Saturday Reads: “Too Handsome” Hoax and Boston Bombing Conspiracy Theories

Omar Borkan Al Gala, fashion photographer, actor, and poet from Dubai

Omar Borkan Al Gala, fashion photographer, actor, and poet from Dubai

Good Morning!!

On April 24, I put up a lighthearted post about a story I’d seen on-line about three men from the UAE who were thrown out of a cultural festival in Saudi Arabia and deported for being “too handsome.” We are still getting hits on the post from all over the world, and it has been viewed thousands of times.

When I put the post up along with photos of Omar Borkan Al Gala, I had no idea if the story was actually true; I just thought it was silly and entertaining. I did quote from legitimate sources like Time Magazine though.

The post didn’t get much reaction at Sky Dancing that night, but on April 25, we had 6,700 page views from 4,672 unique visitors to Sky Dancing blog, and most of those folks were checking out the “too handsome” story and photos. We were linked at Gawker, The New York Daily News, Huffington Post UK, and hundreds of smaller sites. We got hits from countries I’d barely heard of before.

BTW, our beloved JJ works some kind of magic with Google that helps us stay at the top of searches, so that probably has contributed to our getting so much traffic from a silly post.

Anyway, last night I came across this interesting piece at at a site called “Islawmix: bringing clarity to Islamic law in the news.” The headline is “The Man Too Handsome for Saudi Arabia Who Wasn’t.”

Saudi Arabia often makes US (and international) headlines for its laws (legal mishaps?) regarding women, sex and religious minorities. Some of these stories undoubtedly belong there, but a surprising number gain traction thanks to a small amount of research and suspension of critical engagement. It seems that when it comes to Saudi Arabia (and sometimes her theocratic counterpart Iran, albeit less so),  the more bizarre the story may seem – in that way only the Saudi Arabia of our perception could normalize – the more believable it is.

News and blog media have a particular penchant for covering ridiculous, often inaccurate and even false fatwas (here’s our quick definition and a more nuanced discussion on it). And in August 2012, the internet went into a bit of an uproar over the alleged building of an all-female city to promote women’s participation in the workforce. Unfortunately, the dreams of the impending matriarchy were dashed when it was eventually revealed that the city was for both men and women, but created facilities specific for women to encourage their participation.

On the “too handsome” story, Islawix reports that

As it turns out, three men were not, in fact, deported from Saudi Arabia. Actually, no one was deported from Saudi Arabia and certainly not for being too handsome. And, actually, no one was even kicked out of the heritage and cultural festival except for a member of the religious police for protesting against the presence of a Gulf female singer. According to UK’s Al-Arab:

A member of the Saudi feared religious police, known as Mutawa, stormed the UAE pavilion at National Festival for Heritage and Culture, also known as Al Janadriyah, but was forced out by the Gulf Kingdom’s national guards.

The incident took place when the Mutawa member objected to the presence of the Emirati singer Aryam in her country’s pavilion.

It turns out that Al Gala actually was in attendance at the event, but he wasn’t kicked out or deported.

There was, indeed, an incident involving Al Gala (and apparently him alone): according to the head of the mutawaeen, Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Sheikh (Arabic source), Al Gala had made his way into the family section of the event and was dancing inappropriately. Several complaints were made against him and he was taken aside by members of the national guard, questioned and that was it. He was not asked to leave the event, let alone the country. It turns out his uncomfortable dancing and not his uncomfortably good looks were the reason for some cause for concern and discomfort at the festival.

I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that Al Gala hadn’t even been in Saudi Arabia that day. I just saw this as a lighthearted and funny story. I’m grateful to Islamix for sorting out the real facts, and I apologize for any contribution I made inaccurate reporting on Middle Eastern culture.

Although I don’t really think the reporting on the Saudi Arabia story was that big a deal, it does highlight a real problem with misinformation in the media generally.

As someone who has lived in Boston for nearly half a century, I was shocked and traumatized by the bombings that took place at the Boston Marathon on April 15. I think it’s understandable that as a Bostonian and as a psychologist with an interest in personality development, I’ve been curious about the alleged bombers and their motivations. Naturally, I have been following the story fairly closely since the beginning.

misinformation

I have been stunned by the amount of misinformation that has come not only from the media, but from the authorities involved in the investigation. It’s understandable that there is confusion in a chaotic story like this that involves horrible injuries and Hollywood-like shootouts in residential streets. I’ve lived here since 1967, and I’ve never seen anything like it. The misinformation coming from authorities and then printed unquestionably by the mainstream media contributes the the development of the kinds of bizarre conspiracy theories that appear in the wake of startling events.

For the past couple of days I’ve been on Twitter a lot, looking for information on the Tsarnaev brothers and their possible motives, as well as following updates on the investigation. I can’t begin to tell you the nutty stuff that is out there–claims that the FBI and/or CIA actually carried out the bombings and that the Tsarnaevs were framed; that the entire event was staged, with fake injuries and fake blood; that the shootouts were faked using “rubber bullets” or “dummy bullets”; that the bombings were carried out by Blackwater-type government mercenaries, and of course there were the inevitable Alex Jones blather about “false flag” attacks. I’ve had to block people who started following my tweets and trying to feed me this garbage.

wrong on Iraq

Here are some articles on the Boston conspiracy theories and their implications:

Newsday: Conspiracy theories about the Boston Marathon bombings, by Rekha Basu.

Basu points out–and I strongly agree–that conspiracy theories are often fed by misinformation coming not only from the media, but from the government. After all the lies from the Bush administration that led us into two endless wars followed by the Obama’s administration’s refusal to investigate or prosecute Bush administration crimes, it’s hardly surprising that Americans are more suspicious of their government than ever. Basu’s concusion:

The problem is, we’ve been fed just enough mistruths from both parties, especially on war matters, to be susceptible. The Bush administration went to war with Iraq insisting it had weapons of mass destruction, when it didn’t. The Obama administration claimed Osama bin Laden was killed after a gunfight with U.S. troops, when he never had a chance to put up resistance. Americans were lied to about Iran-Contra, the My Lai massacre, the CIA-engineered overthrows of left-leaning governments in Chile and Guatemala. Some of us who grew up in the anti-war 1960s now pride ourselves on questioning official answers.

PolicyMic: Boston Bombing Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Even Theories, Just Paranoia. This is a really thoughtful and helpful piece, IMO.

The wake of the Boston Marathon bombings brought with it an undertow of conspiracy theories ranging from the farfetched to the unbelievable. Two weeks ago, I never would have imagined being asked to explain, in casual social situations, what a “false flag” attack is. OnThe David Pakman Show, inspired in great part by curiosity about the response it would bring, we’ve been debunking many of these theories. In dissecting much of the material, in particular one short video released by Glenn Beck, I’ve been able to identify the fundamental misunderstanding that impedes productive conversation with conspiracy theorists. This is not an indication of my personal belief that any specific conspiracy theory is or is not true. This is not a denial, on my part, that governments don’t sometimes lie, distort, and distract, but merely an attempt to point out the fallacious nature of many conspiratorial arguments….

Shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing, Beck developed and expanded on a theory about the young Saudi national who was injured in the explosion. Initially incorrectly assumed to be a suspect in the immediate aftermath on April 15, Beck believes he is actually an Al-Qaeda recruiter who the government is trying to sneak out of the country. The theory is much more involved, but the details are irrelevant to my discussion here.

After outlining his case, Beck repeated the fundamental misunderstanding that so many conspiracy theorists hold. “The burden of proof is on the federal government,” Beck said, “and so far they have not presented one shred of evidence that has refuted what the Blaze (Beck’s associated internet media outlet) has reported.”

This is the central issue and fundamental problem surrounding conspiracy theories and theorists. The burden of proof is not transferred to whoever is accused by the conspiracy theorist. The desire for the federal government to address whether the moon landing was faked, whether 9/11 was an “inside job,” or whether the Boston Marathon bombing was a “false flag operation” does not transfer the burden of proof to the federal government. The burden of proof is on he who proposes the theory.

Choose-to-Know-Stop-the-Misinformation-Profile-Picture-1

From Verdict, a legal analysis blog at Justia.com comes a piece by former Nixon lawyer and Watergate figure John Dean: Unfortunately, Conspiracy Theorists Are Now Busy Concocting Bizarre Explanations of The Boston Marathon Bombing.

Conspiracy-theory believers are now focusing on the Boston Marathon bombing, just as they did with the Sandy Hook killings of children and their teachers, by rejecting official information about the events. The increasing Internet prominence of people who reject “official” accounts of such events again raises questions: Who are these people? What are they doing? And why are they doing it?

Dean references a story in the Guardian that presents “a jaw-dropping list of the leading explanations being offered by conspiracy theorists for the Boston Marathon bombing,” and offers some background.

Conspiracy-theory thinking has had varying degrees of prominence throughout history.  Broadly defined a conspiracy theory is “a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for a circumstance or event.”

A recent poll shows, for example, that “37% of voters believe global warming is a hoax, 51% do not. Republicans say global warming is a hoax by a 58-25 margin, Democrats disagree 11-77.”  And “51% of voters say a larger conspiracy was at work in the JFK assassination, just 25% say Oswald acted alone.” The poll noted that “28% of voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks.”

You can read the rest at the link. I admit I have some issues with what Dean writes, because he suggests that to buy into any “conspiracy theory” is to abandon all critical thinking. And that definition is strange. I thought a conspiracy theory was the notion that more than one person was involved in planning or executing some event. Anyway, I would argue that the Warren Commission was based on a trumped up theory similar to the Bush administration’s propagation of it’s conspiracy theory about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It seems to me that one needs to apply “critical thinking” to both government activities and claims and to anti-government conspiracy theories. The problem IMO is that there are so many people out there who are just plain ignorant and/or stupid.

Anyway, I may have more on this in a future post. For now, here’s a link to a Salon article that Dakinikat posted awhile back on “the psychology of conspiratorial thinking” and another more recent article at Salon, originally published by Scientific American on “how conspiracists think.”

Now what’s on your mind today? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread, and Have a terrific weekend!


Sunday Reads Late Morning Round-Up: Link Dump Brunch

Vintage Cigarette Card

Vintage Cigarette Card

Good Late Morning

I wanted to give Boston Boomer’s most excellent post from late last night some extra time this morning.  She has drawn some lines between points around the Tsarnaev family that puts the “spook” in spooky. If you have not read her post, go do it now!

We have come to the last Sunday in April, can you believe it? So…let’s get on with this morning’s reads.

Think of this as a Link Dump Brunch if you will…

This first link is a long read by one of my favorite writers and journalist, Kurt Eichenwald.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Is Not an Enemy Combatant, and Other Truths Republicans Don’t Want You to Understand | Vanity Fair

Take some time today to read that piece in full.

Next up, a review of the latest in that ricin case that just keeps on getting weirder…turns out, these dudes were Mensa wannabes. Mississippi Man Arrested in Sending of Letters Laced With Ricin

This is what the former suspect’s brother had to say… (that former suspect was Kevin Curtis…the Elvis impersonator.)

Mr. Curtis’s brother Jack said that neither he nor other relatives immediately dismissed the charges as false, given Mr. Curtis’s history of mental illness.

“We could understand, especially with the things that were tied to his initials,” he said. “I could see why somebody would think it was Kevin. But when they said President Obama, I thought, ‘Somebody messed up because he likes Obama.’ ”

So….they couldn’t rule out the possibility that Kevin did it, cause he was crazy? But when they found out that Obama was a target, they knew it couldn’t be Kevin…cause he likes Obama? That is some logical thinking if you ask me.

In Egypt, there is disturbing news about ancient archeological sites: Egyptians seize pyramid sites for use as cemeteries

Archaeologists fear for pyramid sites as illegal building gathers pace in wake of Arab spring

In Manshiet Dahshur, 25 miles south of Cairo, the villagers recently extended the boundaries of the cemetery. For Ahmed Rageb, a carpenter who buried his cousin in the annexe, it was a logical decision. “We want to bury the dead,” he said, strolling through the new cemetery after visiting his cousin’s tomb. “The old cemetery is full. And there is no other place to bury my family.”

There is just one problem. The new tombs are perilously close to some of Egypt’s oldest: the pyramids of Dahshur, less famous than their larger cousins at Giza, but just as venerable. This is protected land, and no one is supposed to build here – yet more than 1,000 illegal tombs have appeared in the desert since January.

Seems most of the people are not “burying” their dead…they are looking to do a little “illegal excavation.” Read more at the link.

This next link is regarding Obamacare and States refusing to go with expanding Medicaid. How it sticks it to those state’s poor people. Rejecting Medicaid Expansion Could Leave Poor Uninsured Even As Lawful Immigrants Get Aid

It seems that town in Georgia is not the only concentration of gun crazies in the US: Colorado town considers requiring AK-47s and AR-15s in every home

While we are on the subject of ignorant dumbasses…not that every gun crazed nut is an ignorant dumbass. Radio host Papantonio: Anti-intellectualism ‘has become almost epidemic in America’

“Chances are, if you are one of those corporate media-following bone heads who still believe that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, or Saddam Hussein blew up the Twin Towers, or Obama is a secret Muslim, or Obama wants to take your guns, or Obama has FEMA prison camps set up for Teabag Republicans, then search no further,” said Papantonio, who is also president of the National Trial Lawyer Association. “You truly are the undereducated, child-like, impressionable, irrational, dangerous cog in America’s political system that puts Democracy most at risk.”

In her book, Papantonio explained, Jacobs found that more than 40 percent of Americans under the age of 44 did not read a single book over the course of the previous year. And their concentration had deteriorated to the point that politicians needed to condense their messages into 8-second soundbytes to grab their attention, leading her to conclude that the country was now “ill with a powerful mutant strain of intertwined ignorance, anti-rationalism and anti-intellectualism,” compounded by schools’ increased emphasis on passing standardized tests instead of comprehensive education on subjects like civics and humanities.

“If the Susan Jacobys are right and anti-intellectualism is a trend in America, then spoon-feeding our children with facts and figures designed merely to pass a standardized test will never prepare them to preserve democracy,” Papantonio said. “The truth is when we firmly grasp timeless themes that can be found in novels like The Grapes of Wrath,Elmer Gantry or 1984, we are on our way to better protecting democracy against the Mitch McConnels, the Rush Limbaughs, the Rand Pauls, Peter Kings, Louie Gohmerts, the Bill O’Reillys and Glenn Becks who infect the process of intelligent conservative rational thinking.”

Just yesterday, my dad wanted us to watch Idiocracy…and I couldn’t do it. I just could not see a movie making fun of what we… our society, has truly become.

Part of the theory of Idiocracy was that stupid people were the ones who kept having more kids, while those with higher IQ’s put off having kids till it was too late. So over time the population became dumber and dumber.

Alex Jones opens dating site for ‘Freedom Lovers’

There are those those who believe that there’s somebody out there for everybody. Including fans of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, whose specialized dating site for his listeners has gained some public attention little more than a month after opening.

As Uproxx reported on Friday, “Dating Freedom Lovers” offers fans of Jones’ InfoWars program the chance to connect with “people that share a passion for liberty and freedom.”

“I’m going to school to be a music teacher,” one user writes. “Hopefully I’ll start a private school someday to compete with the rotting public school system.”

Another hopeful romantic tells the site she is looking for a “TALL single male, with Celtic ancestry for life long [sic] relationship.”

“Unlike Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, which represent little more than vast snooping databases and NSA fronts, we are committed to preserving your privacy,” site administrators wrote in March 2013, adding that they “will never sell your information or divulge any of your details to any third party – government or corporation.”

Well, they have sites for Christian Mingles, Farmer’s only, Bootie Calls, Cougars, Plenty of Fish, you see what I mean…it was only a matter of time before they had something like, love…freedom fighter’s style.

Meanwhile: Today in Conservatism | Mother Jones

The Heritage Foundation and Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity presented the second annual Breitbart Award to Michelle Malkin, syndicated columnist and Fox News Channel contributor….The Breitbart Award honors those who advocate for the truth — a quality that Malkin exemplifies. As the founder of three successful conservative blogs — michellemalkin.com, Hot Air (now owned by Salem Communications), and Twitchy — has changed the way Americans consume media. Malkin dedicates her life to tackling the issues others often shy away from.

So there you have it. Michelle Malkin is now officially one of the best and the brightest of conservative journalism. Seriously.

I don’t know if staying quiet is Gov. Deal’s political suicide but…Students organizing Georgia integrated prom: Governor’s silence is ‘political suicide’

Interesting background on Ray Charles and Georgia’s State song:  The Late Movies: “Georgia on My Mind” | Mental Floss

WOW, Superman Turns 75: Did You Notice? by Danny Tyree

I am Spartacus! Check out this latest review of Pinning Down Spartacus by Mary Beard | The New York Review of Books

Let’s end this with something pretty.

This is beautiful…Milky Way over Crater Lake | Today’s Image | EarthSkyMilky Way over Crater Lake captured by our friend Ben Coffman Photography during the Lyrid meteor shower.  View larger.  This photo was taken last Saturday night, April 20.  Thanks Ben!  Visit Ben Coffman Photography on Facebook.

Have a great day, and share what you are thinking and reading about today.

(…btw, if you find any errors in the above post, sorry. I am fighting off a sinus infection…and spent all day yesterday making 244 little Scachatta  Sicilian pizzas. With all the cold meds and dopamax, I am seeing stars everywhere I turn. ;) )


Twinkies, Fruitcakes and Dumb… Open Thread

Vacation vintage ad by JC Leyendecker

Vacation by JC Leyendecker

Good Afternoon

Well, I’m going to post a few quick reads for you now. This first one makes me scratch my head and wonder why? Dak can you enlighten us?

Gallup released the results of its states with least stress polls and I am surprised to see Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana on the top five.

Hawaii Remains State With Least Stress

Hawaii residents remained the least likely in the U.S. to say they felt stressed on any given day in 2012, at 32.1%. West Virginia residents, on average, were the most likely to report feeling stress, at 47.1%.

Five Least Stressed StatesFive Most Stressed States

These state-level data are based on daily surveys conducted from January through December 2012 and encompass more than 350,000 interviews as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Nationwide, 40.6% of Americans reported feeling stressed “yesterday” in 2012, similar to past years.

Hmmm…and Mississippi is third on that list?

My question is who did Gallup ask in their polling research?

Lowest Stress States Report Most Enjoyment

Two of the five states with the lowest stress levels, Hawaii and Wyoming, also boasted the highest levels of enjoyment in 2012. In Hawaii, 89.7% of residents said they experienced enjoyment the day before the survey and 88.8% said so in Wyoming.

Five States with Most EnjoymentFive States With Least Enjoyment

You can click here to see where all the 50 states stack up: 2012 Stress Levels for all States

So, yesterday in the tweet universe, from one fruitcake to another:

Matt Drudge Tweets Kind Words For Alex Jones: ‘One Hell Of A Broadcast In Such Homogenized Media’ | Mediaite

I need a clean up on aisle ten. Ugh…these people make me sick.

Now for some good news!

Praise the Gawds above and the Basturds below: Twinkies are back: Hostess plant in Columbus, Ga., will reopen in July

Standing in front of a big “Welcome Back” banner, an executive for Hostess Brands said Tuesday the new company will hire up to 300 employees and reopen its Columbus plant to make Twinkies and other sweet treats.

The facility at 1969 Victory Drive, known as the Dolly Madison Bakery, is scheduled to be up and running again by July, Hostess Brands LLC Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Cramer said during a press conference at the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

“Safely, you should be able to buy Twinkies by the end of July,” Cramer said. “I think we will be cranking them out here and a couple of other places around the country.”

The Columbus plant will initially employ 200 people but could create more than 300 jobs eventually, he said. The snack-cake factory had about 420 on its payroll when it closed last November. It was then that Dallas, Texas-based Hostess Brands Inc. shuttered its entire U.S. production and distribution network following a lengthy impasse with worker unions and a couple of rounds in Chapter 11 bankruptcy court.

In April, Hostess Brands Inc. sold the Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and other brands to private investment firms Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co. for $410 million.

“This is a huge deal that we were able to land it,” said Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. “(Cramer) was just really glowing about the fact that Columbus came after them and got it.”

The mayor said returning employees to an empty plant that has been in Columbus for many years also was emotional.

“I think it’s a huge morale boost,” said the mayor who loves Zingers. “There’s something, obviously, iconic about the Hostess brand. We have a decades-long relationship with them. So the smiles were a little brighter than at most of our job announcements.”

This is one of only four factories that will reopen to make the beloved icing stuffed cake treat. I guess the Obama endorsed Georgia Slave Labor Employment program had something to do with it.

The state’s Quick Start program will help the company with workforce training. It will also get assistance from Georgia Department of Economic Development, Columbus Technical College, the Consolidated Government, Development Authority and other agencies.

Cramer is hoping the new company can make an impact with children going back to school. “Well into July we hope every lunch bucket will have Twinkies in them when they return to school in the fall,” he said.

Cramer couldn’t state what the hourly salaries would be for the new company but said they would be competitive.

“We are putting together a company that doesn’t exist and isn’t selling anything right now,” he said. “We will put together a pretty good package of pay and benefits.”

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, the company will partner with the Georgia Department of Labor to hold a job fair to fill positions in production, sanitation, distribution, maintenance engineering and management. Lines are expected to be long at the 700 Veterans Parkway office. Applicants are encouraged to bring an updated resume and be prepared to wait.

Cramer is hopeful the new company will be in Columbus for a long time. “We have to make sure that when we get on the shelves, a product is made by people who will take pride in their work,” he said. “We will have a long history here in Columbus.”

The Columbus plant opened in 1971 and employed as many as 1,200 people about a decade ago. But staffing had fallen to around 420 by last fall. The local bakery was well-known for the sweet aromatic smell it emits to passers-by while making Twinkies, Zingers, Ding Dongs, fruit pies, doughnuts and other cake products.

Well, I hope these people at least get a “living wage” but since Georgia is a right to work state, they get what they get and that is all they get.

But, it is still jobs, right? And hell, at least Twinkies will be back in grocery stores.

Have a great evening.

This is an open thread.


Tamerlan Tsarnaev Was An Alex Jones Fan

Jones-Tsarnaev

Authorities have been trying to figure out how deceased Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was radicalized. It turns out it could have been at least partially a result of following uber conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of InfoWars and PrisonPlanet fame.

From Alternet:

In a bizarre twist befitting a Hollywood conspiracy theory movie,  the AP reports today that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was influenced by conspiracy theories, including Alex Jones’ website InfoWars, which has been  pushing a narrative that the Tsarnaev brothers were patsies set up by a government cabal to take the fall for the bombing.

Tamerlan “took an interest in Infowars,” according to Elmirza Khozhugov, the ex-husband of Tamerlan’s sister. He was also apparently interested in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and was trying to find a copy of “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” one of the most notorious conspiracy tomes of history.

Every time the government calls anything a “terrorist attack,” Alex Jones starts ranting about false flag operations. In fact, when Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick gave a press conference after the bombings, the first question he got was from some Alex Jones or Ron Paul follower:

“Is this another false flag attack staged attack to take our civil liberties?”

Now we find out the head bomber was one of those guys too. This would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. As I was telling Dakinkat a little while ago, the Tsarnaev brother were the Beavis and Butthead of “terrorism.” Check out this list of “The 11 Most Mystifying Things the Tsarnaev Brothers Did.”

To me the most bizarre thing they did was confess to the guy whose SUV they had carjacked, then leave the guy alone in the car while they went into a convenience store for snacks. After the guy escaped, they didn’t even notice his cell phone was still in the car, giving the police the ability to follow their every move by GPS.

But I digress.

According to Buzzfeed, Jones is “downplaying” the reports that Tamerlan was a huge fan.

Alex Jones is not surprised that the media is reporting that Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a fan of his Infowars website, he told BuzzFeed on Tuesday.

“It’s just standard,” Jones said. “Anyone you talk to is familiar with my show. When I go out in public, half the people I meet in this country and in other countries too say they listen to my show. The show is bigger than the mainstream media admits.”

Jones — whose site has peddled conspiracy theories about the Boston Marathon bombing and suggested that Tsarnaev is innocent — conceded that Tsarnaev “may have actually been a listener.”

“He could be a listener,” Jones said. “It could be true. I’ve talked to the family and most of them are listeners. My show is anti-terrorism and my show exposes that most of the events we’ve seen have been provocateured.”

“Provocateured?” Is that in the dictionary? I think that’s an example of “verbing.”

But again, I digress.

Another big influence on Tamerlan was apparently a mysterious “radical exorcist” named Misha. Adam Clark Estes of The Atlantic Wire:

The major development in the sleuthing of the Tsarnaev brothers, specifically sinister Tamerlan, involves a red-bearded exorcist named Misha. Misha was a few years older than Tamerlan and had emigrated to the Boston area from Armenia. Whereas the Tsarnaevs were born into a Muslim home, Misha converted and soon became involved in radical teachings. Citing the boys’ uncle Ruslan Tsarni, the Daily Mail reports that Misha used to “give one-on-one sermons to Tamerlan over the kitchen table during which he claimed he could talk to demons and perform exorcisms.” That’s really weird.

According to multiple reports, Tamerlan and Misha met between as 2007 and 2009 near the Cambridge area. “Misha was telling him what is Islam, what is good in Islam, what is bad in Islam,” said Elmirza Khozhugov, the former brother-in-law of the Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, who sat in on some of the conversations. “This is the best religion and that’s it.” Khozhugov told the Associated Press. “Misha was important. Tamerlan was searching for something. He was searching for something out there.”

It all sort of unraveled at that point. Tamerlan immersed himself in radical Islam and even quit listening to music because, he said, it’s “not really supported in Islam.” (Misha told him that.) The 26-year-old’s radical thinking wandered into the political sphere as well, and apparently, he started getting into conspiracy theories. We’re not talking Area 51 or the 9/11 Truther movement. Tamerlan got into pretty much all of the conspiracy theories, including one century-old fantasy that Jews rule the world.

Here’s a longer article on the mysterious Misha by Adam Goldman, Eric Tucker, and Matt Apuzzo.

Under the tutelage of a friend known to the Tsarnaev family only as Misha, Tamerlan gave up boxing and stopped studying music, his family said. He began opposing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He turned to websites and literature claiming that the CIA was behind the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and Jews controlled the world.

“Somehow, he just took his brain,” said Tamerlan’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, who recalled conversations with Tamerlan’s worried father about Misha’s influence. Efforts over several days by The Associated Press to identify and interview Misha have been unsuccessful….

Throughout his religious makeover, Tamerlan maintained a strong influence over his siblings, including Dzhokhar, who investigators say carried out the deadly attack by his older brother’s side, killing three and injuring 264 people.

“They all loved Tamerlan. He was the eldest one and he, in many ways, was the role model for his sisters and his brother,” said Elmirza Khozhugov, 26, the ex-husband of Tamerlan’s sister, Ailina. “You could always hear his younger brother and sisters say, ‘Tamerlan said this,’ and ‘Tamerlan said that.’ Dzhokhar loved him. He would do whatever Tamerlan would say.

“Even my ex-wife loved him so much and respected him so much,” Khozhugov said. “I’d have arguments with her and if Tamerlan took my side, she would agree: ‘OK, if Tamerlan said it.’”

Of course the Obama administration is trying to peddle the story that the Tsarnaevs were followers of Anwar al-Awlaki. Sorry, I don’t buy it. I’ll say it again, these guys were the criminal version of Beavis and Butthead, except maybe not as smart.

The media has only uncovered the tip of the iceberg so far. There is going to be a lot more crazy stuff coming out about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. What will tomorrow bring?


Tuesday Reads: Dark Ages America

The Georgia Guidestones — supposedly a roadmap for “Agenda 21″

Good Morning! Yesterday I read a (for me) mind-blowing article by Joshua Holland at Alternet about how right wing conspiracy theories are endangering the future of humanity. The main focus of the article is on Tea Party members and other right wing extremists who are obsessed with “Agenda 21,” a United Nations initiative begun at a conference on environmental sustainability in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and signed by hundreds of world leaders, including President George W. Bush. This was all completely new to me, so I looked around to see what I could find out about it. Here is the gist:

Agenda 21, the international plan of action to sustainable development, outlines key policies for achieving sustainable development that meets the needs of the poor and recognizes the limits of development to meet global needs. Agenda 21 has become the blueprint for sustainability and forms the basis for sustainable development strategies. It attempts to define a balance between production, consumption, population, development, and the Earth’s life-supporting capacity. It addresses poverty, excessive consumption, health and education, cities and agriculture; food and natural resource management and several more subjects.

Its 40 chapters are broken up into four sections:

1. Social and economic dimensions: developing countries; poverty; consumption patterns; population; health; human settlements; integrating environment and development.

2. Conservation and management of resources: atmosphere; land; forests; deserts; mountains; agriculture; biodiversity; biotechnology; oceans; fresh water; toxic chemicals; hazardous, radioactive and solid waste and sewage.

3. Strengthening the role of major groups: women; children and youth; indigenous peoples; non-governmental organizations; local authorities; workers; business and industry; farmers; scientists and technologists.

4. Means of implementation: finance; technology transfer; science; education; capacity-building; international institutions; legal measures; information.

The full report (300+ pages) is here (PDF).

Apparently, fears about U.N. Agenda 21 are the basis for Michele Bachmann’s campaign against energy efficient light bulbs and for Bachmann’s and other right wingers’ drive to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency. Here’s Bachmann, quoted in an article by Tim Murphy in Mother Jones:

“This is their agenda—I know it’s hard to believe, it’s hard to fathom, but this is ‘Mission Accomplished’ for them,” she said of congressional Democrats. “They want Americans to take transit and move to the inner cities. They want Americans to move to the urban core, live in tenements, [and] take light rail to their government jobs. That’s their vision for America.”

And here is Murphy’s explanation for the light bulb obsession:

Although she didn’t say it right then, Bachmann likely had something specific in mind: Agenda 21, a two-decade-old United Nations agreement that has taken on a life of its own on the far-right. The agreement, forged in 1992, nominally committed signatories to a set of shared values designed to mitigate the environmental impact of human development. Member countries agreed to a range of sustainability goals, from preserving the ozone layer to ensuring that forests are managed so they’ll be around for future generations. (The United States is a signatory, but the treaty has not been ratified by the Senate.)

But to some conservatives, Agenda 21 became something far more nefarious—a gateway to a global government built on a radical doctrine of secular environmentalism.

As these conservatives saw it, the agreement paved the way for the entire planet to be controlled by a central bureaucracy: Humans would be cleared out of vast swaths of settled areas—like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, for example—and instructed to live in “hobbit homes” in designated “human habitation zones” (two terms embraced by tea party activists). Public transportation would be the only kind of transportation, and governments would force contraception on their citizens to control the population level. A human life would be considered no more significant than, say, that of a manatee. “Sustainability,” the idea at the heart of the agreement, became a gateway to dystopia.

Can you believe it? If you google “Agenda 21,” you’ll find scads of crazy stuff about it all over the internet. Bachmann recently answered questions about Agenda 21 in New Hampshire. She explained that Al Gore, who is apparently the Antichrist to the Agenda 21 freaks, was {gasp!} at the conference in Rio back in 1992.

Al Gore was there at the Rio Conference and the whole goal is really about global control.
It’s essentially a one world government view where there’s political body and the United States would have to subsume our sovereignty into a global body, but more than that, we would also have to give away our wealth.

So the wealth of the United States would be redistributed to other countries.
As a matter of a fact, that’s what the Durban Conference was about in South Africa this weekend, also about redistribution of American money.

These people truly live in a different reality than you and I. Unfortunately, they want to make their reality our reality too.

Ron Paul is also a hero to the Agenda 21 freaks. Here’s an announcement at the Connecticut Ron Paul for President website.

Agenda 21 is Coming to your Neighborhood!

SOUNDS LIKE SCIENCE FICTION…OR SOME CONSPIRACY THEORY…BUT IT ISN’T.

By now, most Americans have heard the terms “sustainable development” and “smart growth” but are largely unaware of UN Agenda 21. While many people support the United Nations for its peacemaking efforts, Agenda 21 is a whole life plan that involves the educational system, the energy market, the transportation system, the governmental system, the health care system, food production, and more. The plan is to restrict your choices, limit your funds, narrow your freedoms, and take away your voice.

FREE ADMISSION

Sponsored by Campaign for Sound Money and The John Birch Society

Getting back to the article in Alternet that I began with, Joshua Holland writes:

The important thing to understand about Agenda 21 is that there is absolutely nothing binding or compelling member countries to implement any part of it. It’s not a treaty — it is entirely voluntary and certainly doesn’t have any connection to local governments. Yet for the right, with its long John Birch Society undercurrent of paranoia about international institutions, Agenda 21 represents some kind of dark UN conspiracy to impose socialism on the “free world.” ….

Last year, during the Denver mayoral race, Tea Party candidate Dan Maes argued that a local bike-sharing program, a popular initiative among city residents, was a “very well-disguised” part of a plan by then-Denver mayor (and now Colorado governor) John Hickenlooper for “converting Denver into a United Nations community.” Alex Jones constantly hawks the conspiracy [Here's one example from Jones' website Infowars]. Glenn Beck warned it would lead to “centralized control over all of human life on planet Earth.” And in September, Newt Gingrich, hoping to burnish his wingnutty creds, told a group of Orlando Tea Partiers that, if elected, his first order of business would be “to cease all federal funding of any kind of activity that relates to United Nations Agenda 21.” (Currently, no federal funding of any kind is used for implementing Agenda 21.)

But Holland argues that, although conspiracy theories like this may seem weird and silly to us, the people pushing them are succeeding in harassing and intimidating politicians and public officials; and thus these conspiratorial beliefs may make it impossible for us as a society to deal with environmental issues like global climate change.

Holland links to a June 2011 article in the Washington Post by Darryl Fears, a science correspondent, about efforts to deal with rising sea levels which uniquely threaten the Virginia Beach area. Then on December 17, Fears reported that local residents are fighting these efforts to deal with future flooding of the area.

The sea level is rising in Virginia Beach and the entire area known as Hampton Roads because of the warming climate, and the area also happens to be sinking for other geological reasons.

Within 50 years, a big part of Virginia Beach’s identity — its beach — could be lost if nothing is done, said [Clay] Bernick, the city’s environment and sustainability administrator. Large pieces of land could also be lost to the ocean in Norfolk within a few generations.

In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that, outside of greater New Orleans, Hampton Roads is at the greatest risk from sea-level rise for any area its size.

“It’s a significant threat,” Bernick said. “At this point, I wouldn’t put it in the category of fear, because it’s a long way off.” But he added: “You’ve got multiple factors with flashing lights saying, ‘Okay, guys, what are you going to do?’ ”

The residents’ opposition has focused on a central point: They don’t think climate change is accelerated by human activity, as most climate scientists conclude. When planners proposed to rezone land for use as a dike against rising water, these residents, or “new activists,” as [public planner Lewis L.] Lawrence calls them, saw a trick to take their property.

Here’s what some of the “activists” had to say:

“Environmentalists have always had an agenda to put nature above man,” said Donna Holt, leader of the Virginia Campaign for Liberty, a tea party affiliate with 7,000 members. “If they can find an end to their means, they don’t care how it happens. If they can do it under the guise of global warming and climate change, they will do it.” ….

When planners redesignated property as a future flood zone, activists said officials were acting on a hoax. They argued in meetings and on Web sites that local planners are unwitting agents of Agenda 21, a United Nations environmental action plan adopted in 1992 that the activists see as a shadowy global conspiracy to grab land and redistribute wealth in the United States.

“My professional credentials have been challenged,” said Lawrence, who holds degrees in municipal planning and provides professional and technical planning advice to municipalities throughout the peninsula. He said he has heard whispers behind his back after meetings: “I’ve been brainwashed. I’ve been called a dupe for the U.N.”

These kinds of irrational public protests are happening in other places too. Here’s an article posted at Alex Jones website Prison Planet.

MISSOULA, MT – In a move that would have made Joseph Stalin jealous, the City Council of Missoula, Montana on Monday approved the use of local tax dollars to an organization out of state known as ICLEI (International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives).

The ICLEI board can be found directly under the treasonous United Nations Agenda 21. The council room was almost in uproar as over 50 voices that opposed the funding of dues to the UnConstitutional initiative fell on deaf progressive “public servants’” ears.

“I am concerned that (the) Missoula City Council may be moving in a direction that could ultimately affect my property rights, which are guaranteed to me by both the Montana Constitution and the Constitution of the United States,” Trish Auras said during the council’s Monday night meeting. “Before you agree to paying dues to ICLEI, I would like somebody on the council to assure me that my property rights will not be affected in any way. Can you do that? Anybody?”

Read it and weep. Our future is being determined by ignorant people who take the bible literally and disdain science. They are leading us back into a new dark age. All you have to do is listen to the Republican presidential candidates to realize this is no exaggeration.

There’s another aspect to this conspiracy theory that Joshua Holland doesn’t mention. If you’ve read much of Alex Jones’ propaganda or listened to Glenn Beck, you know that another right win obsession is population control. Jones claims that once the “New World Order,” or global government is established, the elites will kill off 90% of the world population in order to make the planet sustainable for the rich and powerful who will remain. This also ties in with the mysterious Georgia Guidestones, pictured at the beginning of this post. Here’s an excerpt from an article (also linked above) from Jones’ website Infowars: “Al Gore, Agenda 21 And Population Control.”

When you start doing deep research into Agenda 21, you will find that describing it as a “comprehensive plan” is an understatement. Virtually all forms of human activity impact the environment. The rabid “environmentalists” behind the green agenda intend to take all human activity and put it into a box called “sustainable development”.

One of the key elements of “sustainable development” is population control. The United Nations (along with radical “environmental” leaders such as Al Gore) actually believes that there are far too many people on earth….Al Gore made the following statement regarding population control….

“One of the things we could do about it is to change the technologies, to put out less of this pollution, to stabilize the population, and one of the principle ways of doing that is to empower and educate girls and women. You have to have ubiquitous availability of fertility management so women can choose how many children have, the spacing of the children.

You have to lift child survival rates so that parents feel comfortable having small families and most important — you have to educate girls and empower women. And that’s the most powerful leveraging factor, and when that happens, then the population begins to stabilize and societies begin to make better choices and more balanced choices.”

Do you notice how whenever global leaders talk about “empowering” women these days it always ends up with them having less children?

The article concludes with a reference to the Georgia Guidestones, pictured at the top of this post, and at left.

Most Americans don’t grasp it yet, but the truth is that the global elite are absolutely obsessed with population control. In fact, there is a growing consensus among the global elite that they need to get rid of 80 to 90 percent of us.

The number one commandment of the infamous Georgia Guidestones is this: “Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.”

One of the biggest issues for the right is the dis-empowerment of women. They want to make sure that women cannot choose whether or not to have a child or how many children to have. They’d probably like to force women out of the workplace and back into the home. That also ties in with the obsession with fighting population control. Why is it that this anti-woman agenda is so often ignored by the media–even by alternative media writers like Joshua Holland?

This post is getting way too long, and it probably makes no sense. But that’s my offering for today–a sample of what right wing conspiratorial madness and fear of science is doing to us. Holland is right. It has the potential to wreck wreck what’s left of our country.