Pennsylvania Christian Right Activist Discusses Ukraine

The Reading Eagle (Pennsylvania) reports on address given by Samuel E. Rohrer, “president of both the American and Pennsylvania Pastors Networks” to members of the Berks County Patriots. Rohrer – a Pennsylvania House of Representatives – discussed his involvement with Ukraine:

Rohrer… spent two day in a hotel in Kiev in June leading a summit aimed at ensuring Christian beliefs and values are paramount in creating a new Ukraine.

The summit was attended by 85 Ukrainian pastors and 15 members of Ukraine’s parliament. The group crafted a list of recommendations that was passed along to the country’s president.

Rohrer and fellow American pastor David Barton, speaking through translators to the Ukrainians, shared lessons of America’s creation as an example of how to create a free nation based on biblical principals [sic].

This received some attention at the time. In June, Glenn Beck announced that Barton had been asked to advise “the main people in the government” in “a former Soviet state”; for some reason, Beck avoided saying which country (and even slipped into the plural), but it was always very likely to be Ukraine.

This was confirmed a few weeks later, when Barton discussed his visit to Ukraine on James Dobson’s radio show. Right Wing Watch noted at the time:

Since returning to America, Barton revealed that he has been contacted by several other members of the Ukrainian government, asking him to return and deliver his presentation to the entire parliament, as well as from government leaders in neighboring nations who want him to come and present his message there as well.

Meanwhile, Rohrer’s APN produced a press release:

Key leaders of the American Pastors Network… recently returned from an International Leadership Summit in Ukraine, working with and encouraging pastors and elected leaders there who are making a concerted effort to embrace American ideas to restore the country.

Earlier this spring, APN was invited to the summit by Presiding Bishop Valery Reshetinsky, who also serves as the Chairman of the Ukrainian Interchurch Council that represents 20 different evangelical denominations. Reshetinsky wrote that pastors and officials attending the summit were “excited about what the American Pastors Network can do to help our government and pastoral leaders at this time of great need in our nation. It is our hope… that Almighty God hears the prayers of His people in Ukraine and around the world and permits us to govern ourselves not in corruption but through biblical principles.”

…Gary Dull of Faith Baptist Church of Altoona, Pa., and Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network… also traveled to Ukraine for the summit and said the participation of pastors and political leaders at the summit truly shows their desire to build a nation and a government on biblical principles.

A few further details were provided by Emmanuil, a Ukrainian Christian TV station. Their report names two politicians who were involved: Alexander Bryhynets MP (var. Alexander Briginets) and Pavel Unguryan, who is an enthusiast for TBN. Another local speaker was Borys Oliynyk, a distinguished poet. There was also a TV report, with footage, from CNL News. The PPA placed a video Barton’s presentation on YouTube in September.

Also in September, Charisma had a follow-up:

Earlier this month APN unveiled its special “Ukraine Initiative: Out of the Ashes | Freedom Reborn” website at ukraineinitiative.com, a centralized place for Ukraine updates and ongoing projects. Key to APN’s current efforts is providing humanitarian aid, and APN’s International Projects Coordinator, pastor Dale Armstrong, has traveled to Ukraine numerous times over the past few months. After his time there, APN has committed to meeting some of the most immediate and crucial humanitarian needs, including water-purification tablets, QuikClot Bandages, which help stop bleeding quickly, and individual medical kits for soldiers.

Long-standing US evangelical interest in Ukraine (noted here by Bill Berkowitz) is one reason why US conservatives are currently split over the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with some admiring Putin’s family values authoritarianism.

Beck – who is particularly close to Barton – has recently come out swinging against the Putin regime, although with trademark incompetence:

Examples of Putin attempting to appeal to the Orthodox Church: Moscow State University received the largest scientific grant ever, $19 million, to fund a project called Noah’s Ark…

Beck is here referring to an ambitious plan to create a comprehensive DNA depository. As RT reported last month:

“I call the project ‘Noah’s Ark.’ It will involve the creation of a depository – a databank for the storing of every living thing on Earth, including not only living, but disappearing and extinct organisms. This is the challenge we have set for ourselves,” MSU rector Viktor Sadivnichy told journalists.

It’s clear that there is no religious element to the project, and that “Noah’s Ark” is simply a bit of shorthand.

Some Links of a Syriza “Adviser”

Radio Free Europe on Greece’s new government:

…recently leaked e-mails are revealing some of the extent and duration of Syriza’s ties with Kremlin-connected Eurasianist ideologue Aleksandr Dugin and Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev, who is believed to have bankrolled much of the separatist movement in Ukraine.

…Several dozen of the e-mails reveal conversations between [Georgy] Gavrish [an official in Dugin’s Eurasia movement] and people inside Syriza, says Christo Grozev, a media investor and blogger specializing in information issues in eastern Europe.

…One of the people involved in the exchanges is Nicolas Laos, a Greek intellectual and Syriza adviser with business ties to Russia. He is a partner of the Russian corporate-security firm R-Tekhno.

In one leaked e-mail, Laos writes to Dugin, “I know very well how the enemy works, and, under your patronage, I can strike back effectively and hard.”

I previously blogged on Dugin here, on Malofeev here, and on the leaked emails here. And just a couple of days ago, I looked at Panos Kammenos, who heads Syriza’s right-wing coalition partner and who has been described by the Economist as wanting to be “Russia’s best friend in Greece”.

Of course, it’s impossible to judge how much influence should be read into the word “advisor”, and there’s not much evidence of a political presence. Laos is, however “Founder and President of the Kairological Society– Reality Restructuring Resources”, described as a “philosophical and policy-oriented think-tank, private exclusive membership club and consultancy organization”, and his publications include Kairological Economics: An Anthropocentric and Creative Theory of Political Economy and Management.

Further, he appears in a 2013 LarouchePAC article about a Greek anti-Euro movement (Drachma 5):

The initiator of the movement is Professor of Labor Economics Theodore Katsanevas, who was among the speakers at the Schiller Institute’s international conference, “The Last Chance for Humanity,” held April 13-14 in Frankfurt, Germany.

On May 7, the Greek national daily Hellada published a two-page article reporting on Katsanevas’s presentation to the conference, along with the entire conference resolution, and a photo of the professor in discussion with Lyndon LaRouche. On the second page is a Greek translation of Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s open letter calling on the U.S. Congress to pass HR 129, the bill to revive Glass-Steagall.

The author of the article, Nicolas Laos, has previously interviewed Zepp-LaRouche and former French Presidential candidate and longtime LaRouche ally in France, Jacques Cheminade. The fact that the article was published the day before the launching the new party, and that the author is a member of its organizing committee, indicates that the party is associating itself with the fight for a Glass-Steagall reform, as well as for dismantling the Eurozone.

I noted Kammenos’s links to the LaRouche movement in my previous post.

Like Dugin, Laos is also interested in more esoteric matters; the first result for Laos’s name on Google takes us to the website of White Crane Publishing, and to a page devoted to a book of his with the glorious title The Kairological Qabalah: Rediscovering Western Esotericism within Philosophy, Science and the Revolutionary Secrets of Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism and the Illuminati. This is the sort of thing that the anti-Putin wing of the American Christian Right will seize on; Cliff Kincaid, for instance, has linked Dugin’s ideas to Aleister Crowley and the occult.

On Twitter, Grozev has also drawn attention to old registration details for a website that Laos used to own in 2009 and 2010. The site described itself as “The Official Website Of The Master-General Of The Masonic Society Of The Illuminati”, and it offered visitors the chance to join the “Societas Masonica Illuminatorum”. Here’s the pitch:

Be part of an Illuminati-Masonic organization that is rich in history and tradition and enjoy human networking. Membership in our Society is not incompatible with membership in other Masonic Bodies, provided our members never compromise our Illuminati principles. However, in the system of our Society’s degrees, one can find, among other things, the highest Masonic knowledge. Thus, our candidates need not be Masons.

Or men, presumably?

Inquirers were directed to a PO Box in Greece, or, alternatively, a business address in Pimlico, of all places. A bio-blurb under all this describes Laos as “the Master-General Ad Vitam (for life) of the Masonic Society of the Illuminati”, as well as the Director of the “Laboratum Literatorum Illuminatorum”. One couldn’t troll David Icke better if one tried.

Also:

For his research work in philosophy, religion and heraldic studies, he has been honoured with the title of Doctor of Divinity from the St Elias School of Orthodox Theology (USA) as well as with the title of Academician from the Norman Academy (Rome) and the International Academy of Saint George (Wyoming, USA). Additionally, he has been awarded with the titles of Knight and Chancellor of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem under the auspices of the United Grand Priories of the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, and with other chivalric titles.

I previously looked at the world of “Chivalric Orders” here (and at Freemasonry here); for the most part, such groups are essentially harmless charitable clubs for people who like dressing flamboyantly.

However, although Orthodox Christianity tends to view Freemasonry with hostility, Laos is also the founder of the Sovereign Orthodox Christian Order of Saint Nikolaos of Myra, which takes a Duginist view:

Our chivalric organization is a traditionalist institution. Following the methodology of the Russian geopolitician and philosopher Alexander Dugin, we utilize the postmodernists’ criticism and deconstruction of modernity, but, instead of following the postmodernists to anti-foundationalist arguments, we make a great philosophical shift from post-modernity to pre-modernity, and, therefore, we rediscover pre-modern metaphysics through post-modernity.

The Founding Naval Patron is Captain First Rank (Ret.) Igor Kurdin, of the Russian Navy.

Some Brief Notes on Panos Kammenos

From the Guardian:

Syriza just missed out on the 151 MPs it needed to govern alone after Greece’s election, winning 149 seats with a 36.3% share of the vote. The party has formed a coalition government with Independent Greeks [var. Independent Hellenes – RB], who took 13 seats.

…The two parties have vastly diverging world views, standing well apart on issues such as illegal migration, Greece’s ever-fractious relationship with Nato rival Turkey, gay marriage and the role of the Greek Orthodox church.

Under their leader Panos Kammenos, who defected from the centre-right New Democracy party to form Anel at the height of the crisis in February 2012, the group has proved to be rabidly nationalistic in foreign affairs.

The election result has brought renewed interest in Kammenos, who was embroiled in controversy in December for opining that “Jews, along with Buddhists and Muslims ‘are not taxed’ in Greece”; however, the context seems to have been that he was accusing the Government of taxing the Orthodox Church unfairly, rather than suggesting that Jews have special treatment, or are tax-dodgers.

A few other points of interest:

1. In 2011, Kammenos described himself as an Old Calendrist (“εγώ είμαι παλαιοημερολογίτης”), meaning that he belongs to a minority Orthodox group that rejects the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar. He made the comment during a radio interview as evidence that he does not have links with Ephraim, the controversial Abbot of the Vatopedi monastery of Mount Athos.

2. In 2012, he reportedly visited Mount Athos without obtaining permission first, travelling by private boat. According to the story, he visited the Esphigmenou Monastery, which sits apart from other monasteries on Athos; rebel monks occupy the site in opposition to “closer ties between the Orthodox Church and the Vatican.”

3. The 2012, the Economist described Kammenos as “hoping to replace Abbot Ephraim as Russia’s best friend in Greece.”

4. Kammenos also has links with Lyndon LaRouche; in December 2013 he travelled to Washington, where he “organized on Capitol Hill, alongside LaRouchePAC for the implementation of an international Glass-Steagall”. More recently, he spoke on “Greece and the Silk Road Economic Belt” at a conference organized by the Schiller Institute, which is part of LaRouche’s network. China’s “New Silk Road development program” seems to be of some special interest to LaRouche, and it is referenced in a LaRouchePac petition that accuses the US and Europe of supporting a “Nazi coup” in Ukraine and pursuing “suicidal geopolitical policies of the past which led to the two previous World Wars”.

As I noted a couple of days ago, LaRouchePac boasts that it so far has more than 200 “prominent signers”; Kammenos is among them, along with his “Diplomatic advisor” Lefteris Karayannis.

LaRouche Group Boasts of 200 “Prominent Signers” on Petition

From the website of – cough – Lyndon LaRouche:

As of January 19, 2015, the list of prominent signers to the Schiller Institute’s petition, “Why the US Must Join the BRICS” continues to expand, totaling now over 200, with the newest signers including author, activist and Princeton Professor, Dr. Cornel West and filmmaker Sean Stone from the United States. From Italy, Paolo Grimoldi, member of the Italian Parliament and founder of the Parliamentary group, “Friends of Putin,” [“Amici di Putin“; Grimoldi is with Lega Nord – RB] has added his name to the petition this week, along with a number of other prominent Italian, Swiss and German leaders.

The list includes other prominent politicians, businessman, academics, scientists and artists from 20 countries, who have all publicly endorsed a resolution calling on the U.S. and Europe to collaborate with the “BRICS” nations in the interest of peace and economic development. The resolution, sponsored by the Schiller Institute, was issued in response to the offer of China’s President Xi Jinping for the United States to join China’s New Silk Road development program and abandon the policies of confrontation with particularly Russia and China.

The statement itself then follows, under the headline “The U.S. and Europe Must Have the Courage to Reject Geopolitics and Collaborate with the BRICS”. It has garnered the “prominent” signatures despite the bad faith easily detectable in the headline and increasingly self-evident in the text itself: first, some bland comments about “cooperation” against ISIS, al-Qaeda and ebola; then, support for Russia’s opposition to “a Nazi coup” in Ukraine, and condemnation of  the US and Europe’s current “suicidal geopolitical policies of the past which led to the two previous World Wars”; and after this, some portentous waffle about “Johannes Kepler’s vision of mastery of the laws of the solar system for the benefit of man” and the Treaty of Westphalia.

And that’s before we get onto the document’s discreditable provenance: the Schiller Institute is famously run by LaRouche’s wife, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, and forms part of the wider LaRouche network. LaRouche’s conspiratorial anti-Semitism is notorious, and there’s still the outstanding matter of the mysterious death of Jeremy Duggan in 2003.

The petition was created following Zepp-LaRouche’s participation at “an international conference on the New Silk Road that was held Aug. 25 and 26 at Lanzhou University in Gansu province in northwest China”. Also present was Vladimir Yakunin, a member of Putin’s inner circle who has featured on this blog a number of times, and I speculated at the time that Yakunin may have facilitated her participation: she has spoken at events organized by Yakunin’s World Public Forum, and in 2009 LaRouchePac claimed that Yakunin had endorsed and promoted Lyndon LaRouche’s economic views.

The petition has also been promoted on the World Public Forum website, and its signers include Fred Dallmayr, the WPF’s Сo-Chair.

Dennis Rice and Police Intimidation: How Thames Valley Police Sought to Censor Criticism of a Tabloid Journalist

In early October 2014, I was summoned to a police interview a hundred miles from my home to answer a complaint by a tabloid journalist that he had been upset by true and relevant information that I had written about him on this blog and on Twitter. The journalist, Dennis Rice, was formerly Investigations Editor at the Mail on Sunday, and he wanted the police to stop me from discussing his behaviour, including details of how he had attempted to bully me via nasty, intrusive and untrue comments published under a sockpuppet name, as well as through unwanted phone calls to a member of my family (background here).

The investigation was dropped two days later, but the incident shows that – for whatever reason – Thames Valley Police were willing to indulge an aggressive journalist’s baseless demand for censorship on the mere assertion of “distress”, without any regard for context or even common sense.

First, some background.

Dennis Rice and TabloidTroll

There is now no argument that Dennis Rice ran the abusive and bullying @tabloidtroll Twitter account, despite his indignant and aggrieved denials; a brief outline of some of the evidence can be seen here. The Twitter account was supposedly created to offer media commentary by “a number of anonymous national newspaper journalists”, although it was actually a one-man platform from which Rice fired off vituperative Tweets against critics of tabloid standards such as Tom Watson MP and Richard Peppiatt, as well as other targets. I should emphasise that “TabloidTroll” wasn’t just a legitimate pseudonym: Rice used his @dennisricemedia account to endorse himself as @tabloidtroll, meaning it was a sockpuppet.

Rice has a grudge against me for agreeing with the evidence that he was TabloidTroll, and in 2013 he hid behind his sockpuppet to post a deeply unpleasant attack blog aimed not just at me, but at my loved ones (who have nothing to do with this blog). His post consisted of lies and distortions, and Rice even went so far as to publish a fake screenshot that purported to show that I use a dating site (I don’t, and never have). Given that Rice is a national journalist, most recently working for Channel 4’s Dispatches as a freelance producer, this reckless dishonesty is of some wider significance.

Another of Rice’s targets was the author Peter Jukes, who has written about Rice’s behaviour in his book Beyond Contempt. Rice – both under his own name and as TabloidTroll – affected to take offence at something that Peter had written, and he used this as an excuse to issue threats (both as Dennis Rice and as TabloidTroll) to investigate Peter’s finances and family. The treats were made in a gratuitously goading and unpleasant manner, which again reflects poorly on his professionalism: as @dennisricemedia, he mocked Peter as “wetting your pants when a real journalist turns his gaze on you”. Rice also formed an alliance with Paul Staines (Guido Fawkes) and his associates in attempts to smear Peter, as Peter has now discussed here.

Rice upped his aggression against me throughout 2014, first of all by making two phone calls to a relative. The first call came when Rice learnt that I had appraised the editor of Independent Australia, David Donovan, of Rice’s antics; the second was after I “Favourited” a Tweet in which Owen Jones asked the question “@tabloidtroll @dennisricemedia why are you tweeting yourself?” Rice phoned my relative on a Saturday evening, told her I had “better be” at her address on a certain date, and then hung up. As a result of his, he was warned by police to desist.

From July, I began to discuss Rice’s behaviour publicly with other social media users who had been targeted by him for one reason or another. In particular, I noted the irony that a man who had made what can fairly be described as a crank call had also been the co-producer of a recent Channel 4 Dispatches programme (directed by Jim Nally for ITN Productions) about nuisance fundraising phone calls by charities. I also confirmed that a photo of Rice published some time ago on a Flikr page belonging to Press Gazette was actually the right person – Rice has made repeated threats to confront me and others, and so I had made some effort to find out what he looks like. Rice used to be on the National Executive Committee of the British Association of Journalists, and his image appears on an archived version of the BAJ website.

Rice quickly got in touch threatening a libel action, warning that he was “incurring substantial legal costs” that I would have to pay (incidentally, when someone goes on about costs as part of a legal threat, it’s a good indication of bad faith). However, this failed to materialise, and Rice then switched to “harassment”. He paid £105 to make a small claim in the civil courts for damages, although the case was struck out without coming to court. Rice also turned to the police.

Rice makes a police complaint

Rice lodged his complaint about me at High Wycombe. As result of this, I was issued with a Police Information Notice in mid-September, delivered by a local officer. It included the following:

Details of alleged conduct (specific actions that are cause for complaint):

Unwanted online contact through social media (mainly twitter and Bartholomew’s personal blogs) to Dennis RICE since August 2nd 2014. Contrary to the Protection from Harrasment [sic] Act.

Do not contact RICE directly, indirectly or name him on social media. lf this behaviour continues you will be liable for arrest and possible prosecution.

…Harassment is any behaviour, on at least two occasions, which causes alarm or distress to someone else.

This notice left out the important qualifier that in law “alarm or distress” needs to be balanced against whether the conduct complained about was reasonable, and it ignored clear and extensive CPS guidelines about handling complaints concerning social media. I have no idea whether Rice had truly felt “alarm or distress” at being held accountable for his lies and bullying, but if he did it was the natural and predictable consequence of his own behaviour.

The PIN was self-evidently censorship, but it was also a smear: shortly thereafter it was gleefully announced by various parties on Twitter that I had been given a “harassment warning”. A PIN is simply a notification that a complaint has been made; but the implication read into it by Rice’s supporters was that the police had taken the view that I had broken the law, and that the PIN was akin to a police caution. Behind the scenes, Rice was also boasting that he had been given an assurance that I would be “criminally charged” if I dared to mention him again, and that PINs would be issued to anyone else who dared bring up the subject of his behaviour.

Summoned to a police interview

I was now in a Kafkaesque situation: the PIN was being bandied about as evidence that I was a criminal, yet if I defended myself the police would take things further and that would confirm my guilt even more on the principle of “no smoke without fire”. I decided to take my chances. On Twitter, I briefly explained the actual context and waited for the police to call. I was duly asked to attend a supposedly “voluntary” interview under caution, although this was a peculiar use of the word “voluntary”: I was told that I would be arrested unless I complied. So, I agreed to attend – and as the day approached, goading anonymous messages about tourism in High Wycombe appeared on an anonymous troll account.

Ahead of the interview, I showed my writings to my legal representative, a specialist from Bindmans who confirmed what I knew already: that I had written nothing that broke any law. As a journalist, Rice is a public figure, and he had chosen to place himself into the centre of a public controversy. My representative also told me that in his opinion, I had been threatened with wrongful arrest.

Along with Rice’s complaints about my public writing, he also apparently claimed to have received a anonymous menacing email. That had nothing at all to do with me (I reject anything of that sort), and the police had no evidence to suggest otherwise. The whole case otherwise rested simply on how my public statements about Rice should be interpreted.

But the police had no more evidence to work with after my interview than they had before it. In making their decision to drop the matter, the police had only one extra piece of information to ponder: that I had access to top-quality legal representation.

The obvious question: if there was not enough evidence to proceed to prosecution, why had there been enough evidence to waste taxpayers’ money pursuing me in the first place?

My discussions of Rice’s behaviour are all still available online and can be assessed by anyone on their own merits. There is nothing that approaches “trolling” or “harassment”, and I continue to stand by every word as being truthful, relevant to the public interest,  necessary in order to protect my own reputation from falsehoods, and expressed in a way that is credible and reasonable. The police could have come to the same conclusion without needing to involve me at all.

I don’t know what went wrong here. In 2008, when the writer Oliver Kamm was the object of a police complaint from someone who objected a scathing book review, the matter was looked into, but dealt with proportionately via a phone call.

Is it simply the case that six years on, amidst media publicity about “trolling”, the police have lost all perspective when it comes to assessing the validity of any social media-related complaint? Or did Rice’s status as a national journalist afford him special consideration?

My complaint to police

Following this incident, I made a formal complaint to Thames Valley Police, both about the decision to issue the PIN and the threat of arrest. So far, their response has been confined to legal generalities about police powers, and there has been no attempt to justify operational decisions. Unexpectedly, I’ve been told that the police don’t need to review the decision to issue the PIN as PINs are meaningless anyway. My attention was drawn to Parliamentary Publications and Records website:

These notices are not provided for in the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and do not in themselves constitute any kind of formal legal action. Therefore there is no formal police procedure which must be followed, and no set time limit during which they have effect. Because acknowledging receipt of a Police Information Notice does not mean that the recipient is admitting any wrongdoing, there is no right of appeal. If a person is unhappy about the fact that the warning was issued, he or she could complain to the police force or to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Specific legal advice from a suitably qualified professional would be necessary if a recipient wished to check the implications of the PIN for future action they might wish to take.

The potential for abuse here is enormous – and the problems around PINs are discussed here in a 2010 Guardian article by Emma Norton of Liberty.

Oddly, at the same time that my complaint was being considered, the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, Sara Thornton, was giving evidence in Parliament to the Home Affairs Committee as part of an inquiry into PINs. Thornton specifically rejected a suggestion that officers are “trigger happy” when it comes to issuing PINs. If my experience is anything to go by, her denial does not reflect the true situation.

Boykin and Saleem Imagine “Powerful Network Dedicated to Fighting Global Jihad”

From the blurb for The Coalition, a new novel from “Jerry” Boykin and Kamal Saleem:

Our story is set in the not-too-distant future. Muslims have succeeded in becoming the majority of several European populations, adding to their dominance in the Middle East. With the accelerating spread of radical Islam and Sharia law as the backdrop, our character-driven novel tells the story of a divided world and two men who epitomize the ideological chasm…

The Sodality, (operating publically as Global Reparations, an NGO) was formed by a small group of mostly American retired military leaders, businessmen, politicians, and ministers. What started as a loose connection of friends and colleagues crystallized into a powerful network dedicated to fighting the onslaught of global jihad and those conspiring with them for their own agendas.

Based in the Czech Republic with facilities in fifteen locations worldwide, the Sodality runs missions ranging from sabotaging terrorist finances and supply lines to assassinations of terrorist leaders. Their formation and activities were inspired by relentless attacks on a constitutional republic, attacks on the West, and fecklessness government leaders.

…As the spread of the Muslim religion accelerates toward dominance, the war between Sunnis and Shi’as is subjugated to the common desire to destroy Israel and America.

It should be remembered that Saleem has stated that Obama is a secret Muslim who performs an Islamic prayer when he pretends to pledge allegiance to the flag, while Boykin famously warned that Obama is preparing a “private Brownshirt army” to enforce Marxism acorss the USA. Boykin has also called for mosques to be banned in the USA (although he introduced a bit of vagueness to what he meant following controversy).

The book was published last month, and the authors recently discussed it on radio with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios. Boykin and Saleem have been appearing together in the media and at various events for some time, and they are both closely associated with the neo-Pentecostal evangelist Rick Joyner. Boykin’s endorsement of Saleem has also been used to bat away the overwhelming evidence that Saleem has lied extravagantly about his past in order to present himself as an expert on Islam and terrorism.

However, although Boykin and Saleem tend to focus on the Christian Right speaker circuit, The Coalition appears to be a secular affair: the book is published by Post Hill Press, an independent publisher that produces a strange mix of novels, political memoirs and conservative polemics (it also has the current rights to Oliver North’s 1991 Under Fire). Unexpectedly, the imprint is owned by Permuted Press, which publishes apocalyptic horror stories (particularly involving zombies), and this genre appears to be the specialism of the editors who are thanked in The Coalition‘s acknowledgements. Also involved with Post Hill Press is Anthony Ziccardi, who heads Newsmax Media’s Humanix Books.

By contrast, Boykin’s previous creative endeavours  – Danger Close and Kiloton Threat – were co-authored with a professional Christian adventure author (Tom Morrisey) and published through religious imprints. However, The Coalition seems to be part of the same series: in all three books, the main character is named Blake Kershaw, and there are appearances by an elderly General Sam Wilson (there may be other connections between the books). It’s clear that “General Sam” is the real-life Samuel V. Wilson, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency: in Danger Close “Sam Wilson” is a retired General with “an office” at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, just as the real-life Wilson was the college’s president; in Kiloton Threat he’s given the “V.” middle initial; and in the acknowledgements for The Coalition Boykin says that the real “General Sam” is “a ninety-one-year old in and mentor”, fitting with Wilson’s birth in 1923. Wilson appears to have approved of how he was portrayed in the earlier books, for which he provided endorsements.

This time, perhaps the prospect of the good guys running “supply lines to assassinations of terrorist leaders” was seen as bit too red-bloodied for a Christian imprint; here’s a passage in which General Sam gives advice to Kershaw about an invitation to join the counterjihad group:

“I’m as ready to strap it on as I’ve ever been, but I’m also really unsettled with the concept of doing it outside the government… The idea for the Sodality has been floating around me since just after World War Two. I was four square against it until the major moves were made to dismantle our Constitution, and in particular the separation of powers, at the time we were also seeing the greatest threat from without since Pearl Habor. Left to the status quo, America might have already been pulled down to third world chaos. If you take their offer, you will find out what they’ve done in just a few years to buttress the wall around America…”

Coincidentally, one of the leaders of the Sodality is “Lt Gen Bill Garrison”, which just happens to be the same real-life ranking of Lt Gen William G. Boykin, and it’s made clear he’s running a group “with no restrictions on proselyizing”.

The book’s Amazon page includes an endorsement from Oliver North:

To know where our fight against radical Islam is heading, you must read The Coalition by my warrior friend Jerry Boykin and Kamal Saleem. They say it’s fiction. But it’s truth with a warning label: ‘Your Thinking Is About To Be Challenged.

Anti-Gay “Sinister Monk” Arrested in Cambridge

From the Pink News:

Monk arrested for distributing homophobic leaflets is head of Catholic charity

A monk who was earlier this week arrested for distributing leaflets across Cambridge claiming that gay people are “corrupting young children”, is the director of a Catholic charity which spends tens of thousands of pounds each year.

…PinkNews has discovered that [Damon Jonah] Kelly, who is actually a monk, is the director of the Scotland based charity the Black Hermits.

The Pink News notes that the organisation exists to “promote Roman Catholic religion” and aims “to establish a Roman Catholic monastic centre on the Island of Mull.”

Details about Kelly follow earlier reports of a “sinister monk” distributing leaflets in Cambridge in April, and in Brighton, Market Harborough and Lincoln over the summer. As the Leicester Mercury reported in August:

One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “I saw the monk in Bath Street, followed by two angry people.”

There was also a rumour of an assistant:

A police spokeswoman said… one person who called in to complain said the monk appeared to be with another man, in normal clothing.

She said. “One was in his in late 30s. The other was dressed in a black monk’s outfit.

“Officers attended the area but could not find anyone…”

One recipient posted an image of one leaflet, entitled Homosexualism: A Few Points, to Twitter. This week’s arrest, however, appears to relate to a second publication, called The Works of DarknessThere’s also a third leaflet, a seasonable item titled Christmas, Christ and Anti-Christ. No publisher’s details are apparent, and all three have headings printed in a medievalizing font.

“The Black Hermits” are obscure – there are no details on-line other than official filings on charity and company websites, which show that the name was registered as a company in 2005. However, it should be noted that Kelly is just one of several directors, alongside a nun, a priest, and – rather unexpectedly – a local Mull grandee who was the sister of the late Pamela Harriman. It’s not clear why the Pink News describes him as the “head” of the charity, and there’s no reason to infer that his behaviour (which he’s admitted to) has anything to do with the organisation.

Emails Reveal Link Between World Congress of Families’ Russian Representative and Russian Nationalists

From J. Lester Feder and Susie Armitage at Buzzfeed:

Russian nationalists and social conservatives appear to be working together to use links with “pro-family” organizations in the U.S. and around the world to promote Russia’s geopolitical agenda, according to emails sent between right-wing activists.

…The emails include frequent correspondence between senior Russian figures, such as [Alexander] Dugin, the financier Konstantin Malofeev — who has close ties to Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine and is a patron of causes dear to the Orthodox Church — and Alexey Komov, an official with the Orthodox patriarchy and the “Russian representative” of the World Congress of Families, a social conservative network based in Rockford, Illinois.

The emails were apparently leaked by Shaltay-Boltay (“Humpty Dumpty”) from the account of a certain Georgy Gavrish, “a former official with the Russian Embassy to Greece” who is part of Dugin’s Eurasianist movement (more on Dugin here). Gavrish is described by Buzzfeed as a “gatekeeper” for Malofeev’s European contacts, and the article says that there are hints that he “is involved in handling Dugin’s relationships with separatists in Ukraine and building links with far-right politicians throughout Europe.”

Komov also sent Gavrish a spreadsheet of foreign participants who were “confirmed” as planning to attend September’s  “Large Families: The Future of Humanity” conference in Moscow – members of the World Congress of Families participated, but Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine meant that the WCF decided it would be prudent for the event not to be an official WCF activity. Komov (who also runs a Russian franchise of Ted Baehr‘s Movieguide) told Gavrish he was sending the names “just in case”.

Details of the conference participants were not a secret, although it’s interesting to have a full list, along with their topics, who recommended them, and details of who apparently paid for their travel (although Komov cautioned Buzzfeed that the spreadsheet may not be completely accurate). From the UK, Benjamin Harris-Quinney  of the Bow Group was described as being “keen to speak on the UK Same Sex Marriage Bill and the LGBT lobby”, while the theme of Thomas Ward of the National Association of Catholic Families and the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children was “family protection”. Both are listed as having received travel expenses from Vladimir Yakunin’s Foundation of St Andrew the First-Born; Yakunin, a key member of Putin’s inner circle, is currently under sanctions.

And from the USA: Theodore Baehr* and his daughter Evelyn* (Movieguide); Brian Brown (National Organization for Marriage); Josh Craddock (Personhood USA); John DeFrain* (Professor of Family and Community Development); Michael P. Donnelly (Home School Legal Defense Association); Alejandra Fabris (Citizen Go); Donald Feder (WCF – more on him here); Miriam Grossman* (author of Unprotected and You’re Teaching My Child What?); Father Marcel Guarnizo* (Educational Initiative for Central and Eastern Europe); Lawrence D. Jacobs* (WCF); Keith Mason (Personhood USA), Shelly Locke (Power of Mothers); Terrence McKeegan (Holy See Mission to the UN), Miguel Moreno (Leadership Institute); William J. Murray (Religious Freedom Coalition – more on him here); Austin Ruse (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute – Ruse made links with Malofeev in 2013, as I noted here); Daniel P. Schmidt (Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation); Sharon Slater (Family Watch International); and Steven Weber (Christian Broadcasting Network).

Names marked with an asterisk denote those also listed as having received expenses from the Foundation of St Andrew the First-Born; the others paid their own way.

Meanwhile, an earlier article from Softpedia notes how the emails reveal a wider strategy of promoting Russia in Europe:

The endeavor to attract pro-Russian individuals in Europe is financed by Konstantin Malofeev, according to Shaltay Boltay (Google Translate)…

The individuals are occupying important positions in their countries, which allows them certain degree of influence, and have either met Dugin himself or his representatives…

Among the names listed there are Ion Iliescu (former president of Romania), Suleyman Demirel (former president of Turkey), Roman Giertych (former minister of education in Poland [blogged here – RB]), Viktor Orbán (prime minister of Hungary), Robert Fico (prime minister of Slovakia), Vojislav Kostunica (former president of Serbia), Massimo Fini (Italian journalist), Tiberio Gratsiani (president of the Institute of Geopolitics and Applied Sciences in Italy), Jurgen Elsasser (German journalist and political activist), and Felix Allemand (German anti-globalization blogger).

In June, Swiss media broke the story of a secret meeting between Malofeev, Dugin, and some right-wing political figures in Vienna; and just recently, it was reported that France’s Front National had borrowed a large sum from a Cyprus-based company called Veronisa Holdings, which happens to be owned by a KGB agent turned-banker named Yuri Kudimov.

Exaro News Makes Troubling New Accusations on Twitter

Disturbing Tweets from investigative website Exaro News. First, from 30 November:

Do not fall for smears against Exaro re CSA [child sexual abuse] survivors. We cannot discuss the arrangements that we make to ensure their safety and security. [LINK]

BTW the smears are coming from paedophiles as well as spooks. But some are one and the same. But they all know that the tide has turned.  [LINK]

And then today:

For the first time we are blocking some paedophiles and paedo-apologists who have engaged in extreme trolling to upset abuse survivors. [LINK]

… Not worth naming them. We do not want to give them publicity. [LINK]

Over the past few months, Exaro News has made a name for itself with a series of inter-related stories about an alleged paedophile ring involving senior politicians that supposedly operated with the collusion of the security services in the 1970s and 1980s. But in the above, the website has shifted – in an extraordinary casual and off-hand way – from investigating historic claims to making inflammatory accusations about people operating on Twitter today.

Exaro‘s most sensational claim appeared last month: that a survivor, named as “Nick”, had witnessed a then-serving Conservative Party MP “strangle a boy to death during a sexual assault” at an “abuse party”. Nick also claims  that a second boy was murdered by two unknown men in front of “a former Conservative cabinet minister” at a different event, and that a third boy had been “deliberately [run] over and killed” by a member of the gang. The timeline, for some reason, is slightly confused: the first murder took place “around 1980″, and the second one “between a year and 18 months” later; but the third – which Nick “took to be a warning” – is curiously dated to “the summer of 1979″.

Since November’s publication, I’ve seen several people on Twitter express scepticism about the story or raise misgivings about how Exaro and Nick are interacting with the police. I also note that one critic (involved with the contrarian “Spiked” group) is on record as having described Stuart Hall’s crimes as being “low-level”, and I can see how this might provoke a hostile “paedo-apologist” accusation. Further, there is one (anonymous) Twitter user who is approaching the issue in a way that is unpleasant and goading. But where’s the evidence of paedophiles “smearing” Exaro News on Twitter (or elsewhere)? And where’s the evidence of the remarkable claim that they are also “spooks”?

The published allegations about a “Conservative cabinet minister” are vague, but specific enough to allow anyone so inclined to make a short list of suspects. Similarly, these Tweets are vague enough to avoid proper scrutiny, but just specific enough to cast a shadow over anyone with reasonable and good-faith reservations about aspects of Exaro‘s approach.

That’s the effect. But as someone who supports “new media” and “citizen journalist” investigations into matters of public interest, I really hope it wasn’t the intention.

(Amended)

UPDATE: By way of a footnote, I would also like to note a couple of other recent Exaro Tweets that have caught my eye and set off alarm-bells: (1) an RT of a Tweet by another person responding to news that the site has been short-listed for a journalism award:

I should think the only people that won’t vote for you are paedophiles & the ‘cover uppers’!

Perhaps this was meant as a joke rather than as a serious proposition, but even if so it remains very ill-advised for Exaro to appear to endorse the sentiment.

And (2), an attack on Chris French for writing in the Guardian about false claims of Satanic Ritual Abuse (a subject I’ve discussed previously):

…He is, in total ignorance, casting doubt on Nick-type victims. SRA is a red herring icw Midland

The Guardian itself came under fire for publishing the piece after asking to speak to “Nick”.

I should perhaps make clear that this doesn’t mean that I think Exaro News should be dismissed out of hand – the case of Cyril Smith shows that a politician was able to get away with paedophilic abuse (although not, so far as we know, murder) in plain sight, and that the security services may have protected him (as others have suggested, perhaps in order to blackmail him).

Exaro also has testimony from ex-law enforcement officers that they were aware of “a significant paedophile group in Parliament” who were allegedly “untouchable”; these two (unnamed) officers apparently also claim to have been “aware that boys were being killed”, although no details are given as to what is meant by “aware” (saw bodies? heard rumours?). Obviously, that needs looking into.

One thing we’ve learnt over the past 12 years, following the first media revelations about historic sex abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in 2002, is that institutions have again and again facilitated the abuse of children, in some cases because of child protection failures and in others due to collusion. There is naturally widespread goodwill towards those who are investigating the issue, and anger against the thought of all those who escaped justice because they enjoyed positions of authority and trust.

But the spectre of Joseph McCarthy should remind us that it not good for any campaigning group or individual to be above criticism.

Berean Call Clashes with WND On End-Times Theories

T.A. McMahon of The Berean Call warns against “fearmongering false prophets”:

The latest to conjure up forthcoming dark clouds on the horizon are those who promote the teaching that there may well be a combination of two prophetic events taking place in the year 2015 that could result in unprecedented physical cataclysms and financial crashes. The use of italics for “may well be” and “could” is given to note that those purveyors of disasters have used such language in order to cover themselves from being accused of false prophecy. 

…The two leaders in this alleged confluence of biblical tribulations are Jonathan Cahn ( The Mystery of Shemitah ) and Mark Biltz ( The Blood Moons ) [here]. They are supported by a cast of false teachers and sensationalists and their associated organizations that include Jim Bakker, Sid Roth, John Hagee, Pat Robertson of the 700 Club , and Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily, to name but a few.

…Cahn is heavily promoted by WorldNetDaily, which heralds him as a modern-day prophet and revealer of “The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future .” Joseph Farah, WorldNetDaily’s chief, is the producer of Cahn’s documentary Isaiah:9:10 Judgment [here], and the website is a chief supporter of Cahn’s books.

…Joining the false signs-and-wonders teacher Rodney Howard-Browne for his Celebrate America Conference, Jonathan Cahn told the audience, “The financial collapse of the US dollar may happen on Sunday the 13th of September 2015 corresponding to the 29 of Elul 5775 on the Hebrew calendar, the next shemitah of the 7 year cycle.”

That’s from Google cache; the original page has been scrubbed, apparently following a complaint from Farah.

Cahn is a Messianic Jew, and he claims to have special insight into “Hebrew Mysteries” in the Bible. In particular, God’s dealings with ancient Israel are supposedly spiritual laws that can also be used to explain historical events in the USA, and to predict what lies ahead. His book The Harbinger has been a national bestseller, and he’s now followed up with The Mystery of the Shemitah (tagline: “The 3, 000-Year-Old Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future, the World’s Future, and Your Future!”)

The Berean Call, by contrast, represents a more austere form of Christian fundamentalism that is sceptical of trendy “end-times experts” and their various theories:

Jonathan Cahn further compounds the central error that he taught in his book The Harbinger by applying a law of God to America—a law that applies only to God’s exclusive covenant people: the Jews. This is false prophecy in the sense that it seriously misrepresents the Scriptures.

The article has prompted a bitter and aggrieved response from WND‘s Joseph Farah, in a piece written by one of his authors, Leo Hohmann:

A video-recording of Cahn’s speech that day in D.C. revealed no mention of the dollar’s impending collapse on Sept. 13 of next year.

…Farah, founder of WND.com, WND Books and WND Films, said he was disappointed in McMahon’s blanket criticisms and especially his distortion of the facts.

“When you accuse someone of saying something they didn’t say it’s called ‘bearing false witness.’ It’s a sin. It’s a breach of one of the Ten Commandments,” Farah said.

The criticisms also appear to be a breach of the biblical admonishment in Matthew 18:15-20, Farah said. That scripture says “if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” In other words, tell him in private, not in front of the whole congregation or, in this case, in front of the world on the Internet.

…Why he would have fabricated a quote remains unclear. WND left a voicemail message Monday and sent an email seeking a response from the Berean Call but as of this posting has not heard from McMahon.

This is difficult to take: Farah is a notorious and florid liar when it comes to all kinds of subjects, while his sudden conversion to discreet and constructive criticism as opposed to shrill denunciations is laughable.

The accusation that McMahon “fabricated a quote” rather than simply made a mistake is also made in bad faith. A few moments Googling brings up a video of Cahn in conversation with Sid Roth, in which Cahn makes it very clear that he expects disaster in 2015 as part of a seven-year spiritual cycle:

The first shaking is 9/11. Second shaking is the economic collapse. When does it happen? It happens in 2008… The greatest day happened at the end of September 2008. It was the greatest stock market crash in the history of America.

It’s pretty clear that this infers something similar for September 2015. Part of the interview was uploaded to YouTube by someone called packrat23456 in March 2013; the uploader chose to substitute some of the visuals with written comments of his own, and at 3.58 he added:

The financial collapse of the US dollar, may happen on Sunday, the 13th of September 2015.

This may not be Cahn’s exact words, but it’s the plain meaning of what he’s saying. The YouTube video was subsequently embedded on a site called Prophecies of the End Times (tagline: “The Wrath of God is Comming”), in a piece by a certain PT Caldwell entitled “The Financial Collapse of America..9/13/2015“.

The bad blood between McMahon and Farah goes back a while, despite former friendship. In March 2013, Farah recalled that McMahon had once helped him find a painkiller vending-machine during an attack of kidney stones, but, alas:

Nearly every issue of The Berean Call includes a new attack on “The Harbinger” and “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment” – each one more preposterous and slanderous than the next.

…McMahon has a legacy to live up to – the big legacy of Dave Hunt. He is attempting to do that with a “holier than thou” attitude toward the superstar of American evangelicalism today, Jonathan Cahn (and occasionally myself because of my close association with him).

It’s pure jealousy, in my opinion. It’s envy. It’s the temptation to pick on someone with a big following to attract attention from a much more limited following.