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

Monday, August 23, 2021

Mini Brains (or) The Brain from Planet Arous

From Michelle Starr's 8-17-21 SCIENCE ALERT article entitled "Scientists Grew Stem Cell 'Mini Brains'. Then, The Brains Sort-of Developed Eyes":

Mini brains grown in a lab from stem cells have spontaneously developed rudimentary eye structures, scientists report in a fascinating new paper.

On tiny, human-derived brain organoids grown in dishes, two bilaterally symmetrical optic cups were seen to grow, mirroring the development of eye structures in human embryos. This incredible result will help us to better understand the process of eye differentiation and development, as well as eye diseases.

"Our work highlights the remarkable ability of brain organoids to generate primitive sensory structures that are light sensitive and harbor cell types similar to those found in the body," said neuroscientist Jay Gopalakrishnan of University Hospital Düsseldorf in Germany.

"These organoids can help to study brain-eye interactions during embryo development, model congenital retinal disorders, and generate patient-specific retinal cell types for personalized drug testing and transplantation therapies."

Brain organoids are not true brains, as you might be thinking of them. They are small, three-dimensional structures grown from induced pluripotent stem cells - cells harvested from adult humans and reverse engineered into stem cells, that have the potential to grow into many different types of tissue.

In this case, these stem cells are coaxed to grow into blobs of brain tissue, without anything resembling thoughts, emotions, or consciousness. Such 'mini brains' are used for research purposes where using actual living brains would be impossible, or at the very least, ethically tricky - testing drug responses, for example, or observing cell development under certain adverse conditions.

To read the entire article, click HERE

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Steve Erickson and Susan Zakin on The Project Censored Show

On Monday, August 9, Steve Erickson (one of the most important American novelists living today) appeared on THE PROJECT CENSORED SHOW along with Susan Zakin, co-founder and editor of the online publication JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEARS. Erickson and Zakin discuss Erickson's latest work, AMERICAN STUTTER. Here's a brief description of the show from the PROJECT CENSORED website:

Mickey’s guests for the hour are authors Susan Zakin and Steve Erickson. Zakin joined forces with other talent from the literary community to create the online publication Journal of The Plague Years as a place for a new kind of journalism, especially work examining life during COVID-19. Steve Erickson is a professor, award-winning author, and contributor to the site. They discuss the journal as well as Steve’s latest work American Stutter, an exclusive to the site that chronicles the tumultuous ride through the pandemic, a contentious election year, the January 6th events at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. and much more in between.

Susan Zakin, a journalist and author, is the founder of Journal of the Plague Years. Her previous works include Coyotes and Town Dogs: Earth First! And the Environmental Movement. Steve Erickson is a prolific novelist and writer, and teaches at the University of California, Riverside. His latest work, American Stutter, is published at Journal of the Plague Years.

To listen to the interview, click HERE.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Melinda Leslie on Dreamland

On Friday, August 6, Melinda Leslie (prominently mentioned in the epilogue to CHAMELEO) appeared on Whitley Strieber's DREAMLAND to discuss her UFO Sighting Tours based in Sedona, Arizona. Here's a brief description of the show from the DREAMLAND website:

Melinda Leslie runs UFOSightingTours in Sedona. It is the only such tour in the world that offers a money back guarantee. The reason is that only two of the 1,400 tours she has run over the past 10 years have ended with the participants not seeing anything. Melinda does not set the standards. It’s up to the participants to decide whether or not they have seen something. As she knows the night sky well, including satellite transits, she is able to reliably identify known phenomena.

But why? What enables her to do this?

You will hear an incredible story of a lifetime of multiple witness contact experiences, sightings and deep personal contact with the visitors. Melinda will go on to discuss contactee rights and what the UAP Threat Assessment means to them, especially if it is determined by the military that there is a threat involved. As contactees are involved with the visitors, will that make us a threat, too? Melinda is promoting a new organization called the Contactee Rights Coalition which will soon have its first board meeting....

To listen to Strieber's interview with Leslie, click HERE.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Paulina Peavy at Beyond Baroque

From Katie White's 8-11-21 ARTNET article entitled "The Late Artist and Psychic Paulina Peavy Communed With a UFO to Create Her Work. A New Show Revives Her Otherworldly Legacy":

Many artists throughout history have claimed some sort of otherworldly inspiration (the muses, for instance). But the visionary American artist Paulina Peavy (1901–1999) may be one of the only to attribute her talents to communications with a U.F.O.—specifically one named Lacamo.

During Peavy’s lifetime, she enjoyed many early successes, including showing with Los Angeles’s Stendahl Gallery, studying with Hans Hoffman, and exhibiting work at the opening of the San Francisco Museum of Art—all before falling into art world obscurity.

The new exhibition “Paulina Peavy: An Etherian Channeler,” on view at the Beyond Baroque art center in Venice Beach, is hoping to reintroduce Peavy as a powerful and one-of-a-kind creative force in the nascent southern California art scene of a century ago.

The fascinating show, curated by Laura Whitcomb, marks the first exhibition of Peavy’s work on the West Coast in 75 years, and traces her myriad creations —paintings, films, drawings, intricate masks—from the 1930s into the 1980s. Various ephemera related to theosophy and astroculture are also on view in a series of vitrines, along with some of Peavy’s own writings, which detail the elaborate occultist belief systems that informed her work.

To read the entire article, click HERE. For more information about Peavey and her work, I recommend checking out PaulinaPeavy.com where you can listen to the artist being interviewed by none other than Long John Nebel in January of 1958.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

And the QAnon Madness Continues Apace....

From Jean Yamamura's SANTA BARBARA INDEPENDENT article entitled "Matthew Coleman Influenced by ‘QAnon and Illuminati Conspiracy Theories’ to Kill His Children, Affidavit Says":

Santa Barbara resident Matthew Taylor Coleman, 40, was charged today by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles for the crimes of murdering his two young children on foreign soil. According to an affidavit by an FBI Special Agent, he confessed to the murders of his two children, ages 10 months and 2 years old, during an interview, allegedly stating he believed they “were going to grow into monsters.” Coleman is the owner of Lovewater Surf School in Santa Barbara.

According to the FBI affidavit, during Coleman’s confession, “M. Coleman stated that he believed his children were going to grow into monsters so he had to kill them.” The affidavit further states Coleman said “he was enlightened by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories and was receiving visions and signs” that his wife had passed “serpent DNA” to their children. When asked if he knew what he did was wrong, Coleman acknowledged it was, but he had to save the world.

The FBI investigation so far has involved the Santa Barbara Police Department and the County District Attorney’s Office. Coleman’s wife had reported to Santa Barbara Police on Saturday, August 7, that her husband had taken their little boy and infant daughter in their Sprinter van, though she had expected them all to go camping. She met with an officer the next day after her attempts to reach Coleman by phone, along with attempts by other family members, went unanswered. She stated they’d had no problems or arguments, and she didn’t believe they were in danger. A missing persons report was filed, and an app on her computer located Coleman’s phone in Rosarito, Mexico.

To read Yamamura's entire article, click HERE

From Jamie Ross and Justin Rohrlich's 8-11-21 DAILY BEAST article entitled "Surf School Owner Killed Kids After Being ‘Enlightened’ by QAnon: Feds":

Lovewater Surf School’s website shows several photos of the Coleman family together. Coleman’s biography states that he taught high school for several years before founding the surf school.

The surf instructor posted about his Christian faith online, wondering in a November 2020 Facebook post whether “there is a type of Great American Renaissance following the years of Covid, censorship, and political divisiveness... that will empower each person’s heart to come alive and explode with innovative ideas, new business models, new music sounds and never seen ways to build an amazing community?”

Just a month earlier, Coleman had celebrated the birth of the couple’s youngest child, Roxy Rain, in an Instagram post.

“While waiting for her to come, I kept feeling this sense that she was going to be born at a very pivotal time in history and that she would represent a dawn, or even awakening, to years of great blessing for our family and nation,” he wrote. “Another picture that came to me was of God reaching down into a river bed and picking up a small stone (rock), examining it intently. Just as David had done before slaying Goliath, God examined the stone and was confident that it was just the perfect one for the battle. Although it was small, smooth and somewhat harmless looking, he knew that it would become great when placed into the palm of a skilled hand. My declaration over Roxy Rain is that she has been hand picked by God to slay the giants in the land."

To read Ross and Rohrlich's entire article, click HERE.

Friday, August 6, 2021

PRESS-ENTERPRISE: "Corona Movie Theater Shooting Suspect Says ‘Voices’ Led Him to Kill"

From Brian Rokos' 8-4-21 PRESS-ENTERPRISE article entitled "Corona Movie Theater Shooting Suspect Says ‘Voices’ Led Him to Kill":

Joseph Jimenez, the man accused of fatally shooting two young people in a Corona movie theater, said he killed them because the voices in his head that have tormented him for months told him to.

“The voices said my friends and family were going to be killed,” Jimenez said in a jailhouse interview on Wednesday, Aug. 4, at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning. That led to the shooting, he said.

When asked to clarify whether he believed the only way to save his loved ones was to shoot Rylee Goodrich, 18, and Anthony Barajas, 19, Jimenez answered matter-of-factly: “Basically, yeah.”

Jimenez, 20, is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Superior Court in Riverside on two counts of murder with two special-circumstance allegations — lying in wait and multiple murders — that make him eligible for the death penalty should the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office pursue that punishment.

Jimenez said he is “a little” nervous about the case.

Jimenez said he has been haunted by the voices for about eight months. They sometimes threaten to steal his car and television, he said. Jimenez said he was diagnosed with schizophrenia about eight months ago and was taking medication. But recently, he said, he had not taken his pills.

“I ran out and didn’t get it refilled,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez said the voices were overwhelming on the night of the shooting, July 26, and prevented him from concentrating on the movie “The Forever Purge,” the fifth in an anthology in which the plot centers around the suspension of all laws for a 12-hour period each year. Jimenez said the movie’s theme did not influence what he said happened next in theater No. 15 at the Regal Edwards cinema at the Crossings at Corona shopping center.

Jimenez said he left the theater, went to his car and retrieved a gun he said he had purchased on OfferUp, an online selling platform.

To read the entire article, click HERE.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Insurrection Update

From Mychael Schnell's 8-2-21 THE HILL article entitled "Third Police Officer Who Responded to Jan. 6 Attack Dies by Suicide":

A third police officer who responded to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has died by suicide, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) confirmed on Monday.

Gunther Hashida was found dead in his home on Thursday, according to an emailed statement from the department.

A spokesperson for the MPD confirmed to The Hill that Hashida died by suicide.

“We are grieving as a Department as our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Hashida’s family and friends,” the department wrote in a statement.

Hashida was assigned to the Emergency Response Team within the Special Operations Division, according to the department.

Hashida died two days after the select committee probing the Jan. 6 attack held its first hearing, where four police officers delivered harrowing testimony about their experiences defending the Capitol amid the riots.

To read the entire article, click HERE

From Sarah N. Lynch's 7-23-21 REUTERS article entitled "'QAnon Shaman' in Plea Negotiations After Mental Health Diagnosis": 

The participant in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots nicknamed the "QAnon Shaman" is negotiating a possible plea deal with prosecutors, after prison psychologists found he suffers from a variety of mental illnesses, his attorney said.

In an interview, defense lawyer Albert Watkins said that officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons, or BOP, have diagnosed his client Jacob Chansley with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.

The BOP's findings, which have not yet been made public, suggest Chansley's mental condition deteriorated due to the stress of being held in solitary confinement at a jail in Alexandria, Virginia, Watkins said.

"As he spent more time in solitary confinement ... the decline in his acuity was noticeable, even to an untrained eye," Watkins said in an interview on Thursday.

He said Chansley's 2006 mental health records from his time in the U.S. Navy show a similar diagnosis to the BOP's [...].

Federal prosecutors have arrested more than 535 people on charges of taking part in the violence, which saw rioters battle police, smash windows and send members of Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence running for safety.

About 20 defendants so far have pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with the attack, according to a government tally.

Chansley is jailed as he awaits trial, after prosecutors convinced a federal judge he remains a danger if released.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in May ordered him to undergo a competency evaluation.

As of July 5, he was one of 188 men and women undergoing an initial mental health evaluation to determine if they are competent to stand trial, according to BOP data.

To read the entire article, click HERE

In light of the above news reports, it's illuminating to revisit a 1-6-18 GUARDIAN article entitled "Trump Is Now Dangerous – That Makes His Mental Health a Matter of Public Interest" by Dr. Bandy X. Lee (a forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine and editor of the bestselling book THE DANGEROUS CASE OF DONALD TRUMP: 27 PSYCHIATRISTS AND MENTAL HEALTH EXPERTS ASSESS A PRESIDENT):

[A]t no other time in US history has a group of mental health professionals been so collectively concerned about a sitting president’s dangerousness. This is not because he is an unusual person – many of his symptoms are very common – but it is highly unusual to find a person with such signs of danger in the office of presidency. For the US, it may be unprecedented; for parts of the world where this has happened before, the outcome has been uniformly devastating.

Pathology does not feel right to the healthy. It repels, but it also exhausts and confuses. There is a reason why staying in close quarters with a person suffering from mental illness usually induces what is called a “shared psychosis”. Vulnerable or weakened individuals are more likely to succumb, and when their own mental health is compromised, they may develop an irresistible attraction to pathology. No matter the attraction, unlike healthy decisions that are life-affirming, choices that arise out of pathology lead to damage, destruction, and death. This is the definition of disease, and how we tell it apart from health.

Politics require that we allow everyone an equal chance; medicine requires that we treat everyone equally in protecting them from disease. That is why a liberal health professional would not ignore signs of appendicitis in a patient just because he is a Republican. Similarly, health professionals would not call pancreatic cancer something else because it is afflicting the president. When signs of illness become apparent, it is natural for the physician to recommend an examination. But when the disorder goes so far as to affect an individual’s ability to perform her function, and in some cases risks harm to the public as a result, then the health professional has a duty to sound the alarm.

The progress of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations was worrisome to us for the effects it would have on the president’s stability. We predicted that Trump, who has shown marked signs of psychological fragility under ordinary circumstances, barely able to cope with basic criticism or unflattering news, would begin to unravel with the encroaching indictments. And if his mental stability suffered, then so would public safety and international security.

To read the entire article, click HERE.