Saturday, September 11, 2021

Jonathan Vankin on CONSPIRINORMAL

Recommended Listening: Check out Adam Sayne and Serfeil Stevenson's 9-1-21 CONSPIRINORMAL interview with Jonathan Vankin, author of CONSPIRACIES, COVER-UPS and CRIMES, THE WORLD'S GREATEST CONSPIRACIES, and (his most recent book) CLOSE TO ZERO. Here's Sayne and Stevenson's description of the episode:

We welcome first time guest Jonathan Vankin to the show to discuss his new book "Close To Zero: How Donald Trump Fulfilled His Apocalyptic Vision and Paid His Debt to Putin With a Devastating Biological Warfare Attack on America." We examine what Trump knew about Covid and how he may have allowed it to run rampant to fulfill his own Apocalyptic vision. We also discuss the craziness that is the Conspiracy world today and what it means for the future.

You can contact Jonathan Vankin and get his books at his website.

Conspirinormal 381- Jonathan Vankin (Close to Zero)


Monday, September 6, 2021

THE SOCIAL DILEMMA

Recommended Viewing: Jeff Orlowski's 2020 documentary, THE SOCIAL DILEMMA, which is available on YouTube until the end of September....
 
The Social Dilemma | Full Feature | Netflix
 
 
"Violence is the quest for identity.... When identity disappears with technological innovation, violence is the natural recourse."
--Marshal McLuhan, CULTURE IS OUR BUSINESS, 1970

Sunday, September 5, 2021

The Wild World of QAnon

From NPR's 9-3-21 report entitled "Jacob Chansley, Self-Styled 'QAnon Shaman,' Pleads Guilty To Felony Over Capitol Riot":

An Arizona man who sported face paint, no shirt and a furry hat with horns when he joined the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 pleaded guilty Friday to a felony charge and wants to be released from jail while he awaits sentencing.

Jacob Chansley, who was widely photographed in the Senate chamber with a flagpole topped with a spear, could face 41 to 51 months in prison under sentencing guidelines, a prosecutor said. The man who called himself "QAnon Shaman" has been jailed for nearly eight months since his arrest.

Before entering the plea, Chansley was found by a judge to be mentally competent after having been transferred to a Colorado facility for a mental health evaluation [...].

Chansley was among the first wave of pro-Trump rioters to force its way into the Capitol building. He yelled into a bullhorn as officers tried to control the crowd, posed for photos, profanely referred to then-Vice President Mike Pence as a traitor while in the Senate. He wrote a note to Pence saying, "It's only a matter of time, justice is coming." He also made a social media post in November in which he promoted hangings for traitors [...].

Chansley is among roughly 600 people charged in the riot that forced lawmakers into hiding as they were meeting to certify President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. Fifty others have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanor charges of demonstrating in the Capitol.

Only one defendant who pleaded guilty to a felony charge has received their punishment so far. Paul Hodgkins, a crane operator from Florida who breached the U.S. Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag, was sentenced in July to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to obstructing an official proceeding.

Chansley's lawyer said his client has since repudiated the QAnon movement and asked that there be no more references to his past affiliations with the movement.

To read the entire article, click HERE.

From Eliza Relman's 9-1-21 BUSINESS INSIDER article entitled "Caesars Entertainment Cancels a QAnon Conference Featuring Michael Flynn at Its Las Vegas Venue":

Caesars Entertainment canceled a QAnon conference scheduled to be held in October at their conference space in Las Vegas, 8 News Now first reported on Tuesday.

The event, called the For God & Country Patriot Double Down, was set to take place October 22-25 with tickets selling for between $650 and $3,000.

"We can confirm that the Patriot Double Down will no longer be held at Caesars Entertainment properties," a Caesars spokeswoman, Kate Whiteley, told Insider. She declined to say why the event was canceled.

The group behind the event, the Patriot Voice, held a similar conference, called the Patriot Roundup in Dallas over Memorial Day weekend. Both events were organized by John Sabal, a Trump loyalist who goes by QAnon John, and center around a vast web of lies and baseless conspiracy theories.

Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, and Jim Watkins, who ran pornography sites before creating the online forum 8kun, where the anonymous "Q" user posts about the conspiracy theory, were expected to speak at the October event alongside a slew of other far-right activists.

To read the entire article, click HERE.

From Christopher Burns' 8-30-21 BANGOR DAILY NEWS article entitled "QAnon Conspiracy Theorist Who Organized Far-right Belfast Event Dies of COVID-19":

The conspiracy theorist who organized a far-right event calling for an audit of Maine’s 2020 election results in Belfast last month has died from COVID-19.

Robert David Steele, a former CIA officer turned promoter of far-right QAnon conspiracy theories, was hospitalized earlier this month after he began displaying symptoms of COVID-19, according to Vice News [...].

Steele also promoted antisemitic conspiracies and opinions, including that “satanic Zionists” are plotting against white people, that Jews aren’t “loyal” to the U.S. and called for the eradication of “every Zionist who refuses to be loyal to their country of citizenship and the rule of law,” according to the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. 

During last month’s event at the Crosby Center in Belfast, Steele and other attendees pushed for a “forensic audit” of Maine’s election results, although no such legal mechanism exists and there is no evidence of significant voter fraud or election irregularities here or nationally.

In addition to Steele, the event featured speeches from Richard Mack, the leader of a group arguing sheriffs can overrule federal law, and state Rep. Heidi Sampson, R-Alfred, who faces calls for her resignation over remarks she made earlier this month comparing Gov. Janet Mills to the Nazi “Angel of Death” Josef Mengele.

To read the entire article, click HERE.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

THE ATLANTIC: "The New Puritans"

Here are some relevant excerpts from Anne Applebaum's 8-31-21 ATLANTIC article entitled "The New Puritans":

[T]he modern online public sphere, a place of rapid conclusions, rigid ideological prisms, and arguments of 280 characters, favors neither nuance nor ambiguity. Yet the values of that online sphere have come to dominate many American cultural institutions: universities, newspapers, foundations, museums. Heeding public demands for rapid retribution, they sometimes impose the equivalent of lifetime scarlet letters on people who have not been accused of anything remotely resembling a crime. Instead of courts, they use secretive bureaucracies. Instead of hearing evidence and witnesses, they make judgments behind closed doors.

 

I have been trying to understand these stories for a long time, both because I believe that the principle of due process underpins liberal democracy, and also because they remind me of other times and places. A decade ago, I wrote a book about the Sovietization of Central Europe in the 1940s, and found that much of the political conformism of the early Communist period was the result not of violence or direct state coercion, but rather of intense peer pressure. Even without a clear risk to their life, people felt obliged—not just for the sake of their career but for their children, their friends, their spouse—to repeat slogans that they didn’t believe, or to perform acts of public obeisance to a political party they privately scorned [...].


[N]o one quoted here, anonymously or by name, has been charged with an actual crime, let alone convicted in an actual court. All of them dispute the public version of their story. Several say they have been falsely accused; others believe that their “sins” have been exaggerated or misinterpreted by people with hidden agendas. All of them, sinners or saints, have been handed drastic, life-altering, indefinite punishments, often without the ability to make a case in their own favor [...].

 

Many of these investigations involve anonymous reports or complaints, some of which can come as a total surprise to those being reported upon […].

 

Secretive procedures that take place outside the law and leave the accused feeling helpless and isolated have been an element of control in authoritarian regimes across the centuries, from the Argentine junta to Franco’s Spain [...].


The censoriousness, the shunning, the ritualized apologies, the public sacrifices—these are rather typical behaviors in illiberal societies with rigid cultural codes, enforced by heavy peer pressure. This is a story of moral panic, of cultural institutions policing or purifying themselves in the face of disapproving crowds. The crowds are no longer literal, as they once were in Salem, but rather online mobs, organized via Twitter, Facebook, or sometimes internal company Slack channels [...].

 

No one—of any age, in any profession—is safe. In the age of Zoom, cellphone cameras, miniature recorders, and other forms of cheap surveillance technology, anyone’s comments can be taken out of context; anyone’s story can become a rallying cry for Twitter mobs on the left or the right. Anyone can then fall victim to a bureaucracy terrified by the sudden eruption of anger. And once one set of people loses the right to due process, so does everybody else. Not just professors but students; not just editors of elite publications but random members of the public. Gotcha moments can be choreographed. Project Veritas, a well-funded right-wing organization, dedicates itself to sting operations: It baits people into saying embarrassing things on hidden cameras and then seeks to get them punished for it, either by social media or by their own bureaucracies.

 

But while this form of mob justice can be used opportunistically by anyone, for any political or personal reason, the institutions that have done the most to facilitate this change are in many cases those that once saw themselves as the guardians of liberal and democratic ideals. Robert George, the Princeton professor, is a longtime philosophical conservative who once criticized liberal scholars for their earnest relativism, their belief that all ideas deserved an equal hearing. He did not foresee, he told me, that liberals would one day “seem as archaic as the conservatives,” that the idea of creating a space where different ideas could compete would come to seem old-fashioned, that the spirit of tolerance and curiosity would be replaced by a worldview “that is not open-minded, that doesn’t think engaging differences is a great thing or that students should be exposed to competing points of view.” [...]

 

Students and professors, editorial assistants and editors in chief—all are aware of what kind of society they now inhabit. That’s why they censor themselves, why they steer clear of certain topics, why they avoid discussing anything too sensitive for fear of being mobbed or ostracized or fired without due process. But that kind of thinking takes us uncomfortably close to Istanbul, where history and politics can be discussed only with great care.

 

[I]f we drive all of the difficult people, the demanding people, and the eccentric people away from the creative professions where they used to thrive, we will become a flatter, duller, less interesting society, a place where manuscripts sit in drawers for fear of arbitrary judgments. The arts, the humanities, and the media will become stiff, predictable, and mediocre. Democratic principles like the rule of law, the right to self-defense, the right to a just trial—even the right to be forgiven—will wither. There will be nothing to do but sit back and wait for the Hawthornes of the future to expose us.

To read Applebaum's entire article, click HERE.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Skylaire Alfvegren, R.I.P. (1977-2021)

On August 28, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman reported the following sad news regarding writer Skylaire Alfvegren:

Skylaire Alfvegren called herself a “gonzo journalist and a Fortean explorer.” Lots of folks knew her as a smiling person hiding terrible pain, joyful happiness, and deep questions, who was always willing, it seems, to get her photo taken with fellow Forteans. Skylaire Alfvegren has died tragically, at the age of 44, and many of us are in shock [...].

To read the rest of Loren's obit for Skylaire, click HERE.

Though I didn't know Skylaire personally, I communicated with her via email from time to time. I could tell she was a bright, creative, and enthusiastic researcher. She went out of her way to let me know early on how much she enjoyed reading my first book, CRYPTOSCATOLOGY, an endorsement for which I was grateful at a time when very few people had discovered the book. Her sudden death at such a young age is quite distressing, particularly since we can't afford to lose even a single devoted Fortean researcher at a time when the world appears to be devolving into a place that's increasingly hostile to questioning minds. R.I.P., Skylaire. You will be missed....

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Board Recommends Parole for Sirhan Sirhan

From Ray Sanchez and Cheri Mossburg's 8-28-21 CNN report entitled "Board Recommends Parole for RFK Assassin Sirhan Sirhan on 16th Attempt":

Sirhan Sirhan, the man convicted of assassinating Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, was recommended for parole on Friday. After 53 years in prison, the 77-year-old inmate's fate is now in the hands of California's governor.

Two of Kennedy's surviving sons, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Douglas Kennedy, supported the release during Sirhan's 16th appearance before the parole board, yet several of Kennedy's other children have strongly opposed the move.

Sirhan arrived at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in May 1969 after being convicted of first-degree murder and assault with intent to murder.

"I'm overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr. Sirhan face to face," Douglas Kennedy, who was a toddler when his father was gunned down in 1968, said during the virtual hearing. "I think I've lived my life both in fear of him and his name in one way or another. And I am grateful today to see him as a human being worthy of compassion and love."

Sirhan, wearing a blue uniform with a paper towel folded like a handkerchief into his pocket, smiled.

"I do have some love for you," Douglas Kennedy told the inmate, who nodded and lowered his head.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has favored Sirhan's release in the past, wrote in support of parole. He said he was moved when he first met Sirhan -- "who wept, clinching my hands and asked for forgiveness" -- and offered to be "a guiding friend for him." 

To read the entire article, click HERE.

Recommended Reading: THE ASSASSINATION OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY by William Turner and Jonn Christian. If you want to read James DiEugenio's 2007 book review of THE ASSASSINATION OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY, click HERE.

Recommended Listening: Dave Emory's ANTI-FASCIST ARCHIVES #9: THE ASSASSINATION OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY (recorded June 5, 1985).

Friday, August 27, 2021

Quote of the Day

"A sanitized culture always on its good behavior & bleached of provocation is no culture at all. It’s a garden party where no one talks of anything but the weather, and these days even the weather is controversial. In America, culture defines politics rather than the other way around, and it remains to be seen whether the culture wrests back from our times the courage of disquieting provocations…."

--Steve Erickson, AMERICAN STUTTER, 2021