Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ah-Chu: Advance Man With Obama In Mexico Had Swine Flu?

A member of the U.S. delegation that helped prepare Energy Secretary Steven Chu's trip to Mexico City has demonstrated flu-like symptoms and his family members in Anne Arundel County have tested positive for swine flu. Chu and Obama were in Mexico City together during the mid-April trip.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday, April 30, 2009, that three members of an aide's family are being tested to see if they have the same strain of swine flu that is threatening to become a pandemic. The aide worked in presidential advance, which is responsible for planning and preparing trips.

Gibbs said that Secretary Chu has not experienced any symptoms. The spokesman also said that President Barack Obama also has had no symptoms of the virus and doctors see no need to conduct any tests on his health.

The individual – an advance security staffer for Energy Secretary Steven Chu –appears to have spread the flu to his wife, son and nephew. All three have tested probable for swine flu, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Gibbs, who avoided naming the aide, remarked that he did not work closely with Obama, did not fly on Air Force One and has resumed his work at the Energy Department.

The aide arrived in Mexico on April 13, Gibbs said, and became ill on April 16. He developed a fever on April 17, the day Obama left Mexico for the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago. The person in question flew back commercially to Dulles on a United flight on April 18; Gibbs had no details yet on whether people on that flight have been notified.

The man visited his brother on April 19 and his nephew became ill. In the next two days, the aide's wife and son also became ill, Gibbs said.

Nevertheless, that security aide was apparently at a working dinner Obama attended with Mexican officials on Thursday, April 16, 2009. The staff member “was asked specifically if he ever came within six feet of the president, and the answer to that was 'No.' "

“The president has not experienced any symptoms,” Gibbs repeated to the media. He said Obama and other staff members are “highly, highly, highly unlikely” to develop such symptoms now because of the time that has passed since Obama’s visit on April 16 and 17, 2009, and the relatively short incubation period allegedly for the flu virus, known as H1N1.

The question remains...who were the attendees at the April 16th dinner in Mexico?

The following is the official White House memo, "Update on the H1 N1 Influenza and Suggested Protective Measures" that has been disseminated to those who traveled on President Barack Obama's recent trip to Mexico:

The White House Medical Unit has been in regular contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding any possible or confirmed cases in the Washington Metropolitan area. We have learned that an individual who traveled to Mexico City to support the U.S. delegation that accompanied the President to Mexico City came down with flu-like symptoms associated with his work in Mexico. Three members of the individual’s family tested positive for Type A influenza, and tests are currently underway to determine if they contracted the 2009 H1N1 influenza strain. Individual family members suffered mild to moderate symptoms and received no medication and were not hospitalized. There have been no known instances of anyone working at the White House complex who has tested positive for a flu strain in the past month. We are providing this information so that you are aware of the CDC guidance that has been provided to the general public and the federal workforce.

As you may already be aware, the CDC has confirmed 91 cases of H1N1 Flu outbreak in the United States. Twenty states, including one in the National Capital Region, have probable or confirmed cases. Within the United States, the CDC expects the number of cases to increase, and illness severity may also increase. Unlike seasonal influenza, the H1N1 influenza virus currently circulating cannot be prevented through vaccination. Fortunately, individual members of the Executive Office of the President can protect themselves and their co-workers through simple actions that reduce virus transmission and assist public health authorities.

Influenza is transmitted through respiratory droplets that travel between 3 to 6 feet when an affected individual coughs or sneezes. In addition, the influenza virus may survive approximately 2 hours when affected individuals wipe their hands on surfaces such as doorknobs or tables. Limiting influenza exposure within the buildings at the White House Complex will allow normal operations to continue even if the world-wide influenza outbreak becomes more widespread.

Acute respiratory symptoms that are normally considered minor take on added importance in the setting of a novel influenza virus outbreak. If you experience a new cough, runny nose, congestion, sore throat, body aches, or fever, stay home and see a physician before returning to work. The physician will diagnose and treat your condition. If you have influenza, antiviral medication can shorten the course of the illness.

In addition, the physician will take a sample and send it to the local health department to determine if you have the new H1N1 virus. This information is critical for public health officials who can evaluate close contacts of H1N1 cases. Any individual diagnosed with influenza should not return to work for one week to avoid transmitting the virus to co-workers.

Because of their population density, workplaces are susceptible to the spread of illness, so it is always good to take common health precautions. Employees who are not sick should wash their hands frequently with soap and/or gel sanitizers. They should avoid close contact with individuals exhibiting acute respiratory symptoms. If a household member becomes infected with the new H1N1 virus, guidance for home care is available at

EOP staff members experiencing symptoms, or are susceptible to infection, or are needing to care for sick family members are encouraged to take leave. Please consult with your component administrative supervisor regarding this capability. Further, the Office of Personnel Management has guidelines for staff and supervisors during a pandemic health crisis.

Please also consult with your component administrative supervisor regarding the potential for tele-working capabilities.

Additional general information on the H1N1 virus is also available on the CDC website.

Further information will be provided as this situation develops.

Thank you.

13 Dead In Azerbaijan University Shooting

At least 13 people were killed in a shooting Thursday, April 30, at a university in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.

Governmental officials and prosecutors said another 10 people were wounded in the shooting at the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy.

Latest reports said there was only one killer who shot down the victims, Interfax reported, citing a local ANS television channel.

The killer was identified as Nadir Shirhanoglu, a Georgian citizen of Azeri origin.

During the shooting spree Shirhanoglu killed a security guard, several janitors, professors and students, including two foreigners. He then committed suicide.

The ANS TV channel reported earlier that two gunmen opened fire at staff and students of the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy, while going upstairs of the academy building.

Other reports said one gunman died by suicide while the other held hostages.

Police have cordoned off the university building. Special troops that rushed to the scene earlier have left.

An investigation into the shooting is underway.


A young man armed with an automatic pistol and clips of ammunition rampaged through a prestigious institute in the Azerbaijani capital Thursday, killing 12 people and wounding others before killing himself as police closed in, the government said.
Little is known about the gunman and even less about the motive for the bloodshed that shook the faculty and students of the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy, a noted school whose graduates have included future presidents and tycoons.

The suspect, Farda Gadyrov, entered the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy in Baku and climbed five floors of the building, shooting everyone he met along the way, according to a joint statement from the Interior Ministry and state prosecutors.

Gadyrov, a Georgian citizen born in 1980, then shot and killed himself with the gun, a Makarov pistol, when he saw police approaching, the statement said. It said he had three magazines of ammunition.

The statement gave no motive for the attack in Azerbaijan, a country at the crossroads of western Asia and Eastern Europe, with Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Iran at its borders.

The shooting spree follows a random shooting by a Moscow police major on Monday of this week. Three people were shot dead and six injured at Moscow’s Ostrov supermarket on April 28, 2009.

Thank you.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter & Oswald

Lest we forget, Arlen Specter has been involved in conspiracies for a long time, and Lee Harvey Oswald remains on his mind. Don't take my word for this. Read what he said today.

But first a bit of background.

Guess who invented the "Magic Bullet Theory"?

The Magic Bullet Theory was introduced by the Warren Commission (November 29, 1963 - September 24, 1964) to explain how three shots supposedly made by Lee Harvey Oswald resulted in the assassination of the United States President John F. Kennedy.

The theory is credited to Warren Commission staffer Arlen Specter (currently the present U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania). Specter proposed that a single bullet, known as "Warren Commission Exhibit 399" (also labeled as "CE399"), caused all of the non-fatal wounds in both President Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally on November 22, 1963, at Dealey Plaza, the site of the first Masonic temple in Dallas, Texas.

The fatal head wound to JFK was caused by a bullet other than this alleged "Magic Bullet."

Today, April 28, 2009, as the media swarmed and tried to interview Senator Arlen Specter about his jump from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, he is reported to have said, "I don't think Lee Harvey Oswald had this big a crowd trailing him."

What a curious thing to say.

Thanks to a conversation with C. R. and P. H. about this.

Thank you.

Time For Copycat Talk

This week people reading the Time Magazine article, "Is Copycat Behavior Driving Murder-Suicides?" are emailing me. Readers are sending messages such as this one: "I was surprised that the article did not mention your book."

The column, upon which I am being asked to comment, is:

Time Magazine, Thursday, Apr. 23, 2009. "Is Copycat Behavior Driving Murder-Suicides?" by Maia Szalavitz.

On March 30, a Santa Clara, Calif., man shot five people to death, including three children, before killing himself. On April 3, a gunman went on a shooting rampage in an immigration center in Binghamton, N.Y., killing 13 people before taking his own life. And on April 20, employees of a Sheraton Hotel in Maryland found the bodies of a husband and wife and two daughters, victims of another apparent murder-suicide.

These are only the most publicized of the recent murder-suicide crimes in the U.S. Since March 10, 2009, at least 43 people have been killed in murder-suicides, and there is no telling why the crimes occurred in such rapid succession. It is also not clear whether the spate of recent deaths represents an escalation in the typical murder-suicide death toll. But it has got some observers wondering why. Past research suggests that factors ranging from the time of year (suicides are more common in spring) to the financial climate may have an impact on the rates of suicide and murder; in the recent events, the apparent motive of the killers included sexual jealousy and economic despair.

But Steven Stack, professor of psychiatry and criminal justice at Wayne State University, offers another explanation: the copycat effect. The copycat theory was first conceived by a criminologist in 1912, after the London newspapers' wall-to-wall coverage of the brutal crimes of Jack the Ripper in the late 1800s led to a wave of copycat rapes and murders throughout England. Since then, there has been much research into copycat events — mostly copycat suicides, which appear to be most common — but, taken together, the findings are inconclusive.

In a 2005 review of 105 previously published studies, Stack found that about 40% of the studies suggested an association between media coverage of suicide, particularly celebrity suicide, and suicide rates in the general public. He also found a dose-response effect: The more coverage of a suicide, the greater the number of copycat deaths.

But 60% of past research found no such link, according to Stack's study. He explains that the studies that were able to find associations were those that tended to involve celebrity death or heavy media coverage — factors that, unsurprisingly, tend to co-occur. "The stories that are most likely to have an impact are ones that concern entertainment and political celebrities. Coverage of these suicides is 5.2 times more likely to produce a copycat effect than coverage of ordinary people's suicides," Stack says. In the month after Marilyn Monroe's death, for example, the suicide rate in the U.S. rose by 12%.

Stack also conducted the only study to examine whether murder-suicide (as opposed to suicide alone) is associated with copycat crimes. That study, published 20 years ago, analyzed the impact of media coverage of mass murders and murder-suicides between 1968 and 1980. The study found no associated increase in homicide rates, but did note an uptick in suicide after well-publicized events. "There was a significant increase in national monthly suicide rates," he said, "It is a fairly substantial association and was independent of major control variables like the unemployment rate."
For now, it seems that the reason behind the recent series of murder-suicides will remain unclear, but whether it's the economy, the season, gun availability or copycatting, it will be no simple task figuring out how to stop them.

While my research associates and readers may be startled to see that The Copycat Effect (NY: Paraview Pocket ~ Simon and Schuster, 2004) is not cited, it is a sign of the times that the "copycat effect" is now more acceptable for media discussions. All the examples and links mentioned within the Time article, from Jack the Ripper to Marilyn Monroe, of course, are explored and discussed within my book.

Instead of being upset, I merely shall reflect upon this generous prophetic endorsement on the back of my book from one Dr. Steven Stack, sociologist, Center for Suicide Research:

"The media are still largely in a state of denial on how their coverage of death contributes to the violence and destructiveness in our society - but Coleman's book should wake them up!"

Perhaps that is what is happening.

Call It Mexican Flu

In Israel, where there is one suspected case, the deputy health minister, Yakov Litzman, said the disease will not be known as swine flu, because religious Jews do not eat pork. "We will call it Mexico flu. We won't call it swine flu," he said. ~ Guardian.

What are they calling the flu in New Zealand, where the number of cases has skyrocketed to 60 today?

The flu virus spreading globally should not be called "swine flu" as it also contains avian and human components and no pig allegedly has been found ill with the disease so far, the French group, the World Animal Health says.

A more logical name for it would be "North-American influenza," a name based on its geographic origin just like the Spanish influenza, another human flu pandemic with a non-human animal origin that killed more than 50 million people in 1918-1919, notes the WAH.

"The virus has not been isolated in animals to date. Therefore it is not justified to name this disease swine influenza," the Paris-based organization said in a statement, according to the Guardian.

But Mexican Flu is more logical, of course, and more closely identifies the country most people associate with this outbreak.

This strain of "swine flu," we are told, is "A/N1H1." That is intriguingly, since the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic was caused by an unusually virulent and deadly Influenza A virus strain of subtype H1N1. Also, worthy of noting, the Spanish Flu allegedly began in Fort Riley, Kansas. In the United States the disease was first observed at Fort Riley, Kansas, United States, on March 4, 1918.

Then why is it called "Spanish flu"?

The origins of the name has everything to do with the media. Spain had freedom of the press, and it lead to correct and complete information about the epidemic being published. The Allies of World War I came to call it the Spanish flu, primarily because the pandemic received greater press attention after it moved from France to Spain in November 1918. Spain was not involved in the war and had not imposed wartime censorship.


Meanwhile, on the political front, my state's senator is getting a lot of media notice during the run-up to this possible new pandemic. Maine Senator Susan Collins, the supposedly moderate but known locally as a strident, attention-seeking politician, had demanded cuts in health care spending in exchange for her support of a watered-down version of the stimulus. At the time, she complained about the pandemic funding: "Does it belong in this bill? Should we have $870 million in this bill. No, we should not."

As recently as this weekend, Collins' official website highlighted the fact that she led the fight to strip the pandemic preparedness money out of the Senate's version of the stimulus measure. The emergency services that would necessarily be on the frontlines in any effort to contain a pandemic got no funding in the $50 million for improving information systems at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Senate version of the stimulus plan included no money whatsoever for pandemic preparedness.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Watch Swine Flu Spread In Real Time

First some humor, from 2005. I guess we knew they were going to get their revenge.

Unfortunately, this is all too real. Felipe Solis Olguin, the director for the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico City, (below) gives President Obama a tour, and dies the next day from "flu-like symptoms." (Name game: Solis = Sun.) That's no joke.

Now let me turn to the further harsh reality via Google Maps, thanks to Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo. See the spread of the pandemic, in real time. Click here.

A screen capture of the swine flu map, from earlier today.

As Diaz says: "Reading the map is very simple: [x-out...We are all going to die.] The pink markers are suspect, the purple markers are confirmed, and deaths don't have a black dot in the marker. The yellow markers are negative, but I don't see any. Have fun watching. While you can."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Obama & Flu Death

President Obama's recent Mexican archaeologist host has died from flu-like symptoms.

Felipe Solis Olguin, the director for the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico City, stands before a large Aztec sculpture. Condolences to his family. Photo: Robert van der Hilst/Corbis.

The Independant's Stephen Foley is reporting on Monday, 27 April 2009:

The White House says that Barack Obama is "highly engaged" in monitoring the swine flu outbreak that has spread over the border from Mexico into the US – and well he might. For a while, the President's doctors feared that he may have come closer than almost anyone in the country to contracting the virus.

According to alarming reports from Mexico City, Felipe Solis, a distinguished archaeologist who showed Mr Obama around the city's anthropology museum during his visit to Mexico earlier this month, died the next day from "flu-like symptoms."

Mr Solis met the President at a gala dinner which was held at the museum on 16 April, before Mr Obama travelled on to the Americas summit in Trinidad and Tobago.

Yesterday, the museum was shut, in common with most public attractions in Mexico City, and the nation's Health Minister confirmed that Mr Solis had died of pneumonia – but that it was not thought he had contracted swine flu.

In the US, the White House said that the President's doctors had given him an all-clear. Mr Obama showed no symptoms after the usual incubation period, his spokesman said.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

More Southern Shootings

On April 25, 2009, within minutes of each other, two multiple shootings, apparently issuing from domestic violence situations, left six people dead in Georgia and Florida, in one case including the shooter.


A University of Georgia professor who police suspect in the fatal shootings of his ex-wife and two men outside a theater near campus Saturday disappeared in his Jeep after dropping his children off with a neighbor, authorities said.

A nationwide manhunt was on for 57-year-old George Zinkhan, whom neighbors and others described as a quiet, introverted and respected marketing professor at the university in Athens, Georgia.

Members of a local theater group had gathered midday at the Athens Community Theater when Zinkhan left his children in his car and fired at them, said Athens-Clarke County Police Capt. Clarence Holeman. Killed were Zinkhan's ex-wife Marie Bruce, 47, Tom Tanner, 40, and Ben Teague, 63, Holeman said. Two others were injured by flying shrapnel.

SWAT members swarmed Zinkhan's neighborhood about seven miles from campus, and authorities searched his university office but came up empty. It didn't appear he had used his credit cards or ATM card, police said.

"We're doing everything we can to shut him down," Holeman said. "I believe he will turn up somewhere, somehow."

Zinkhan has been a professor in the Terry College of Business and had no disciplinary problems, university spokesman Pete Konenkamp said. He has taught at the school since the 1990s.

"His track record is impeccable as far as his teaching credentials," Konenkamp said. "He's a respected professor on campus."

The three victims were all involved with the Town & Gown Players Inc., a group that had planned an evening performance of "Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure" at the theater. The show was canceled after the shooting.

Tanner was set to be Dr. John Watson in the play, and Teague described himself on a Web site that bears his name as "a confirmed theater bum" for the local group. Bruce, a family law attorney her friends described as a well-respected, had for years volunteered as a set designer and director for the group.

Zinkhan had argued with at least one of the victims prior to the shooting, Holeman said. After walking away, he returned with the guns and opened fire. Police said they received a call about 12:25 p.m.

Zinkhan then drove his young son and daughter to a next-door neighbor's home in Bogart and dropped them off, only saying he needed them to watch them for about an hour because of an emergency.

Neighbor Robert Covington said when he asked Zinkhan's daughter, who is about 10 years old, about the emergency "all she would relate to me was there was something about a firecracker." The children were with police, and Covington said his neighborhood for awhile was "police central." Covington described Zinkhan and Bruce as still living together in the house.

Athens-Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson said the three victims were shot multiple times. Two different guns were involved, and neither was recovered at the scene, nor at Zinkhan's two-story colonial in the tidy middle-class suburb of Athens, Holeman said.

Authorities issued a nationwide alert for Zinkhan and his 2005 red Jeep Liberty. Zinkhan also has a house in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and authorities were keeping a lookout at airports. Also, police in Austin, Texas, have been alerted since Zinkhan has family there.

"Anyone who shoots three people is dangerous, that's the best way I can put it," Holeman said.

Shortly after the shooting, the university issued a campus-wide alert as a precaution.

"Our first thoughts are for safety of the university community and for prompt apprehension of the person responsible," university President Michael F. Adams said in a statement.

Zinkhan was quiet and introverted, Covington said, but he never suspected something like the shootings.

"It's a pretty huge shock," Covington said.

Dana Adams, who lives across the street, said police looking for Zinkhan had hidden in her backyard. She didn't know the professor that well, but described him as "kind of a strange character," who would sometimes walk off in the middle of a conversation. "But I would never suspect this."

Bruce, Zinkhan's ex-wife, loved the theater and recently directed a production of "Trip to Bountiful," said Wesley Cook who knew Bruce through the theater company, where Cook's girlfriend performs.

"She was very lively and charming and was an integral part of that theater community," Clark said.

Bruce graduated from the University of Georgia's law school and specialized in family law. She moved to Athens in 1980 from Augusta, where she performed in school and church shows, according to a 2002 profile of her in the Athens Banner-Herald. She taught high school and college before law school.

Athens attorney Ed Tolley said he and Bruce worked on cases together and knew her well.

"She was a wonderful person," Tolley said, "Red-headed, very attractive, very professional, and a wonderful mother."

He said when he heard one of the victims was a lawyer whose husband was a professor, he feared it was Bruce.

"My heart breaks for the children," he said.

Teague wrote on his site: "For over 17 years I've spent most of my weekends (and a lot of evenings) working with a community theater company here in Athens."

Teague, who was married to a longtime University of Georgia professor, also said he had worked providing German to English translation services to business, industry, government and the law since 1972. He said he grew up in East Tennessee and lived in Texas for several years and moved to Athens in 1977.

Before joining the faculty at the University of Georgia, Zinkhan held academic positions at the universities of Houston and Pittsburgh. He has a doctorate from the University of Michigan and graduated from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania in 1974.

Tom Reichert, a professor at the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, knew Zinkhan from around the campus.

"This is a total shock," Reichert said. "I wouldn't say he was particularly vivacious or particularly quiet. He was right down the middle."


About 35 minutes later,,,

A man accused of beating his wife killed two north Florida sheriff's deputies who caught up with him at a shooting range, then fled across the county line, where he died in an exchange of gunfire with deputies, authorities said.

It happened around 1 p.m. Saturday when the two Okaloosa County deputies went to Shoal River Sporting Clays and Shooting Center in response to a domestic violence call, sheriff's officials said.

Deputies Burt Lopez and Deputy Warren "Skip" York were pronounced dead after being airlifted to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, about 45 miles away, the sheriff's office said. Officials identified their killer as Joshua Cartwright, 28, of Fort Walton Beach.

Authorities said Cartwright, a U.S. Army Reserve soldier, shot both deputies and took off toward neighboring Walton County, where Walton County deputies killed him after an exchange of gunfire at a roadblock.

"It must have been like 30 or 40 shots," witness Mark Illich told The Northwest Florida Daily News.

Illich said he saw one officer putting down spikes at the intersection and knew "something's about to happen."

Then, "(Cartwright's) truck, he started coming. And we saw him, and he seemed calm as a cucumber," Illich said.

Cartwright veered around the spike strip, and an officer opened fire at the back of his truck, Illich said.

The incident began shortly after 10 a.m. when the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center notified the sheriff's office that Cartwright's wife said she had been beaten by her husband, according to a timeline released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the sheriff's office.

The two deputies found Cartwright at the shooting range and began trying to arrest him shortly before 1 p.m., but they reported that he was refusing to cooperate.

At 12:51 p.m. dispatchers received a call that an officer had been hit and began their search for Cartwright, who had left the shooting range in his truck.

Deputies shot and killed Cartwright around 1:10 p.m.

Cartwright had been arrested in November on a charge of domestic battery against his wife, Elizabeth Marie Cartwright, 21. That charge was still pending.

According the sheriff's office incident report, the couple had argued in a store parking lot. Cartwright told deputies that "things got out of hand when he heard enough of her shouting at him," and that he pushed her in the face with his open hand.

The Daily News reported that Cartwright had worked as a bouncer at a Fort Walton Beach bar. The sheriff's office said Cartwright also served in the U.S. Army Reserves and the 2008 arrest report listed the Army Reserves as his employer.

Lopez and York were wearing bulletproof vests, said Michele Nicholson, spokeswoman for the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office.

"We're experiencing a range of emotions, from heartache and disbelief to numbness, that these men were taken from our agency, their family and friends, and their communities," Nicholson said. "Our focus right now is to take care of their loved ones, and each other, and continue to serve the public, as we work through this latest devastating event."

The slain deputies, both 45, were retired from the U.S. Air Force, Nicholson said. Lopez had five children and York had a 10-year-old son, according to the Daily News.

It was the latest in a series of traumatic episodes for the department.

Another Okaloosa County sheriff's deputy was shot and killed in July following a standoff with a man who had barricaded himself inside a home.

Gov. Charlie Crist suspended Okaloosa County Sheriff Charles Morris in February 2009, after he was arrested by FBI agents while on a gambling trip to Las Vegas.

Morris and his former office manager, Teresa Adams, were indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday, April 23, on theft, money laundering and conspiracy charges. Prosecutors allege Morris and Adams created fictitious bonuses for sheriff's department employees then pocketed some of the money.

Lafayette in America

Come view the "Fayette Factor" up close:

WHAT: Lafayette in America book event with Alan R. Hoffman, Translator and Author
WHEN: Tuesday, April 28, 2009, from 12:00pm - 1:00pm
WHERE: Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress Street, Portland, Maine

COST: This event is free and open to the public.

FMI: For more information call (207) 774-1822 or e-mail info[at]

According to the MHS:

Explore General Lafayette's 1824-1825 Farewell Tour of the United States, including his visits to Kennebunk, Saco, and Portland, Maine.

Translated from the journal kept by Auguste Levasseur, Private Secretary to General Lafayette, this rich new book describes the adoring welcome the 67-year-old hero of the American Revolution and apostle of liberty received from the American people.

With its panoramic view of the young country - its burgeoning cities and towns, its technological innovations like the Erie Canal, and its industrious people - Levasseur captures America on the cusp of its jubilee year. Hoffman will share this story and chronicle Lafayette's affectionate visits with his old friends John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams.

Kermit scarf

See you there.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Great Recession: Celebrity Suicides

Needless to say, over the winter, a subtle media-driven "the-economy-is-to-blame" thread became apparent in the stories about the rash of murder-suicide incidents.

Additionally, there is a growing list of "celebrity suicides" of wealthy and well-connected individuals who have allegedly died by their own hand. Here are the ones that appear to be on that exclusive tally, to date.

April 22, 2009 - David Kellermann, 41, the acting chief financial officer of Freddie Mac, died by hanging. See more details, here.

January 5, 2009 - Steven L. Good, 52, Chairman and Chief Executive of Sheldon Good & Co., a leading US real estate auction firm, was found with a gunshot to the head, behind the wheel of his red Jaguar. The car was in a parking lot in the McGraw Wildlife Refuge near East Dundee, Kane County, outside of Chicago. No suicide note was found with the body, but authorities felt it was suicide.

Good, who was Chairman of the US Realtors' Commercial Alliance Committee, had a long-standing business relationship with Donald Trump. Good's father founded the real estate company in 1965. The firm "has sold more than 45,000 U.S. and international properties in more than 100 different classes and produced more than $10 billion in sales.”

January 5, 2009 - Adolf Merckle, 71, the billionaire investor, businessman, and one of the richest people in Germany lost a fortune shorting Volkswagen. He died by throwing himself in front of a train near his hometown of Blaubeuren. He developed his Bohemian grandfather's chemical wholesale company into Germany's largest pharmaceutical wholesaler, Phoenix Pharmahandel. The explanation for his death centered on reports that his cement company HeidelbergCement was unable to make payments on a huge loan taken out to purchase an English competitor.

December 23, 2008 - René-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, 67, a French nobleman, money manager, and businessman, and one of the founders of Access International Advisors (AIA Group), had funneled $1.4 billion of his clients' money into the fund run by Bernie Madoff.

De la Villehuchet was found dead in his company office on Madison Avenue in New York City. His left wrist was slit and de la Villehuchet had taken sleeping pills, in what appeared to be a suicide. Although no suicide note was found at the scene, his brother in France received a note shortly after his death in which he expressed remorse and a feeling of responsibility.

From its inception, Access International’s headquarters were in Suite 2206 of 509 Madison Avenue, the same office where Mr. Villehuchet killed himself.

Access International had connections to wealthy and powerful aristocrats from Europe. Its funds enlisted intermediaries with links to the cream of Europe's high society to garner clients. It had invested a reported US$1.4 billion with the disgraced investor and fund manager Bernard Madoff. De la Villehuchet had also invested his personal money with Madoff's business.

According to The New York Times, de la Villehuchet's older brother Bertrand said that René-Thierry was connected to Madoff by René-Thierry's partner in AIA, Patrick Littaye, another French banker, and that René-Thierry had not known Madoff personally.

Over the last 20 years, de la Villehuchet was renovating and organizing the archives of Le Château de Plouër (a private property) in Plouër-sur-Rance, Brittany, which he'd inherited from an uncle, and was nearly finished with the endeavor at the time of his death.

December 17, 2008 - Christen Schnor, 49, a Danish-born senior executive with HSBC bank, was discovered hanging by a belt, naked, in the wardrobe of his £500-a-night suite at the Jumeriah Carlton Tower Hotel, Cadogan Place, in Knightsbridge, London, having also rented a £390-a-day apartment for his wife and two children in Lower Sloane Street, in the same upper-class area. Schnor worked at HSBC’s Canary Wharf office. (According to Above Top Secret, his death resembles that of Amschel Rothschild who was discovered hanging in a high-class hotel in Paris on 11th July 1996.)

December 5, 2008 - Alex Widmer, 52, Chief Executive of Bank Julius Baer, Zürich, died by suicide. A bank spokesman carefully pointed out that there was no link between Widmer’s death and the group’s "current" activities, but declined to give further details on the cause of Widmer’s death, saying it was a "private matter."

November 17, 2008 - Paulo Sergio Silva, 36, a trader for the brokerage arm of Brazilian banking giant Itau, shot himself in the chest during the afternoon trading session of Sao Paulo, Brazil's commodities and futures exchange in an apparent suicide attempt. He shot himself in the open outcry pit. Hospital staff said he was in critical condition.

November 15, 2008 - Rajendra Gupta, in his late 30s, a Gurgaon beverage dealer, apparently staggering under the weight of stock losses, hanged himself from the ceiling with his wife’s sari, after leaving behind a note donating his eyes. In his suicide note, Gupta, father of two kids, said he was unable to bear the huge losses following the crash.

October 25, 2008 - An unnamed 47-year-old man from Gwangju who suffered serious depression after huge losses on the stock market, died by suicide. He invested 370 million won after taking out a mortgage on his house and using his life insurance as security for the loan two years ago, but the recent financial recession resulted in him losing about 60 percent of his total investment.

"When the nation's stock market index fell below 1,000 [earlier in October], he stopped eating and went on a drinking binge for days and finally decided to kill himself,'' his wife was quoted as saying to police.

October 22, 2008 - An unnamed 42-year-old branch manager of an insurance company was found dead in an apparent suicide on a mountain in Gongju, South Chungcheong Province, South Korea. Police believe that he killed himself due to concerns over losses his firm recorded with various insurance products.

October 9, 2008 - An unnamed 32-year-old employee from a security firm was found hanging at an inn in Seoul, South Korea, which police claimed was related to the stock market crash.

September 25, 2008 - Kirk Stephenson, a London investment-fund executive, ate breakfast with his wife and eight-year-old son, then drove to a train station about 30 miles from his Chelsea home. As an express train approached, Stephenson stepped onto the tracks, according to British Transport Police. The driver applied emergency brakes but couldn't stop in time. Stephenson, 47 years old, died at the scene.

May 23, 2008 - Barry Fox, a Bear Stearns executive, took a drug overdose and then leapt to his death from the 29th floor of his Fort Lee, New Jersey, office. He was a research supervisor who worked for nine years at Bear Stearns. He jumped after he learned he wouldn't be hired by JP Morgan Chase, which was about to buy his firm. A coroner confirmed in an autopsy report that the death was a suicide.

Fox was devastated by the implosion of Bear Stearns and the financial hit he was likely to face, says Fred Philippi, his longtime companion. After several personal setbacks, "this Bear Stearns thing happened to be the last straw that broke his spirit," Philippi said in an interview.

Interestingly, some media also are including the following individual as noteworthy as a "stock market crash"-related suicide, even though this death occurred 7 years ago.

January 25, 2002 - J. Clifford Baxter, 43, was a former Enron Corporation executive who resigned in May 2001. He sold a large quantity of Enron stock during the months prior to Enron bankruptcy. Reportedly, Baxter clashed with CEO Jeffrey Skilling over questionable Enron business practices. Before his death, he had agreed to testify before Congress in the Enron case.

Baxter was found dead in his black Mercedes-Benz S500 in Sugar Land, Texas, with a gunshot wound through the right side of his head. The ammunition used was a "Glaser Safety Slug," which at the time was misreported as rat-shot. A revolver was found in his car and a suicide note was found in his wife's car at their home. An autopsy was performed by the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office and the death was ruled a suicide. His suicide note was hand printed, though not signed, for his wife Carol. The letter expressed Baxter's despair over the direction his life had taken.

Hauntingly, Baxter was born in Amityville, New York.

The idea of Wall Street financiers leaping to their deaths during the stock-market crash of 1929 is largely myth, but it is myth rooted in a shred of truth: A handful of brokers did choose to end their lives through such extreme measures. ~ MarketWatch, April 22, 2009.

For more about how the media are discussing the "1929 Stock Market Crash" folklore about stockbroker suicides, see here and here.

The "W.C. Varones Blog" has a list of 92 deaths (some suicides) of mostly non-celebrities, related to mortgages and foreclosures. Above Top Secret also list both suicides and possible murders here.

What I am attempting to do is first track the more high-profile "celebrity suicides" that appear to be getting some attention in the American and international media.

Freddie Mac Chief Dies By Suicide

Has there been another "Great Recession" suicide, the kind of newsmaker that the media has been waiting to elevate to "celebrity death" status?

Update: ABC News Alerts is sending this out as an online bulletin. Breaking News from Freddie Mac CFO Found Hanging in His Basement, Law Enforcement Officials Tell ABC News [9:37 a.m. ET].

The media is building this into a lead story for the day. As I have written, flashing out the graphic details of the method of the suicide, especially in headline or bulletin form, as seen here above from ABC (and now others?) ties into research indicating behavior contagion follows.

Earlier reports were as follows:

David Kellermann, acting chief financial officer of Freddie Mac, died by suicide in his Hunter Mill Estates home on Wednesday morning, April 23, 2009, according to WTOP.

Fairfax County Police spokeswoman Mary Anne Jennings tells WTOP that Kellermann, 41, police responded to the home after family members called police around 5 a.m.

Police were called at 4:48 a.m. EDT to Reston, Virginia, spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell told Reuters.

"We were called from inside the house to come investigate an apparent suicide," Jennings says.

"We're not going to give you details of the condition of the body, except to say it was an apparent suicide."

Because of legal ramifications, Jennings says she can't describe the nature of the suicide. A medical examiner will make the final determination that the death was a suicide.

Police on the scene tell WTOP that Kellermann's body was found downstairs, but would not say exactly where.

The Kellermann home, which has two floors above ground and a three-car garage, sits on the corner of Raleigh Hill Road and Brittenford Drive in picturesque Hunter Mill Estates, a neighborhood of single-family homes outside of Vienna, just over the border from Reston. According to Fairfax County tax records, Kellermann's home is assessed at $898,440.

Neighbors driving by the scene tell WTOP they are surprised to hear about Kellermann's suicide. He has been with Freddie Mac for more than 16 years.

He was named acting chief financial officer in September 2008, taking over after Anthony "Buddy" Piszel resigned. Freddie Mac's CEO David Moffett resigned last month.

Government-controlled Freddie Mac, based in McLean, has been criticized heavily for reckless business practices. Some say those practices contributed to the nation's housing and financial crisis. Freddic Mac owns or guarantees about 13 million home loans.

As CFO, Kellermann was responsible for the company's financial controls, financial reporting and oversight of the company's budget and financial planning.

Freddie Mac has declined to comment on Kellermann's death.

Will copycats follow?

Who is on the comprehensive list of individuals who have died by suicide during this economical downturn?

The time for research on this issue is now.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

420 Again

What does "420" mean? April 20th? Or something deeper?

I first wrote and posted this on April 20, 2007. It seems appropriate to reprint it on the 10th anniversary of the Columbine tradegy.

High school student Jeff Weise, an Ojibwa, killed ten, including himself, at the Red Lake Ojibwa Reservation in Minnesota, on March 21, 2005. A great admirer of Columbine, it was discovered that Weise left references to Columbine throughout his online presence. For example, he employed a username, which translated to "Abandoned 420."

Columbine and 420

Obviously, one meaning of "420" is directly linked to the Columbine date, as "4/20" is April 20, the anniversary of the Littleton, Colorado shootings. This date is also Adolf Hitler's birthday. The Columbine shooters, Klebold and Harris were extremely conscious that it was Hitler's birthdate, and often spoke German to each other, while walking around in long black trench coats, videotaping themselves.

Copycat Weise left messages on such sites as Weise wore a dark trench coat to school all year round, and had a swastika fascination, a symbol used by both First Nations people and Nazis. In one of Weise's online profiles, he noted that two of his favorite movies were Elephant and Zero Day, based on the events of the Columbine High School massacre.

Jeff Weise virtually haunted the Neo-Nazi Internet forum of the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party under the aliases NativeNazi and Todesengel (German for "Angel of Death"). He admired Hitler, his posts revealed. Weise also alleged online that his school was warned in 2004 that someone was going to "shoot up" the school on April 20, the birthday of Adolf Hitler and the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, and that the school authorities "pinned" the threat on him.

But Weise sometimes would sound almost typical. For example, on one of his user info pages, he said he was "nothin' but your average Native American stoner" and mentioned that he used marijuana. After Columbine, one oft-repeated story circulated that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were upset by an unfounded accusation made by an anonymous classmate that the two had brought marijuana to school, prompting a search of their property. Harris and Klebold were said to have found the incident humiliating.

The Other Meaning of 420

The use of "420" for almost four decades is related to the use of marijuana.

4:20 or 4/20 (pronounced four-twenty) is a term used in North America as a discreet way to refer to cannabis and, by extension, a way to identify oneself with cannabis culture. Phrases such as "420 friendly" sometimes appear in roommate advertisements, indicating that the current occupants are tolerant of cannabis users.

It is widely accepted that in 1971, a group of teenagers at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, California, calling themselves The Waldos, used to meet every day after school at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana at the Louis Pasteur statue. The term became part of their group's salute, "420 Louis," and it eventually caught on more widely. Many cannabis users continue to observe 4:20 as a time to smoke communally. By extension April 20 ("4/20" in U.S. dating shorthand) has evolved into a counterculture holiday, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis.
Source: Wikipedia

It was the research of Steven Hager, editor of High Times, who found the term 420 originated at San Rafael High School in 1971, among the Waldos. A quote from one of the Waldos in the article notes, "We did discover we could talk about getting high in front of our parents without them knowing by using the phrase 420."

Adolf Hitler, marijuana, Columbine: For copycats, 420 appears to have served as a reflective mirror. For the rest of us, 420 may reflect a dangerous combination that has resulted in terrible memories that now reach beyond the mere date of April 20th.

2009 Update:

Todd Campbell's blog adds an interesting new footnote to the "420" decoding research.

It appears in the H. P. Lovecraft short story, "In the Walls of Eryx" (1939), one of the characters smokes a strangely familiar plant, experiences some visual sensations, and then he "looked at [his] watch and was astonished to find that the time was only 4:20. "

While the origins of the time of 4:20 is tied, allegedly, to when detention students were released at San Rafael High, and then the Waldos would meet and smoke, could one of the well-read students have been aware of Lovecraft's story too?

P. S. - Please give me the intellectual respect to understand this is not an anti-drug message, but one about awareness of the twilight language behind code words like "420" in one shooter's message. To think this is as an anti-marijuana blog is as illogical as thinking I am going to let myself get involved in the quicksand of a pro-gun-control vs pro-gun debate. Blaming drugs, guns, video games, and the long list of candidates seems to ignore what's happening in the imprinted mind of the suicidal potential school shooter.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Killers Pick Special Dates

The Canadian media continue their balanced and insightful approach to examining various factors in multiple homicidal-suicidal events.

School Shootings
Killers often pick special dates for their attack

They 'compete' for high body count, expert says

Apr 17, 2009 04:30 AM

by Trish Crawford, Toronto Star

This year, April 20 – Hitler's birthday – will mark the 10th anniversary of the Columbine school killings.

And, psychiatric social worker Loren Coleman is worried, because mass killers often choose special dates and anniversaries for their carnage. The killers at Columbine did, by picking the birthday of one of history's monsters.

The author of The Copycat Effect (Simon & Schuster) says the amount of attention this anniversary gets may determine whether any other disaffected males bent on vengeance pick April 20 for their act of destruction.

"Anniversaries can be dangerous," Coleman says. "These individuals compete with each other."

From the 14 deaths at Montreal's 1989 École Polytechnique to Columbine's 1999 death toll of 13 and Virginia Tech's all-time record of 32 deaths, the numbers of fatalities climb as shooters learn from each other, says Coleman, a former university professor and senior researcher at the Muskie School of Public Service in Maine.

Creating a high body count is the goal of these killers, he points out.

Chaining doors to prevent escape or rescue, carrying large amounts of back up ammunition and bringing ties and ropes to restrain victims are all refinements added over time as publicity over school killings reaches angry, disenfranchised males, Coleman says.

In the wake of the recent rampage in Winnenden, Germany, which saw a former student return to his school and kill 12 people there, Coleman called schools "a fish bowl setting with a vulnerable population."

Even people with no connection to a school, such as Pennsylvannia truck driver Charles Roberts, who killed five Amish school girls in October 2006, have picked a school as a site of easy victims. The week before, six female students had been taken hostage and one was killed in Colorado by a 54-year-old man who had chained the front doors shut. Roberts used that trick, too, Coleman says.

The killers are uniformly "homicidal, suicidal, sexually dysfunctional males" who feel powerless and blame others for their problems. Attacking school students – young girls are favoured targets – makes these people feel powerful and strong, Coleman says.

Eleven of the 12 school victims in the attack in Germany last month were females students and teachers.

Read more here.

Publicity may have contributed to the increase in school shootings in the past two decades.

Dec. 6, 1989 –14 women at Montreal's École Polytechnique killed with a semi-automatic rifle by Marc Lepine, 25.

March 13, 1996 – 16 children and their teacher killed by a 43-year-old avid gun collector in Dunblane, Scotland, after telephone lines cut.

April 20, 1999 –12 killed and 24 wounded at Columbine High School, in Colorado, on Hitler's birthday by two heavily armed, trenchcoated students, 17 and 18.

Sept. 1, 2004 – 333 hostages die in explosions after Chechen militants take over a school in Beslan, Russia.

Oct. 2, 2006 – 5 Amish girls killed and others injured in one-room Pennsylvania school by 32-year-old husband and father who kills self.

April 16, 2007 – 32 people killed in two separate attacks at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University by gunman who sent photos to TV station.

Sept. 23, 2008 – 10 people die in Finland's second school shooting that year, as a masked student rampages following YouTube warning.

March 11, 2009 – 15 people are killed in a school shoot-up and car chase in Winnenden, Germany, by a 17-year-old former high school student.

Source: Toronto Star, Toronto Star Library.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Marketing Columbine and VA Tech

Two years ago, NBC News got a package in the mail from the VA Tech killer, Seung-Hui Cho, a South Korean immigrant. The impact of that style of "self-marketing" of mass killings lives on today.

We saw it as recently as the self-marketing of 2009's Birmingham killer in his alleged letter to TV channel NY1. The letter, in broken English was from Jiverly Wong, an ethnically Chinese immigrant, who was born in Vietnam. It was mailed, along with his driver's license, his gun permit, and several photos of himself, to News 10 Now in Syracuse, New York. The envelope was twilight languaged in how it was mailed by using three specific stamps: two Purple Hearts and a Liberty Bell. It was sent hours before Wong walked into the American Civic Association and opened fire in one of the worst massacres in the state's history, (13 killed + his own suicide).

Wong copycatted other recent mass killers, such as the Bailey, Colorado & Amish schoolhouse (2006) killers and Seung-Hui Cho (2007) in blockading the doors.

Columbine is the primary model for copycatting, and it was confirmed to be part of the mental process of the VA Tech shooter.

NBC's and MSNBC's unfolding of this story demonstrates they have rather wholehearted published the VA Tech shooter's photos, some of his words, and his video. The way they teased the public (e.g. "Turn in at 6:30 to see the exclusive video"; "See different photographs on MSNBC following NBC Nightly News"; "There will be more revealed on The Today Show in the morning") was so obviously a draw for higher rating. It was about the bottomline, when news becomes entertainment, a grab for more ad revenue. Death sells. If it bleeds, it leads.

How can we not expect it to be the same on the 10th anniversary of Columbine. The "expert" interviews have been coming hot and heavy.

This is exactly the level of glorification of school killers that I have recommended against for several years now, and brought to together in my book.

The Columbine killers, I was not surprised to hear, were noted in the VA Tech shooter's materials. Cho Seung-hui called Columbine's Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold "martyrs." Harris and Klebold live on in their videos and got them broadcast; why won't the VA Tech shooter wish to get his images shown to the world too. NBC fell right into his master plan.

Of course, not acknowledged by the graphic wall-to-wall cable networks is what a central role they have in triggering copycats. On "Hardball," on April 18, 2007, Chris Matthews made an under-informed remark about the "copycat effect." Matthews challenged the notion of the copycat effect by saying aloud that there had not been any copycats of Columbine since Columbine. He said that it was odd that there had been a skipping of the eight years since Columbine, saying VA Tech was unique apparently, as if his facts were correct.

What Matthews and others could find if they looked is that there is a clear history of Columbine copycats. This trickle down through the years, with some of the most concrete elements of direct links and copycatting to be found between Columbine, Santee Red Lake, Dawson College, and VA Tech.

Just read about the direct copycats that happened immediately after Columbine:

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, killed one teacher and 12 students and wounded 23 others at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Focusing their attack on the cafeteria, Harris and Klebold spoke German and worn trench coats, as they reenacted scenes from Matrix and The Basketball Diaries in the nation's deadliest school shooting. They had plotted for a year to kill at least 500 and blow up their school. At the end of their hour-long rampage, they turned their guns on themselves. Harris and Klebold appeared to have deliberately chosen the anniversary date of Hitler’s Birthday for their attack. At one point, Harris and Klebold had considered the highly important date of April 19, too – the anniversary of Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing – but transportation problems forced a delay in their plans. They finally carried out their attack on the 20th – speaking German and “honoring” Hitler. (They had also discussed that after the attack, they would hijack a jetliner, fly it from Colorado, and crash it into Manhattan. This was two years before the terror of 2001.)

In the wake of the shootings in Littleton, the nation’s schools were under attack by copycats. Some 400 related incidents were reported in the month following the killings. “Across the nation after the 1999 Columbine tragedy,” noted Court TV’s Katherine Ramsland, “other kids called in bomb threats, wore trench coats to school, or used the Internet to praise what Klebold and Harris had done. Only ten days later, on April 30, people feared the eruption of some major event because that day marked Hitler’s suicide in 1945. Schools in Arizona, New Jersey, Michigan, North Carolina, and DC closed to investigate potential threats. It wasn't Paducah, or Jonesboro, or Springfield that they wanted to imitate; the mantra was ‘Columbine.’”

One week after Columbine, on April 28, 1999, one student, Jason Lang, 17, was killed, and one wounded at W. R. Myers High School in Taber, Alberta, Canada. This was the first fatal high school shooting in Canada in 20 years. The shooter was a 14-year-old boy. Exactly a month after Columbine, on May 20, 1999, at Conyers, Georgia, six students were injured at Heritage High School when classmate Thomas Solomon, 15, opened fire. No one died. Witnesses reported that Solomon placed the revolver in his mouth as if to shoot himself, but he did not pull the trigger.

On November 19, 1999, Victor Cordova Jr., 12, shot and killed Araceli Tena, 13, in the lobby of Deming Middle School in Deming, New Mexico. At Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, on December 6, 1999, four students were wounded as Seth Trickey, 13, opened fire with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun at Fort Gibson Middle School.The Copycat Effect, pages 175-176

But for MSNBC's Chris Matthews and others who have so quickly forgotten what they have talked about on their own shows in the recent past, there are other shooters who have joined the cult of Columbine before they have untaken their shootings.

The Santana High School, Santee, California, was the site of a school shooting on March 5, 2001, when fifteen-year old student Charles Andrew Williams opened fire with a pistol, killing two fellow students, and wounding 15 others. Williams told friends he was going to "pull a Columbine."

Let's not forget that Columbine happened on Hitler's birthday. On April 26, 2002, on Rudolf Hess's birthday, Robert Steinhäuser, killed 16 people plus himself at his Erfurt, Germany high school. He had files on his computer, which contained information about the Columbine Massacre. Steinhäuser had outdone the Columbine total (which may have been one of his goals).

Jeff Weise, at the Red Lake Chippewa Reservation in Minnesota, a Native youth who identified more with the Columbine shooters than his own people, picked Monday, March 21, 2005, to kill his grandfather (whom he lived with), his grandfather's girlfriend, and then went to the high school to kill seven. He turned the gun on himself, dying by suicide. The death toll was ten. He used a .22 handgun, 9mm Glock 17, and had a shotgun. Weise would reference Columbine over the internet, with the username which translated to "Abandoned 420." In an incident mirroring what took place during the Columbine shootings, one eyewitness said that Weise asked a victim if he believed in God before shooting him.

Forgotten today is that many near-Columbines were discovered in 2005 (the same year, reportedly, that Cho Seung-hui's contacts with mental health and law enforcement reached its first peak). According to Canada's National Post on March 18, 2005, New Brunswick's Saint John and Harbourview high schools were disturbed to discover three teenage boys, aged 15 to 17, had in mind a well-planned massacre for April 20 (Columbine High School massacre's anniversary date, of course). Other Columbine-like plots were also discovered in March 2005 in Colorado and California. During mid-March 2005, news reports furthermore told of Utah's Uintah High School where four students had a serious plot to carry out a Columbine-like raid, and of a Oregon, Illinois, school, where two 15-year-old sophomores and one 14-year-old freshman who exploded two homemade bombs nearby.

James Scott Newman, a 14-year-old boy opened fire, injuring two students at a Reno middle school on March 14, 2006. Newman planned the shooting for a week by "Research[ing] the Columbine High School shooting on the Internet, and this further inspired him to do the shooting," reported law enforcement investigators.

On August 29, 2006, in Hillsborough, North Carolina, one was dead (father of teenage shooter) and two wounded (two students) at the Orange High School. After killing his father at home, the shooter showed up in a trench coat, with guns, pipe bombs, in a copycat of Columbine. Asked by police why he went to Orange High School, Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 19, responded: "Columbine. Remember Columbine."

The most obvious recent copycat event that closely serves as a bridge between Columbine and VA Tech, which Chris Matthews should have hardly forgotten, is the Dawson College campus shooting of September 13, 2006, in Montreal, Quebec. Kimveer Gill, the 25-year-old shooter, a self-described atheist Goth Columbine copycat, with an Indian Sikh heritage, wearing a trenchcoat, dark clothing, and a strange looking haircut, came to Dawson College, fully armed. He had with him a Beretta Cx4 Storm carbine, a Glock 9mm handgun, and a Norinco HP9-1 short barreled shotgun. He appeared to target what students call the "Jew Caf" and opened fire, killing Anastasia de Sousa, 18, and wounded 19 other students. Police fired upon him, and then Gill turned the gun on himself. Gill was obsessed by the Columbine massacre. He mentioned online being a fan of several computer games (e.g. Super Columbine Massacre) and movies (e.g. Natural Born Killers, Matrix).

Death sells. If it bleeds, it leads. What was NBC thinking?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Masonic Boston Tea Party

Today is April 15th, and there will be "tea parties" throughout the USA*. Few carrying out these 2009 symbolic acts understand the origins of the Boston Tea Party, which occurred on December 16, 1773. The Masonic background to the Boston Tea Party is part of the twilight history of the nation.

It is commonly believed that the lodge rooms of a Boston Masonic Lodge served as the dressing room for the so-called Indians who threw the Boston Tea Party.

According to The Builders by Joseph Fort Newton, the Boston Tea Party was planned, and executed by Freemasons disguised as Mohawk Indians - not by the Lodge as such, but by a club formed within the Lodge, calling itself the Caucus Pro Bono Publico. Other sources more directly link it to the Lodge meetings at the Green Dragon Tavern**.

Two thousand people stood on Griffin’s Wharf and watched the Boston Tea Party. The crowd was silent as sixty men dumped 342 chests of tea into the salt water. Some of them put lampblack or paint on their faces. Some came wrapped in blankets. They called themselves “Mohawks.” But most of the participants actually were not disguised.

What are some of the names of the famed Masons who were supposedly at that "party" or served as the leaders?

Who was there? Paul Revere, who later went on to be Grand Master of Massachusetts, was thought to be one of those Indians. John Hancock, Thomas Crafts, John Warren, all Masons, are names often heard as planners or participants. Another active group of revolutionary Patriots was the famous Sons of Liberty lead by Sam Adams, who are also said to have been involved.

Benjamin Franklin, a Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania, was in London at the time (and therefore, sitting in the midst of his future enemy). Franklin, choosing his words carefully, as he often did, called the Boston Tea Party “an act of violent injustice.” He also noted, “Though the mischief was the act of persons unknown, yet as probably they cannot be found, or brought to answer for it, there seems to be some reasonable claim on the society at large in which it happened.”

This iconic 1846 lithograph by Nathaniel Currier was entitled The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor, for the phrase "Boston Tea Party" had not yet become standard. Contrary to Currier's depiction, few of the men dumping the tea were actually disguised as American Indians.

There never would have been a Tea Party if the ships could have left before December 17th. Several of the Brothers of the St. Andrews Lodge did their part in trying to turn the tea ships around.

Brother William Molineux acted as spokesman for the Sons of Liberty. He and Brother Joseph Warren led a crowd of 300 from the Liberty Tree to the Customs House to confront the Consignees. Would these tea agents resign and send the tea ships back to England? The Governor’s sons refused and moved to Fort William under military protection. Just three years before Brother Molineux and Brother James Otis (St. John’s Lodge) had led a crowd of a thousand patriots to confront the Governor’s sons who were importing tea and hiding it in a warehouse against the nonimportation agreements. In that tea business, the Hutchinsons surrendered the tea and the money for the tea they had already sold. Brother James Otis was the Mason who gave us the saying “Taxation without representation is Tyranny!”.

Brother John Hancock was the Colonel for the Governor’s Cadet Corps who guarded the tea ships. The night before the Tea Party he was aboard the tea ships inspecting his troops. Both he and Brother Joseph Warren had served as Orators at the Commemoration of those who had died at the Boston Massacre.

Brother John Hancock was the richest merchant in New England. He served as Moderator for a mass Town Meeting of 5,000 who voted to turn the tea ships around. He was a member of the Committee of Selectmen, who were the leading tradesmen of Boston, who met with the Governor and the tea Consignees to try to convince them to let the ships go.

Brother John Rowe was the owner of one of the tea ships, the Eleanor. He was also a Selectman and promised to use his influence with the Governor to return the tea ships and the tea to England. Brothel Rowe was the Grand Master of the St. John’s Grand Lodge of Massachusetts (Moderns). In his diary he called the dumping of the tea “a disastrous affair.”

Brother Edward Cair, Southern Calilornia Research Lodge, Masonic World.

No one ever paid for the tea. Parliament took the tax off tea, but the East India Tea Company was never able to sell tea in America.

No trial of the “Mohawks” ever occurred in Boston or anywhere else. Governor Thomas Hutchinson said that if he held a trial in Boston the members of the jury would turn out to be the “Mohawks” or their friends. After the Boston Tea Party, Governor Hutchinson was replaced by General Gage in April 1774, and some felt Hutchinson had been (in modern jargon) "disappeared." Actually, driven from the country by threats in May 1774, and broken in health and spirit, Hutchinson spent the rest of his life an exile in England, dying in 1780.

Meanwhile, the Boston Tea Party showed the resistance of the Patriots, as carefully planned by Masonic elements. Soon, the American Revolution came, and today, most Americans drink coffee. And, in Boston, Sam Adams beer.

A statute of Sam Adams stands today at Faneuil Hall, Boston.

*The Boston Tea Party Copycat Effect: The Boston Tea Party has often been referenced in other political protests, as for example in the "tea parties" of 2009.

Historically, there have been other examples. When Mohandas K. Gandhi led a mass burning of Indian registration cards in South Africa in 1908, a British newspaper compared the event to the Boston Tea Party. When Gandhi met with the British viceroy in 1930 after the Indian salt protest campaign, Gandhi took some duty-free salt from his shawl and said, with a smile, that the salt was "to remind us of the famous Boston Tea Party."

**Tavern Footnote:
The Green Dragon Tavern was a public house used as a tavern and meeting place located on Union Street in Boston's North End.

It was purchased in 1764 by the St. Andrews Lodge of Freemasons for its 1st floor meeting rooms. The basement tavern was used by several secret groups and became known by historians as the "Headquarters of the Revolution." The Sons of Liberty (headed by Sam Adams), the Boston Committee of Correspondence and the North End Caucus each met there. The Boston Tea Party was planned there and Paul Revere was sent from there to Lexington on his famous ride. In January 1788, a meeting of the mechanics and artisans of Boston passed a series of resolutions urging the importance of adopting the Federal Constitution pending at the time before a convention of delegates from around Massachusetts. The building was demolished in 1854.

The current Green Dragon Tavern is located on 11 Marshall Street in Boston's North End. Its publicity states that it is the "headquarters of the revolution," though its relationship to the demolished original pub is not immediately apparent and perhaps not significantly important. That the symbolism to be found in the name is carried on is perhaps the meaning in the message here.

Boston Tea Party Historical Society; Boston Tea Party-Wikipedia; Masonic Line; Masonic Topics: USA; and Masonic World.


It's Tax Day in America. My best to everyone going through this yearly spring ritual here. If you have an extra $10 left over, please know that amount from you builds to what we need to save the museum. Do remember to...

:-) Thank You.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bainbridge Name Game

The moniker "Bainbridge" is part of a historical Masonic name game that was elevated into the news in 2009.

The USS Bainbridge, which organized the 2009 US Navy rescue of an American ship captain (Captain Richard Phillips) from Somali pirates, was named for Commodore William Bainbridge, who was held prisoner by North African Barbary pirates from 1803 to 1806.

William Bainbridge (May 7, 1774 – July 28, 1833) was a Commodore in the United States Navy and a Congressional Gold Medal winner. He was also a Freemason, initiated into Lodge No. 51, Philadelphia, on June 10, 1810 (according to 10,000 Famous Freemasons from K to Z By William R. Denslow and Harry S. Truman).

In 1800, Bainbridge was sent to carry the tribute which the United States still paid to the dey (local ruler) of Algiers to secure exemption from capture for its merchant ships in the Mediterranean. Upon arrival in the 24-gun USS George Washington, he made the tactical mistake of anchoring in the harbor of Algiers--directly under the guns of the fort. The dey demanded that he ferry the Algerian ambassador and retinue to Constantinople or be blown to bits on the spot. With great disgust, Bainbridge raised the Algerian flag on his masthead and submitted to the embarrassment of serving as the dey's messenger service.

In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson decided that having the United States continue to bribe the pirate Barbary states did not work, and authorized the use of force (just as President Obama did last week). Bainbridge then was called upon to serve against Algiers and Tunis. During this First Barbary War, Bainbridge successfully captured the Moorish warship Mesh-Boha and recaptured the US ship, the Celia.

In command of the USS Philadelphia, when she ran aground on the Tunisian coast on December 29, 1803, Bainbridge was imprisoned until June 3, 1806.

When the War of 1812 broke out between the United Kingdom and the United States, Bainbridge was appointed to command the 44-gun frigate USS Constitution, in succession to Captain Isaac Hull. The Constitution was a very fine ship of 1,533 tons, which had already captured the HMS Guerrière. Under Bainbridge she was sent to cruise in the South Atlantic.

Commodore Bainbridge's tombstone - the obelisk above - at the Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia.

On December 29, 1812 he fell in with the 38-gun HMS Java, a vessel of 1,083 tons, formerly the French frigate Renommée. She was on her way to the East Indies, carrying the newly appointed lieutenant-governor of Bombay. She had a very inexperienced crew, including very few real seamen, and her men had only had one day’s gunnery drill. The United States Navy paid great attention to its gunnery, which the British Navy, misled by its easy victories over the French, had greatly neglected. In these conditions, the fate of the Java was soon sealed. She was cut to pieces and forced to surrender, after suffering heavy losses, and inflicting very little damage to the Constitution, other than removing Constitution's helm with a well-aimed shot.

During the action, Bainbridge was wounded twice, but maintained command throughout; even to replacing the missing helm on the Constitution with the one from the Java before she sank. To this day, the still-commissioned Constitution (anchored in Boston Harbor, near Bunker Hill) sports the helm that Bainbridge salvaged from the Java.

It was after the conclusion of the war with Britain that Bainbridge served against the Barbary pirates in the Second Barbary War.

During the American Revolution, Bainbridge's first command was the schooner USS Retaliation.

And it was US Navy SEALs snipers shooting from the USS Bainbridge - the ship - that brought an end to the hostage situation off the coast of Africa on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009.

That sniper fire is the latest event in a long saga.

In one of the most famous cases, British Adm. Lord Nelson was killed in the Battle of Trafalgar by a French sniper firing from the rigging of a ship in 1805. [The publisher Lewis Masonic released an intriguing book in 1998, Horatio Admiral Lord Nelson: Was He a Freemason? by John Webb. It seems rather clear that Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, KB, was a Mason. Numerous monuments, including Nelson's Column (below) in Trafalgar Square, London, have been created in his memory and his legacy remains highly influential.]

In the era of sailing warships, it was common practice to send marksmen into the rigging to shoot at enemy vessels.

This was one of the early duties of the U.S. Marines and the four-pointed quatrefoil design, on the top of Marine officers caps, reportedly originated as a way for Marine snipers in the rigging overhead to identify their own officers and avoid shooting them.

As another historical footnote, in 1820, Commodore Bainbridge served as second for Commodore Stephen Decatur (a Brother Mason) in the duel that cost Decatur his life. The Decatur name game is a book unto itself.

It is worthy of pointing out that James Shelby Downard's research in King Kill 33 notes that Bain relates to Bane (fatal cause of mischief), and in Scottish legend, the Bain Fairy is a death fairy who is the keeper of the Bain Bridge. King Kill 33 noted the American battleship Bainbridge, which was dedicated by Lyndon Baines Johnson, is a harbinger of death, according to Downard.


The Liberty Sun, a U.S.-flagged cargo ship bound for Mombasa, Kenya, was attacked Tuesday, April 14, 2009, by Somali pirates, according to a NATO source with direct knowledge of the matter. The USS Bainbridge, which was on its way to take the recently rescued merchant ship Captain Richard Phillips to safe harbor, has turned and is on their way to engage the pirates. This according to NBC News, as of April 15, 2009.

Thank You.