Thursday Reads: The Gates of Hell and Other Nightmarish NewsPosted: April 4, 2013 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics | Tags: archaeology, Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, Gate to Hell, Hermann Oberth, Hierapolis, Kim Jong Un, murders of law enforcement officers, mythology, Nazi Germany, North Korea, Ploutonion, Pluto's Gate, plutonium, space mirror, sun gun, White supremacists 31 Comments
Archaeologists from Italy recently announced the discovery of a “gate to hell” in Turkey. From Discovery News:
Known as Pluto’s Gate — Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin — the cave was celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology and tradition.
Historic sources located the site in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now called Pamukkale, and described the opening as filled with lethal mephitic vapors.
“This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death,” the Greek geographer Strabo (64/63 BC — about 24 AD) wrote.
“I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell,” he added.
Announced this month at a conference on Italian archaeology in Istanbul, Turkey, the finding was made by a team led by Francesco D’Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento.
Among the ruins at the site D’Andria and his colleagues found
Ionic semi columns and, on top of them, an inscription with a dedication to the deities of the underworld — Pluto and Kore.
D’Andria also found the remains of a temple, a pool and a series of steps placed above the cave — all matching the descriptions of the site in ancient sources.
D’Andria himself saw birds killed by carbon dioxide fumes because they got too close to the opening to the “underworld.”
According to an article at iTech Post, “‘Gate To Hell’ In Turkey Is One Of Many Hellish Portals.”
The idea of an Earthly entranceway to hell goes all the way back to Greek and Roman mythology. The portal in Turkey was referenced by Cicero and the Greek geographer Strabo as emitting deadly vapors that caused any animal that entered it to die. But it is far from the only hellish cave portrayed by the Greeks and Romans.
In the “Rape of Persephone,” Hades abducts the spring-goddess Persephone into the underworld through a cleft in a Sicilian field. Aeneas also makes a trip to the underworld through a cave near Lake Avernus on the Bay of Naples and Odysseus makes a visit through Lake Acheron, located in northwest Greece. Orpheus travels to the underworld to retrieve Eurydice through a cave entrance at Taenarum or Cape Tenaron, located in the southern Peloponnese.
Portals to hell were also believed to exist during the medieval period. Mount Etna was thought to be an entrance to hell during this time, as was Iceland’s Mount Hekla, called the “Gateway to Hell,” which has recently shown signs of an impending eruption. Lacus Curtius was an entranceway in the Roman Forum where, according to legend, a soldier rode into the entrance to close it, never returning again. St. Patrick’s Purgatory in Ireland, considered an entrance to hell, was a famous pilgrimage site.
Supposed gates to hell abound in other portions of the globe as well, from Nicaragua to Fengdu in China.
I think there is another entrance to hell in on Capital Hill in Washington DC called the U.S. Congress.
There’s another big historical discovery in the news–this one is about more recent history. An old 1945 article from Life Magazine was recently rediscovered that reports on a plan by the Nazis to develop a satellite that would act as a giant “space mirror.” Supposedly it would use solar power to destroy whole cities.
There’s a piece about it at The Daily Mail that includes plenty of visual aids:
It sounds like something only a Bond villain would propose, but the Nazis planned a mile-wide ‘space gun’ powered by the sun.
The giant mirror could be used to focus the sun on a target – like the magnifying glasses used by children to create fire.
A long-forgotten article from Life magazine in 1945 revealed how ‘US Army technical experts came up with the astonishing fact that German scientists had seriously planned to build a “sun gun”’.
The giant orbital mirror would ‘focus the sun’s rays to a scorching point on the Earth’s surface’. The German army, readers were told, ‘hoped to use such a mirror to burn an enemy city or to boil part of an ocean’.
The idea came to renowned rocket scientist Hermann Oberth in 1923.
Of course the weapon was never built. The Nazis had lots of crazy ideas that would probably appeal to some wacko world leaders of today like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, who is reportedly fantasizing about blowing up the world in present day 2013.
I know everyone thinks this is hilarious, and it is, but there are scenarios in which this sabre rattling could lead to more serious consequences. Last night the Christian Science Monitor asked: Can US trust North Korea leader to act rationally?
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s saber-rattling rhetoric and threats to restart his nuclear program could be a rational move to garner more in the way of concessions in the world community and much-needed political street-credentials among the populace and troops he commands.
But just how confident can Pentagon officials be about whether Mr. Kim is a rational actor?
Could he, in fact, be young, reckless, without great political savvy and in grave danger of making a move that could set off a chain of events – including an inadvertent war – with dire consequences?
The CSM reports that there are indications that Kim may be losing control of his military forces–there have been reports of units defecting to China. Although they were sent back, Kim may feel the need to assert his power by making these threats against other countries.
At NBC News, M. Alex Johnson lists some possible ways that things could “get out of hand” in North Korea. Read about it at the link if you’re interested.
David Blair, chief foreign correspondent at the Daily Telegraph asks: Could North Korea start a war by mistake?
When a country seems on the point of going to war, its adversaries try to identify the key signals that would show it was serious. Forget rhetorical bluster, what would country X be doing if war really was imminent? Today, North Korea is the focus of that burning question.
No one can outdo North Korea when it comes to blood-curdling threats, missile tests and, indeed, the controlled detonation of nuclear weapons. But experience shows that none of these make war inevitable.
Instead, experts have settled on the view that the Kaesong industrial park, a facility found inside North Korea but served by a workforce from the South, could be the real indicator. Through every recent crisis, Kaesong has continued operating as normal, largely because North Korea’s bankrupt regime earns desperately needed hard currency from this facility.
Now, however, things are changing. North Korea has stopped workers from the South from crossing its border to reach Kaesong. It has not gone the whole way and shut down the site altogether – and South Korean workers who stay overnight at Kaesong are being allowed to leave. In the event of war, they would probably be taken hostage. If Kaesong represents a canary in the mineshaft, then the bird is not dead yet, but it appears to be coughing and spluttering.
All these pundits are focusing on whether or not Kim is a “rational actor,” but I think we also have to consider that we have some politicians over here who are always looking for ways to get involved in another war.
In other news,
Yesterday I was reading about a young couple in their late teens who disappeared in a California forest over the weekend. They had called police to say they were lost but thought they were near their car. Authorities had been searching for them since. This morning it’s being reported that the young man has been found, but his female companion is still missing. ABC News reports:
Family and friends are sharing mixed emotions today in Trabuco Canyon, Calif., after one of two missing teen hikers was found alive Wednesday night.
Nicholas Cendoya, 19, was located by another hiker, who was not a part of the search efforts, in a thick brush shortly before sundown, officials said.
Authorities have shifted their attention to the whereabouts of Kyndall Jack, 18. She was with Cendoya hiking in Southern California’s Cleveland National Forest when the pair went missing Sunday night….
Cendoya was located about a half-mile south of where much of the search had focused.
“He is weak, severely dehydrated and slightly confused,” Division Chief Kris Concepcion of the Orange County Fire Authority said.
We don’t yet know how they got separated. I hope Kyndall can be found. People can get very confused out in the wilderness. You wouldn’t believe how many people disappear or are killed in accidents in National Parks and Forests. It’s something I’ve read a bit about.
Yesterday another law enforcement officer was murdered, this time in West Virginia.
Investigators arrested a suspect but were still searching for a motive Wednesday after a West Virginia sheriff known for his tough stance on drug dealers was shot dead in his patrol vehicle.
Mingo County Sheriff Walter E. “Eugene” Crum was eating lunch just blocks away from a courthouse when he was gunned down, officials said.
Tennis Melvin Maynard, 37, is accused in the killing, West Virginia State Police First Sgt. Michael Baylous said.
The suspect parked his car close to the sheriff’s SUV and shot through the window twice, hitting the sheriff twice in the head, according to a state official who was briefed on the investigation.
Maynard was shot by a sheriff’s deputy after a chase and is now in the hospital. So far his motive is unknown, but authorities seem concern that this case could somehow related to the murders of a prisons chief in Colorado and a district attorney, his wife, and an assistant district attorney in Texas. The deaths in Colorado and Texas are linked to white supremacist groups.
I wrote about this and about the Aryan Brotherhood prison gangs in my Tuesday morning post, so you can find more details there. If you didn’t read it, I highly recommend the Daily Beast article I quoted, “Why I fear the Aryan Brotherhood and you should too.”
The Texas DA’s had been involved in a major prosecution of the “Aryan Brotherhood of Texas,” one of the federal prosecutors in the case, Jay Hileman, withdrew for “security reasons.”
Assistant U.S. Atty. Jay Hileman announced his withdrawal from a racketeering case involving the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas on Tuesday in an email to defense lawyers, Houston attorney Richard O. Ely II told The Times.
Investigators have scrutinized the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas in recent days after two Kaufman County prosecutors were killed in attacks that followed their office’s assistance in a major federal indictment against 34 alleged leaders and members of the gang in November.
The gang had allegedly threatened to attack law enforcement officials connected to the racketeering case, though officials still have not named a suspect in the attacks against Kaufman County Assistant Dist. Atty. Mark Hasse and Dist. Atty. Mike McLelland, who was killed with his wife….
On Wednesday, Tim S. Braley, an assistant U.S. attorney and deputy chief on a Justice Department drug and gangs task force, filed a notification that he would be joining the case as lead counsel with David Karpel, who had been previously working the case with Hileman.
The Daily Beast has another scary article today–this time specifically on the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, which is an independent group built on the model of the prison gangs which began in California’s San Quentin prison in the 1960s.
This really has been a hellish post, hasn’t it? Soooo…. what are you hearing and reading today? Please post your links in the comments, and have a heavenly day!
Late Night: Friday the 13thPosted: April 13, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, psychology, SDB Evening News Reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Adolph Hitler, American Nazi Party, Barack Obama, Charles Manson, doomsday preppers, Doomsday silos, Friday the 13th, horror, Mitt Romney, mythology, superstition 26 Comments
In case you hadn’t noticed, today is Friday the 13th. Therefore, this post has a horror theme. Lately I’ve been feeling that the news has become a horror show anyway, what with the candidates for President–Horrendously-Horrible (Mitt Romney) and Slightly-Less-Horrible (Barack Obama)–and the ongoing war on women and the war on the poor and middle class. So why not wallow in horror on this supposedly unlucky day?
First up, where did the idea that Friday the 13th is unlucky come from? I found a 2004 article at National Geographic that offers some background from Donald Dossey, a psychologist who treats phobias and is also a folklorist. He says that the Friday the 13 phobia is based on ancient mythology.
Dossey traces the fear of 13 to a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party at Valhalla, their heaven. In walked the uninvited 13th guest, the mischievous Loki. Once there, Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow.
“Balder died and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day,” said Dossey. From that moment on, the number 13 has been considered ominous and foreboding.
There is also a biblical reference to the unlucky number 13. Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th guest to the Last Supper.
Meanwhile, in ancient Rome, witches reportedly gathered in groups of 12. The 13th was believed to be the devil.
A number of other experts are quoted in the article as well, if you’re interested.
Today Mitt Romney gave a speech to the National Rifle Association. If there’s anything to the Friday the 13th myth, perhaps bad luck will come to both Romney and the NRA. One can only hope. Naturally Romney, who used to be pro-gun control, is now claiming to be the ultimate Second Amendment wacko. From HuffPo: You’ll Have To Pry Mitt’s Gun From His Warm, Probably Manicured Hands.
WILLARD, A FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR, IS JUST CRAZY ABOUT GUNS – Can’t get enough of ’em! Mike Sacks: “Speaking at the NRA national convention in St. Louis on Friday, likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney warned that re-electing President Barack Obama would lead to an ‘unrestrained’ assault on freedom with decades of repercussions. Romney, whose record on gun rights is hardly rock-ribbed, tried to convince a skeptical audience that he would fight for its interests upon entering the Oval Office. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney in 2004 extended the state’s ban on assault weapons and small handguns. Less than a year later, however, he designated May 7 “Rights to Bear Arms” day in Massachusetts and became a lifetime member of the NRA. ‘The right to bear arms is so plainly stated, so unambiguous, that liberals have a hard time challenging it directly. Instead, they’ve been employing every imaginable ploy to restrict it,’ Romney said.”
Romney claimed that “re-electing President Barack Obama would lead to an “unrestrained” assault on freedom with decades of repercussions” despite the fact (Romney doesn’t believe in facts) that Obama has done absolutely nothing to promote gun control. In fact, in 2008, Obama showed himself to be a better friend of the NRA than Romney ever was.
Romney’s statement refers to the fact that if re-elected, Obama may have the opportunity to appoint up to three justices, including filling the seats of two justices — Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, both turning 76 this year — who were in the court’s 5-4 decision establishing an individual right to keep and bear arms for self defense in the home.
Responding to the landmark 2008 case that first articulated the individual right, Obama applauded the ruling. “As president, I will uphold the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun-owners, hunters, and sportsmen,” he said in a statement just as his campaign against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was heating up.
See? Horribly Horrible vs. Slightly Less Horrible.
Here’s a little of what Charlie Pierce had to say today about Willard’s NRA performance:
I have come to conclusion that the key to understanding Willard Romney, foof-dauphin of the Republican party, is to understand an old vaudeville joke. (This is the key to understanding many things, as Woody Allen demonstrated in Annie Hall.) Two women are sitting at a bar. One talks like the young Lauren Bacall. The other one talks like a duck. When the bartender talks to the former, he sounds like Clark Gable. When he talks to the latter, he talks like a duck. The second woman gets fed up. “Are you making fun of me?” she quacks at the bartender.
“No, ma’am,” he quacks in reply. “I’m making fun of her.”
Having lived in the Commonwealth (God Save it!) under the barely perceptable leadership of Governor Willard, I have spent the campaign wondering if the Governor Willard is the sham or Candidate Willard is the sham. I wonder no longer. He wasn’t making fun of them. He was making fun of us.
He’s gone so fully wingnut that the only conclusion that any of we veteran Romneybot watchers can come to is that his whole governorship here was a riff. He’s shucked off all the “moderate” camouflage that so fooled us that it can never have been stuck to him that solidly. Take today, for example. He went and spoke to the National Rifle Association and he vigorously stroked that group’s most deeply masturbatory fantasies…
That was followed by quotes from Romney’s ludicrous speech.
This week notorious murderer Charles Manson came up for parole for the 12th time and once again his petition was denied.
A prison panel denied parole Wednesday to mass murderer Charles Manson in his 12th and probably final bid for freedom.
Manson, now a gray-bearded, 77-year-old, did not attend the hearing where the parole board ruled he had shown no efforts to rehabilitate himself and would not be eligible for parole for another 15 years.
“This panel can find nothing good as far as suitability factors go,” said John Peck, a member of the panel that met at Corcoran State Prison in Central California.
Also playing heavily into the board’s decision was something Manson had said recently to one of his prison psychologists that Peck read aloud.
“‘I’m special. I’m not like the average inmate,'” Peck said. “‘I have spent my life in prison. I have put five people in the grave. I am a very dangerous man.'”
But what about the children that Manson fathered during his few years of freedom in the late 1960’s? What has become of them? One young man who claims to be Manson’s son has been in the news again this week.
Matthew Roberts, 44 — who says he was conceived at a San Francisco orgy attended by Manson in 1967 — is worried that two inconclusive DNA tests were his last hope to confirm whether his father is the infamous cult leader, CNN’s Miguel Marquez reports….
Roberts says that unless he sees “somebody scrape a piece of skin off [Manson’s] ass and bring it to a lab,” he can’t be sure if Manson is his father, he told CNN….
Roberts, whose mother put him up for adoption shortly after he was born, tried twice to confirm his true identity with DNA tests. But the results revealed that Manson’s samples were contaminated. The New York Post reported that even Roberts’ mother admits her son bears a striking resemblance to the incarcerated murderer.
It’s well known that Manson fathered several children while living with his followers at Spahn Ranch near Death Valley. Here’s a site with some research on where those children are now.
What could be worse than being one of Charles Manson’s offspring? How about being the child of Adolf Hitler?
The results of new testing support the story of a French man who said he was the illegitimate and only child of the German dictator.
Jean-Marie Loret had said his mother told him that she and a young Hitler dated while he was stationed in Northern France during World War I and she was a teenager.
Before Loret died in 1985, he shared his story with a lawyer; the sensational and history-defying details of that conversation — plus new evidence to support the claim — were just published in the French magazine Le Point. Loret also wrote a book titled “Your Father’s Name Was Hitler” in 1981….
Loret says his mother first revealed the identity of his father in the 1950s, triggering the kind of reaction you’d expect from someone who just learned their father was a genocide-perpetuating mass murderer and one of the most awful people in history.
“In order not to get depressed, I worked non-stop, never took a holiday, and had no hobbies. For twenty years I didn’t even go to the cinema,” he wrote in his book.
Loret had a son named Philipe and six other children. One day as the family was sitting at the dinner table,
“Suddenly my father said, ‘Kids, I’ve got something to tell you. Your grandfather is Adolf Hitler’, ” explains Philippe.
“There was stunned silence as no one knew what to say. We didn’t know how to react.”
That was 40 years ago, yet there is a sense that Philippe, 56, still doesn’t know how to react.
He has never spoken out about that conversation or the fact he may be the grandson of the most infamous dictator in history.
A former plumber for the plumber largo fl at the French air force, he has kept it a secret from all but his closest friends, never telling his colleagues or even his partner’s family.
Closer to home, the American Nazi Party now has a registered lobbyist representing them in Washington, DC.
John Bowles, the National Socialist Movement’s presidential nominee in 2008, registered Tuesday, U.S. News and World Report notes. He stated on his registration form that he intends to lobby on the issues of “political rights and ballot access laws.”
Asked by U.S. News and World Report if he thought an avowed Nazi would actually be able to secure meetings with politicians, Bowles responded with confidence:
“I don’t see why not,” he says, adding that he knows lobbyists rely on their credibility. “Of course I won’t approach anybody in Congress unless it’s a very interesting issue or law,” he promises. “I’m going to be very careful about the issues I choose for this.”
He might get a friendly reception from Paul Ryan or Allen West.
Have you heard about the “luxury ‘Doomsday’ shelters” in Kansas?
Tucked deep beneath the Kansas prairie, luxury condos are being built into the shaft of an abandoned missile silo to service anxious — and wealthy — people preparing for doomsday.
So far, four buyers have plopped down a total of about $7 million for havens to flee to when disaster happens or the end is nigh. And developer Larry Hall has options to retro-fit three more Cold War-era silos when this one fills up.
“They worry about events ranging from solar flares, to economic collapse, to pandemics to terrorism to food shortages,” Hall told AFP on a tour of the site.
These “doomsday preppers”, as they are called, want a safe place and he will be there with them because Hall, 55, bought one of the condos for himself. He says his fear is that sun flares could wipe out the power grid and cause chaos.
He and his wife and son live in Denver and will use their condo mostly as a vacation home, he says, but if the grid goes, they will be ready.
Here’s a guy who lives in a similar missile silo in Texas.
Those are my offerings for tonight. Friday the 13th will soon draw to a close. I hope you made it through the day safely!