Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gun lobby logic: updated

Nuclear weapons don't kill people. People kill people. Install nuclear weapons in all schools to make every classroom a safe classroom! After all, the purpose of the Second Amendment is to prevent the government from holding a monopoly on weaponization. What better way is there to promote peace and democracy than to arm every child with a nuclear bomb, a fleet of Predator drones and a vial of Ebola?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Album of the year: Illuminations of Vile Engorgement

Ok, so Illuminations... wasn't released this year. Who cares? This "music" makes most death metal sound like Kenny G. I'm seriously incapable of listening to it without laughing. Part of what's so funny is the sheer volume of lengthy, irate reviews on Metal Archives, counterbalanced by equally verbose, laudatory reviews. From the Youtube comment section: "I listened to the blender sound for about 30 seconds before realizing it was the vocals". Is this even a serious attempt at making music? I dismissed it as juvenile shock tactics the first time, but repeated listening sessions revealed surprisingly intricate structural patterns superficially obscured by what appears to be repetitious monotony. And no, that's not a drum machine. Is Enmity the moronic nadir of pop cultural decay, or an underrated work of savant genius? I'm inclined towards the latter, and have lately been fantasizing about playing it over the intercom at the local mall for all the Christmas shoppers. Wouldn't it provide an appropriate soundtrack for all the Black Friday maniacs pepper spraying each other to clear a path to the Xboxes? 10/10.

CIA 'tortured and sodomised' terror suspect, human rights court rules

via the Guardian:

CIA agents tortured a German citizen, sodomising, shackling, and beating him, as Macedonian state police looked on, the European court of human rights said in a historic judgment released on Thursday. In a unanimous ruling, it also found Macedonia guilty of torturing, abusing, and secretly imprisoning Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese origin allegedly linked to terrorist organisations. Masri was seized in Macedonia in December 2003 and handed over to a CIA "rendition team" at Skopje airport and secretly flown to Afghanistan. It is the first time the court has described CIA treatment meted out to terror suspects as torture.

"The grand chamber of the European court of human rights unanimously found that Mr el-Masri was subjected to forced disappearance, unlawful detention, extraordinary rendition outside any judicial process, and inhuman and degrading treatment," said James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative...."Masri's treatment at Skopje airport at the hands of the CIA rendition team – being severely beaten, sodomised, shackled and hooded, and subjected to total sensory deprivation – had been carried out in the presence of state officials of [Macedonia] and within its jurisdiction," the court ruled...He said the US government must issue an apology for its "central role in a web of systematic crimes and human rights violations by the Bush-era CIA, and to pay voluntary compensation to Mr el-Masri".

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cornish 'white witches' guilty of ritual sex abuse on girls

trigger warning: The following post contains details that may be upsetting for those with a history of ritual abuse.

via the Guardian:

Two members of a Cornish white witch coven have been convicted of carrying out ritualistic sex abuse on young girls. Peter Petrauske, 72, who claimed to be a high priest, and Jack Kemp, 69, donned robes and carried pagan artefacts when they attended ceremonies during which children were forced to strip and then abused. Police believe children as young as three may have been involved...Petrauske, who described himself as the high priest of a white witches' coven in St Ives, was convicted of one count of rape, one count of aiding and abetting an attempt to rape and one count of indecent assault.

Kemp was found guilty of indecent assault and indecency with a child...Alleged victims claimed that Kemp, an ex-soldier and tin miner, and Petrauske, a former member of the merchant navy, had taken part in rituals during which children as young as three were plied with alcohol, forced to strip in front of men wearing white robes and abused...Prosecutor Jason Beal said children's wrists were tied and some reported having hot wax poured over their bodies; one said a dagger had been drawn over her body...Beal said the duo "used the cloak of paganism" to commit the offences against children, arguing they were not pagans but child abusers.

One woman told how, at the age of five, she and other children attended a ritual at a stone circle with a fire in the centre. Petrauske and Kemp were among the men there, wearing "gown things" and necklaces, she said. In a video of her interview played in court, the woman described sitting down next to a sobbing boy. "I didn't understand what was going on and was scared," she said. "The chanting stuck in my head for weeks," she added. "I didn't understand what it was all about, I just thought they were weird. I was warned that if I was naughty they would hurt me, that they had special powers."

She said she was abused by Petrauske and Kemp. The woman, who cannot be named, also said she was raped by another man, a former parish councillor called Peter Solheim who was associated with witchcraft in Cornwall. Solheim's body was found by fishermen five miles off the Lizard Peninsula in 2004. He had been drugged and mutilated with a machete or an axe. The woman told the Truro jury that she was bound and raped by Solheim when she was nine on a bed fitted with chains and a black whip with "star things on the ends". more...

Psych meds linked to 90% of school shootings: edited *

Obligatory disclaimer: Aside from the following article, I don't recommend World Net Daily as a source of information, given that it's a hate site known for promoting unviable economic programs. One of the dangers of polarized thinking about the school shootings issue is that both sides of the political spectrum are seriously flawed in their analysis of how to treat the problem. The left wants to provide more "mental health treatment" which inevitably means tens of thousands of adolescents being forced to take psychiatric medications that have been proven to produce homicidal ideation. Many on the right, on the other hand, would rather respond to their disturbed teenagers by beating them senseless while insuring that even more Americans have access to the same assault rifles that enabled the massacres in the first place.

Countless holistic health practitioners have successfully used a wide variety of modalities to treat serious mental health issues. Personally, I've found homeopathy to be particularly useful for treating violent ideation resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder. One of the results of PTSD, for me, was a change in an initial belief system organized around non-violence towards one that allowed for things like capital punishment and vigilante justice, and the reasons justifying these acts became increasingly more flexible with every passing year it went on. As homeopathic treatment has progressed, I've returned to my initial belief system and have become more psychologically stable while my physical health has also improved. How would the treatment of psychological illness be affected by the widespread return of homeopathic hospitals, which were far more common throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries?

The efficacy of homeopathy can be demonstrated by the exponentially greater survival rate of Spanish flu patients treated in homeopathic hospitals as compared to those treated in conventional hospitals. The widespread acceptance of homeopathic treatment could also make possible an affordable universal health care program, considering that homeopathic treatment is infinitely cheaper than virtually anything associated with conventional Western medicine. One thing is certain. I sure wish all the right wing lunatics calling for even less gun control had access to it so nobody would have to read their neurotic rants about how assault rifles will make us all safer. Even so, this is a necessary article that everyone calling for more mental health treatment should be reading.

Psych meds linked to 90% of school shootings

NEW YORK – From the moment news emerged Friday that a young man had carried out a horrific massacre of elementary-school children, politicians from local city halls to the White House have been restoking the age-old push for more gun control. While guns have been a common denominator in mass slayings at schools by teens, there’s another familiar element that seems increasingly to be minimized.

Some 90 percent of school shootings over more than a decade have been linked to a widely prescribed type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, according to British psychiatrist Dr. David Healy, a founder of, an independent website for researching and reporting on prescription drugs.

Though there has been no definitive confirmation that drugs played a role in the Newtown, Conn., assault, that killed 20 children and six adults, media have cited family members and acquaintances saying suspect Adam Lanza was taking prescription medication to treat “a neurological-development disorder,” possibly Aspergers.

Healy cautioned that the public needs “to wait to find out what Adam Lanza was on, and whether his behavior does fit the template of a treatment-induced problem.”

However, in an email to WND, he said he suspected prescribed psychiatric medications was the cause of Lanza’s violent behavior. Healy said that while the public waits to learn more about Lanza, there are two general points that can be made. First, he said, “psychotropic drugs of pretty well any group can trigger violence up to and including homicide. Second, the advocates of treatment claim both that it is the illness and not the drugs that causes violence and that we are leaving huge numbers of people untreated.”

But Healy argued that if this were the case, “we should not find that comfortably over 90 percent of school shootings are linked to medication intake.”

Dr. Peter R. Breggin, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and former full-time consultant at the National Institute of Mental Health, told WND it’s likely that problems for Lanza began with “getting tangled up” with psychiatric medicine. Breggin insisted there has been overwhelming scientific evidence for decades correlating psychiatrically prescribed drugs with violence.

Writing in Ethical Human Sciences and Services, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal, in 2003, Breggin concluded SSRI drugs could be a factor in suicide, violence and other forms of extreme abnormal behavior, as evidenced in case reports, controlled clinical trials, and epidemiological studies in children and adults...Breggin testified to Congress that research conducted in the medical science demonstrates a causal relationship between antidepressant drugs and the production of suicide, violence, mania and other behavioral abnormalities. He warned Congress of the risks of giving these drugs to heavily armed young men and women in the military....He believes the Lanza case fits the pattern of school shooters in some of the most famous incidents in recent memory, including the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado and the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007...In many school shootings carried out by minors, court documents are sealed and the extent of chemical use is unknown to the public.

But in a number of high-profile cases, the link has been reported:

Kip Kinkel was withdrawing from Prozac and had been prescribed Ritalin when he murdered his mother and stepfather then shot 22 classmates, killing two, in 1998.
Christopher Pittman was withdrawing from Luvox and from Paxil when he killed his paternal grandparents in 2001.
Elizabeth Bush, who fired at fellow students in Williamsport, Pa., in 2001, wounding one, was on Prozac.
Jason Hoffman, was on Effexor and Celexa when he opened fire at his El Cajon, Calif., high school, wounding five.
Shawn Cooper of Notus, Idaho, was on antidepressants when he fired a shotgun on students and staff.
T.J. Solomon, on antidepressants, wounded six at his Conyers, Ga., high school.
Eric Harris was taking Luvox when he and fellow student Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 24 others before turning their guns on themselves at Columbine High School in Colorado.
At Virginia Tech in 2007, where 32 were murdered, authorities found “prescription medications related to the treatment of psychological problems had been found among Mr. Cho’s effects,” according to the New York Times.

“Violence and other potentially criminal behavior caused by prescription drugs are medicine’s best kept secret,” Healy said in a statement last month. “Never before in the fields of medicine and law have there been so many events with so much concealed data and so little focused expertise.”

*edited to correct the full name of WND, because it's been quite awhile since I spent any time over there and a mistake was made initially. Excuse the sloppiness but life's too short to waste much time on sites whose usual commentary veers alarmingly close to neofascism, barring few exceptions such as the included article.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Last night's dream (edited once again)...

Sometime in the future, a combination of nuclear warfare and cyber attacks have taken down the electrical grid in much of the developed world. Most domestic residences have been abandoned due to the putrefactive stench of spoiling food, untreated water damage and maggot-eaten cadavers. Religious organizations have assembled neo-feudal feifdoms around power generators, ham radios and other remnants of industrial civilization. Churches are the only available food banks and, here, worshippers, admonished over imaginary sins, eagerly trade obedience for "gift boxes" full of mildewed clothing and produce covered with spreading black mold. Public bathrooms, relics of a rapidly fading bureacracy, are avoided as vectors of assault. Babies are routinely abandoned and infanticide gains a resurgence in popularity. Criminal mafias regulate commerce and street gangs adopt the role of police. Although "might-is-right" is the rule of law, small groups unnoticed by the predominant Church-police-mafia network organize around principles of mutual aid without undue attention to social status.

The formerly monolithic military-industrial complex has been privatized as a security firm service for the world's elites, sequestered in facilities shielded from chemical and biotechnological attacks. A subcontractor and "super soldier" for the intelligence community has defected from his employers to lead a small group of us into a deep underground military base. Here, we observe an automated, climate-controlled microcosm of civilization, including dormitories, cafeterias, sewage treatment plants and, absurdly, a library including row upon row of pulp detective novels. I wander away from the group to discover sprawling halls the size of football fields, each containing specialized ecologies functioning as unique climate zones. In the subtropical room, the only evidence that I'm not above ground is a minute glimpse of crystalline ceiling peeking from between layers of dense foliage. Where are the residents of the endlessly spreading facility? Does its lack of human oversight imply an overarching sentience? There is not a living soul as far as the eye can see.

When I wandered into the Barnes and Noble mere hours after the dream ended, greeted by the refrains of Winter Wonderland, my surroundings appeared as the Palace of Versailles when compared to the utter misery of the night before. What are the causes and effects of collective end times dream scenarios? Carissa from in2worlds has speculated that the dreams are intended to romanticize a post-apocalyptic future. Certainly, one of the effects of the growing trend of "disaster entertainment" is to induce identification with the resourceful survivors who weather the storm, with the potential for subsequent empathy loss resulting in little regard for how catastrophic changes may affect said persons' greater community. Are end times dreams thought fragments of a meta-intelligence bent on actualizing widespread societal chaos? Or, more specifically, and even more schizophrenically, the apocalyptic scheming of AIs remotely directed by primeval Archons and augmented by less/greater-than-human thought reformers? This hierarchy of consciousness need not be truly omnipotent, in fact, the effects of its realization may be dependant upon collective perception of its power, whether based in "objective" reality or not.

The possibility is far more engaging than the stale musings of creatively challenged philosophers who would mutter something about archetypes without following Jungian theory to its more fantastical, albeit socially unacceptable, conclusions. Whatever the case, the unavoidable certainty is that the near future holds a dramatic reconfiguration of every sphere of human life, from geography to politics to technology to economics. I still keep up with current events, in large part because of the necessity of documenting the spectacular failure of humanity's narcissistic, ill-fated attempt to conquer the natural world. If this vital task is left incomplete, future generations will have no way to benefit from our mistakes. In any event, the likelihood that the current political economy will continue past the present century without dramatic and sweeping changes is near impossible.

Does the meta-narrative of post-apocalypticism predict the inevitability of catastrophic collapse? Probably, because such a scenario is already occurring for much of the world and the intrinsic inter-connectedness of all things, presaged by Zen Buddhism and rationalized by Chaos theory, inhibits the reductionistic logic of discrete components. Yet, the cyclical nature of the collapse of civilzations also implies an irrevocable loss of privilege for present institutions, such as academic science, organized religion, the nation-state, etc., and the resulting transformation holds the possibility for a far more equitable paradigm inclusive of the majority of society's stakeholders. Whether current generations will repeat the horrific violence of previous revolutions is very much dependant upon whether or not these same societal institutions can adapt to evolving changes and improve their own future trajectory accordingly. Let's hope, for everyone's sake, that they do.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Opus Dei and right wing dictatorships

Since yesterday's posts there have been several incoming search phrases regarding Opus Dei so here is some basic information on the organization's support for right wing dictatorships, via the Opus Dei wikipedia page. Bracketed quotes are my own commentary.

Opus Dei was founded in 1928 by an Aragonese Roman Catholic priest, Josemaria Escriva, and it was subsequently recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as its first secular religious institution...Members make a commitment to dedicate their professional talents to the service of God and to seek to win converts through their missionary zeal. The organization in Spain and everywhere else has emphasized professional excellence, whether they are farmers or teachers, and it has expected its members who have talents for politics to serve in government positions, in accord, it says, with the Social Doctrine of the Church...Many newly published Spanish history textbooks agree that the Opus Dei had a strong influence in the Franco regime. Moreover, Opus Dei developed itself in its early days during the Franco regime. According to these books, Opus Dei was not only linked but also tightly interwoven with the power structures of the Francoist authoritarian government soon after the Spanish Civil War, although its stronger involvement in the government came only in the late 1950s. It had at least 8 ministers during Franco's rule. This was in keeping with the organization's aim of influencing the development of society indirectly....Because of what some critics see as clannishness and secrecy surrounding the organization, they termed it the "Holy Mafia."

Also, here is an excerpt from an excellent article on neofascism within the Catholic Church, via the Daily Kos:

What we are seeing today in the fight over birth control is a revival of a very old, and very dangerous kind of Catholicism. It is not one supported or practiced by most Rank and File Catholics. It is a kind of Catholicism which has done irreparable harm. It is a kind of Catholicism unfit for existence in the modern world. It was the underpinning of the regimes of Mussolini in Italy, The National Catholicism of Francisco Franco, in Spain; The Parti Rexiste in Belgium; The Irish Blueshirts; The Croatian Ustaše, the Nazi puppet government in Croatia, and ultimately, was the kind of Catholicism practiced by the Sainted Josemaría Escrivá, founder of the Catholic order Opus Dei.

That's where the story begins and ends: Opus Dei.

Spain, The Founding of Opus Dei

Josemaría Escrivá is the best place to start. He was a catholic priest during the Second Spanish Republic, who developed a kind of Catholicism in the late 1920's which Fascists found very attractive. He rose to prominence and political influence during Franco's spain. His book describing Opus Dei was first published with an introduction by a Pro-Franco bishop, which contained many statements in support of National Catholicism. Saint Escriva personally preached to Franco during a week-long prayer retreat at Franco's Palace. Saint Escriva has been accused by catholic priests who knew him of Holocaust Denial, and many recall statements by Escriva defending Hitler. Saint Escriva has said that Hitler couldn't have killed 6 million Jews, and that "Hitler against the Jews" really meant "Hitler against communism."

He famously wrote a letter to Franco in the 1950's saying

Although a stranger to any political activity, I cannot help but rejoice as a priest and Spaniard that the Chief of State’s authoritative voice should proclaim that, “The Spanish nation considers it a badge of honor to accept the law of God according to the one and true doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church, inseparable faith of the national conscience which will inspire its legislation.” It is in fidelity to our people’s Catholic tradition that the best guarantee of success in acts of government, the certainty of a just and lasting peace within the national community, as well as the divine blessing for those holding positions of authority, will always be found. I ask God our Lord to bestow upon your Excellency with every sort felicity and impart abundant grace to carry out the grave mission entrusted to you.

None of this is to say that all Catholics supported Franco. Plenty of Catholic bishops and priests opposed him, including bishop Mateo Múgica, and Cardinal Francisco Vidal Y Barraquer. I would also like to point out that neither Vidal Y Barraquer or Mateo Mugica were sainted. They are relatively forgotten. Múgica doesn't even have a Wikipedia page in English. You'll notice that this will become a recurring theme in our history of Opus Dei and Catholicism in Fascist Europe. Those who stood against the tide end up forgotten, while those that supported the brutal regimes end up sainted.

And so courageous men that fought a military dictatorship and died in exile are forgotten while Escriva is the sainted founder of Opus Dei. Racist. Fascist. Holocaust Denier. Despite the fact that we know about his writings, his views, his pretension to political power, and his support of Franco, all of these facts surrounding the man have been referred to as "Black Myths." Catholic authorities deny that any of this happened, and call anyone who dares point out indisputable facts "anti-catholic." Just like those laws about birth control.

Here is some additional information on Francisco Franco's regime, again via wikipedia:

Francisco Franco y Bahamonde (Spanish: [fɾanˈθisko ˈfɾaŋko]; 4 December 1892 – 20 November 1975), was a Spanish general, the leader of the Nationalist military rebellion during the Spanish Civil War, and the authoritarian head of state of Spain from 1939 to his death in November 1975....After winning the civil war with military aid from Italy and Germany as exemplified in the Bombing of Guernica — while the Soviet Union and various Internationalists aided the Republicans —, he dissolved the Spanish Parliament. He then established a right-wing dictatorship and was de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain, that lasted until 1978, when a new constitution was drafted....he supported the volunteer Blue Division that fought with the Axis on the Eastern Front, and until 1943 the German navy used Spanish harbours....

...After the end of World War II, Franco maintained his control in Spain through the implementation of austere measures: the systematic suppression of dissident views through censorship and coercion,[4][5] the imprisonment of ideologically opposed enemies in concentration camps (1936–1947) throughout the country (such as Los Merinales in Seville, San Marcos in León, Castuera in Extremadura, and Miranda de Ebro),[6] the implementation of forced labor in prisons,[7] and the use of the death penalty and heavy prison sentences as deterrents for his ideological enemies....The first decade of Franco's rule in the 1940s following the end of the Civil War in 1939 saw continued oppression and the killing of an undetermined number of political opponents. Estimation is difficult and controversial, but the number of people killed probably lies somewhere between 15,000 and 50,000 (see above, The end of the Civil War)...Franco's Spanish nationalism promoted a unitary national identity by repressing Spain's cultural diversity. Bullfighting and flamenco[62] were promoted as national traditions while those traditions not considered "Spanish" were suppressed... All cultural activities were subject to censorship, and many, such as the Sardana, the national dance of Catalunya, were plainly forbidden...

...On the other hand, the Catholic Church was upheld as the established church of the Spanish State, and regained many of the traditional privileges it had lost under the Republic. Civil servants had to be Catholic, and some official jobs even required a "good behavior" statement by a priest. Civil marriages which had taken place under Republican Spain were declared null and void unless confirmed by the Catholic Church. Divorce was forbidden, and also contraceptives and abortion....The enforcement by public authorities of traditional Catholic values was a stated intent of the regime, mainly by using a law (the Ley de Vagos y Maleantes, Vagrancy Act) enacted by Azaña.[63] The remaining nomads of Spain (Gitanos and Mercheros like El Lute) were especially affected. In 1954, homosexuality, pedophilia, and prostitution were, through this law, made criminal offenses,[64]...

Status of women

Francoism professed a devotion to the traditional role of women in society, that is: loving child to her parents and brothers, faithful to her husband, residing with her family. Official propaganda confined her role to family care and motherhood. Immediately after the war, most progressive laws passed by the Republic aimed at equality between the sexes were made void. Women could not become judges, or testify in trial. They could not become university professors. Their affairs and economy had to be managed by their father or by their husbands. Even in the 1970s a woman fleeing from an abusive husband could be arrested and imprisoned for "abandoning the home" (abandono del hogar). Until the 1970s a woman could not have a bank account without a co-sign by her father or husband.[65][These policies would have been in keeping with Church doctrine, since Pope Pius XI was opposed to women having the right to vote.]