Monday, July 31, 2006

The Violent Bear It Away

Don't take no tidal wave, don't take no mass grave
Don't take no smokin' gun to show how the west was won - Neil Young

These are strange days, even for those who have anticipated them. It's not so much that things are going to Hell, it's just that things seem to be getting there so much sooner than expected. Only two more years of drought and the Amazon rain forest may burn and become a desert, a process "that might end in the world becoming uninhabitable." The oceans are devolving into an acidic, primeval goo. Complex life is dying by our hands while we extinguishing ourselves, creating conditions unknown for hundreds of millions of years, in which the very bottom of the food chain, the slimes and invertebrates, reinherit the Earth.

And even for the Middle East, which has seen so many wars, this war is an odd one. Israel's actions appear counter-intuitive, even by its hard-right's own measure of "national security." Its self-immolation of any credible claim to a just cause virtually assures tragedy for itself and its people. Its goading Syria and Iran into a general war by turning Lebanon into a slaughterhouse means the Israeli state has become, itself, a suicide bomber; an engine of apocalypse. But for whom, and for what?

"[Israeli] Defense officials told the [Jerusalem] Post last week that they were receiving indications from the US that America would be interested in seeing Israel attack Syria." And Haaretz quotes Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah as saying on Saturday that the "Israelis are ready to halt the aggression because they are afraid of the unknown. The one pushing for the continuation of the aggression is the US administration." And then there are a pair of Mephistopholean characters named Cheney and Netanyahu.

It's often presumed that Israel leads American policy in the Middle East, and that's frequently been true, which is why this war is strikingly and disturbingly different. The United States is actually egging on Israel to press the attack regardless of the cost Israelis may be expected to bear for the fresh blood its armed forces shed. George Bush spoke arguably his most frightening and truthful words last Friday, when he admitted that it's not the White House intention to create "a sense of stability." It's by instability - by creating "failed states" in the Balkans, Central Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere - that End-Time criminals stand to gain the most. That may be little surprise to those of us who know the playbook, but our humanity still can't help but be shocked by their unbridled delight in the "opportunities" now presented by the "new Middle East."

In the mid-90s, there was talk of a different, new Middle East.

On the evening of November 4, 1995, in Tel Aviv's Kings of Israel Square, Yitzhak Rabin spoke these words:

There are enemies of peace who are trying to hurt us, in order to torpedo the peace process. I want to say bluntly, that we have found a partner for peace among the Palestinians as well: the PLO, which was an enemy, and has ceased to engage in terrorism. Without partners for peace, there can be no peace. We will demand that they do their part for peace, just as we will do our part for peace, in order to solve the most complicated, prolonged, and emotionally charged aspect of the Israeli-Arab conflict: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

This is a course which is fraught with difficulties and pain. For Israel, there is no path that is without pain. But the path of peace is preferable to the path of war. I say this to you as one who was a military man, someone who is today Minister of Defense and sees the pain of the families of the IDF soldiers. For them, for our children, in my case for our grandchildren, I want this Government to exhaust every opening, every possibility, to promote and achieve a comprehensive peace. Even with Syria, it will be possible to make peace.

This rally must send a message to the Israeli people, to the Jewish people around the world, to the many people in the Arab world, and indeed to the entire world, that the Israeli people want peace, support peace. For this, I thank you.

And then he was shot.

There's a reflex among some on the left to embrace the lone gunman hypothesis, because they regard the alternative as an embrace of a hollow liberal myth. Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn regard John F Kennedy as nothing but a patrician cold warrior who would have delivered more of the same had he lived. Rabin receives the same treatment, if not more, for his harsh words and measures during the Intifada and for the flawed Oslo Accords. But their killers were not appraising them from the left. From the hard right, they were both men who had risen through the system and had become traitors to it.

Rabin's convicted lone gunman, Yigal Amir, had close ties to the extremist nationalist organization Eyal, and was groomed by its founder Avishai Raviv to kill Rabin. The Israeli paper Maariv reported November 24, 1995 that "according to Sarah Eliash, a schooteacher working at the Shomron Girls Seminary, some of her pupils heard Raviv encourage Amir to murder Rabin. Raviv told Amir, "Show us you're a man. Do it."

Uri Dan and Dennis Eisenberg elaborated on the girls testimony writing for The Jerusalem Post, which Barry Chamish quotes in his Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin?

Sarah Eliash had already appeared voluntarily before the commission and related how her pupils had run to see her on the night of the killing. In tears they said they knew Yigal Amir. They had met both Amir and Avishai Raviv.... 'We used to see Raviv and Amir on Saturdays during last summer,' they related.

These gatherings were arranged by Yigal... Raviv was real macho. He kept saying to Yigal: 'You keep talking about killing Rabin. Why don't you do it? Are you frightened? You say you want to do it. Show us that you're a man. Show us what you're made of.

Now, would it surprise you to know that Avishai Raviv, the founder of the extremist Eyal and the bug in the ear of Rabin's assassin, was also a Shabak (or "Shin Bet," Israel's covert internal security) agent, codenamed "Champagne" for, writes Chamish, "the bubbles of incitement he raised"?

From Marriv:

Amnon Abramovitch dropped a bombshell last night, announcing that Avishai Raviv was a Shabak agent codenamed "Champagne." Now we ask the question, why didn't he report Yigal Amir's plan to murder Rabin to his superiors? In conversations with security officials, the following picture emerged. Eyal was under close supervision of the Shabak. They supported it monetarily for the past two years. The Shabak knew the names of all Eyal members, including Yigal Amir.

Just as 9/11 was wargamed, so too was Rabin's murder. Shabak explained its failure to protect the Prime Minister at Kings of Israel Square with the excuse that it had "no contingency plan" to stop a lone gunman. A year and a half after the assassination, that blew up in the agency's face with Anashim's interview of two former members of Shabak's personal security unit, Tuvia Livneh and Yisrael Shai. "When Yisrael and I heard the news of the murder we became infuriated at the fact that there was a contingency plan for just such an attempt, which we practiced endless times."

Anashim continues:

This is not a case of wisdom after the fact, but scandalous wisdom well before the event, which is being published for the first time: when the two commanded the unit at the beginning of the 1990s, they prepared a detailed contingency plan for a political assassination at Kings of Israel Square, including the possibility that the assassin would act from the exit stairs behind the stage, precisely where Yigal Amir waited for Yitzhak Rabin. The plan was transferred to field command where it was practiced in dry runs.

So, a suggestible gunman was befriended and goaded into action by an undercover Shabak agent, and the assassination followed the script written and performed in dress rehearsal by the same agency. These are just two of the arguments for conspiracy in Rabin's death. Chamish, following his own political lights, believes the guilt lay with leftist elements seeking to discredit the right, but he reaches that conclusion by far overreaching the disturbing facts of the case with partisan speculation. Besides, if it had been an attack from the left, it failed miserably. In the ten years since the murder Israeli society, despairing of peace, has undergone a rightward radicalization. Last November, the Dahaf Polling Institute found that "20 percent of respondents said Amir should be pardoned, and 45 percent said he should be allowed to have conjugal visits in prison." ("The measure of public sympathy toward Amir worries Rabin's surviving family members.") The poll also found that a quarter of respondents "believed in a conspiracy theory perpetrated by the Shin Bet."

Chamish spoke by telephone to one of the young women who had heard Raviv encourage Amir to murder Rabin. Soon after, her father took hold of the receiver, and told him to "Find someone else if you can. You have to understand that, don't you? You don't know what's going on.... This is no democracy. You don't know what it is.... I can't tell you what they said they'd do to her if she talked anymore."

The Age of Nations is over, and many of the most powerful are no longer ruled by forces which safeguard the interests of the state, let alone its citizens. We're entering an extinction boundary, between the reign of high mammals and the return of the jellyfish. What are the politics of jellyfish?

Open Thread

I'm working on something I'll post later today, but it's not ready, and I need to sleep now if I mean to sleep at all. Until then, please feel free to use this as an open thread.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Meanwhile, far away, in another part of town"

Cries out, "My God, they killed them all" - Bob Dylan

All eyes are on the Middle East, naturally. But our condition has a global narrative, and we need excellent peripheral vision to follow the plot.

For instance, remember this story regarding Mexico's ring of elite paedophiles and the persecution of journalist and human rights activist Lydia Cacho? It touched as well upon the Finders case, and the unsolved murders of hundreds of women in the borderland maquiladoras. There's "something about Mexico," I wrote, "and at least some of that has to do with its proximity to hidden American hands." (And not as well concealed appetites, I should add.) I thought of it last night when I read this bloody story's official note of closure:

Mexico quietly ends probe of killings along border

Federal officials have quietly closed a three-year inquiry into the rape-strangulation of 14 women and teenagers in the border city of Juarez, leaving relatives with little hope the killings will ever be solved.

The federal Attorney General's Office intervened in 2003, promising it would try to solve cases plagued for years by allegations of state police corruption and incompetence.... They were among about 100 young women who were sexually assaulted, strangled and dumped in the desert outside Juarez since 1993. The killings appeared to fit a serial pattern. Most of the victims were young, slim brunettes who worked in foreign-owned assembly plants. Many disappeared walking home on unlit streets in working class neighborhoods.


Guadalupe Lopez Urbina, the first special federal prosecutor assigned to Juarez, recommended criminal charges against dozens of current and former law enforcement officers for alleged negligence in handling the cases. However, only two state investigators were charged with negligence, and a judge later threw out the cases.

Marisela Ortiz of Bring Our Daughters Home says "At this point our best bet is to look for international justice." Another mother has even less faith in the reckonings of institutions. "I no longer believe the killers will ever be found. If there is no justice here, there will be divine justice."

This is happening, of course, in the same Mexico that just witnessed another election stolen from the poor and society's progressive forces (though unlike in the United States, Mexicans are doing more than just passively watching), and the world's opinion makers have moved on in a way they didn't when the Ukraine's pro-West contender challenged the theft of his votes. López Obrador is the "losing leftist", according to the New York Times, because the wealthy and their executors, who bear no allegiance to nations and are unconstrained by the "will of the people," need to get on with building the North American Union.

Meanwhile, our attention elsewhere, the atrocity of Katrina grinds on. FEMA's trailers are toxic sumps, exposing their human chattle to extreme levels of formaldehyde. "Pediatrician saw unusual illnesses," says MSNBC, and Becky Gillette of the Sierra Club states "It’s simply wrong that the government would spend billions of dollars to poison people in these toxic tin cans." Wrong, but they're doing it. And like most every other wrong thing they're doing, no one is making them stop.

Then there's this stunning report from the FEMA camps:

Katrina victims "not allowed" to talk to media

The Federal Emergency Management Agency prohibits journalists from having unsupervised interviews with Hurricane Katrina victims who have been relocated to FEMA trailer parks, according to a report in the Baton Rouge Advocate (7/15/06).


Dekotha Devall, whose New Orleans home was destroyed by the storm, was in her FEMA-provided trailer telling the Advocate reporter of the hardships of life in the camp when a security guard knocked on the door.

"You are not allowed to be here," the guard is quoted as telling the reporter. "Get out right now." The guard reportedly called police to force the journalist to leave the camp, and even prevented the reporter from giving the interview subject a business card. "You will not give her a business card," the guard said. "She’s not allowed to have that."

Later, at another FEMA camp in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, the reporter attempted to talk to camp resident Pansy Ardeneaux through a chain link fence when the same guard halted the interview. "You are not allowed to talk to these people," the guard told Ardeneaux. "Return to your trailer now." The reporter said she and an accompanying photographer were "ordered...not to talk to anyone or take pictures."

The Middle East is in the centre ring, but there's a lot of activity elsewhere under the tent of Circus Apocalypse. It doesn't matter where we're sitting, or in which direction we look, we'll find something so dreadful we won't be able to take our eyes off it. But as the Mexicans are doing, we had better do more than sit back and watch the spectacle, if only to tell our children we tried.

It's like Robert de Niro says in Brazil - "We're all in this together, kid."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Darkness Falls

Let's blow this place to kingdom come, let Con Edison take the blame - Bob Dylan

Things fall apart. Other things are pulled apart. The distinction means little to those caught in the collapse, but perhaps those of us who haven't fallen yet may still find a place to stand by discerning one from the other.

Every week, the world becomes a little more like Godard's Weekend. We're becoming inured to the degradation of infrastructure, public institutions and personal ethics. Thousands of New Yorkers are entering their second week without electricity, and in St Louis a quarter of a million residents and businesses are not far behind. Unheard of midnight temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (103 Fahrenheit) are being recorded. Wires are melting, grids are stressing and networks are failing. Our increasingly frequent and violent electrical storms just don't feel right, and don't tell me different. The global climate is changing more rapidly than even the gravest recent projections, and temperatures are creeping up towards creating our own extincition-level conditions. ("If the ambient temperature is higher than 40C (104F), the human body will eventually reach 40C unless there is a cooling mechanism. At a sustained body temperature of 40+C, a human will die.") The planet is already facing its greatest extinction event in 65 million years: "We're losing life on Earth and we're losing the diversity of life on Earth," says Dr Anne Larigauderie. "Everywhere we look, we are losing the fabric of life." So it may be in death that we at last rejoin the natural realm.

That's not to say this is natural. There are still the unnatural men of whom Chaplin spoke in The Great Dictator - "machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts" - who have always been capable and ammorally fit to attempt to profit by the overthrow of every good thing. They were never going to leave to chance - to nature - their place in the new order, if this order is finished.

For what it's worth - and I think the assumption of military influence falls short of "hard evidence" - there's this to consider:

Last night, July 23, 2006, a violent storm developed and passed over homes in eastern Richmond, Virginia. Commercial electrical power was lost from approximately 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. One home was equipped with a Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting system mounted in the ceiling throughout the house. The system includes a 120 watt, 18 volt @ 7 amp solar panel mounted on the roof feeding into a Charge Controller regulator and into a bank of wet cell 12 volt batteries. The LED lighting system was completely isolated from the conventional electrical system. The LED system in made up of banks of three LEDs in series. Those three series arrangements are then wired in parallel with the batteries. All LEDs are designated either 40,000 MCD or 50,000 MCD. Hundreds of other LEDs in the house, but not in this system, were not effected - we believe because they were not subjected to the antenna effect found in the lighting system. During the storm, 46 Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) throughout the house were burnt and fused together internally and destroyed. It is significant to know the LEDs were burnt/fused together internally, not burnt open as you might expect.

The LED lights were turned on and operating in the living room and kitchen at the time of the event and though considerably more LEDs were involved fewer were damaged and lost. Many LEDs not destroyed were noticably weakened and light output reduced. During the latter part of the storm, in complete darkness outside, an indicator on the solar cell charge controller indicated electrical current was flowing from the solar cell panel on the roof into the batteries. Twenty minutes after the observation it abruptly stopped. It is significant to realize there was no sun radiation (it was night), but another type of radiation was hitting the solar panel and the entire system. We believe this is hard evidence of external military forces affecting electrical systems and power grids in the United States and is an indicator of a much larger event against the American people.

Israeli forces are dropping cluster bombs and incendiaries upon fleeing Lebanese civilians, and under orders to bomb ten buildings in southern Beirut for every Hezbollah rocket that strikes Haifa. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed has learned "from a credible and informed source that a former senior Labour government Minister, who continues to be well-connected to British military and security officials, confirms that Britain and the United States 'will go to war with Iran before the end of the year.'" And with the conscience of a serial killer who exploits her multiple dead in ritual, the Secretary of State says that extreme violence signals the "birth pangs" of a "new" Middle East.

While last Friday, Adamo Bove, a lead investigator into the Italian probe of the rendition of Abu Omar, "apparently jumped to his death." Also Friday, an unnamed Citibank employee fell to his death at its Canary Wharf UK headquarters, a "suspected suicide." And the same day, the chopped-up remains of Opus Dei financier Gianmario Roveraro were found under a bridge, though "police have made no link" between the order and his murder, though the last he had been seen alive was when leaving an Opus Dei meeting. (Roveraro had once said that his part in Opus Dei was "not concerned with finance -- finance is not Catholic or masonic, it is just finance.") And freeway snipers have begun stalking America again before midterm elections, this time in California and Indiana. (Whether they, too, will be caught "like a duck in a noose" remains to be seen.)

Beirut is no more a natural disaster than New Orleans continues to be, where families are now expected to dig their own graves, and no less a product of deep politics than the Pearl Harbor of Lower Manhattan. When cities become ruins, when they go dark and lose the capacity to provide for their people, it's usually on account of choice. It's because someone, an enemy within or without, wants to shoot out the lights and drive a soft urban populace into despair and barbarism. (Military recruitment hit a 30-year low in the mid-90s, and now, as the US economy sharply worsens for those near the bottom and their options further narrow, recruitment soars. But which is more to be desired by the rulers of this new, hard age: economic opportunities for the most poor or more bodies for its Army of Darkness?)

If it looks like social engineering, maybe it is.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Painting the Passports Brown

Lead the sheeple to the order like the lamb to the slaughter
The wars of this century will be over water - Clarity

Sorry for the extended silence, but it's been a hard week. Though seriously, given the kind of week it's been I feel foolish complaining.

Let me just lay this out briefly, in case you've missed it, like I almost did.

From Reuters, on the eve of the IDF's ground offensive, "Late night calls from Israel spook jittery Lebanese":

At first, Bushra Khayyat tried to ignore the incessant ringing of the phone at her house in Lebanon's southern port city of Sidon. It was 4 a.m., but she finally got out of bed.

"I said hello and got a recorded message from Israel," she told Reuters.

In clear Arabic, the strong voice on the phone said: "Oh Lebanese people, we tell you not to follow Hizbollah. We will continue to strike and no one will bring your prisoners back from Israel except the Lebanese government."

Other residents of the south have received similar calls.

"My grandmother got two calls at 5 and 6 in the morning saying the Israeli state would not stop the attacks and asking everyone to leave the area south of the Litani," said one woman who is stranded in Sidon. "She slammed the phone down."

"Operation Litani" was the official name of Israel's 1978 invasion of Lebanon, intended to drive the PLO across the river and beyond the range of Israel's northern communities. The southern reaches of the Litani run parallel to the border - a "natural" border, thought Chaim Weizmann - before emptying into the Mediterranean north of the port of Tyre.

From Lonergan and Brooks' Watershed: The Role of Fresh Water in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, published in 1995:

Israel’s incursion into Lebanon and the establishment of the “Security Zone” in the early 1980s allows it access to the lower reaches of the Litani River (which flows within 10 km of the Israeli border). These actions, coupled with past unsuccessful attempts by Israel to reach an agreement with Lebanon to share Litani water, have led to great Arab concern that Israel will unilaterally divert the Litani into the Jordan River.... In a letter to the British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, Chaim Weizmann noted [in 1919] that Lebanon “is a well watered region . . . and the Litani River is valueless to the territory north of the proposed frontiers . . . . It can be used beneficially in the country much further south” This interest in the Litani continued through the 1950s, when both Prime Minister Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan, Israel’s Chief of Staff, advocated Israeli occupation of Lebanon up to the Litani River. The fact that Litani water is very high in quality with a low mineral content only enhances its value — and the perceived threat.

During the years of southern Lebanon's occupation, there were persistant rumours, eventually proven unfounded, that Israeli engineers were constructing a tunnel to divert the waters of the Litani towards the south. As Lonergan and Brooks write, "the lack of any evidence supporting the claim of an Israeli diversion of Litani River water does not mean that some Israelis do not covet the Litani River. It is the only nearby source of surface water that would allow Israel to maintain its present consumption rates and avoid the difficult choice of whether to reallocate water away from agriculture."

If Israel again reaches the Litani and holds it, the pressure will be that much greater to exploit Lebanon's waters, because the environmental exigencies are that much more exacerbated this century then they were even twenty years ago. In 2002, Ariel Sharon threatened Lebanon with war if it diverted the water of the Hasbani River from the Sea of Galilee, Israel's largest reservoir.

How will nations behave when they're dying of thirst? America's giant Ogallala aquifer could go dry in two decades. Sooner or later, we'll find out.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Monotony of Evil

You cannot stand what I've become,
You much prefer the gentleman I was before.
I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control,
I didn't even know there was a war. - Leonard Cohen

Thanks for the suggested cold remedies. I took the raw onion cure (as well as, I must admit, heaps of echinacea, Benylin and Tylenol Ultra), and whatever may have worked or not, my head's cleared. Now, I'm merely nauseous. But that's just a symptom of the times, and there's not much to be done about that.

These are, after all, Simone Weil's times. Evil, wrote the socialist mystic, is monotonous: there is "never anything new, everything about it is equivalent.... It is because of this monotony that quantity plays so great a part." This seems counterintuitive, or perhaps simply wrong, because the world today appears full of often lamentable novelty. But the novelty, evil's artifact, is an illusion.

We'd never seen anything like 9/11. Except we had, and didn't recognize it. We needn't go back to Gladio or the other false flags of suppressed history. Just two summers before, nearly identical mechanisms of terror and control were deployed upon the Russian people to consolidate the transfer of power to Vladimir Putin, who was facing his first election, and to provide the pretext to invade Chechnya.

After four apartment complexes had been demolished and 300 killed, residents of a fifth in the city of Ryazan discovered a huge bomb in their basement and called the local police. Initially, federal authorities claimed terrorists had been thwarted, but when the perpetrators were apprehended shortly thereafter by Ryazan police, and found to be agents of Russia's security service FSB, the story changed: it was now claimed to have been an "exercise," and the sack of explosive hexogen was said to have contained nothing but "sugar." (Disbelief, a documentary regarding the bombings and the revelation of state guilt, may be viewed here. The story of Ryazan begins at approximately the 36 minute mark.) In 2002, an incurious Duma voted against a parliamentary inquiry into the bombing campaign.

Not only by history's precedence, but by current events, 9/11 isn't really that extraordinary.

It's interesting to note how Western pundits who would likely dismiss as nonsense the mere suggestion of a 9/11 conspiracy have no problem at all assessing the Russian apartment bombings as state terror. David Satter, a fellow of the Hoover Institution and the Hudson Institute and former Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times of London, wrote "The Shadow of Ryazan" with funding from the Smith Richardson Foundation, an abbreviated version of which was published by The National Review. It's funny how easily the generalized dismissals of conspiracy, such as how it meets a "psychological need," or that "something so big couldn't be kept a secret," vanish into one's political blind spots. That is, to the opinion makers, conspiracy can be the most reasonable explanation of events, so long as it's over there, and it's something they do. Satter finds the FSB guilty of waging a false-flag terror campaign against the Russian people and pronounces the Putin regime illegitimate, but don't expect him to be called a kook in a tinfoil hat for it.

The monotonous evil behind both the Moscow bombings and 9/11 is the tediously familiar, ceaseless appetite of the powerful for yet more power. Perhaps it's just as misleading to speak of "state terror" as it is to say "Bush Knew," as states are increasingly junior partners in the transnational equation of deep politics. Governments are the social clubs fronting the backrooms where the hard deals go down. As Peter Dale Scott writes in his important paper from last Fall entitled "The Global Drug Meta-Group," many 9/11 theorists create a false dilemma, suggesting the guilty party is either al Qaeda or the Bush administration, whereas elements of both were employed as assets by a deeper power network wired into narcotics and arms trafficking which has sometimes been called the Octopus. "In America few are likely to conceive of the possibility that a force in contact with the U.S. government could be not just an asset, but a force exerting influence on that government." It may be inconceivable to most, but I think it best accounts for the actions of a gangster elite. Though for the most part, the "elected" officials comprise the consiglieri, not the capos. (Why do you think so many of them are lawyers?)

Because evil aways wants more of the same, and there will always be less until there is none, it's easy to lapse into pessimism. Perhaps too easy. And perhaps that's where Weil returns.

Simone de Beauvoir writes of Weil, in Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, that "A great famine had broken out in China, and I was told that when she heard the news she had wept: these tears compelled my respect much more than her gifts as a philosopher. I envied her having a heart that could beat right across the world."

Weil died in England in 1943 of tuburculosis, though her death was hastened by her refusal to eat more than the ration allowed her compatriots in occupied France. She wrote, "Human beings are so made that the ones who do the crushing feel nothing; it is the person crushed who feels what is happening. Unless one has placed oneself on the side of the oppressed, to feel with them, one cannot understand."

Evil doesn't do empathy. We had better. Because if our hearts can beat around the world - if our consciousness can be elevated such that we see our isolation to be an illusion and our divisions a deceit of criminals who mean to crush us with them - then maybe the world will yet see some glorious novelty.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Duck's Head Soup

We got guns, they got guns,
All God's children got guns. - Duck Soup

Ah, crap.

I have a bugger of a head cold, meaning I ache in the places where I used to think. So this has to be short, and won't tell you anything you don't already know.

Israel's war upon Lebanon would be a disproportionate response if Israel were actually responding to the kidnapping of two of its soldiers. It isn't, of course. (If it were, we may have seen a limited cross-border incursion that resembled a rescue mission, rather than these blunt-force deep attacks on Lebanese infrastructure.) Rather the war, like most wars of aggression, is a response to the pathological necessities of the aggressor's ideology.

America's Countdown: Tehran has been stuck at 20 minutes and holding for a couple of months now, derailed by Iran's rational posture regarding its nuclear ambitions and the ongoing thwarting of anything approaching even the Bush administration's benchmark for a casus belli. Israel's hawks, by smashing in the back door, are baiting Iran to action, which would goad the US to crash through the front. Israeli military claims, trumpeted by FoxNews, that the Haifa rockets were fired by Iranian Guard units, and the absurd suggestion that Hezbollah intends to transport their captured soldiers to Iran, say forcefully that this isn't about Lebanon, though for now it will be mostly the Lebanese who perish. (Interestingly, The Jerusualem Post noted yesterday that "Before the attack on Haifa, CNN reported that the US Navy ordered one of their ships that was docked at the Haifa Bay to be moved to a safer location." Though the story has since been removed.)

This is a war crime of opportunity, calculated to at last draw out Iran and draw in American arms to finish what they began in Iraq. Madness is the method, and Death was never going to take a holiday this summer.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I Want to Disbelieve

"Have you heard the news?" he said, with a grin. "The Vice-President's gone mad."
"Where?" "Downtown." "When?" "Last night." "Hmm, say, that's too bad."
"Well, there's nothin' we can do about it," said the neighbor.
"It's just somethin' we're gonna have to forget."
"Yes, I guess so," said Ma. Then she asked me if the clothes was still wet. - Bob Dylan

Really, I do.

I've never understood that poster of Mulder's. He already believed, and after just a few episodes of monster chasing he shouldn't have needed to believe anymore. Hell, before the series even began Mulder had seen his sister abducted by greys. What remained for belief? To get Biblical on his ass, Paul wrote in Hebrews that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." He had the evidence of things seen. But more to the point, why would he want to hope for it?

I'd heard the histories told by high killers and their accomplices all my life, but I've known since I began to read on the subject that John Kennedy's murder, and that of his brother and Dr King, were acts of state. I've known, as well as I've known anything, ever, without having been there, done that myself.

But here's the thing: it didn't mean enough. The relevance wasn't sufficiently immediate for me to do anything about it, or even to think that I could. It was all too bad; such a shame, but life went on down here, even if I knew that up there things were terribly wrong. It had to, if I meant to finish my schooling, find work, fall in love - these things tend to crowd out the abstract. The voices in Dylan's song expressed interest in the news that the Vice President had gone insane, but there were still clothes on the line that needed to be taken in.

And then there was 9/11, and the immediacy became absolute and the abstract concrete. As George Bush asked the world that it "never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories," I could see the cost of too many people letting a privileged few get away with too much for too long. We'd gotten on with our lives, without knowing that this, too is our lives, and always has been. Well, now we know. And what we do about it, and about them, may determine whether we, as individuals or nations or an elevated species, live or die. We still have the choice, but only just.

I've never known the consolation of conspiracy theories, which psychological reductionists say all our research and timelines and contrary accounts amount to. "If you think it's a rogue person or an unsophisticated group you start worrying about your daily life," said Dr Cary Cooper two weeks after the towers fell. (And if it's the hand of a high cabal with no regard for the lives of useless eaters, then I suppose we should all breathe a collective sigh of relief.) Dr Patrick Leman concluded "that there is some underlying process in human psychology that assumes that the bigger the effect is, the bigger the cause must have been." Unconsidered in his study is the reluctance of power to leave its fortune to chance and its fate to commoners' justice.

Oh yeah: "Enron Witness Found Dead in Park." Help me, Doc, I keep seeing things.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Simon Says

Just a brief update to last November's post Weird Tales.

Peter Levenda added a comment, "there will be a book coming out next year concerning the history of the Simon / Avon / Necronomicon that should set much of this argument and controversy to rest. This is not Sinister Forces Book Three, the Manson Secret, but a book by another author and another publisher. When I have more definite information, I will pass it on to your readers."

I haven't heard more, but Saturday afternoon, over the quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore shelved in the "controversial knowledge" section of Bay and Bloor's Indigo Books, I found it. Alongside matching, shiny new editions of "Simon's" Necronomicon and The Necronomicon Spellbook was his Dead Names: The Dark History of the Necronomicon.

Regarding the mystery of his identity, Simon writes nothing here to dispell the contention that he is, himself, Levenda. For one thing, all of the named principals other than Levenda are dead, while Simon himself remains a cypher. And whenever Levenda drifts away from the scene, "Simon" appears. Many of the anecdotes surrounding the book's genesis are Levenda's, and while this might be expected since every other source is deceased, Simon also shares a number of ticks familiar to Levenda's readers, such as "wandering bishops," the Manson clan and other pop and occult signposts.

But even as a mere character in Simon's story, Levenda looms large. It's said that as high school seniors in 1968 staring down the draft, Levenda and friend William Andrew Prazsky hit upon the idea of exploiting the clergy deferment, and created the Slavonic Orthodox Church in Exile. So Levenda himself became a wandering bishop. (An early adventure is said to have been their crashing Robert F Kennedy's memorial service, and actually leading the clerical procession out of St Patrick's Cathedral.)

As Prazsky and Levenda advanced in the ranks of schismatic clergy, they drew to themselves the attention of anti-communist operatives and the US military, who used the Eastern European paper churches as cover for intelligence gathering, arms-smuggling and more. According to a colonel with Selective Services, the catch to Levenda's deferment was that he act as part of a "team" constituted by the American Orthodox Catholic Church (the church of wandering Bishops David Ferrie and Jack Martin), and make himself "available for such assignments as needed." Simon writes that Levenda attended meetings of various antiwar groups [and] listened to members of the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, the IRA and other more radical organizations." He found himself under surveilance, photographed by the driver of a car parked across the street of his family's apartment, and decided to leave the church. (This prompted a revocation of Levenda's deferment, until he responded with a "veiled threat" to expose what he knew, and it was reinstated until the end of the draft.)

Simon stands by the story that The Necronomicon surfaced in Manhattan as part of a rare book theft ring run by two Slavonic monks, Michael Hubak and Steven Chapo (though the New York Times identified them as "defroked Byzantine Priests"). It's now a better story with the bishops wandering about in the background, but it's still one that stretches credulity some distance. He suggests that the original manuscript was burned by Prazsky when he feared discovery that he was in possession of stolen goods, and that his own photocopies of the text "degraded with time. In less than ten years the ink had disappeared from the pages and I was left with a mass of useless, curled and shiny paper."

Dead Names reads like a mature reimagining of a youthful hoax, borrowing a number of the tropes of Levenda's far superior, and hence less popular and potentially more subversive, Sinister Forces. In thirty years, nearly a million copies of Simon's Necronomicon have been sold on the cheap, like metaphysical crack to schoolyard Satanists, making it difficult now to say "Just kidding." Especially when so many occultists have found it does what it says, and some things it doesn't say.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Planet of Lost Children (Part One)

But between you and me they were really dupes of the Wicked King
Who wanted to rob the children of their dreams - T Bone Burnett

When I was a young boy, before I could have a hand in my room's decoration, there was a strange piece of art hanging on the wall opposite my bed. It was a copper-like bas relief, about a foot high, of a stereotypical Chinese labourer, grinning in mid stride. When the door was open, I couldn't see it from my bed.

I thought about it a lot. I wondered whether, behind the door and out of sight, he was still striking the same pose. I began to imagine another life for him, and other purposes. I thought, when I would leave a messy room and return to find it tidy, it must have been the man on the wall picking up after me. (When I shared the theory with my mother she was understandably annoyed that I hadn't first considered that it might be her.)

Now the thing is, on at least one afternoon, while I lay on my bed, I saw this figure as a life-sized man, step out from behind the door and stare at me. (He waved.) And I accepted this, since I'd already imagined more for him, and he seemed kindly enough. And of course, I was just a child.

I hadn't thought of this for many years, because like so many wonders it just didn't fit, and it didn't do anything for me now. But then I thought about tulpas, "imaginary friends" and the naturally altered states of children, and how they have always been regarded as totems of strong magic. And at last it did something.

Explorer and initiate Alexandra David-Neel introduced to the West the Lamaist practice of thought-form creation in her book Magic and Mystery in Tibet. She writes, regarding her own efforts at tulpa creation:

Besides having had few opportunities of seeing thought-forms, my habitual incredulity led me to make experiments for myself, and my efforts were attended with some success. In order to avoid being influenced by the forms of the lamaist deities, which I saw daily around me in paintings and images, I chose for my experiment a most insignificant character: a Monk, short and fat, of an innocent and jolly type.

I shut myself in tsams and proceeded to perform the prescribed concentration of thought and other rites. After a few months the phantom Monk was formed. His form grew gradually fixed and lifelike looking. He became a kind of guest, living in my apartment. I then broke my seclusion and started for a tour, with my servants and tents.

The Monk included himself in the party. Though I lived in the open, riding on horseback for miles each day, the illusion persisted. I saw the fat tulpa; now and then it was not necessary for me to think of him to make him appear. The phantom performed various actions of the kind that are natural to travelers and that I had not commanded. For instance, he walked, stopped, looked around him. The illusion was mostly visual, but sometimes I felt as if a robe was lightly rubbing against me, and once a hand seemed to touch my shoulder.

The features which I had imagined, when building my phantom, gradually underwent a change. The fat, chubby-cheeked fellow grew leaner, his face assumed a vaguely mocking, sly, malignant look. He became more troublesome and bold. In brief, he escaped my control. Once, a herdsman who brought me a present of butter saw the tulpa in my tent and took it for a living lama.

I ought to have let the phenomenon follow its course, but the presence of that unwanted companion began to prove trying to my nerves; it turned into a "day-nightmare". Moreover, I was beginning to plan my journey to Lhasa and needed a quiet brain devoid of other preoccupations, so I decided to dissolve the phantom. I succeeded, but only after six months of hard struggle. My mind-creature was tenacious of life.

(Also, and mentioned previously here, Philip K Dick talks about tulpas and Disneyland, and a supposed ghost in Greenwich Village resembled "the Shadow," the fictional creation of the deceased author whose house it "haunted.")

Now, with respect to imaginary friends, on "Baby Center's Ask the Experts" a mother writes:

"My four year old has an imaginery friend called Cheeney who is 16 and lives in England (apparently). Strange seeing we live in New Zealand i.e. the other side of the world. Sometimes what she comes out with scares me too, but mostly I just put it down to an active imagination, and she certainly has that! Sometimes my husband does get annoyed holding the car door open for a long time so all her "friends" can come out. He has even closed the door on a few - oops!"

Of course, so long as the imagined friend remains unexperienced by others, there is not much to concern us here. As David-Neel wrote regarding her tulpa, "There is nothing strange in the fact that I may have created my own hallucination. The interesting point is that in these cases of materialization, others see the thought-forms that have been created."

For what they may be worth, here are a couple of recent and possibly relevant posts on the "Unexplained-Mysteries" forum which similarly elevate the mystery.

From "chaoszerg":

When i was a child my mom and dad apparently heard a voice talking to me while i was asleep at the time i had a imaginary friend so this frightened my mom because of the voice so we moved and it never happened again.

And "ShadowLady":

When my little brother was between the ages of 3 and 6, he had an imaginary friend named "Bill". I actually heard my brother talking to his "friend" and then his "friend" answering back. We had all kinds of weird things happen in our house and we always blamed Bill. My brother is 24 now and he still swears that Bill was real, that he could see him and hold conversations with him. FREAKY!

Finally from I Used to Believe ("the childhood beliefs site"), this contribution from "Frances Ames":

I was a very lonely little girl when I was 5 years old and lived on Toronto Island at Hanlan's Point. I wished real hard for some new friends, my age, to play with when we all went to the beach, a few hundred yards from our house. An old man came and said here is 2 friends for you to play with. They will grow as you grow. They will stay with you as long as you don't tell anyone their names. Well, I was so happy. I would build things in the sand and they would too. I used to talk to them and my mother would pester me and asked who I was talking with. I finally told mom who they were. Dingus and Tardar. They went away and never came back. My 5 yr. old cousin saw them too. He let me know that after we became age 60. He told me the old man's name was Pookie. True story.

In The Field, Lynne McTaggart writes that EEG studies of the brains of children under five show that they "permanently function in alpha mode - the state of altered consciousness in an adult. Children are open to far more information.... In effect, a child walks around in a state of a permanent hallucination." Alpha waves appear to bridge the conscious and the subconscious. For much of our waking adult life, we don't have a decent bridge.

If childhood is a naturally liminal state, then perhaps much of what's called High Magick amounts to the attempt to recreate its conditions. (You say Tulpa, I say Imaginary friend.) Or in other words, a subset of occult science may amount to the recovery of power nascent to childhood. And what, I wonder, does this have to say about the child victims of mind control and ritual occult abuse?

It's late, and I'm afraid it's sketchy, but I'll have to finish this later.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Justice Can Wait

All the things you try to hide
Will be revealed on the other side - The Squirrel Nut Zippers

So now Ken Lay is dead. (Or not.*) His heart "just gave out," as though it were too good for this world. ("There's only so much stress one can take," a sad Barbara Walters reportedly mused on The View.)

Most likely, it was a suicide. What's good enough for Goering, and all that. Or perhaps assisted suicide, to ease a reluctant liability into the afterlife. Lay may not have sung at trial, but there remains his under-examined role in Dick Cheney's still secretive Energy Task Force. (It was on Lay's recommendation that Bush appointed Cheney to the position.) Thinking of precedence, Lay's former business partner and almost stoolie, Cliff Baxter, comes to mind. (And that it's been so long that I've thought of him reminds me of how much death has been dealt since.) Regardless, CNN is saying "out of respect for the family" no further details will be announced, so I suppose there's nothing left to Enron now but closure, and nothing we're supposed to do now but move on.

The novelty, she piles up. This past week is what six months worth of hard news used to feel like to me. And not so long ago, though it seems like a lifetime. Swimming against the datastream, searching for something like a source, gets harder every day against the tug of a Great Attractor. And it's not the induced crises of North Korea, or Gaza, or Iran that's pulling us forward.

The supposed singularity of 2012 may still be unimaginable, but moreso every day, I can better imagine something like it.

* on edit: Reading the comments, I think now I may have been too hasty to accept the death notice. Certainly his body won't be laid out for us like Uday's, Qusay's and Zarqawi's, and however much money and how many high connections it takes to disappear, Lay had them. So perhaps, unless we see the nail marks in his hands and put our hands into his side, I should reserve judgement on this one.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Crimes of Opportunity

"It's a hard world for little things" - Night of the Hunter

This has to be brief, as I'm still not up to speed here.

Last December, Pfc Steven Green was the face of the Army's happy news story, "Coalition forces keep streets of Iraq safe." (And sure thing, there he is, preparing "to blast a lock off the gate of an abandoned home.") Six months later, he's charged with the rape of an Iraqi girl possibly as young as 14, her murder and the murder of her family, including her seven-year old brother Hadeel. (Her name was Abeer Qasim Hamza. It seems most reports don't bother with that detail. Nor that she was a child, and not a young woman.)

It was self-evident from the moment the story broke, despite the military's insistence to the contrary, that the subsequent abduction, execution and mutilation of two soldiers from the same platoon were acts of retaliation. (There's no indication the soldiers were themselves involved, though prior to his arrest Green attended one of their funerals.) And it's just as likely that, despite the official denials, his honourary discharge on account of a "personality disorder" was intended to preempt this particular embarrassment.

A Pentagon spokesperson called the slaughter of Abeer and her family "crime of opportunity." There's a lot of that going around these days.

Iraqi children are disappearing at an "alarming rate," many being sold into Europe, particularly the Netherlands and the UK. "However, there is no detailed information on who is buying them and for what reason." This can't help but remind me of the recent human trafficking scandal in Azerbaijan - very quietly received stateside - which saw the US embassy implicated in an operation "organized on a truly American scale," and ambassador Reno Harnish reassigned, perhaps alarmingly, to "the fight against bird flu."

There's a fractal component to the crimes and the tragedies of the United States in Iraq. The rape of a nation is more than a metaphor when it's repeated recursively in the rape of a young girl. Green and the rest - there are said to be three others accused, and more still who had foreknowledge of the attack and those who meant to cover it up - are simply the apes of power, emulating at scale the atrocities of their commanders and their Commander in Chief. And it's only the copycats, who mistake their license for entitlement, who are held accountable. Like conservative Judge Donald D. Thompson, convicted of indecent exposure, who masturbated in his courtroom during a grandfather's tearful testimony about a toddler's murder, and Republican consultant Carey Lee Cramer, convicted of abusing the child he used in a 2000 campaign ad to smear Al Gore. While, for the gangster lords of corruption to whom the system is beholden, planes will be made to fall from the sky, evidence disappear, and witnesses conveniently put themselves to death.

When Vladimir Putin impulsively lifted a shy boy's shirt and kissed his stomach last week, CNN posted it beneath the banner "Offbeat News." Now it may have been innocent, but the significance can't be entirely cultural, because it appears lost on Russians, too. (The most popular question selected for a forthcoming webcast interview amounts to Whatever were you thinking?)

Early in The Night of the Hunter, Robert Mitchum's murderous preacher gives thanks, saying "Lord, you sure knew what you were doing when you brung me to this very cell at this very time. A man with ten thousand dollars hid somewhere, and a widow in the makin'." If he were simply a hypocrite he wouldn't be nearly so frightening. Or dangerous.