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Completely and utterly random:


Aneristic Illusions / Michael Hastings
« on: June 19, 2013, 11:36:08 pm »
The reporter Michael Hastings has died in a car crash:

Michael Hastings, a native Vermonter and a journalist widely known for his profile in Rolling Stone magazine of a general who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was killed Tuesday in a car crash in Los Angeles, according to multiple reports.

He was 33.

News of his death was first reported Tuesday evening by the website BuzzFeed, for which Hastings also wrote, and by Rolling Stone.

His reporting on Gen. Stanley McChrystal and the subsequent story in June 2010 led to the commander's resignation after he was quoted ridiculing President Obama, Vice President Biden and other administration officials. The story was titled "The Runaway General" and resulted from the considerable access to McChrystal and others that Hastings was granted.

"You never know how a story will be received," Hastings told the Burlington Free Press shortly before the piece hit newsstands and as the article was being widely distributed online. "I knew the reporting was new and different, but I'm kind of surprised at the impact."

The L.A. Police Department was unable Tuesday night to release the name of the man killed in the early morning wreck that media reports said was Hastings, spokesman Officer Christopher No told the Burlington Free Press. No said information could be made available later Tuesday or Wednesday.

The crash occurred at about 4:25 a.m. in Hollywood near North Highland and Melrose avenues, just north of the Wilshire Country Club. A vehicle crossed the median, slammed into a tree and burst into flames, No said. The male driver, believed to be the car's only occupant, was pronounced dead at the scene. No said he did not know the make and model of the vehicle.

Video and photos from the scene posted on the website of L.A. television station KTLA showed a mangled car crumpled against a tree and engulfed in flames. The KTLA report quoted LAPD Officer Lillian Carranza as saying the car appeared to be speeding when the crash occurred.

Aneristic Illusions / Protests EVERYWHERE
« on: June 18, 2013, 08:50:11 am »
Looks like Turkey isn't the only place where people are pissed off and have had enough:

Quote from: BBC
Protests against bus and underground fare rises in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo have turned violent. Police fired rubber-coated bullets and tear gas, and detained more than 200 people. Police say they seized petrol bombs, knives and drugs. Violence has also been reported at protests in Rio de Janeiro. An estimated 5,000 protesters converged on the streets of Sao Paulo’s central area on Thursday – the fourth day of the protests.

As many as 200,000 people have marched through the streets of Brazil's biggest cities, as protests over rising public transport costs and the expense of staging the 2014 World Cup have spread.

The biggest demonstrations were in Rio de Janeiro, where 100,000 people joined a mainly peaceful march.

In the capital, Brasilia, people breached security at the National Congress building and scaled its roof.

The protests are the largest seen in Brazil for more than 20 years.

Sao Paulo is, of course, infamous for its wealth disparities:

And the rest of Brazil is not much better, thanks to an ingrained culture of political corruption.

Greece, again:

Greece was back in protest mode after Antonis Samaras, the centre-right prime minister, broke ranks with his coalition partners and high-handedly closed the state broadcaster on June 11th without first securing their agreement. As sacked employees of ERT (Hellenic Radio and Television) continued to occupy the Greek state broadcaster’s headquarters, streaming live coverage of their plight over the internet, scores of former colleagues peacefully set up camp in a park outside the ERT building in Agia Paraskevi, a suburb of Athens.

Paramilitary police officers have shut down and seized control of the ERT headquarters, and the intent is to dissolve the agency entirely. 

Naturally, this has nothing to do with saving money and everything to do with shutting down political criticism of the ruling coalition:

Giannis Stournaras, the unelected Greek finance minister whose ministry overtook control of ERT to oversee its dissolution, sent a written warning to radio and television stations, informing them that they would face consequences if they rebroadcast ERT's protest broadcast.  Sto Kokkino 105.5 FM, a radio station in Athens owned by the left-wing Syriza political party, was threatened with closure after it rebroadcast portions of ERT's broadcast.  More egregiously, 902 TV, a television station owned by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) had its signal repeatedly taken off the air by DIGEA, a private company which operates the network of digital over-the-air transmitters used by Greece's national private television networks.


Tens of thousands of people held a rally near Malaysia’s capital against alleged electoral fraud, further raising the political temperature after divisive recent polls. The latest in a series of protest rallies over the May 5 elections – which the opposition says were won fraudulently by the 56-year-old ruling coalition – saw a large crowd gather in an open field outside Kuala Lumpur Saturday night.

The UMNO-dominated ruling coalition, which has held power consecutively since 1955, had not lost the popular vote since 1969. That result was followed by race riots between ethnic Chinese and Malays, paving the way for two years of emergency rule and an intra-party coup which installed Najib's father, Abdul Razak Hussein, as the country's second prime minister since independence from colonial rule.

Najib faces a different type of crisis as allegations of fraud and irregularities in campaigning, polling and vote counting have raised widespread questions about the legitimacy of the May 5 polls. Led by former deputy prime minister and finance minister Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition has rejected outright the election result and organized massive rallies with protestors clad in black to mourn the "death of democracy".

So far, 10 rallies have been held across various states, attracting crowds ranging from 20,000 to 120,000. Black T-shirts emblazoned with "505" (the date of the polls) and "blackout", a reference to the mysterious power outages that occurred in the vote-tallying centers of a number of constituencies, have featured prominently at the multi-ethnic rallies.

Instead of permanently occupying strategic sites, protestors have returned home after the rallies. Nonetheless, the spreading protests are taking the initial shape of a so-called "color revolution", similar to the ones seen in places like Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine. Images of mass protests also hark to the early phases of the Arab Spring demonstrations that overthrew authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa.

Opposition and civil society leaders have so far denied any intention of overthrowing Najib's government in a similar type of "Malaysian Spring." But some analysts believe UMNO's own anxieties about the protests may eventually turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, particularly if current levels of repression are intensified.


Police said on Sunday that about 15,000 people took part in a rally outside the government building in the capital Sofia to demand a new election. Protesters also gathered outside parliament and in other Bulgarian cities. Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski’s decision to appoint 32-year-old media mogul Delyan Peevski as chief of the powerful national security agency DANS and parliament’s rapidity in rubber stamping the nomination angered many people.

I believe our very own Dalek has given us a good amount of background information on the political situation in Bulgaria.

And there are protests going on in Peru (over privatization of education), Yemen (over security force brutality), Thailand (counter-protestors against Thaskin's Red Shirt movement), Japan (nuclear power), Indonesia (fuel price rises), China (in favour of Edward Snowden and Xuchang county protests over coal mining), Canada (employment insurance) and Egypt (everything).

High Weirdness / Sinister Forces
« on: June 15, 2013, 12:17:30 pm »
So, Peter Levenda, probably best known on this site for his hand in the publishing (and perhaps creation?  he denies, but many still suspect) the Simon Necronomicon.

However, any truly dedicated follower of High Weirdness should probably be aware of his "Sinister Forces" trilogy, what Levenda refers to as "grimoires of American political witchcraft".  In these books, he attempts to undertake this project:

To what degree does mysticism (including occultism, religious organizations, and secret societies) influence politics? Can it be demonstrated that there is no real separation of church and state, despite most Americans’ belief? Can we show that the world’s political leaders are motivated by (at times bizarre and outrageous) religious or spiritual convictions, thus threatening at the least the very nature of the American way of life… and at the most American lives in general? Is politics a science? Is it an art? Or is it religion?

And for a man with Levenda's research skills and own...interesting history, which includes run-ins with intelligence officers, wandering bishops, longstanding involvement in the New York occult scene and an unwise quest for Colonia Dignidad, this project of research takes on a very unsettling and, indeed, worryingly sinister tone.

Below, I've included a number of notes from the first book of the trilogy, The Nine, with annotations by myself where I've considered necessary.  I am currently working my way through the second and third books, and will post the notes from those in due course.

I visited the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and the Library of Congress and fell upon a treasure trove of documentation showing Nazi fascination with occult themes… to the extent of financing research in Tibet and hunting down the Grail. This became the central subject matter of my last book, Unholy Alliance. Here was a perfect example of a nation being ruled by what were called—in any other age—occult leaders and “spiritual” visionaries. From the swastika to the SS, the Nazis were little more than the 20th century’s best organized (and best dressed) cult. A political party? Please.

This is the real background to this project.  Unholly Alliance made the argument that the Nazis were religious fanatics and a religious cult, not a mere political movement.  Of course, any movement of sufficiently messianic qualities will eventually become a religious cause, but Levenda traces the particular occult influences on the Nazi Party and associated bodies, such as the Thule Society.  Sinister Forces is essentially an attempt to extend this project to American history, with disturbingly successful results.

During the Watergate era a somewhat unsettling revelation was made: that for twenty-five years (or more) the CIA had conducted psychological experimentation upon both volunteers and unwitting subjects—both at home and abroad—to find the key to the unconscious mind, to memory, and to volition. Their goal was to create the perfect assassin and to protect America from the programmed assassins of other countries. This project was known by the name MK-ULTRA, but it had its origins in earlier forms of the same “brainwashing” agenda: Operations BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE. To me, this was astounding. A US government agency was conducting what—to a medievalist—could only be characterized as a search for the Philosopher’s Stone, for occult power, for magical spells and talismans. Indeed, some of the CIA’s subprojects included research among the psychics, the mediums, the magicians and the witches of America and beyond. And the Army was not far behind in its mind control testing, as we shall see. What was even more disturbing was the revelation that nearly all records of this incredible and superhumanly ambitious project were destroyed in 1973 on orders of CIA director Richard Helms himself. In his testimony, he claimed that MK-ULTRA did not come up with anything worthwhile, and that the project had been terminated. Then why were the documents shredded? We do not know who the test subjects were. We don’t know what was done to them. We don’t know how they have been programmed, if at all. We don’t know what they might do. Or what they have already done.

MK-ULTRA, and its associated projects, will of course form a large part of this story.  Not the whole story, but a significant aspect of it.

University of Chicago Professor Ioan Culianu was able to show that the technique of secret links and correspondences between objects and events discovered by a Renaissance magician—Giordano Bruno—are applicable to mind control and psychological warfare today. Charles Manson declared himself to be a reincarnation of Bruno, an oddly sophisticated choice for the nearly-illiterate convicted murderer. Professor Culianu himself was murdered in 1991, another crime that has never been solved.

And the second major obsession of this series is Charles Manson.  Manson is almost a stand-in, a symbol for the logical reproduction of the state's actions on an individual level...though he's important for other reasons, as well.

The victim was a nobody. An ex-con, once convicted of writing bad checks. A man down on his luck, working for a trucking company. He had been stabbed in a fury of nineteen slashing, slivering strokes—in a wood frame house in the middle of the night or the early hours of the morning on a side street in a small country town—and no one heard a thing. The perpetrator left no clues, no identifiable fingerprints, nothing. The body might have lain there for days, except that the victim’s co-worker stopped by to see why he hadn’t shown up for work that morning. The body was found. The police were called. The officer who responded to that call and who was the first policeman at the scene is today the Chief of Police of Ashland, Kentucky. The murder took place in 1969. He told me it remains unsolved—and the murder open on the books—to this day.  The victim’s name was Darwin Scott. He was the brother of one Colonel Scott. Colonel Scott had been sued—successfully—for paternity of a boy, one “No Name Maddox,” by a girlfriend and sometime prostitute, Kathleen Maddox. No Name Maddox would soon be known by another name. Charles Manson.

It is a mystery. What happened to Manson in Chillicothe, that he suddenly became studious (he was still illiterate when he was transferred there), learned to read and write and do simple arithmetic, mellowed out, and became a star “prisoner”? His psychiatric reports were all negative up to that point; even during the first month at Chillicothe the doctors were despairing of him, believing that he needed a closed environment and not the relatively “open” ambience of Chillicothe. Then, suddenly, Manson became a different person and maintained that identity for over a year and a half, until his release. That degree of conscious control—especially in a disturbed, uneducated, illiterate, violent, criminal, sodomitic bastard child of an unmarried, alcoholic mother—is suspicious, if not alarming. Was Charlie “helped” by someone at Chillicothe?

During this time, US government agencies were conducting medical tests among various inmate populations in America. Their most prized subjects were violent criminals—sociopaths like Charles Manson—whom they dosed with massive amounts of drugs to gauge personality changes, emotional response, and other parameters that have never been revealed.

Taking stolen goods across state lines is, of course, a federal offense and Charlie was caught, as usual. Only this time, he had a pregnant seventeen-year-old wife. He drove a stolen car to Los Angeles, was apprehended, pled guilty, and asked the court for psychiatric help, for some reason referring back to his time in Chillicothe. The judge so ordered, and he was examined by Dr. Edwin Ewart McNiel in October 1955.

The implication here is fairly obvious: was Charles Manson experimented on during his time in Chillicothe?  We can never really know, thanks to the destruction of MK-ULTRA files by Richard Helms.  He also gets curiously sympathetic treatment from the legal system.

At Terminal Island, Charles is tested again by prison psychiatrists. This time, his IQ has climbed to 121, a substantial improvement over his score at Chillicothe. His verbal skills have noticeably increased, and he enrolls in a Dale Carnegie course, only to quit after a few weeks out of either pique or boredom. When he is seen as trustworthy, he is transferred to a Coast Guard station which is minimal security, but he is found hot-wiring a car in the parking lot and is slammed back inside to serve the remainder of his term.

During this time, Manson became involved with Scientology and it’s this interest that has fueled a lot of the speculation concerning other influences at work in Manson’s life. The creation of a small-time science fiction writer and would-be occultist, Scientology has been described as either a cult or a scam, or both, depending on which journalist, investigator or “survivor” you read. It has attracted celebrity membership, including John Travolta and Tom Cruise, as part of a concerted effort to win followers among Hollywood stars; it has also conspired against US Government agencies and been conspired against in turn. Its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, was a former Navy officer with a history of mental problems. He was a colleague of Jack Parsons, the rocket scientist and follower of Aleister Crowley. All of this will be discussed in more detail in the chapters that follow, as it bears heavily on our thesis, but suffice it to say that Scientology in the early 1960s was just coming into its own, recruiting heavily on street corners, and had obviously penetrated the prison system as well. An offshoot of Scientology is the Process Church of the Final Judgment, and Manson was believed to have been involved with the Process as well.

Manson was involved enough with Scientology at one point to have picked up the jargon and to pass himself off as a “clear”: someone who had passed through all of Scientology’s “deprogramming” levels and reached the stage where previous social, environmental, perhaps even genetic influences no longer had any effect on decision-making, emotional stability, etc. He had a Scientology “auditor” in prison, another Scientologist called Lanier Ramer, who—Manson claimed—brought him to the level of “clear” or, more accurately, “theta clear.”

Levenda doubts Manson actually made it to clear, given the usual amount of time this requires.  But this is worth noting.

And there is this particular case, which was almost certainly a Manson-related murder, which deserves more scrutiny:

There was Darwin Orell Scott in Ashland, Kentucky: Manson’s uncle and victim of an unsolved crime, carved with knives. And there was Marina Habe, a seventeen-year-old girl who was abducted on New Year’s Eve, 1968 and whose body was found—carved with knives—a few days later. Although attributed to the Manson “family,” the murder is still officially unsolved. But it was Marina Habe’s case that led me to a whole other dimension of the thesis I was working on. It was Marina Habe who led me back to World War II, to Operation Paperclip, to Hollywood, escaped Nazis, psychological warfare and the enigmatic team of Clay Shaw and Fred Crisman.

On New Year’s Day, 1969, the petite body of Marina Elizabeth Habe was found nude at the bottom of a ravine off Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, about four miles from home. The seventeen-year-old student at the University of Hawaii and aspiring actress was the victim of multiple stab wounds in the neck and chest, had been raped, burned, and had contusions in her eyes. It was a savage attack reminiscent of the later attack on Darwin Scott in Ashland, Kentucky. She had been returning from a date with friend John Hornburg in Brentwood the early morning of December 30, 1968 and was kidnapped from in front of the home she shared with her mother in the Hollywood hills after returning from a night out on Santa Monica Boulevard. The case remains unsolved, but there was a lot of speculation at the time that her killer was a Manson “family” member, since she was known to have befriended various members of the group. Manson himself has no alibi for the day and time of her death, and is known to have been in Los Angeles on the day she was kidnapped and killed, attending a New Year’s Eve party at the home of musician John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. Phillips himself is known to have been friendly with elements of the Process Church of the Final Judgment.

Levenda then goes on to describe the background of Habe's father, who as it turns out, had a very illustrious history.

As hostilities began with the accession of Hitler and the Nazi Party to a position of control within Germany, Habe found himself becoming a dedicated (some would say “rabid”) anti-Nazi. (It is to Hans Habe, in fact, that we credit the discovery of Hitler’s “Schicklegrueber” family background.) As war broke out, Habe found himself on Hitler’s enemies list: his books were burned, and he was shot at in Vienna (because of his publication of Hitler’s Schicklegrueber ancestry; Habe actually sent copies of his report to Germany at the time of Hitler’s campaign against Hindenburg in an effort to ridicule Hitler and cause him to lose the election, a tactic which was in vain as we all know). Habe enlisted with a group of foreign volunteers in the French Army, and took part in the Battle of France. He was captured on June 22, 1940, armed only with an 1891 Remington rifle. Habe—in his book about the experience, A Thousand Shall Fall—rails against the French complicity in the defeat, accusing the Vichy hierarchy of actually wanting to surrender rather than fight Germany. (This book eventually became the 1943 MGM propaganda film The Cross of Lorraine, starring Jean-Pierre Aumont, Gene Kelly, Cedric Hardwicke, Peter Lorre and Hume Cronyn.) Held at a prison camp in Occupied France, Habe managed to survive for a few weeks under an assumed name before escaping, dressed in a German uniform and fleeing in an ambulance. He eventually made his way to Spain and Portugal, joining his wife—Erika Levy—in neutral Lisbon. President Roosevelt gave Habe a special emergency visa, and the couple arrived in New York harbor on December 3, 1940.

Further research suggests Habe made a significant contribution to the war effort:

Psychological warfare officer? Italian front? The newsclipping gave the author a further dimension for his research, and also suggested a new line of inquiry. Let’s see where it leads us. Habe began giving talks at various clubs and societies in America during 1941, even staying for a while at West Point where, it is said, he continued to work at his writing. In 1942 he began a series of lectures at Army bases under the aegis of the War Department’s Bureau of Public Relations on “How To Lose a War”: an ironic title which took as its text the fall of France, and served as motivation for the American troops in their struggle against Nazism.

Shortly thereafter, in January 1943, Habe enlisted in the US Army. This was not mere expedience, since he had dependents and would probably not have been called up, but he asked to enlist anyway. By July of that year, he was in North Africa (and the new father of a son) as a second lieutenant. He was then loaned to British General Montgomery for a while, and September found him in Italy and this time with the US forces. After that, the record becomes a little confused. Some reports have him landing with Allied forces at D-Day, yet he seems to have entered Europe via Italy nine months earlier than that. Regardless of the order of events, by that time Habe was working for C.D. Jackson—more famous in his Time-Life incarnation—and was actively involved in psychological warfare operations, operations which lasted long after the war’s end and which found Habe in charge of no fewer than eighteen German newspapers throughout the Allied territories.

Habe was no mere grunt, in other words.  He was a strategic asset, trusted with running major psychological warfare programs.  He also trained other soldiers in these techniques:

His memoir, A Proud Hungarian, mentions a psychological warfare school in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where Scitovsky and others were being trained in propaganda. He characterizes Habe as the “US Army’s propaganda expert” in his memoir of the war years, and describes how Habe trained him in spotting important information in the New York Times, and how to use that information for propaganda purposes. They practiced making radio broadcasts, writing articles and filler, designing propaganda posters, and all of it in both French and German. According to Scitovsky, Habe also had been a student of the Bauhaus and thus had a good eye for artistic composition as well as literature and journalism.

And of course, this work had various intelligence applications, leading to Habe working with the OSS, the wartime forerunner of the CIA:

Another friend of Habe at this time is psy-war officer Alfred de Grazia— now a professor at Princeton University and, even more intriguingly, a friend of the late Immanuel Velikovsky—who was with Habe in North Africa in 1943. His book on the war years makes for very interesting reading, as it reveals that the “Mobile Broadcasting Company” was a cover for OSS (Office of Strategic Services) activities in Europe, and that they were joint OSS-US Army units.


Found this while googling to see if MW was still down.  People are still commenting on it...including at least one person who thinks the EVIL DISCORDIANS are to blame for everything.  We were trolling there for years, apparently.  YEARS.

Aneristic Illusions / This is your justice system's priorities
« on: June 07, 2013, 05:59:11 pm »

If convicted of hacking-related crimes, Lostutter could face up to 10 years behind bars—far more than the one- and two-year sentences doled out to the Steubenville rapists.

Just shows you how much they value women.  Or hackers, in another sense of "value".


I'm not sure what to think.  This could be hilarious, or terrible.  Or hilarious and terrible.  Or terribly hilarious.  Or something else entirely.

I just got done chipping away at how I feel magic should work in fantasy

Does it involve jerking off to meaningless scribbles?

Aneristic Illusions / Turkish Protests
« on: June 02, 2013, 11:15:38 pm »
Meanwhile, I see things are getting interesting in Turkey.

Gezi Park is the focal point of the protests and is, in a sense, the straw that broke the camel's back.  This is quite good at explaining why:

The demonstrations are already about a lot more than sympathy for condemned trees in a street-widening scheme at the Gezi Park, and have taken on a distinctly anti-government tone. Reasons for the protests I’ve heard from friends over the past 48 hours include: a reaction to the ruling party’s focus on building shopping centers everywhere, even in Istanbul’s last patches of green, like the future mall planned for Gezi Park; how the half of the population that didn’t vote for the government resents what it sees as its increasingly high-handed, majoritarian, we-know-best style; among secularists, a sense that the ruling party revealed a Islamist agenda that could infringe its lifestyle with sudden new regulations this month on alcohol consumption (my blog on that here); among the 10 per cent Alevi minority, anger at this month’s choice of Ottoman Sultan Selim the Grim’s name for a third bridge over the Bosphorus, since he killed many Alevis; the general feeling that there is little transparency in what the government plans and does, and that the media is under great pressure not to discuss real events or who benefits financially from projects (one mainstream TV program during last night’s was about radiation on Mars!); and above all, a sense of powerlessness, and frustration at the inadequacy of the main political opposition parties, which have left the bulk of secularists of Istanbul with a feeling that they’ve had no real political representation for years.

The Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, condemned the demonstrators as "extremists running wild".

According to the Guardian:

The Turkish Doctors' Association said nearly 1,000 people had been injured in Istanbul on Friday, including six who lost eyes after being hit by gas canisters.

Ozturk Turkdogan, the head of the Turkish Human Rights Association, said hundreds of people in several cities had been injured in the police crackdown and a few hundred people had been arrested. The Dogan news agency said 81 demonstrators were detained in Istanbul.

Turkish police have previously been accused of excessive use of teargas and violence to stop demonstrations, including at this year's May Day rally.

Turkdogan said: "The use of gas at such proportions is unacceptable. It is a danger to public health and as such is a crime. Unfortunately, there isn't a prosecutor brave enough to stand up to police. The people are standing up against Erdogan who is trying to monopolise power and is meddling in all aspects of life."


Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was facing the biggest challenge to his 10-year rule this weekend as parts of Istanbul turned into a war zone. Violent clashes took place between riot police and tens of thousands of demonstrators outraged at the heavy-handed response of authorities to an environmental protest on Friday.

The eruption of frustration with Erdogan's government spread to a dozen other Turkish cities overnight and supporters gathered worldwide in Boston, London, Barcelona and Amsterdam to voice solidarity with the protesters.

Police eventually withdrew from the city's central Taksim Square early on Saturday evening, bringing an end to the clashes. By late night thousands of people were celebrating there. "This is it, we won, Gezi Park is ours again", said Burcu Kurhan, 33, one protester who joined the crowds in the inner-city park where peaceful protests started on Monday. "But we hope that Tayyip will have to go!"

Several overturned police and municipal vehicles were covered in graffiti demanding the government resigns.

The US has expressed concern over the way the Turkish government is handling the situation, and the British consulate in Istanbul took the unusual step of publicly rebuking the government for overreacting after a teargas canister landed in the consulate gardens.

"Our government actively supports the Syrian opposition, and they constantly call for more democratic rights in Syria. But look what they do to those who oppose their own ideas and policies – they try to shut us up with teargas and violence," said Nejla Gulten, a 32-year-old sociologist. "When the prime minister speaks about women, he never speaks about the problem of violence against women, but only about how many children we should have. He shapes every issue in Turkey to suit himself."

I've mentioned this story elsewhere, but it deserves its own thread:

Described by the American Civil Liberties Union as the “most gagged person in the history of the United States of America,” Edmonds studied criminal justice, psychology and public policy at  George Washington and George Mason universities. Two weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, her fluency in Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani earned her an FBI contract at the Washington DC field office. She was tasked with translating highly classified intelligence from operations against terrorism suspects in and outside the U.S..

In the course of her work, Edmonds became privy to evidence that U.S. military and intelligence agencies were collaborating with Islamist militants affiliated with al-Qaeda, the very forces blamed for the 9/11 attacks – and that officials in the FBI were covering up the evidence. When Edmonds complained to her superiors, her family was threatened by one of the subjects of her complaint, and she was fired. Her accusations of espionage against her FBI colleagues were eventually investigated by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General, which did not give details about the allegations as they remained classified.

Although no final conclusions about the espionage allegations were reached, the Justice Department concluded that many of Edmonds’ accusations “were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI’s decision to terminate her services.”

When she attempted to go public with her story in 2002, and again in 2004, the U.S. government silenced Edmonds by invoking a legal precedent known as “state secrets privilege” – a near limitless power to quash a lawsuit based solely on the government’s claim that evidence or testimony could divulge information that might undermine “national security.” Under this doctrine, the government sought to retroactively classify basic information concerning Edmonds’s case already in the public record, including, according to the New York Times, “what languages Ms. Edmonds translated, what types of cases she handled, and what employees she worked with, officials said. Even routine and widely disseminated information — like where she worked — is now classified.”

Five years ago, Edmonds revealed to the Sunday Times that an unidentified senior U.S. State Department official was on the payroll of Turkish agents in Washington, passing on nuclear and military secrets. “He was aiding foreign operatives against U.S. interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectives”, Edmonds told the paper. She reported coming across this informationwhen listening to suppressed phone calls recorded by FBI surveillance, marked by her colleague Melek Can Dickerson as “not pertinent”.

In the Sunday Times exposé, Edmonds described a parallel organisation in Israel cooperating with the Turks on illegal weapons sales and technology transfers. Between them, Israel and Turkey operated a range of front companies incorporated in the U.S. with active “moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions”, supported by U.S. officials, in order to sell secrets to the highest bidder. One of the  buyers was Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) – which often used its Turkish allies, according to the Times, “as a conduit… because they were less likely to attract suspicion.”

The Pakistani operation was, the paper reported,  “led by General Mahmoud Ahmad, then the ISI chief” from 1999 to 2001, when the agency helped train, supply and coordinate the Afghan Taliban and gave sanctuary to their Arab allies brought together in the coalition named al-Qaeda. Ahmad, as the Timesnoted, “was accused [by the FBI] of sanctioning a $100,000 wire payment to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, immediately before the attacks.”

In her interview, Edmonds  insisted that after its initial exposé, the Times‘ investigation had gone beyond such previous revelations, and was preparing to disclose her most startling accusations. Among these, Edmonds described how the CIA and the Pentagon had been running a series of covert operations supporting Islamist militant networks linked to Osama bin Laden right up to 9/11, in Central Asia, the Balkans and the Caucasus.

While it is widely recognised that the CIA sponsored bin Laden’s networks in Afghanistan during the Cold War, U.S. government officials deny any such ties existed. Others claim these ties were real, but were severed after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989.

But according to Edmonds, this narrative is false. “Not just bin Laden, but several senior ‘bin Ladens’ were transported by U.S. intelligence back and forth to the region in the late 1990s through to 2001″, she told this author, “including Ayman al-Zawahiri” – Osama bin Laden’s right-hand-man who has taken over as al-Qaeda’s top leader.

“In the late 1990s, all the way up to 9/11, al-Zawahiri and other mujahideen operatives were meeting regularly with senior U.S. officials in the U.S. embassy in Baku to plan the Pentagon’s Balkan operations with the mujahideen,” said Edmonds. “We had support for these operations from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but the U.S. oversaw and directed them. They were being run from a secret section of the Pentagon with its own office”.

Edmonds’ allegations find some independent corroboration in the public record. The Wall Street Journal refers to a nebulous agreement between Mubarak and “the operational wing of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which was then headed by Ayman al-Zawahiri…  Many of that group’s fighters embraced a cease-fire with the government of former President Hosni Mubarak in 1997.”

Youssef Bodansky, former Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, cited U.S. intelligence sources in an article for Defense and Foreign Affairs: Strategic Policy, confirming “discussions between the Egyptian terrorist leader Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri and an Arab-American known to have been both an emissary of the CIA and the U.S. Government.” He referred to an “offer” made to al-Zawahiri in November 1997 on behalf of U.S. intelligence, granting his Islamists a free hand in Egypt as long as they lent support to U.S. forces in the Balkans. In 1998, Al Zawahiri’s brother, Muhammed, led an elite unit of the Kosovo Liberation Army against Serbs during the Kosovo conflict – he reportedly had direct contact with NATO leadership.

In recent interviews, two Sunday Times journalists confirmed to this author that the newspaper’s investigation based on Sibel Edmonds’ revelations was to break much of the details into the open.

“We’d spoken to several current and active Pentagon officials confirming the existence of U.S. operations sponsoring mujahideen networks in Central Asia from the 1990s to 2001,” said oneSunday Times source. “Those mujahideen networks were intertwined with a whole range of criminal enterprises, including drugs and guns. The Pentagon officials corroborated Edmonds’ allegations against specific U.S. officials, and I’d also interviewed an MI6 officer who confirmed that the U.S. was running these operations sponsoring mujahideen in that period.”

But according to Edmonds, citing the investigative team at the paper, the last two articles in the series were spiked under U.S. State Department pressure. She recalled being told at the time by journalists leading the Sunday Times investigation that the newspaper’s editor had decided to squash the story after receiving calls from officials at the U.S. embassy in London.

A journalist with the Sunday Times‘ investigative unit told this author he had interviewed former Special Agent in Charge, Dennis Saccher, who had moved to the FBI’s Colorado office. Saccher reportedly confirmed the veracity of Edmonds’ allegations of espionage, telling him that Edmonds’ story “should have been front page news” because it was “a scandal bigger than Watergate.” The same journalist confirmed that after interviewing Saccher at his home, the newspaper was contacted by the U.S. State Department. “The U.S. embassy in London called the editor and tried to ward him off. We were told that we weren’t permitted to approach Saccher or any other active FBI agents directly, but could only go through the FBI’s press office – that if we tried to speak to Saccher or anyone else employed by the FBI directly, that would be illegal. Of course, it isn’t, but that’s what we were told. I think this was a veiled threat.”

What is not mentioned in this article, but is mentioned on the author's personal site, is that the role Marc Grossman allegedly played.  Grossman was the former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey (1994-1997), and then afterwards "went onto become Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (1997-2000), then served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs under the Bush administration (2001-2005). His most recent political appointment was as Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan (2011-2012). He is currently Vice President of the Washington DC lobbying firm, The Cohen Group." 

Grossman is alleged to have been the agent on the payroll of Turkish intelligence, as alleged by Edmonds.  And, as the author notes, "The Pakistani daily, The News, reported on 10th September 2001 that the ISI chief held several "mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council" that week, including CIA director George Tenet – but "the most important meeting was with Mark [sic] Grossman, U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs.""

If you're anything like me, you've probably noted how Obama's valiant defenders in the press have been keeping really, really quiet about the Benghazi attacks and subsequent questions that have arisen about the conduct of the State Department and the White House on the day of the attack.

Even people somewhat critical of the administration have been reluctant to look at Benghazi too closely, probably on the basis that the Republicans have been attempting to hammer Obama (and Clinton) over various aspects of that, and the Republicans are always wrong.

Well, things just got interesting:

While US diplomats were pulling bodies from a burning Libyan consulate and frantically smashing up hard drives last 11 September, their superiors blocked rescue efforts and later attempted to cover up security failings, according to damaging new evidence that may yet hurt Hillary Clinton's presidential hopes.

In vivid testimony to Congress on Wednesday, Gregory Hicks, deputy to murdered US ambassador Christopher Stevens, revealed for the first time in public a detailed account of the desperate few hours after the terrorist attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi.

Hicks claimed Clinton's chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, telephoned him to complain that he had given critical evidence to congressional investigators without the presence of a "minder" from the state department. "A phone call from that senior a person is generally considered not to be good news," said Hicks, who said he had since been demoted. "She was upset. She was very upset."

The career diplomat also alleged he was actively discouraged by officials from asking awkward questions about why other top Clinton aides, including the UN ambassador Susan Rice, initially blamed the attack on a spontaneous protest that got out of control. He described that briefing he described as "jaw-dropping, embarrassing and stunning". It is now thought the attacks, involving up to 60 heavily armed militia, were co-ordinated by Ansar al-Sharia, a group affiliated to al-Qaida, and timed to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

The allegations of a state department cover-up follow equally embarrassing claims that military leaders blocked efforts to dispatch special forces troops to the Benghazi consulate.

Of course the Republicans are doing this as a roundabout way of attacking Obama and smearing Clinton, hoping to poison the well before a possible future Presidential bid.  I mean, duh.

But that doesn't mean there are some legitimate questions as to what exactly went down that day.  And what precisely the CIA were doing in Benghazi, which seems to be perhaps part of the reason for the White House's sudden drive towards damage control.  Saint Brennan of the Drones must be protected at all costs, especially if he was running some kind of covert op in Benghazi and missed out on the fact his people had been made, or had them too busy collecting Stingers to focus on their own safety.

Surprise, it's propaganda!

The CIA's whitewashing effort is revealed in a cache of documents newly released under a Freedom of Information Act request about the CIA's cooperation with Bigelow and Boal. The documents include a 2012 memo—initially classified "SECRET"—summarizing five conference calls between Boal and the CIA's Office of Public Affairs in late 2011. "The purpose for these discussions was for OPA officers to help promote an appropriate portrayal of the Agency and the Bin Ladin operation," according to the memo. (Hundreds of pages of CIA documents about the film were released last year; the memo obtained by Gawker was approved for release late last month.)

During these calls, Boal "verbally shared the screenplay" for Zero Dark Thirty in order to get the CIA's feedback, and the CIA's public affairs department verbally asked Boal to take out parts that they objected to. According to the memo, he did.

Pro-tip: when the CIA says it is "absolutely comfortable" with the final product, chances are said product is bullshit.

So, this is an amusing little article by the British Embassy in Bahrain:

So-called human rights organisations, which unfortunately are largely administered by ex-ideologists and even terrorists, today propagate their own version of the word ‘freedom’, solely to take it away from others. They dismiss any notion that the minute someone’s freedom intrudes on that of another person, it becomes an act of violation. For absolute freedom is absolute chaos. Like any other state of being, it must be accountable. But in today’s world there is a frequent tendency for the press to brand those in power as ‘baddies’, and the real wrongdoers as victims.

During the last two years Bahrain has suffered hugely damaging media-inspired attacks on its image and integrity – without checks being made as to their veracity – whether news or comment.

Another thought…as much as beasts cannot be left to roam freely, so in human society the feral element’s freedom should be under control.

Respect for freedom should really start from an early age. Otherwise our society will only breed ranks of the undisciplined – staining the values of freedom.

Freedom of thought, thinking and writing, should all derive their essence from graceful wisdom, not from the dogma of hooligans.

Indeed, such hooliganism cannot be tolerated.

Aneristic Illusions / Remember kids, economics is a SCIENCE
« on: April 20, 2013, 01:33:22 am »

Via the BBC...

This week, economists have been astonished to find that a famous academic paper often used to make the case for austerity cuts contains major errors. Another surprise is that the mistakes, by two eminent Harvard professors, were spotted by a student.

It's 4 January 2010, the Marriott Hotel in Atlanta. At the annual meeting of the American Economic Association, Professor Carmen Reinhart and the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, Ken Rogoff, are presenting a research paper called Growth in a Time of Debt.

At a time of economic crisis, their finding resonates - economic growth slows dramatically when the size of a country's debt rises above 90% of Gross Domestic Product, the overall size of the economy.

Word about this paper spread. Policymakers wanted to know more.

And so did student Thomas Herndon. His professors at the University of Massachusetts Amherst had set his graduate class an assignment - pick an economics paper and see if you can replicate the results. It's a good exercise for aspiring researchers.

But no, he was correct - he'd spotted a basic error in the spreadsheet. The Harvard professors had accidentally only included 15 of the 20 countries under analysis in their key calculation (of average GDP growth in countries with high public debt).

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada and Denmark were missing.


Herndon and his professors found other issues with Growth in a Time of Debt, which had an even bigger impact on the famous result. The first was the fact that for some countries, some data was missing altogether.

Reinhart and Rogoff say that they were assembling the data series bit by bit, and at the time they presented the paper for the American Economic Association conference, good quality data on post-war Canada, Australia and New Zealand simply weren't available. Nevertheless, the omission made a substantial difference.

Thomas and his supervisors also didn't like the way that Reinhart and Rogoff averaged their data. They say one bad year for a small country like New Zealand, was blown out of proportion because it was given the same weight as, for example, the UK's nearly 20 years with high public debt.

All sounds very scientific to me. 

Aneristic Illusions / Ah, history
« on: April 05, 2013, 10:03:48 pm »
Quote from: Perculiar Liasons in War, Terrorism and Espionage in the 20th Century by John S. Craig
At the time of the assassination, [David] Ferrie was a forty-five-year-old New Orleans resident. He possessed assorted talents and eccentricities. He was a pilot, having learned to fly in Cleveland at Sky Tech Inc. from 1942-45. He was a senior pilot with Eastern Airlines, until he was fired for homosexual activity on the job. He was also a hypnotist, accomplished pianist, a researcher of the origins of cancer, amateur psychologist, and a victim of a rare disease, alopecia, which made him lose his body hair. He listed his name in the telephone directory as Dr. Ferrie by right of a doctorate degree in psychology from an unaccredited school, Phoenix University of Bari, Italy. He was anti-Castro, anti-Kennedy, and anti-Communist; Ferrie was also a bishop of the Orthodox Old Catholic Church of North America. His odd lifestyle was embellished by an equally odd appearance, featuring a red toupee and false eyebrows. Investigator and Harrison Livingstone met Ferrie and remembered him as “an intense and sinister, cynical, disgusting, disheveled individual who was excited at the prospect of preying upon the vulnerable, the helpless, and the innocent.”

I've become somewhat interested in the Kennedy assassination due to James Ellroy's American Underword trilogy.  Not interested enough to come to any firm conclusions, just to read around it, in my spare time.  Finding out things like this is always fun.

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