norfolk, but the study was later readjusted. The conclusion is now that cancer rates were not unusually high. This is disputed by some Norfolk families in which esophageal cancer.is frighteningly common, (16)
Another review of the trials, conducted by Brian Spratt, found possible health risks only to severely ill people, but Spratt was concerned that Porton Down used four batches of bacterial suspension that had “substantial levels” of contamination. He concluded that the use of zinc cadmium sulfide was “not very sensible”. (15)

The Washington Windshield Pitting “Epidemic”

This incident apparently didn’t involve any aerial spraying, but I’d like to briefly examine it here to note the strong parallels between chemtrails and the odd rumours and theories that mushroomed out of the “windshield pitting” panic of 1954.

In late March of that year, car owners in the town of Bellingham, Washington, reported an unusually high number of pits, scratches and cracks in their windshields.
Kids with BB guns became the first suspects, but as reports of windshield damage began to spring up in Mount Vernon, Sedro Woolley, and even Fidalgo Island over the following days, more exotic theories developed. Many suspected some airborne chemical, like a corrosive emission from industry (there were reports of a black, sooty residue in connection with pitted windshields, widely believed to be carbon). Others thought a passing meteor had blasted their cars with space-pebbles. Some thought that a million watt radio transmitter installed by the Navy at Jim Creek was causing oscillations in glass. The Navy Commander in charge of Jim Creek, George Warren, pointed out that a windshield would have to be several miles wide to match the frequency of the transmitter, and that no pitting was being found at Jim Creek. Many feared  the damage came from radioactive fallout from either Soviet or U.S. military tests. Many thought sand flea eggs embedded in the glass were responsible. Others blamed cosmic rays or a shift in the earth’s magnetic field.
The BB theory was dismissed by most Washingtonians after Marines at the Whidbey Island Naval Station noticed damage to windshields at the high-security facility. Whidbey Island Sheriff Tom Clark speculated that radioactivity from recent H-bomb tests in the South Pacific was responsible, so Geiger counters were run over windshields and people who had touched the pit marks. None were radioactive. Still, Sheriff Clark was convinced that “no human agency” could have created the dimples in the glass.  (18)

This was not a small-town phenomenon. On March 23, 1954, reports of the Bellingham mystery had appeared in Seattle newspapers, and over the next 21 days, reports of damaged windshields crept steadily closer to Seattle. Spokane, Tacoma, Olympia and Seattle suburbs soon had rashes of reports. Motorists began stopping police cars to report damage. Auto dealerships and parking garages complained of massive pitting.
Then the reports spread even farther afield, with thousands of pitted windshields spotted throughout Stark County, Ohio, in the first half of April. Police officers there tried to simulate the damage by peppering glass with various projectiles, but never got to the bottom of the mystery.
The Automobile Club of Washington offered a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any windshield-damaging culprits.

Washington Governor Arthur B. Langlie called for a scientific investigation, so a committee of University of Washington scientists was formed to examine the problem. It was headed by chemist John Manley, and included professors from the physics and meteorology departments, in addition to Dr. Ross Kusian, head of the university’s Environmental Research Lab. Kusion’s lab set up an electrostatic precipitator on a campus rooftop. The device bombarded glass with particles drawn out of the air to determine if airborne pollutants could be causing all the pitting. Pellets collected by a resident of the Leavenhurst district of Seattle were analyzed by Dr. G.E. Goodspeed, and found to be neither radioactive nor meteoric. Rather, they were of glasslike tecktite composition. The scientists even examined cars parked on campus, noting that older cars seemed more prone to windshield damage. (Duh.)
Carbon was quickly eliminated as a suspect, because particles large enough to ding windshield glass would also have an effect on many other, softer materials, including automotive paint and human flesh – yet no such damage was being reported.  Aside from a few isolated reports of damage to house windows, this was strictly a windshield-related phenomenon.
Enterprising residents conducted their own tests. Robert H. Scott of Mountlake Terrace placed sheets of glass on his lawn overnight to see if they developed the same kind of pits as his windshield. He reported that they did, but didn’t render his glass samples for scientific analysis. Similar anecdotal results popped up in news stories, without corroboration. Meanwhile, the paper and fabric covers that people were placing over their cars sustained no damage or mysterious marks.

On April 14, the pits struck Seattle. This was not unheard-of; in 1952, there had been a spate of reports about vehicles on the city’s Harbor Island having chipped paint and windshields. This earlier cluster of windshield damage was dissimilar to the windshield-pitting, though, and the scale was far larger this time.
The epidemic peaked dramatically the following day. Throughout April 15, Seattle law enforcement offices were inundated with complaints of windshield pitting. City police fielded 242 phone calls from residents, reporting pitting in over 3,000 windshields, according to a 1958 study by Nahum Medalia of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Otto Larsen of the University of Washington. One police survey of 1600 cars in a Seattle parking lot revealed that 653 of them had windshield damage.  (19)
Seattle Mayor Allan Pomeroy promptly fired off a telegraph to the White House, requesting that Eisenhower launch a federal scientific investigation into Washington’s dinged windshields.
This was the same day that 30 police officers in the western part of Washington convened and issued a declaration that the pitting was being caused by “some form of ash”. Just how they reached this conclusion was entirely unclear, as ash would certainly not account for the “bubbling” that Olympia Police Chief Roy Kelly claimed to have witnessed happening on his own windshield. Two Seattle sheriff’s deputies also claimed to have watched pits form in the windshield of a pie truck right before their eyes that afternoon.

Sergeant Max Allison of the Seattle police crime lab took this opportunity to declare the “epidemic” to be 5% windshield damage caused by vandals, and 95% public hysteria. He pointed out that while windshield damage was certainly common, it was not new or different. The survey of 1600 Seattle cars had indicated that 97% of the vehicle owners with damaged windshields knew precisely how they had been damaged, and the causes were not in any way unusual or mysterious.  (18)
This may have put an end to the panic. The number of reports plummeted overnight, and by the end of the month the epidemic was at an end. The scientific investigations, having found little more than normal windshield damage and some coal dust, were quietly wrapped up. But the incident would provide rich fodder for further scientific research, particularly among sociologists interested in outbreaks of mass delusion.

Newspaper stories undoubtedly caused “pitting” sightings to increase and the panic to spread, just as local TV news segments and Internet videos are alerting people to “chemtrails” today. Although windshield pitting is incredibly common – take your new car out on the freeway and tell me it isn’t – it was only when the media called attention to it that people actually scrutinized their windshields and noticed minor damage they had previously overlooked or ignored.
Military technology, little-understood by the general population, was blamed, just as the baffling HAARP project is linked to chemtrails today. Nowadays we realize that a radio transmitter cannot ding your windshield, but at the time it seemed as likely a possibility to some Seattleites as sand fleas or graphite pellets.
Cosmic rays, too, were little-understood at the time, hence made a handy scapegoat. As journalist Jim Faber later commented, ““I’m pretty sure that the general schmos, that is, the more pitiful public, was ready to explain the windshield pits as thousands of tiny UFOs dropped from high altitudes by communists to dishearten us.”

An article at Hooniverse.com asks of the Great Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic, “Could it happen again?”
Sorry, car guys. It’s already happening again.

“Arrest that flea.”

* And that’s where Faygo comes from.

Sources:

1. Biological Weapons by Jeanne Guillemin (Columbia University Press, 2005)
2. Historical Dictionary of Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Warfare by Benjamin C. Garrett and John Hart (Scarecrow Press, 2007)
3. Deadly Allies: Canada’s Secret War by John Bryden (McClelland & Stewart, 1989)
4. Germs by Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg, William Broad (Simon & Schuster, 2001).  
Note: This book should be approached with caution, as Judith Miller is not exactly known for her journalistic acumen. But it does contain some solid historical information corroborated by other sources.
5. Hitler’s Scientists by John Cornwell (Viking, 2003)
6. Wikipedia entry for Agent Orange. Accessed July 23, 2012.
7. Wikipedia entry for Operation Ranch Hand.  Accessed July 23, 2012.
8. The World According to Monsanto by Marie-Monique Robin  (New Press, 2010)
9. Wikipedia entry for 2,4,5-T. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
10.  The Last Gasp: The 14.Rise and Fall of the American Gas Chamber by Scott Christianson (University of California Press, 2010)
11. Bioterrorism and Biocrimes: The Illicit Use of Biological Agents Since 1900 by W. Seth Carus (Fredonia Books, 2002)
12. A Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres (Free Press, 2011)
13. Wikipedia entry for Cloud Seeding. Accessed July 29, 2012.
14. The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years by Sonia Shah (Pidador, 2011)
15. ITV West program Top Secrets Revealed (originally broadcast in 2004)
16. BBC TV program Inside Out, “Clouds of Secrecy” (originally broadcast November 6, 2006)
17.Millions Were in Germ Tests” by Antony Barnett. The Guardian, April 21, 2002.
18.Windshild pitting incidents in Washington reach fever pitch on April 15, 1954” @ History Link
19. Windshield Pitting Epidemic articles posted @ Classified Humanity

The Prodigal Witch IX: Lauren Stratford Part III

continued from Part II

Out of the Frying Pan, Into Another Frying Pan

In the summer of 1997 a new face appeared at a support group called the Child Holocaust Survivors Group of Los Angeles. Laura Grabowski didn’t share much about her background at first (she was even reluctant to identify her country of origin, Poland). She said she had kept her past a secret from everyone throughout her life and was fearful of revealing it, but over several months she told members of the group a few stories about her time as a child inmate of Auschwitz.
Her parents died during the war, so after Auschwitz was liberated in January 1945, 5-year-old Laura was sent to an orphanage in Krakow. In 1950 she was adopted by a couple from Washington state.
Soon, Laura was so close to her fellow survivors that she referred to them as her new family. (1)

There were many gaps in Laura’s story. She never gave her birth name or the names of her parents, never explained how she came to be adopted by foreigners, never spoke of her other family members. She did, however, describe the experiments at Auschwitz in some detail. She could remember the doctors giving the children candy. She remembered Mengele injecting chemicals into her eyes, rendering her temporarily blind. She remembered the procedure that left her unable to bear children. (1)

There was nothing in Laura’s story that indicated falsehood up to this point. Roughly 3000 Polish children and teens were incarcerated at Auschwitz, and 52 of the liberated inmates were children under the age of 8. (4) Mengele did attempt to change the colour of the iris by injecting dyes into children’s eyes, and experimented with sterilization.
But Laura’s Mengele stories were problematic. His subjects were mostly children with disabilities or unusual traits, and very few of them were allowed to live. As the above numbers show, most of the Polish children were murdered or died of disease. (5)

There were other not-so-subtle hints that Laura’s story was fabricated. She posted this to an online Holocaust survivor forum called H-HOLOCAUST: “For myself, the Holocaust is about individual suffering… And if some call themselves survivors who are not survivors in any sense of the word, does this upset the whole survivor movement? I think not.” (1)

Meanwhile, historian Jennifer Rosenberg set up an About.com page to share her Holocaust research. Shortly before she traveled to Auschwitz in 1998, she was contacted by Laura, a frequent visitor to the site who used the screen name Child Survivor. She asked Rosenberg to place a pair of pink sandals at the death camp to commemorate her friend Ana, a little girl who died there.
Rosenberg did so, and said Kaddish for Ana and others. As she wrote on her website, the tiny shoes were a poignant reminder of how young and innocent some of the victims had been, bringing the darkness of Auschwitz into sharp relief for her and other members of her tour group. (3)

Laura befriended another frequent visitor to Rosenberg’s website, Monika Muggli, and the two began an e-mail correspondence. Laura told Muggli she was desperately ill with a rare blood disorder. While she still could, she wanted to travel to Los Angeles in April 1998 to meet Binjamin Wilkomirski, a fellow child survivor of Auschwitz whose widely-acclaimed memoir, Fragments, had been published in 1995. (3)
Wilkomirski, born in 1941, had been just two or three years old when he entered the camps. His memories of that time were repressed until he entered psychotherapy as a middle-aged adult and began “recovering”. The memories he recovered were fragmentary and mysterious, so he wrote his memoir from the perspective of a young, confused child. Tanks became “big gray monsters”, and the inmates’ uniforms became pajamas. (2)
Laura and Wilkomirski had been corresponding since the previous year, and could recall meeting each other in Auschwitz and in a Krakow orphanage.
Their experiences had been stunningly similar. They were the same age. They had both been adopted by Christians after the war, and raised away from their countries of origin. They had both been victims of Mengele, and both suffered blood diseases they believed to be caused by the medical experiments. Binjamin could vividly recall Laura’s white-blonde hair (their heads had not been shaved, leading Binjamin to conclude they were probably unregistered inmates). They compared notes and realized they both had their coccyx bones broken by the camp doctors. They had so much to share.
Sadly, Laura’s California doctors said she must fly first-class to make sure she received the attention her fragile condition required, and she simply couldn’t afford the airfare to L.A.
Muggli promptly sent $1000 to her American friend. (3)

Bruno Grosjean, AKA Binjamin Wilkomirski

The meeting between two child survivors drew international media attention. The BBC recorded a concert held at a Beverly Hills synagogue on April 19 (Holocaust Remembrance Day), in which Mr. Wilkomirski played his clarinet and Laura Grabowski sang an original piece, “Ode to the Little Ones”. Incredibly, though they had met only briefly 50 years earlier, Binjamin recognized Laura on sight. He movingly described how he was sitting disconsolately in the mud, believing himself to be the last child in the camp, when white-haired Laura and her little friend Ana appeared hand-in-hand.
Laura admitted she didn’t remember Binjamin right away, but eventually realized he was the boy known as “Andrzej”. She told the BBC, “He’s my Binje, that’s all I know.”
A local Jewish newspaper noted that Wilkomirski was helping his long-lost friend reconstruct her half-remembered childhood memories, her own “fragments”. (3)

Exposed, Again

Somehow, Jon Trott or the Passantinos learned that Laura Grabowski could be Laurel Willson/Lauren Stratford. This was quickly confirmed. Documents signed by Grabowski included Laurel’s Social Security number and address, and in one letter Laura signed her name “Laura Stratford-Grabowski”. As mentioned in Part I of this post, Grabowski was the maiden name of Laurel’s mother, Rose Willson. Anton and Rosalio Grabowski emigrated from Poland in the 1890s. They were lifelong Catholics.
The three writers also compared signatures of Laura and Laurel, finding them nearly identical. Photos of Laura showed a distinct resemblance to old photos and film footage of Lauren Stratford.
The Cornerstone team learned that Stratford/Grabowski had applied to the World Jewish Restitution Organization. An anonymous source told them that in ’98 and ’99 Jewish Family Services made 24 disbursements to Grabowski, totaling $2,188. (1)

Laurel Willson was born in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma, Washington in 1941, and the Willsons began adoption proceedings within days of her birth. She did not live in Poland until the age of 10. In fact, she had never left the U.S. at all. The entire story was a fantasy. Family photos provided to the Cornerstone researchers by Laurel’s sister, Willow, show Willow and Laurel together as little girls. In one photo, they pose with a group of nuns.
In her books, Lauren/Laurel said she was abused from the age of four by her mother, Satanists, pedophiles, and child pornographers. She gave detailed descriptions of her life in Washington before the age of 10, descriptions that evangelistic Christians like Johanna Michaelsen and Hal Lindsey found highly convincing. Those stories were not true, and the Holocaust stories of “Laura Grabowski” were not true.

The Holocaust survivor community that had become Laura’s family didn’t know how to respond to the revelation that she was a Gentile who had never lived abroad. Jen Rosenberg told Forward magazine she didn’t want to deal with the issue at all. (3)

And what of Laura’s long-lost friend from Auschwitz, Binjamin? As you may know, he was also a fraud. In August 1998, the Swiss news magazine Weltwoche published an article by writer Daniel Ganzfried, laying out evidence that Wilkomirski was really a Swiss Gentile by the name of Bruno Grosjean. Grosjean had remained in Switzerland throughout the war, and was never in a Polish orphanage. His father was not killed in Latvia. He never knew his father. His mother did not die in the camps. (2)
Wilkomirski initially responded to the allegations by explaining he had been given the name of a Christian boy, Bruno, after the war. This satisfied many of his admirers. (2)
However, Ganzfried’s findings were confirmed a year later by Stefan Machler, the historian hired by Wilkomirski’s literary agency. He uncovered still more damning information: When Yvonne Grosjean died in 1981, Bruno contested her will because he knew he was her illegitimate child.
More damning still was Bruno’s “recognition” of Laura Grabowski, a woman who had never been in Auschwitz.

DNA tests conducted in 2002 showed that Bruno Grosjean’s biological mother, Yvonne, and “Wilkomirski” were indeed mother and son. There is absolutely no question that “Binjamin” the Latvian Holocaust survivor was really Bruno Grosjean, born 1941 in Switzerland and adopted by the Dössekker family of Zurich in 1948. (3)

It is quite obvious that Laurel Willson mined Fragments for information about the Holocaust. She placed herself in a Krakow orphanage, just like Wilkomirski.

Of the two hoaxes perpetrated by Laurel Willson, this one was probably more damaging. Though short-lived in relation to her Satanic cult hoax, it defrauded at least one organization that could have been assisting a real Holocaust survivor. And like other Holocaust memoir hoaxes, it has been used by Holocaust deniers to argue that all such memoirs are fictional.

The stories of Lauren Stratford and Binjamin Wilkomirski were known to be “recovered memories”. While there are indications that traumatic memories can sometimes be forgotten and spontaneously recalled, this would seem to be an exception to the rule; most memories of traumatic events are consciously recalled. For this reason alone, those eager to promote their stories should have verified them to the greatest possible extent before making them public.

This entire sad affair mirrors the meeting between Eugenia Smith, a woman who pretended to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia, and Mikhail Goleniewsky, a man who pretended to be the Tsarevtch Alexei. The two “siblings” instantly recognized each other. Later, as their credibility eroded, both denounced the other as a fraud.

The End of the Underground

Lauren Stratford never publicly responded to the exposure of her Holocaust imposture. Nor did she recant any of her Satanic testimony, though the two overlapping accounts wildly contradicted each other. No evidence ever surfaced to validate either version of her life story, so her former supporters quietly backed away from Satan’s Underground.
None of the people who helped promote Lauren’s story have expressed regret for failing to verify even the most basic details before presenting her terrifying tales to the public.

Lauren Stratford passed away in California in April 2002. To my knowledge, she remained estranged from her adoptive family to the end of her life.

It is now generally accepted that the woman known as Laurel Willson, Lauren Stratford, and Laura Grabowski confabulated her stories of Satanism and Holocaust survival. There are only a few diehards who insist Satan’s Underground was factual, like Satanic ritual abuse survivor Gregory Reid. As late as 2002, Reid defended the veracity of Lauren’s account and hinted that the Cornerstone writers were complicit in a cover-up of the “real” story. He brought no evidence to the table.

Examing how and why Satan’s Underground came to be, and why it affected so many people, offers us invaluable lessons about critical thinking. If only Joanna Michealsen, Hal Lindsey, Pat Robertson, Oprah Winfrey, Geraldo Rivera, and the other SRA advocates of the late ’80s had learned them…


Sources:


1.
“Lauren Stratford: From Satanic Ritual Abuse to Jewish Holocaust Survivor” by Bob and Gretchen Passantino and Jon Trott. Cornerstone magazine. Vol. 28, Issue 117 (October 1999).
2. The Wilkomirski Affair: A Study in Biographical Truth by Stefan Machler (Random House, 2001)
3. A Life in Pieces: The Making and Unmaking of Binjamin Wilkomirski by Blake Eskin (W.W. Norton, 2002)
4. The “Children in Auschwitz” page of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and State Museum website
5. Mengele: The Complete Story by Gerald Posner and John Ware (McGraw-Hill, 1986)

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)

Wow, this must be more embarrassing than Piranha II


James Cameron – and a lot of other people – have been duped by a wannabe scientist and pseudo-historian.

One of the weekend guests on Coast to Coast AM was Dr. Charles Pellegrino.

If the name is familiar, you may have seen him in the Discovery Channel documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus, or read the 2007 book about the tomb that he co-authored with “naked archeologistSimcha Jacobovici (who is neither naked nor an archeologist), The Jesus Family Tomb. Pellegrino, Jacobovici, and James Cameron are the three most enthusiastic supporters of the “Jesus tomb” discovered in Talpiot three decades ago. Cameron and Pellegrino have been buds for quite some time, because according to the Lost Tomb website, Pellegrino’s work was the inspiration for Titanic. Pellegrino introduced Jacobovici to Cameron, which led to their collaboration on the Discovery doc and a few other documentary projects.

Pellegrino might also be familiar from his solo nonfiction books: Unearthing Atlantis; The Ghosts of Titanic; and Return to Sodom and Gomhorra (to name a few). It should be fairly clear by now that he likes to explore somewhat spooky, fringy topics that most historians, Bible scholars, archeologists, and paleo-biologists won’t touch with a dead rat. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Unless, of course, you let the spookiness and fringiness hijack your common sense.

Pellegrino has also authored several sci-fi/ecological thrillers of the “Holy shit, we’re doomed!” variety.

You may also know Pellegrino for the subject of the C2C broadcast: His recently published book The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back (Henry Holt & Co., 2010). It combines graphic descriptions of the atomic bomb’s aftermath with the stories of several Hiroshima survivors who fled to Nagasaki, only to suffer and survive the second bombing. It also features testimony from USAF officers involved in the bombing of Japan, including the late Joseph Fuoco’s harrowing account of a hushed-up atom bomb accident that killed one American and irradiated others, reducing the weapon’s destructive power by at least half.
The book came out earlier this year, but James Cameron has already acquired the film rights. And it has already been yanked from publication. Here’s the statement from Henry Holt posted on Amazon.com: “It is with deep regret that Henry Holt and Company announces that we will no longer print, correct or ship copies of Charles Pellegrino’s The Last Train from Hiroshima due to the discovery of a dishonest sources of information for the book.
It is easy to understand how even the most diligent author could be duped by a source, but we also understand that opens that book to very detailed scrutiny. The author of any work of non-fiction must stand behind its content. We must rely on our authors to answer questions that may arise as to the accuracy of their work and reliability of their sources. Unfortunately, Mr. Pellegrino was not able to answer the additional questions that have arisen about his book to our satisfaction.
Mr. Pellegrino has a long history in the publishing world, and we were very proud and honored to publish his history of such an important historical event. But without the confidence that we can stand behind the work in its entirety, we cannot continue to sell this product to our customers.”

So, um, what happened?

Well, first off, this is not the first time Pellegrino has gotten himself into a spot of trouble with the facts. In 2008, a Who’s Who of archeology signed a statement of protest against claims made by Pellegrino, Cameron, and Jacobovici. The three amigos had been crowing that an archaeological symposium on the “Jesus tomb”, held at Princeton in January of that year, was proof that their theory of the tomb was finally being taken seriously in scientific circles. The scientific community begged to differ. They also resented the fact that the media had bypassed their serious scholarship on the issue to quote a Hollywood director and a TV producer known for his sensationalistic statements.
When The Lost Tomb of Jesus and its companion book appeared, archaeologists reiterated their conclusion that the names inscribed on six of the ten ossuaries in the tomb weren’t proof of anything, except that six people bearing those remarkably common names had died in Palestine sometime in the first century. Some of the archaeologists interviewed for the doc and book retracted or qualified their statements. (Pellegrino’s and Jacobovici’s contention that the ridiculously bogus “James ossuary” might have been the missing eleventh ossuary wasn’t even worth debating.)

This could all be quite understandable and forgivable if Pellegrino was a noob in the murky realm of “Biblical archeology.” But he wasn’t. In fact, he credits himself as the co-discoverer of the city of Sodom.
He’s referring to a site in Iraq called Madhkanshapir, which he only partially excavated before the first Gulf War. Because it’s buried among oil fields, he surmises that earthquakes in the region allowed gas to escape where cooking fires could have ignited it. He points out that Moses saw the fires of Sodom/Gomhorra still smoldering three centuries later, and only an oil field could burn for so long.
In the bio on his website, Pellegrino explains that even though he calls himself the co-discoverer of Sodom, Madhkanshapir is probably just one of several destroyed cities that inspired the Biblical account.

So you might be noticing a pattern here. Pellegrino selects an historical artifact, connects it to a famous event that may or may not have even happened (or attaches himself to someone who has already made that connection), then promotes the hell out of it by writing a book and/or appearing in documentaries on the subject. This is an acceptable M.O. if you actually have persuasive evidence to back up your theory, but Pellegrino rarely (if ever) has the goods. Most of his books are minor masterpieces of speculation and conjecture.

Then there’s the problem of Pellegrino’s doctorate. Namely, he doesn’t have one. He isn’t a paleo-biologist with a degree from New Zealand’s Victoria University, as he has been claiming for almost 30 years. That doesn’t stop him from highlighting the “Dr.” on his website.
Pellegrino was a PhD candidate at Victoria U. in the ’70s, but his thesis was rejected and his ’86 appeal denied. When confronted with the fact that the university has no record of him being awarded a PhD, Pellegrino declared that it was revoked in the early ’80s because of a dispute over evolutionary theory. This “academic witch hunt” forced him to flee New Zealand after his lab was destroyed by vandals.
His thesis supervisor disputes this. Retired Victoria University professor Bob Wear stated, “I guess Pellegrino is very good at bullshit and he has managed to convince people of his authenticity throughout his life.” He describes Pellegrino as an intelligent but sloppy researcher prone to “weird tangents”.
Where does this leave his claims of being a multidisciplinary research scientist and engineer, designing everything from NASA life-detection systems to “the world’s first antimatter rocket”?

Then there’s the fact that The Last Train to Hiroshima isn’t the first of Pellegrino’s books to be withdrawn by its publisher. In 1990 Random House yanked Pellegrino’s Unearthing Atlantis from the presses after a Greek archaeologist challenged its content.

Now, back to that Hiroshima book. As mentioned, Pellegrino included the reminiscences of the late WWII vet Joseph Fuoco, who was assigned to the crew of one of the two surveillance planes that accompanied the Enola Gay on its date with destruction. He replaced flight engineer James Corliss at the last minute, because Corliss had fallen ill.
While the bomb was being loaded at an airbase on the Pacific island of Tinian, there was an accident in which an American scientist died. Fuoco pieced together what happened: Damage to the nuclear fuel assembly resulted in a deadly burst of radiation and reduced the bomb’s destructive power by more than half. Pellegrino repeatedly refers to Little Boy as “a dud.”

Almost as soon as The Last Train to Hiroshima appeared in print, the family of the late James Corliss stepped forward to refute Fuoco’s version of events. They say Corliss was in the surveillance plane, and all the evidence is on their side: Not only do the surviving crew members recall his presence, President Truman presented him with an air medal for his part in the operation.
Fuoco does not appear on the roster of the 509th Bomb Group. Ever.

At this point, it’s not clear who was behind the bogus story attributed to Fuoco. We only have Pellegrino’s word that Fuoco’s account came wholly from him, as the man died in 2008. His widow, Claire Fuoco, contends that he would not have invented such a story.

Nuclear scientists and historians had major problems with Fuoco’s story, too. The destructive potentials of Little Boy and Fat Man were fully realized; there is no evidence that either was damaged. Atomic historian Robert S. Norris stated that it is Pellegrino’s book, not the atomic bomb, that was defective. “This book is a Toyota,” he told the New York Times.

In February Pellegrino acknowledged his mistake in accepting Fuoco’s alleged version of events without researching it in any depth, and pledged to correct his errors for subsequent editions of the book. But the Fuoco story proved to be only part of the problem. Pellegrino was unable to satisfactorily answer questions about another of his sources, a Jesuit priest who claims one of his colleagues committed suicide. To date, there has been no confirmation that these two priests actually existed.

James Cameron, who last December accompanied Pellegrino on a visit to Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the last known survivor of both bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has referred to the criticism of Pellegrino’s work as “a misunderstanding”, insisting that Pellegrino would not fabricate anything.
It’s sad that Pellegrino’s fake credentials and poor research may scotch any Hiroshima film project Cameron had in the works, because as Greg Mitchell pointed out in a November editorial at The Huffington Post, the bombing of Japan is still something of a verbotin subject in America.

The outcry over Last Train has inspired the usual navel-gazing and excuse-spewing among editors, publisher reps, and literary agents. But given his track record, the most appalling aspect of the Hiroshima affair isn’t that Charles Pellegrino conducted shoddy research; it’s that anyone actually believed anything he had to say in the first place.

A *World Leader* Joins the Quest for *Truth*

Iran’s Ahmedinejad: Sept. 11 attacks a ‘big lie’

This must be a proud day for many Truthers. When a Holocaust denier who always wears the same Wal-Mart jacket thinks you’re on to something, you know you’ve arrived. Viva la retardement!