Saturday, January 30, 2010

Reality Deniers...

Everybody knows this instinctively even if they don't all grasp it intellectually. And many people have become mentally unbalanced, sick at heart or twisted because despite their instinctive knowlege, they can't consciously acknowledge it. And the more people deny the truth, the sicker they get.

In this case, the writer is talking about 9/11 Troof, suggesting that not believing it was an Inside Job is bad for your health.

Unfortunately, as with just about every other Truther claim the evidence is against him.

As in the case of ex-MI5 spy David Shayler, who became the Messiah...

...and then became... erm... Delores Kane...

Or freakily so, in the case of Alex Jones...

Or in the case of Jimmy Walter who appears to think he's a chicken...

Or tragically, in the case of Sean Fitzgerald...

I don't cite these examples just to engage in ad hominem attacks but to show that if there is any correlation between what someone believes about what happened on 9/11 and mental imbalance then it is the Truthers who come off less favourably.

One thing I am not sure about, however, is whether it was pre-existing mental imbalance that attracted Truthers to their theories or whether the belief in 9/11 Truth made them mentally unbalanced.

There is some evidence that it was there already in this case and in this one:

Daniel Dennett's Deepities

Daniel Dennett is my favourite of the "new athiests". In this talk, called The Evolution of Confusion, he explores what he considers to be one of the reasons for the existence of theology. He suggests it is an exercise that was invented by those who had trouble believing in religious dogma and who have struggled hard to try to discover some kind of argument which is intellectualy satisying. In other words, those who find a gap between their professed beliefs and their actual beliefs.

It's introduced by Richard Dawkins who similarly asks, "What's the point of philosophers?" To which the obvious answer is, "That depends on what you want to do."

Dennett explains what it is that philosophers do, which is mostly to assess uses of language in argument and when it is being misused, either mistakenly or deliberately and willfully. Why would language be misused? Dennett gives an example of Robert Wright, whose book The Evolution of God is, according to Dennett, an attempt to be obscure and to add mystery where there is none.

Dennett also coins the term "deepity" which is superficially similar to a "profundity" except that a "deepity" is true only in a trivial way according to one reading but is otherwise false according to a reading that would make it profound if it were true.

And then there are nonsensical claims which also sound profound, but are not. Although this is taken from a fictional character in a novel, Dennett shows that there are those who have put forward arguments in this form:

It is a measure of God's omnipotence that he needn't exist in order to save us.

The USS Maine and the RMS Lusitania

"What's the point?"

"What's the point in trying to debunk conspiracy theories?" People ask me. "Isn't this like trying to drain the Pacific Ocean with a teaspoon?"

Well, yes it is. But just because it is like trying to drain the Pacific Ocean with a teaspoon doesn't make it pointless and futile! Sometimes they are so easily debunked that they produce a warm feeling of satisfaction in an area just behind the eyes.

Two water-borne conspiracy theories that I only recently became aware of surround the sinkings of the USS Maine and the RMS Lusitania and according to conspiracy site, Hitchens Watch, are believed in by none other than Christopher Hitchens, himself.

Greywolf writes:

Christopher jumps back in time to the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor and how this was used as a pretext for the US to launch the Spanish-American War. The Yankees finally owned up to this false flag op in 1976.

Wow! So the claim is that the USS Maine sailed into Havana Harbor and, in 1898, was deliberately sunk by the United States despite the large loss of life of those on board and then blamed on the Spanish? And not only that but owned up to 1976?

I would have thought I'd have heard of this false-flag attack if it were true and so I decided to pick up a few history books that are on my shelves and find out if they agree with the claim.

First, Niall Ferguson's Colossus, a book in which the author claims the United States has always been an imperialist power. There's only one reference - page 48:

Within just three months of the American declaration of war - the trumped-up pretext for which was the accidental explosion of the battleship Maine in Havana Bay, supposedly the fault of Spain - the Spanish forces in both the Caribbean and the Philippines were defeated.

Accidental? That's not what I was promised. Apparently the Yankees have owned up to it being a "false flag" operation. Either Ferguson has been skimping on his research or, far more likely given that he is a war-mongering neo-con, he's pushing the "accident" theory (sometimes known as the "cock-up theory of history") to deflect attention to the confessed bad behaviour of the US.

So, I picked up Hugh Brogan's The Penguin History of the USA to find out what the author has to say about the incident - on page 440, he describes how "rogue newspaper publisher", William Randolph Hearst was eager to foment a war between Spain and the US - this is more like it. Of the incident itself he says:

[Hearst] got his way. A United States battleship, the Maine, on a courtesy visit to Havana, blew up in the harbour on 15th February 1898, killing most of the crew. The explosion was almost certainly an accident, but Hearst thought otherwise. "Remember the Maine!" screamed his papers, announcing that the episode was the result of a fiendish Spanish plot.

Accident? What is Brogan playing at? Not only has no one apparently told him that the Yankees owned up to their false flag in 1976 (Brogan's book was first published in 1985!), but now he's accusing William Rondolph Hearst of being a conspiracy theorist!

Maybe we'll be on safer ground with Howard Zinn, whose credentials are solidly left-wing and whose opposition to war-like foreign policy by the United States is second-to-none. He'll skewer those dastardly Yankee Imperialist Aggressors. Page 304 of A People's History of the United States:

In February 1898, the US battleship Maine, in Havana harbor as a symbol of American interest in the Cuban events, was destroyed by a mysterious explosion and sank, with the loss of 268 men. There was no evidence produced on the cause of the explosion, but excitement grew swiftly in the United States, and McKinley began to move in the direction of war.

What?!? This isn't fair! I was promised a false-flag conspiracy theory that blamed the Yankee Imperialist Aggressors and I'm let down even by Howard Zinn. I have to conclude that Zinn must be one of the fabled "Left Gatekeepers"! Pretending to criticize US foreign policy while actually giving it a pass on its egregious conspiracies.

Unless of course, it simply isn't true that there was a false-flag incident. Where does the claim, that the US have admitted to a false-flag attack come from in the first place?

Well, looking at Wikipedia it appears there are two theories that mainstream historians propose:

1) That the Maine hit a mine laid by the Spanish navy.

2) That the Maine's coal bunker spontaneously combusted detonating nearby magazines.

1976 is the year in which Admiral Rickover conducted his own investigation essentially concluding that the latter hypothesis was the most likely. He didn't conclusively rule out other possibilities but suggested that an accidental coal-bunker fire was the most likely. His investigation formed the basis of his book, titled How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed.

(Interestingly, however, National Geographic conducted a study in 1999, ressurecting the mine hypothesis.)

In the 1920's the Cubans themselves built a monument to the USS Maine in Havana in which the sailors were honoured for their part in what the government of the time considered the US's assistance in gaining independence for Cuba from the Spanish.

So, just who believes in the false-flag theory if it doesn't form the basis of any officially accepted account?

Well, CNN tells us that it is believed in by Cuban officials who altered the monument to the Maine:

But in 1961, Cuban communist revolutionaries toppled the eagle from the top of that monument. Its mangled remains are proudly displayed in a downtown museum.

Some Cuban officials argue that the United States may have deliberately blown up the Maine to create a pretext for military action against Spain. And today, the wording on the monument describes the Maine's sailors as "victims sacrificed to the imperialist greed in its fervor to seize control of Cuba."

The theory is also hinted at by Holocaust-denying bishop Richard Williamson, who is quoted on Wikipedia as saying:

"There is serious reason to believe – that in 1898, it was not the Spaniards who sank the 'USS Maine'; that in 1917, it was not the Germans who set up the 'Lusitania' as a target; that in 1941 it was not the Japanese who set up Pearl Harbor for attack; that in 1963 it was not Lee Harvey Oswald who killed President Kennedy".

And indeed, it seems to have been Hitchens' purpose in mentioning the Maine that serves as his basis for claiming that the Lusitania was allowed to sink by Winston Churchill, who was at the time first lord of the Admiralty. He's using a standard technique in citing precedent to make a conspiracy seem more credible.

I'll leave it to David Aaronovitch to make this maneouvre more clear:

As has already been noted, conspiracists work hard to convince people that conspiracy is everywhere. An individual theory will seem less improbable if an entire history of similar cases can be cited. These can be as ancient as the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, and today may include references to Pearl Harbor, the Reichstag fire, and the 1965 Gulf of Tonkin incident. The plot to murder JFK is first base if you want to convince people that RFK and MLK were also murdered by arms of the American state.

As for the specific claims about the Lusitania, please read this website.

Please note: Howard Zinn passed away on exactly the same day as J.D Salinger 27th January, 2010. As with Salinger's death, I deny all responsibility.

Happy Now?

Online critics of mine have suggested that it is cowardice on my part to hide behind what they assume to be a pseudonym, "angrysoba". How dare I use such a moniker from behind which I dispense my radically conventional views?

So I've decided to post my picture...

Happy now?

Full album

Friday, January 29, 2010

Silly Goose, Tony Gosling, on the 7/7 Bombings

Anything Yanks can do, Brits can do better!
This video is a couple of years old now but I thought I'd post it because it is a good demonstration of what Iranian state media outlet Press TV does best: fomenting conspiracy theories. It is a debate primarily between David Aaronovitch and Bilderberg-botherer Tony Gosling about the suicide bombings on the London underground and a double-decker bus in 2005. It is hosted by Yvonne Ridley.

Tony Gosling is not persuaded that there are people out there who want to blow him up despite the fact they make videos saying exactly that. However, he does point out that Benjamin Netanyahu got a phone call at some point on that day allowing Aaronovitch to roll his eyes and moan, "Ohhhhh God!"

Anyway, it soon becomes clear that if the Americans can have a false-flag terror operation then so can the British. If the Madrid bombings can make the Spanish flee from Iraq then clearly the London bombings can only have been designed by the British government to have the opposite effect, right?

I don't want to prejudice your opinion either way, so please watch this video (there are five parts!) and see Tony Gosling made to look a fool.

If you liked that you may be interested in watching a bit of Peter Cook exhibiting an extraordinary display of clairvoyance in impersonating a well-known silly goose.

Here's an important debunking of the 7/7 conspiracy theory by someone who unwittingly set one off in the Guardian.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

J. D Salinger Dies: I Didn't Do It!

A lot of conspiracy theorists find coincidences to be far too convenient to be believed. No way did four planes all get hijacked on the same day! Or, no way did three big buildings fall down later on! No way is that a coincidence, that's a conspiracy!

Well, technically they are completely correct, of course.

But I wonder what a conspiracy theorist will make of this one:

I had a half-day at NWO HQ on Wednesday, so I met up with a friend of mine (yes, even shills have friends) and we browsed Junkudo bookstore. I picked up J. D Salinger's Catcher In the Rye and asked, "Did you know J. D Salinger is still alive? He must be about ninety now and hasn't written anything for ages."

Later that day, J. D Salinger died.

He was 91.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Apologies to President Chavez of Venezuala (and all my readers)

I apologize unconditionally to Hugo Chavez, flambouyant president of Venezuala, for repeating lies that he accused the United States of causing the earthquake in Haiti by using a "tectonic weapon".

It was pointed out by "Anonymous" in the comments section of this thread.

The story about Chavez is a fabrication. He never said any such thing. You owe your readers an apology for spreading lies.

This story appears to have no basis in reality. I was wrong!

How Conveeeeeeeeenient!

Craig Murray has a post which responds to the news that Lord Hutton is sealing some of the evidence surrounding the death, by suicide, of David Kelly including the post-mortem.

In his blogpost titled, "David Kelly's Murder", Mr Murray makes this startling revelation:

Kelly's death was extremely convenient for Blair, Cheney and a myriad of other ultra ruthless people. It paved the way for war. We should not forget how very crucial the WMD issue was in convincing enough reluctant New Labour MPs to go along. Without the UK there would have been no coalition - most of the other Europeans would have quickly dropped out too. It is by no means clear that, despite Cheney's bluster, the Americans would have invaded Iraq alone.

So Kelly was the first man killed in the Iraq war.

To which I replied:

David Kelly committed suicide in July 2003. If I remember correctly the invasion of Iraq occurred in March 2003. How on Earth do you work out from that that David Kelly's death paved the way for war? Are you saying that no one died in that war from March 2003 until David Kelly's suicide in July 2003?

Instead of Dr Kelly's death being "convenient" it was almost certainly inconvenient and for this story to break now, a few days before Tony Blair takes the stand at the Chilcott inquiry it would surely be more likely to increase the level of scrutiny on Blair would it not?

It is interesting to see that those who usually consider the mainstream media to be slaves of a warmongering cabal are now saying that the only chinks in the armour of the impenetrable "propaganda matrix" are in BBC (i.e the state broadcaster) and the Daily (the paper with one of the highest circulations in Britain and, coincidentally or not, the paper which serialized Norman Baker's detective novel).

Update: The Guardian posthumously published an article that had been written by David Kelly in which his thoughts on Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction are spelled out. It doesn't lend any credence to Craig Murray's "cui bono" claim.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Joooos HAARP

When the Israeli Defence Forces set up a field hospital in Port-au-prince following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, it might have been imagined that soi-disant "anti-Zionists" would give their foes the benefit of the doubt. As implacable as some of them may be, surely this operation was beyond criticism.

Not according to Daily Telegraph blogger, Stephanie Gutmann who penned a piece entitled, "Israel builds a field hospital in Haiti. Anti-Zionists not fooled!" in which she noticed a few pundits on the Internet wouldn't be placated by Israel's "humanitarian propaganda":

“Great,” said someone identifying himself as ‘Smart Alex’, “I just hope the IDF soldiers don’t harvest any of the dead Haitians’ organs without the permission of their families.

“I know, I know,” he wrote, “that was a cheap shot. But I believe well-deserved for a country that tries to use its U.S.-funded humanitarian efforts as propaganda to paper over its disastrous and vile treatment of the Palestinians.”

Fooled, they are not, as Alex Jones' conspiracy site Infowars has the story: "Activist: Watch Out For IDF Stealing Organs In Haiti"

What is this story based on? It's based on nothing more than the musings of some guy who made a You Tube video. No evidence, just pure speculation that the Jews IDF would spend millions of dollars flying out to Haiti for no other reason than an impractical organ grab. Now while it can't surprise too many people that a conspiracy site such as Infowars would run a story like that surely reputable news sources would show more robust journalistic standards. Well, that depends on whether you consider Iranian state media outlet, Press TV reputable.

While media reports from Haiti express amazement at Israel's well-equipped medical delegation to the quake-stricken nation, some critics have warned against organ theft.

The Israeli medical team dispatched to Haiti has set up a field hospital in the tremor-battered Caribbean country, winning Western media praise for doing what even their American peers have not yet managed to accomplish.

But a video posted on Youtube by an American resident of Seattle, Washington on Tuesday took the shine off the Israeli professionalism that media have raved about in the past few days.

In his video, T. West of a group called AfriSynergy Productions suggested that soldiers in the military delegation to the earthquake site in Haiti might be involved in stealing organs from their patients.

Al-Jazeera has the same story:

Israel harvesting organs in Haiti?

Cheap shots at those trying to help the victims of this earthquake don't stop there. Michel Chussudovsky of conspiracy site, Global Research, has a nudge-nudge wink-wink article about how the US was planning for this very earthquake in order to invade and takeover Haiti.

Nobody sane could possibly believe that the US actually caused the earthquake, though, could they?

Well, that depends on whether you consider president of Venezuala, Hugo Chavez, sane.

Of course the commentary of reputable news source, Russia Today, doesn't call Chavez out as being a loon for suggesting that the US used a "tectonic weapon" to zap Haiti with but says that it is believed in by Georgian conspiracy theorists.

Russia Today is well-known for its hosting of conspiracy theorists such as We Are Change and 9/11 Truthers. But what is Hugo Chavez talking about?

Although Chavez did not reveal his source, Press TV reports the Venezuelan media are reporting the earthquake may be associated with the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), which has been accused of generating violent and disastrous changes in climate.

Press TV again? What a shocker! One can only wonder what drives these blame the Joooos/HAARP stories.

UPDATE: As "Anonymous" points out in the comments thread, the story that Hugo Chavez blamed the Haiti earthquake on the US using a "tectonic machine" was completely fabricated. I completely apologize for spreading this scurrilous rumour and will, in future, express greater skepticism towards stories I see on Russia Today or Press TV. More on that here.


More here.

UPDATE 2: A bit of clarification. There is apparently more than one media outlet going by the name, Al-Jazeera. Thanks to Parky on the James Randi Forums for the clarification here.

This is the respectable Al-Jazeera.

This is Al-Jazeera Magazine. A separate publication.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Madman Has Mad Theory

Insane mean Zionist ex-PM of Malaysia and noted loon, Mohamad Mahathir, has a theory about 9/11, according to the Jakarta Globe:

"Malaysia’s former premier Mahathir Mohamad said on Wednesday there was “strong evidence” the US faked the September 11 terror attacks as an excuse to go to war against Muslims.

There is strong evidence that the attacks were staged. If they can make Avatar, they can make anything,’ Mahathir told the Conference for the Support of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), as quoted by local media.

The former premier also blamed Jews for hindering progress in US foreign policy. Voicing his disappointment that Barack Obama had not yet ended the war in Afghanistan or closed the US terror detention center at Guantanamo, he explained that “there are forces in the United States which prevent the president from doing some things. One of the forces is the Jewish lobby.”

Jews “had always been a problem in European countries. They had to be confined to ghettoes and periodically massacred. But still they remained, they thrived and they held whole governments to ransom," Mahathir said.

Mahathir has aired his views on 9/11 before at a conference attended by the proprietor of conspiracy site "Global" Michel Chussodovsky and former US Congresswoman and current Truther, Cynthia McKinney in which he gave a novel take on the "some-of-my-best-friends-are..." defence:

He said that he followed the opinion of George Galloway, Member of Parliament of Britain, that we should distinguish between good Jews and bad Jews, and I agree entirely, I have many Jewish friends. But it should also not be allowed to call all Muslims terrorists, there are good Muslims and good Muslim terrorists, he joked to laughter of the audience.

Dr Mahathir said that the odd thing about 9/11 was that all 3 buildings collapsed rapidly straight down, as if they had explosives already inserted in certain places, and not from the effect of the aircraft hitting them, but due to a demolition method. He wondered why the 3rd building collapsed in the same way (WTC7) although it was not hit by any aircraft. The collapse of this building had been admitted by its jewish owner, as a controlled demolition when he said “we pulled it.”

Hat tip: Harry's Place

Update: Press TV report on a follow-up press conference with Dr Mahathir, "I have great respect for the Arabs but for them to hijack four planes is not very Arab. Just imagine the amount of planning that would be involved."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Yamaguchi Tsutomu: The Human Raft

Yamaguchi Tsutomu, who died on 4th January 2010, survived the atomic bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. His obituary is in the Economist here.

WHEN he had stopped crying, Tsutomu Yamaguchi would tell you why he called his book of poems “The Human Raft”. It had to do with the day he forgot to take his personal name-stamp to work, and had to get off the bus. Much was on his mind that morning. He had to pack his bags to leave Hiroshima after a three-month assignment as an engineer in the Mitsubishi shipyard; there were goodbyes to say at the office, then a 200-mile train journey back to Nagasaki to his wife Hisako and Katsutoshi, his baby son. He was slightly stressed when he got to his stop, still with half-an-hour’s walk ahead of him on a track that led through featureless potato fields. But it was a beautiful August day; the sky was clear, his spirits high. And then—readers will feel a tremor, but he felt none—he noticed an aircraft circling, and two parachutes dropping down.

The next thing he knew was a blaze of white magnesium light, and a huge ball of fire. He dived to the ground. The fireball, roaring upwards, sucked him up again and threw him, blinded, face-down into the mud of the potato field. He was two miles from the epicentre of the blast, in a rain of flaming scraps of paper and clothes. His upper body and half his face were badly burned, his hair gone and his eardrums ruptured. In this state, he made his way back to the devastated city to try to do what he had meant to do that day: catch the train. The river bridges were down. But one river was full of carbonised naked bodies of men, women, children, floating face-down “like blocks of wood”, and on these—part treading, part paddling—he got to the other side. His human raft.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tony Judt's Grim Calculations

I hadn't realized until I looked at Aaronovitch Watch (a site which monitors the so-called Decent Left), today that Tony Judt has motor neurone disease.

I have a collection of his essays, Reappraisals, which features some excellent pieces on Arthur Koestler, Primo Levi, Albert Camus and others and is introduced with a variation of this essay which ponders how to make sense of a post-Cold War world.

This video of him, now quadriplegic, appearing in the Guardian, is a mostly dispassionate account in which he wrestles with the implications of his irreversible decline from this disease and the grim calculations he is forced to come to terms with.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

James Balog: Time-lapse proof of extreme ice loss

Stone The Crows!

Oliver Stone is well-known for his conspiracy movie JFK, which was as entertaining as any movie on the subject could be. My favourite part was where a homosexual character, David Ferrie (played by Joe Pesci) becomes very flustered explaining where he was on a particular Friday night and Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner) concludes that he must have been in Dallas assassinating John F. Kennedy. Or something like that.

The point at which the film completely jumps the shark is where Donald Sutherland appears as a deus ex machina to explain that the military industrial complex armtwisted Lyndon B. Johnson into having Kennedy assassinated.

Here's part one of two:

Oliver Stone also directed the movie Platoon featuring Truther extraordinaire, Charlie Sheen.

However, by all accounts his movie of the 9/11 tragedy, World Trade Center, plays it straight without any weird conspiracy theories. So, I am going to watch it in the next couple of days.

Finally, here's a great song that featured at the end of his turkey, Natural Born Killers...