More “Rothschild” Conspiracy Mongering in the Labour Party Revealed

From the website of the Hastings & Rye Labour Party:

Below you will find statements supporting the individual candidacy of the shortlisted candidates for the Parliamentary Selection for Hastings & Rye Constituency Labour Party.

Update: 16 January 2018

The Parliamentary Selection Committee decided to remove  Michelle Harris from the shortlist. This was a retrospective decision when new information came to the attention of the committee.

The “new information” relates to Harris’s inability to tell the difference between supporting Palestinian rights and (a) making ill-considered references to the Holocaust in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and (b) promoting David Icke’s memes and posts about “Rothschild Zionism”. Here’s an example of the latter:

It should be noted that this isn’t some young activist who might not know any better – Harris has been a practising barrister since 2000. Her posts appear to have first been noted a few days ago by Marlon Solomon, who has previously made the case that Icke should be regarded a “leading antisemite” rather than as a marginal clown with risible sci-fi ideas about the Queen being a giant lizard from another dimension.

The name “Rothschild” has exercised the imaginations of conspiracy theorists for 200 years (as discussed by Brian Cathcart here), who believe that the family is somehow the key to understanding the nature of banking and the history of the modern state of Israel. The further implication – sometimes admitted, at other times denied – is that the family’s supposed influence reveals a more general point about a secret and unaccountable “Jewish influence”. Icke himself seems to have come up with the formulation “Rothschild Zionism”.

Harris’s 2014 promotion of Icke is just one example of how his conspiracy thinking has infected the political left in the UK – last February I noted the case of a Labour councillor named John Clarke who announced that he was “anti-Rothschild not Antisemitic” after posting a meme on how “the Rothschild family… has been creating almost all of the world’s money at interest for a couple hundred years”. Clarke made no mention of Icke, but I suggested then that his “anti-Rothschild” pose must serve to mainstream Icke’s “Rothschild Zionism” ideas.

I critiqued the basis for “Rothschild” conspiricism both in my post about Clarke and in a post about the US alt-right here. It’s a theory and a pseudo-explanation that appears to be attractive to some on the left and on the right.

Clinical Psychologist Who Wrote Warboys Report Monstered as “Soft Justice Campaigner”

From the Mail Online:

A psychologist said to have recommended the release if the black cab rapist has spent 30 years calling for softer sentences for sex offenders, it has been revealed…

[John Worboys’s] release was signed off by the Parole Board following a report by Dr Jackie Craissati, a renowned clinical psychologist hired by Worboys’ defence team. 

It has now been revealed that Dr Craissati has campaigned for soft justice for sexual predators and paedophiles, who she claims should be ‘treated’ in the community.

At the weekend, the Observer reported that “prison and probation officials have complained that disproportionate weight was given to external advice” by an independent psychologist “hired by Worboys’s defence team”; the same article stated that the psychologist’s “identity is protected by parole board procedures”, but Craissati’s name was apparently leaked to the Daily Express. This prompted Paul Staines’s Guido Fawkes website to dig out some quotes from old media interviews and publications, presented as a list of “gotchas”. Staines’s site is directly referenced in the Mail Online story, which also copies Staines’s “soft justice” formulation.

The url for the Guido Fawkes article indicates that the original plan was to headline with the claim that Craissati has “spent her career” campaigning for “soft justice”, although at some point the headline was softened to just “campaigned”. This seems to be an acknowledgement that the central claim is weak. The supposed “campaign” appears to consist of providing a few media quotes when asked, and the fact that she wrote a book in 1998 called Child Sexual Abusers: A Community Treatment Approach. And these details, as expected, are not presented fairly by Staines.

Staines writes that the book “calls for” community treatment, heavily implying some sort of manifesto. However, although the text notes that as of 1997 “judges were increasingly inclined to ignore recommendations for community treatment”, the book is not a critique of sentencing policy but rather a description and assessment of such treatment as it already exists (in particular, the book focuses on the Challenge Project in southeast London). It may be popular to say that all offenders should simply be locked up forever, but the fact is that a range of professionals are tasked with managing offenders who are not in prison, and as such a book on the subject may be of some use. Thus the book blurb describes itself as of interest to “all professionals involved in the assessment and treatment of sex offenders, predominantly probation, social services and mental health professionals”.

Other quotes highlighted by Staines include Craissati’s observation that “it would seem that – despite under-reporting – a number of convicted sex offenders do not sexually reoffend.” If that is what the evidence indicates, it’s difficult to see why she ought not to say it, and it’s hardly a great surprise. There is also a reference to an interview, in which she stated that

[Media] coverage tends to make child molesters defensive, anxious, withdrawn, unco-operative… It makes my job much more difficult. It makes them go back into themselves when I’ve spent a year trying to get them to take responsibility.”

Staines removes “when I’ve spent a year trying to get them to take responsibility” from her quote, in order to give the impression that she is placing the sensitivities of offenders ahead of the public’s right to know and to express moral censure. In fact, though, she is simply explaining a reality of her job. And observation appears to be the basis for all the handful of quotes assembled by Staines and MailOnline and presented as evidence of a “campaign for soft justice”.

Of course, a clinical perspective on offenders is not the only factor that society needs to take into account when dealing with child sex abuse. Victims deserve justice, and may suffer if they don’t get it; there is the value of deterrence; and while offenders may be patients it must never be forgotten that they are also criminals. The justice system as a whole needs to ask more than just “is this person currently dangerous?”, but there is no reason to suppose that Craissati objects to this. The quotes do not support the thesis that her report on Warboys – the details of which remain unknown – was driven by an ideology of “soft justice”.

It’s also currently unclear how important her Warboys report was anyway. While the Observer article led with the opinion of unnamed “prison and probation officials” as conveyed by Harry Fletcher (former assistant general secretary of NAPO, the probation officers’ union), the very last paragraph has a quote from a Parole Board spokesperson that offers a different perspective:

“The parole board carefully considered a detailed dossier of evidence of nearly 400 pages and heard evidence from nine witnesses, including four psychologists, two probation officers and three members of prison staff… The independent parole board panel took account of all of that evidence. It is simply untrue to say that they were overly influenced by one individual’s evidence.”

UPDATE: As expected, the mood on social media is ugly, with crudely abusive comments about Craissati, exhortations to harassment and at least one user expressing a wish that she should come to harm. Social media has also introduced the distortion that she was “on the parole board”.

Wall of Silence: Exhibition Inspired by Leon Brittan Accuser Coming to Parliament

A news release:

We start 2018 with some fantastic news from our good friends at Southmead Project. Over the last couple of years, the charity has curated the Wall of Silence – a touring exhibition including images, poems and stories from victims and survivors of child abuse. The exhibition has travelled around the country – from City Hall London to the Avon and Somerset Police headquarters – and has played an vital role in raising awareness about child abuse and championing the services that organisations like Southmead Project provides in helping survivors.

The charity has confirmed that the exhibition will now spend a week in the Upper Waiting Hall at the Houses of Parliament, commencing on Monday 16 April…

Southmead’s Mike Pierce previously announced this in December, and he specifically thanked the Labour MP Sarah Champion for her assistance.

I noted the exhibition’s presence at the National Assembly of Wales during 2016. At that time, the exhibition blurb said that it was the inspiration of someone called Carl, who said that he had been “abused by some powerful people”. Although this was somewhat vague, anyone who looked at the Carl’s social media output (since deleted) would very quickly see that he was claiming to have been victimised by VIPs at Westminster, in particular the late Conservative former Home Secretary Leon Brittan.

The Southmead Project’s webpage on the subject used to include a link to a specific “Wall of Silence” website, which explained that

Carl is in recovery from child sexual abuse: his story is one of extreme terror, mental turmoil, heartbreak, sadness and fear. Like many survivors and victims, he wishes to do something positive about the situation – both for himself and others and so he launched RAVSCA (Raising Awareness for Victims & Survivors of Child Abuse) an on-line space where survivors and victims of abuse could share their experiences through photographs, poems, stories and paintings.

This link has since been removed and the website is dead; a RAVSCA Facebook page is also now gone. Google results for RAVSCA bring up old results from 2015 and 2016, the most prominent of which are fundraising pages created by Carl himself (here and here), abandoned having achieved only a percentage of the requested funds. Carl’s original vision was for “a photographic exhibition for National Association for People Abused in Childhood” before Southmead took charge – however, although he raised money on this basis, RAVSCA was never itself registered as a charity and Carl was anonymous and therefore unaccountable.

Does the disappearance of RAVSCA mean that Carl’s story is no longer part of the Wall of Silence, despite the fact that he was the original inspiration for it? If so, there needs to be a proper explanation for this. Carl made shocking allegations against Leon Brittan, and now his project is to be set up in the very location where Brittan worked and made his name as a national public figure. One might have thought this would be a matter of some controversy, especially given that several allegations made against Brittan shortly before his death have failed to be substantiated.

But perhaps we ought not to ask too many questions – when the journalist Sean O’Neill of The Times asked Pierce for more information about it, a third party (Esther Baker, an associate of the Labour MP Jess Phillips) immediately intervened to denounce O’Neill as the “king paedo-protector” and to caution Pierce not to reply.

Some Notes on “The White Pendragons”

From the Washington Post:

An anti-Islamic nationalist wheeled a homemade gallows into central London, led a group of men into a conference hall and attempted to “arrest” the city’s first Muslim mayor as he gave a speech Saturday.

The group failed, and was eventually escorted out by the same police officers they had asked to apprehend Mayor Sadiq Khan. They still managed to delay the speech for 15 minutes as they accused Khan of treachery, tyranny and disrespecting President Trump.

The incident occurred at the Fabian Society New Year Conference at Friends Meeting House in Euston Road.

The disruption was widely reported in the UK, although the “gallows” detail appears to have been mostly overlooked (it was parked around the back, in Taviton Street; images were uploaded to Facebook). The group calls itself “White Pendragons” or “White Pendragon”, and members wear distinctive black t-shirts bearing the image of a dragon. The dragon is very similar to the dragon as depicted on the Welsh flag (the main difference – apart from the image being white rather than red – is with the position of the tail). Some members appear to prefer “Pen Dragon”, presumably to evoke (but not properly translate) the Welsh original “Pen Draig”, meaning “Chief Dragon”.

The dragon logo comes with slogans:

Take Back Control / Rule of Law / Common Law / Lawful Rebellion / Magna Carta 1215 

This is instantly recognisable as “sovereign citizen” or “freeman of the land” type rhetoric: the general idea is that there is something in the law that has been overlooked or suppressed, but which means that the legal system as we know it is largely invalid. The particular form this takes with this group appear to derive from ideas posted online by the British Constitution Group. Thus Sadiq Khan has broken the “real” law, and group members have the legal “common law” authority to arrest him (and from the gallows, perhaps we should infer more than just that). The group has also published a “Pre Action Notice” that it apparently sent to the Queen at Buckingham Palace in October.

Paul Brand of ITV News managed to speak to and film one of the protestors after his ejection from the event. As he Tweeted:

Sadiq Khan’s speech at @thefabians conference interrupted by protest by group called White Pendragon who tell me Fabians are subverting society (link) / They claim they are not a racist group, nor far right. But they told us Sadiq Khan has no right to be Mayor of London, referencing his religion (link) / Asked several times for some clarity on what their objection to the Fabians is. They claim Fabians are subverting the constitution of the UK and one quoted the Magna Carta. Not entirely clear how they think Fabians are doing this. (link) / The man in this clip would appear to be Davey Russell, a leading member of the EDL, who is known for posting his views of Islam on YouTube. (link)

Those “views” have also been expressed by Russell in the form of tearing a page from a copy of the Qur’an and spitting on it. In 2016 he was convicted of running a pirate radio station out of his home in Kent as “DJ Bossmann”; his station, Motiv-8 (var. Motive8) has moved online (for some reason the co.uk url redirects to one in South Africa).

Russell also describes himself as “Sargent at Arms, AKA party whip” of a political party called “England, Takes Back Control (Party)”, which uses the phrases and image associated with “White Pendragon”. Aims include “an expedient inquiry into perjury of oath by those previously elected and those not elected but have sworn oaths, purpose to prosecute Treason”, and the outlawing not just of the Fabian Society, but also the Muslim Brotherhood, Chatham House, Common Purpose, and “additional seditious and or pernicious groups”. On the other hand, though, “no form of political correctness should subvert free speech”.

The leader of the party is Graham Moore, who was formerly with UKIP and then the English Democrats. This time, though, he’s found a position for life, as “Officials or Officers cannot resign as they have sworn an oath which cannot be resigned.” Moore was an English Democrat candidate in the 2015 General Election and the 2016 Tooting by-election, but despite not receiving very much support (in the latter he got fewer votes than the Monster Raving Loony Party) he has more than once been invited to speak on the Kremlin-financed TV station RT.

Another site connected with the group is called “The People’s Bailiffs”, which explains that the t-shirts can be purchased from Adrian Langton of “Patriot Screen Printing”.

But how significant is the group? Media stunts tend to provide massive publicity boosts that that are disproportionate to an individual’s or a group’s influence. However, looking through Facebook pages associated with the group, I found more than a 100 users using the “Pendragon” logo as their avatar before I stopped counting.

Bette Davis’s Daughter and Satanic Panic

Here’s one I missed from October: a Mail Online article by Tom Leonard with “astonishing new allegations” from Bette Davis’s daughter Barbara Hyman, better known as “B.D. Hyman”:

…She says her mother was so possessive that she couldn’t tolerate her marriage — aged just 16 — in 1963 to British film executive, Jeremy Hyman, 13 years her senior.

Unable to persuade her daughter to leave Hyman, the actress apparently placed a ‘demonic’ curse on their family that led to their older son developing bipolar disorder and Bede being diagnosed with ‘terminal’ cancer, which she miraculously survived.

…Even more dramatically, she also relates how one night, at Davis’s Beverly Hills mansion in 1984, she watched her mother go through occult rituals in a ‘last-ditch attempt’ to make Bede ‘run back to her’.

Lying in bed, she says she suddenly felt tremendously scared. As she locked the French doors to the terrace, Davis appeared on the balcony and rattled the doors.

‘She began demonic cackling and I watched her transform into a Satanic figure — a Satanic face, long claws on the ends of her hands as she scraped at the glass,’ Bede said.

This was in fact the second article from Mail Online on the subject – the same ground was covered in March, although in that version Davis’s “long claws” manifested in 1982. The earlier piece was based on videos uploaded by Hyman to YouTube in 2015, and Hyman in fact claimed that “Bette Davis engaged in a Satanic assault against her family” in a 2003 magazine interview. The news hook for the March article was the TV series Feud (currently available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer), in which “B.D.” is depicted as a teenager, while Leonard’s October piece was a response to a new sympathetic memoir of Davis by her former personal assistant Kathryn Sermak.

Hyman notoriously attacked her mother’s reputation in her 1985 memoir My Mother’s Keeper, which was published at a time when Davis was seriously ill. However, as Leonard notes, “there is nothing about witchcraft” in this earlier account. She followed up with Narrow is the Way, which she co-wrote with her husband; this sequel includes an account of her religious conversion that was soon afterwards summarised in The Forerunner, and now available online. Hyman said that she became interested in Christianity through an encounter with a travelling salesman named Serafino Fazio, and that she was subsequently healed of an illness after she saw Pat Robertson miraculously describe her “age, location, and back problem” during an episode of the 700 Club. According to a 1985 report in the Washington Post, much of the the advance for My Mother’s Keeper was donated to Robertson and to her local Assemblies of God church.

Hyman’s ministry is based in Charlottesville, VA, and her 2003 reference to Davis as committing a “Satanic assault” was made in a local magazine called The Hook. The profile has further details:

 When asked how her family came to Charlottesville after a five-year stint in the Bahamas, she says, “Virginia was the last bastion of real fox hunting left in America, and that was what God used to get us here.”

She’s tracking bigger prey now. Rooting out satanic infiltration of contemporary culture, B.D. Hyman warns in her 2002 book, The Rapture, The Tribulation And Beyond, that babies are sacrificed on Halloween; Harry Potter indoctrinates children into the occult; and the Antichrist is promoting his agenda of homosexuality. Aggressively.

As for the coming time of tribulation, B.D. Hyman writes: “People will pray for death but not die. There is no repentance for those who receive the mark of the beast… [just] eternal condemnation and torment in the lake of fire.”

Hyman also told The Hook that she has “hundreds” of ministry partners; one supporter provided a testimony of healing for the article, and Hyman further claimed that some partners have been cured of Aids.

Hyman’s father was Bette Davis’s third husband, William Grant Sherry, who married her nanny Marion Richards two days after being divorced by Davis. Hyman told the Washington Post that Davis had told her that her father had run off with Richards, when in fact Davis had thrown him over for her next husband, Gary Merrill. Time magazine quoted Sherry as describing his new – rather younger – wife as a “very spiritually impressive girl”. Details about Sherry’s later life are scarce, although according to Hyman’s website he became an “elder” in a “cult”, which he in due course left following “intercessory prayer”. He died in 1995.

One interesting connection here is that Marion Sherry, who died in 2014, had a niece named Pamela Leigh Richards, who maintains a webpage with details about her “Uncle Grant and Aunt Marion”. Pamela Richards is probably best known as David Icke’s second wife; it’s curious that while the fundamentalist Hyman claims that her mother physically transformed into “a Satanic figure”, her New Age step-cousin was for a time married to a man who claims that various public figures are shape-shifting reptiles (a belief that Richards says contributed to the end of their marriage, as Icke feared that she might be one).

Toby Young Accidentally Draws Attention to “Secret” London Conference on Intelligence

The Guardian reports:

University College London has launched an urgent investigation into how a senior academic was able to secretly host conferences on eugenics and intelligence with notorious speakers including white supremacists.

The London Conference on Intelligence was said to have been run secretly for at least three years by James Thompson, an honorary senior lecturer at the university, including contributions from a researcher who has previously advocated child rape. (1)

The conferences have come to attention now because of the participation of the journalist Toby Young, who has recently withdrawn from a new role as a member of the government’s new Office for Students. Young stepped down following controversy over a history of coarsely lecherous comments and trolling on Twitter (2) – he clung on despite the matter being put to the Prime Minister in an interview, front-page headlines and a question being raised in Parliament, but changed his mind a couple of days ago.

The initial narrative from Young’s supporters was that he had been forced out by a “Twitter mob” (Piers Morgan) and “armchair critics” (Jo Johnson) who had been unfairly making a fuss about the boorish provocateur image he has cultivated over many years (cue Brendan O’Neill on auto-pilot) [UPDATE: Zelo Street has a round-up here], although according to a Guardian report he finally went following a “barrage of nudges… from his colleagues on the board as well as allies in the Conservative party”. It was also just before his association with the conferences came to attention in the London Student newspaper and Private Eye magazine (1461, p. 11 – not officially online but widely bootlegged on social media).

Young was already controversial for an essay opining that the since the rich will soon be screening embryos to ensure the intelligence of offspring, the technology should also be made available for free to “low-income parents”. He described this as “progressive eugenics”, although when he gave the Constance Holden Memorial Address at the International Society for Intelligence Research in October 2017 he made a distinction between research into “group differences between human beings that have emerged as a result of differential evolution” and the “horrors” of the “eugenics movement”.

Young’s speech was uploaded to YouTube and unofficially transcribed on Medium. His main theme was that researchers are being vilified:

I discovered just how cautious scholars in this field can be when I was invited to attend a 2-day conference on intelligence at University College London by James [Thompson] earlier this year. Attendees were only told the venue at the last minute — an anonymous antechamber at the end of a long corridor called “Lecture Room 22″ — and asked not to share this information with anyone else. One of the attendees, on discovering I was a journalist, pleaded with me not to write about the fact that he was there: he didn’t want his colleagues to find out. It was like a meeting of Charter 77 in Václav Havel’s flat in Prague in the 1970s. But these precautions were not unreasonable considering the reaction that any reference to between-group differences in IQ generally provokes.

For some reason, the London Conference on Intelligence organisers were unwilling to share the 2017 conference programme with Private Eye, and so the magazine instead looked at material presented in previous years:

LCI 2015 included papers arguing that racial differences in penis length  predict different levels of parental care, that racial “admixture” has a negative effect on population quality, that “skin brightness” is a factor in global development, and that country-level differences in the number of Nobel Prizes can be explained by racial differences in male hormone levels.

One paper presented at the 2016 conference argued that “low IQ, high fertility Southern non-Western immigration… threatens the sustainability of European democracy, welfare and civilisation…”

The Eye and London Student further note that Richard Lynn was a participant, and both cite the SPLC for background. Quotes from Lynn have been assembled by the SPLC here – they include comments provided by Lynn to VDARE and Right Now! magazine. I noted Lynn’s association with Right Now! on this blog previously, in connection with praise he received from Antony Flew. London Student goes into further details about Lynn’s Ulster Institute for Social Research and its journal Mankind Quarterly, noting the former’s funding by the Pioneer Fund and the some historical discreditable associations of the latter.

The Eye asked Young for a quote; he replied that “I don’t accept that listening to someone express an idea constitutes tacit acceptance or approval of that idea, no matter how unpalatable”. But no-one had actually suggested such a thing, and one wonders why he chose such a response rather than explain where he in fact stands on the subject. The reference in his 2017 speech gives a strong impression of sympathy for the LCI’s project, which is obviously ideological and prescriptive.

The Eye also says that after James Thompson spoke with them on the phone, he then called back by mistake and asked for “Toby”; one wonders whether we should draw inferences about IQ from this example of incompetent handling of telephone equipment. Thompson has a blog, which is published on Ron Unz’s Unz Review website; some other material on the site has been lifted from other sources, but this is not the case with Thompson’s writing, which specifically refers to being hosted on the site. The Daily Telegraph notes some quotes here.

I’ll leave to others to discuss in detail the issue of intelligence and genetics, and the explanatory power or otherwise of IQ for understanding human behaviours and societies. However, I am sceptical that “intelligence” is one “thing” that will ever be usefully isolated from other variables (social, environmental, and genetic) for the benefit of human progress or understanding. One phenomenon I have observed in relation to this is the overlap between people who boast about their membership of MENSA and people who are cranks.

UPDATE: Toby Young has responded to the press reports in the Spectator, complaining of misrepresentation. As regards the conference:

I popped in for a few hours on a Saturday and sat at the back. I did not present a paper or give a lecture or appear on a platform or anything remotely like that. I had not met any of the other people in the lecture room before, save for Dr Thompson, and was unfamiliar with their work. I was completely ignorant of what had been discussed at the same event in previous years. All I knew was that some of them occupied the weird and whacky outer fringe of the world of genetics.

My reason for attending was because I had been asked – as a journalist – to give a lecture by the International Society of Intelligence Researchers at the University of Montreal later in the year and I was planning to talk about the history of controversies provoked by intelligence researchers. I thought the UCL conference would provide me with some anecdotal material for the lecture – and it did.

…Yes, I heard some people express some pretty odd views. But I don’t accept that listening to someone putting forward an idea constitutes tacit acceptance or approval of that idea, however unpalatable. That’s the kind of reasoning that leads to people being no-platformed on university campuses.

It’s perhaps unfortunate that he did not refer to the “odd views” in his anecdote, in which he instead merely mentioned research into “between-group differences in IQ” and chose to compare attendees with the Eastern European dissidents who worked against Communism.

It should also be pointed out that while holding “secret” conference may protect an event from disruption and speakers from intimidation, the effect is itself a kind of “no-platforming”, in that only those likely to be in sympathy with the project are invited to attend. Young heard “some people express some pretty odd views”, but were these outliers who were then criticised by the other attendees, or were they received with approval? And is the vague descriptor “odd” here being used to gloss over something more unpleasant?

Footnotes

1. The “researcher who has previously advocated child rape” mentioned by the Guardian is one Emil Kirkegaard, who runs the LCI website. On his personal website, he has suggested that sexual activity with a “sleeping” child could be “a compromise”, because “If they dont notice it is difficult to see how they cud be harmed”. In a defensive update to his post, he irritably explained that he he does not advocate any change in the law, and was merely making “a straightforward application of utilitarianism to a hot issue.” Perhaps most of us don’t have the IQ to understand why this isn’t a bit “off”.

2. Young’s comments on Twitter (now mostly deleted) included lascivious observations about breasts and a joke about having his “dick” up a woman’s “arse”. He also replied to a woman who said that she was upset by a scene of poverty in Africa on television with a joke suggesting that he was using the same material for masturbatory purposes. The woman concerned has no public profile and not many Twitter followers – thus this was not just a bad-taste comment but the coarse mockery by a celebrity of a random member of the public. We may now make further inferences about this “joke”.

A Note on Mike Pence’s Dinner for “Faith Leaders”

An email from Frank Amedia, founder of the “POTUS Shield” (H/T Right Wing Watch):

Dear Beloved Potus Shield Watchman & Warrior:

…Last evening, Lorilee and I were honored to attend a very small and intimate dinner meeting with Vice President Pence and his wife Karen. They are keenly aware of the work of Potus Shield and asked us to thank each of you on behalf of them and their children, President Trump and his family, and the nation for our relentless commitment to be a shield and weapon of spiritual force. We are committed to continue with our divine mandate in 2018 as we position ourselves in the front lines of intercession, activation, reformation, and transformation; knowing that we are called for such a time as this for our nation and the Kingdom!

We have scheduled  Potus Shield Heartland America from March 20 – 22. This is a national convocation. Our host venue is at Morningside, Branson Missouri, with Jim and Lori Baker [sic]. They will be taping much of the conference. We wish to do some individual interviews with some of you, and we are arranging a live stream with Potus and VP offices.

Photos of the event have been published by Pence on social media – it looks like there were two tables for eight people each. According to his Tweet about the event:

Karen & I were honored to host faith leaders for dinner at the Naval Observatory to review what @POTUS has done to protect life & people of faith & to thank them for everything they do for their communities.

It’s not clear how broad the guest list was, but based on previous statements from the White House, “faith leaders” may well refer to a group composed exclusively of figures from the evangelical Christian Right.

Only one of the guests photographed is immediately familiar to me: Michael Youssef, an Egyptian-born convert from Islam who has a ministry focusing on evangelising the Middle East, and whose recent books include End Times and the Secret of the Mahdi: Unlocking the Mystery of Revelation and the Antichrist (2016) and Jesus, Jihad and Peace: What Bible Prophecy Says about World Events Today (2015 – with cover blurbs from Sean Hannity and Mike Huckabee). Youssef was recently part of a US evangelical delegation to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi; perhaps he had some tips for Pence, who is making his own visit to the country shortly.

Amedia claims to have gifts of prophecy and healing, and last year there was some amusement when he claimed to have saved Hawaii from the same tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. His POTUS Shield describes itself as “a council of prelates that is assembling to raise up a spiritual shield” of protection for Donald Trump, whom it believes has a “breaker anointing” to “usher in a new era” (more on this kind of thing here). Members of the POTUS Shield Council currently include neo-Pentecostal Christian Right leaders such as Cindy Jacobs, Lou Engle, William “Jerry” Boykin, Rick Joyner, Bob Whitaker (CEO of Whitaker House Publishing), and Lance Wallnau. There also used to be an international dimension, in the form of a Nigerian evangelist named Mosey Modugba (var Mosy Modugba) – he is no longer listed, although Amedia is currently attending an event with him in Abia State. (1)

Amedia makes regular appearances on Bakker’s TV show. Bakker has been gradually rebuilding his reputation since his 1987 disgrace, and a livestream linking him to “Potus and VP offices” thus would be quite a boost – both for Bakker himself, and for the various religious conspiracy theorists he promotes on his show.

Footnote

1. Modugba is also involved with the International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem. According to a 2015 report about that year’s Feast of Tabernacles event in Jerusalem:

Also in attendance was Rev. Mosy Madugba of Nigeria, head of a network of Christian ministers, who said his close ties to Nigerian leaders helped change the country’s traditional pro-Palestinian stance at the U.N. In recent years, Nigeria has abstained from supporting U.N. resolutions supporting Palestinian statehood.

A Note on Roy Moore’s “Jewish Attorney”

AL.com reports:

Roy Moore’s wife reveals their ‘Jewish attorney’ and he’s a Christian

The wife of former U.S. Senate Republican nominee Roy Moore has revealed the identity of the Moores’ “Jewish attorney” she mentioned in a Dec. 11 speech.

…Kayla Moore today explained why she made that reference.

“We read where we were against Jews – even calling us Nazis,” she wrote in an email to AL.com. “We have a Jewish lawyer working for us in our firm – Martin Wishnatsky. Judge hired him while Chief Justice, then I hired him at the Foundation.”

The Jewish status of converts to Christianity is a debated subject, as seen for instance in the legal difficulties faced by Jewish Christians who wish to emigrate to Israel. Wishnatsky describes himself as a Messianic Jew, and he told AL that “that’s the term they use for a Jewish person who has accepted Christ.” However, it seems that Wishnatsky attends a regular evangelical church rather than a Messianic synagogue, where ethnically Jewish believers in Jesus participate in Messianic Judaism. Although Wishnatsky is ethnically Jewish, Kayla Moore’s original reference to a “Jewish attorney” obviously implied a non-Christian association, thus appearing to moderate Roy Moore’s exclusivist Christian nationalism. (1)

Wishnatsky says that although he had a Bar Mitzvah as a boy, he was raised in a non-religious household. According to a 1993 profile in the Washington Post, he first encountered religion while visiting Hawaii in 1977, when a woman “prayed to Jesus to take away my sins”; this led him into Mormonism, which he left due to its “bizarre” nature. In 2003 he published a polemical work through Xulon entitled Mormonism: A Latter Day Deception, which is also available on his website.

Wishnatsky’s website has a particular focus on the subject of “sexual purity”, which was also a theme of his anti-abortion activism. According to the 1993 article:

Wishnatsky, who believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible, said that he is engaged not in terrorism but in a holy war against sin. He faulted the “unbridled lust” and pervasive sexual immorality spawned by rock and roll music that originated during a decade he labeled “the fornication fifties.” The tragic consequence of America’s moral decline, he said, is the legalization and widespread popular acceptance of abortion.

At this time, Wishnatsky had come to attention as a member of the Lambs of Christ (sometimes referred to mistakenly as the “Lambs of God”), a militant anti-abortion group active in North Dakota led by Father Norman Weslin, a former Green Beret (profiled by Kathryn Joyce here). The group had a strong Catholic identity, although it doesn’t seem that Wishnatsky was himself a Roman Catholic – the Washington Post quotes him as having denounced those who “would rather kill an infant than bother with contraception”, which seems a bit off-message.

Wishnatsky’s activism resulted in periods of imprisonment and legal restraints – and in 2006 the AP reported that he was using a zoom lens to photograph women entering the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo and the license plates of their cars, which he would then post to the internet.

Wishnatsky has also involved himself in civil legal disputes. In 2003 he approached a legal clinic about filing a lawsuit against the display of the goddess Themis on the Grand Forks County Courthouse, on the grounds that the image caused him “distress”; this was a stunt because the same clinic had supported a lawsuit against a Ten Commandments monument, and when he was declined assistance he filed a case against the clinic. This followed a 1998 attempt to get a restraining order against David W. Huey, the North Dakota Assistant Attorney General, on the grounds that Huey had prevented him from entering an office without knocking by forcibly re-closing the door on him, and that he had experienced “severe physical and emotional effects” from witnessing Huey in a verbal altercation with someone else.

Such was Wishnatsky’s local celebrity that it was considered news when in 2009 he announced that he was intending to enrol at Liberty University at the age of 64, after an experience of “emotional” revival in 2006. Wishnatsky graduated in 2012, and then found work with Moore as a clerk.

I noted some of the other characters who have come to wider attention in recent weeks due to their association with Roy Moore here.

Footnote

(1) On the whole, Messianic Judaism is not accepted as a legitimate branch of Judaism by other Jews, although there are some calls for acceptance. However, Messianic Jews are recognised as co-religionists by Christians. There is also a “Hebrew Roots” movement, in which non-Jewish Christians adopt Jewish practices and cultural forms – sometimes with idiosyncratic results.

The evangelical attitude to Judaism is conflicted: Christian Zionism sees God as continuing to favour Jews as part of a cosmic plan, and Moore is a strong supporter of Israel. But are Jews saved, or is Judaism a “false religion”, which is how Moore regards Islam? The answer is somewhat unclear.

Telegraph Notes That Operation Midland’s “Nick” Addressed International Conference

From The Telegraph:

The alleged fantasist whose allegations sparked the VIP paedophile investigation claims to have worked as a volunteer for Childline, The Telegraph can reveal.

Nick – whose real identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons – told the organisers of an international conference at which he was speaking that he had worked for the charity, offering advice to youngsters suffering abuse themselves.

The Telegraph unearthed the revelation after discovering that Nick had been travelling the world giving presentations to paying delegates about his alleged ordeal.

In the brochure for one conference he boasted of having worked as a volunteer for Childline in recent years.

The article appears to be based on the brochure for the “one conference”, and as such “travelling the world” is an unwarranted extrapolation from one international trip. I’ve previously written about “Operation Midland”, the farcical police investigation that was prompted by “Nick’s” allegations, several times.

Public discussion of “Nick” in the UK is circumscribed by the fact that as a complainant in relation to an alleged sex crime he enjoys a legal right to anonymity – in 2016, the Daily Mail was fined for failing to take sufficient care with details it provided in a 2015 article, which included a barely pixelated photograph that would have made him easily identifiable to those who know him in the real world.

However, it seems to me that “Nick” has been having it both ways. He was formerly willing to discuss his “alleged ordeal” in a public forum, and for his name to be published in related literature; why did his attitude change?

We know that “Nick’s” claims of abuse grew over time (as discussed here): in 2012, he claimed to have been abused by his step-father; this then developed into his step-father and a paedophile ring. Then, after posthumous allegations appeared in the media concerning Jimmy Savile, “Nick” made a disguised media appearance claiming that the DJ and entertainer had been part of the group. He then escalated to claims about famous politicians and other public figures, and he alleged not only to have witnessed paedophilic orgies but also to have seen children murdered.

It seems that “Nick” was willing to use his real name as an alleged victim of abuse, but that as soon as his story morphed into an exposé of supposed corruption in public life he decided to assert his right to anonymity. Thus in the early autumn of 2014 he lodged a complaint with the Metropolitan Police, in part with the help of Mark Watts, a journalist who had become a confidant and who was responsible for a stream of sensational stories about “VIP child sex abuse”.

This meant that while Watts churned out piece after piece on the now-defunct Exaro website, the law hampered journalistic scrutiny of his source’s background – indeed, the Telegraph says that even now it is unable to ask Childline to confirm that “Nick” did indeed work for them, even though the information is derived from a publication (2). The same law has also meant that those who have been accused by “Nick” have been limited in what they are allowed to say publicly in their own defence.

“Nick’s” story ran uncritically for almost a whole year before one of those he had accused, the former MP Harvey Proctor, gave a press conference about the allegations against him. The first critical investigative piece appeared in the Daily Mail a few weeks later; and a month after that, fatal problems with “Nick’s” story were revealed by the BBC’s Panorama (much to Exaro‘s outrage).

However, “Nick’s” anonymity means that his supporters can continue to spuriously suggest that there remain grounds for doubt about why Operation Midland ended without any arrests or charges; David Hencke, for instance, recently suggested that DCI Paul Settle’s admission that he has been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in recent years means that he was unable to do his job properly.

UPDATE: A follow-up article in Private Eye magazine (1461, p. 40) notes that

The chronology was striking. At the very moment he was insisting to British police and media that his anonymity had to be protected at all costs, “Nick” was happy to appear apparently under his real name at a conference attended by hundreds of people from around the world. He was due to speak about his experiences of being sexually abused as a child, including by a paedophile ring, and to host a workshop.

Asked by the Eye how they had recruited “Nick”, the conference organisers replied: “He was not invited. We publish an open call for submissions/participation. He submitted a proposal  that was reviewed by the relevant committee and was chosen for inclusion…”

His conference appearance proves that “Nick” is not asserting his right to privacy because he would find it traumatic to be publicly identified as a victim of sex abuse; rather, it is because he wishes to escape scrutiny of his own biography in relation to very specific allegations he has made against named individuals. This suggests that such scrutiny would undermine rather than support his claims.

Footnote

1. Someone who says that she is a friend of “Nick”, and who is involved with the Wall of Silence exhibition, has responded to the article by stating that Nick “has never worked for childline”. She believes that this affects the credibility of the Telegraph article, although if her knowledge is correct it surely should instead undermine the credibility of “Nick” for having made such a claim as reported in the conference brochure.

“Elite Paedophile” Conspiracy Theorist Liz Crokin Targets Model Chrissy Teigen

A Tweet from American model Christine Teigen:

It is INCREDIBLY weird to be two (semi) normal, ridiculously boring human beings who literally make food, watch tv and clean up dog barf in any kind of off time and then be suddenly accused of being in Hollywood’s hottest pedo ring. What a year what a year, 2017.

Teigen (var. Chrissy Teigen) has been targeted on social media by Pizzagate cranks after conspiricist pedo-hunter Liz Crokin purported to discern secret meanings in Teigen’s social media postings. In particular, Crokin noted that Teigen had posted images of her toddler daughter “dressed as a hot dog, Alice in Wonderland & a pineapple”, and had used an emoji of a pizza slice. Such supposed codes were the inspiration for the Pizzagate conspiracy, as I discussed here.

Crokin also added three tags to her Tweet: “followthewhiterabbit”; “Qanon”; and the “TheStorm”. These terms refer to the latest incarnation of the conspiracy theory, as recently explained in a New York Times Magazine article by Paris Martineau, under the grim headline “The Storm Is the New Pizzagate — Only Worse”. According to Martineau (links in original):

On October 28, someone calling themselves Q began posting a series of cryptic messages in a /pol/ thread titled “Calm Before the Storm” (assumedly in reference to that creepy Trump quote from early October). Q claimed to be a high-level government insider with Q clearance (hence the name) tasked with posting intel drops — which he, for some reason, called “crumbs” — straight to 4chan in order to covertly inform the public about POTUS’s master plan to stage a countercoup against members of the deep state.

…According to Q, Trump was never really involved with Russia, and isn’t actually under investigation by Mueller & Co. On the contrary, Q insists that it’s actually Clinton and Obama who were corrupted by Putin (and are now actually under investigation by Mueller

…In this fantasy world, all of the far right’s wildest dreams come true: Q promises that Clinton, Obama, Podesta, Abedin, and even McCain are all either arrested and wearing secret police-issued ankle monitors, or just about to be indicted; that the Steele dossier is a total fabrication personally paid for by Clinton and Obama; and that the Las Vegas massacre was most definitely an inside job connected to the Saudi-Clinton cabal

It seems to me very likely that the conspiracy theory also draws on a claim made to Alex Jones by one Craig Sawyer in April that Trump had made 3,000 secret arrests of “elite paedophiles”. As I blogged in July, this claim – in essence a millenarian fantasy – has been subsequently disseminated by others, such as the Christian Right’s “firefighter prophet” Mark Taylor.

Crokin believes that commercial flights are being “turned around”, presumably because of alerts from the supposed ankle-tags, and Teigen appears to have come to her attention because she was recently on a flight to Tokyo that was returned to Los Angeles as a security measure after it was realised that an extra person had been allowed to board in error. Teigen’s Tweets on the subject made the incident newsworthy.

In response to threats of legal action from Teigen and her husband John Legend, Crokin has attempted to reel back from her unambiguous and foul insinuation about why Teigen had dressed her daughter in innocent costumes: she has now deleted her Tweet, although she has also RTed a screenshot of it posted by someone else. Further, she is now falsely suggesting that she only ever said that the celebrity couple were “pals” of abusers, and she has posted photos of them at public events with Harvey Weinstein, the Clintons and Kevin Spacey (Teigen is a long-time critic and mocker of Trump, and was even blocked by him on Twitter in July).

As I noted in October, Crokin has previously written for TownhallHagmann Report and WND, and she has also appeared as a guest on various fringe media outlets: these include – as noted by Right Wing Watch – “anointed speaker” Meri Crouley’s Now is the Time programme on Joseph Nassralla’s The Cross TV station, and Dave Hodges’ The Common Sense Show. In May, she appeared on the David Icke-affiliated Richie Allen Show, claiming that Townhall had fired her for writing about VIP paedophiles, and she returned in October to explain that paedophilia in Hollywood was being covered up because of Jewish control of the media.

Last month, Right Wing Watch noted that according to Crokin, “the fact that Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta likes to wear red shoes is a sign that he is a pedophile because the Illuminati uses the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to brainwash child sex slaves.” She made the claim during her “second appearance on a program hosted by one-time ‘Survivor’ contestant Anna Khait that was streamed on Mike Cernovich’s Facebook page“.

Twitter has responded to Teigen’s concerns by removing Crokin’s blue tick verification symbol, but the platform continues to allow her to vilify a young couple who have done nothing wrong – and perhaps to endanger Teigen’s family by riling up gun-toting cranks with saviour complexes, as happened at Comet Ping Pong.

Legend has also drawn attention to a very informative thread on the subject by Alexandra Erin.