CERN Accused of Opening a “Portal” Following Summer Storm in Geneva

From Charisma News:

Bizarre ‘Portal-Shaped Clouds’ Form Over CERN During the ‘Awake Experiment’

…Just last month, the researchers working at the facility began a new experiment called “Awake” that uses “plasma wakefields driven by a proton beam” to accelerate charged particles. On June 24, pictures of some extremely bizarre “portal-shaped cloud formations” were taken in the area just above the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Could it be possible that there is some sort of a connection between this new “Awake” experiment and these strange cloud formations? And precisely what do the researchers hope to “awaken” anyway?

…Some people just see normal thunderstorms when they look at these clouds, but others are convinced they are looking at strange balls of energy and inter-dimensional portals

The author, Michael Snyder (var Michael T. Snyder), does not completely identify with the claims (“others are convinced”), but he’s happy enough to spread the story uncritically, adding  the observations that “‘CERN’ is the first four letters of the name of the horned pagan god named Cernunnos” and that “the people running CERN decided to choose a logo that seems to contain ‘666.’”

Snyder’s source is a video uploaded to YouTube by Freedom Fighter Times, a self-described “Research organization that exposes the end times, and the powers that be who seek our demise”. The video caught the imagination of some British tabloids, with the Daily Express reporting as follows (sic for missing quote mark):

What is CERN doing? Bizarre clouds over Large Hadron Collider ‘prove portals are opening

NEW images of bizarre cloud formations above the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) could be shock proof the world’s biggest experiment is about to tear open a portal to another dimension.

And from there it reached Snyder, an American End-Times conspiracy theorist who often features on Charisma.

It seems to me that, despite his hedging, Snyder’s article was obviously written to spread fear of science and hatred of scientists. The CERN logo in fact shows “interlaced rings, which are a simplified representation of the accelerator chain and the particle tracks”. Two rings and five tracks (of differing lengths) are represented, and there is no sensible way that these can be untangled to form “666”.

And as for the “cloud” story, an article in Le Matin (a Swiss newspaper) has followed up:

Et souligne que le nuage n’est pas au-dessus du collisionneur mais plutôt au-dessus du centre de Genève.

Mais la boule d’énergie, alors? «Le CERN n’a pas créé ce nuage et il n’est pas isolé», sourit le météorologue Frédéric Glassey, de MeteoNews. «Dans la nuit concernée, il y avait tout un front nuageux sur Genève vers 1 heure du matin. Il remontait jusqu’à Besançon puis s’est déplacé vers Morges. Quant à ce cumulonimbus, sa forme n’a rien d’atypique. On en voit des similaires presque lors de chaque orage.»

Pour en avoir le cœur net, nous avons demandé au CERN s’il a créé une porte vers les ténèbres. «Pas à ma connaissance…» répond Arnaud Marsollier, responsable de la communication. Il explique que le projet Awake existe bien. «Il vise à étudier de nouvelles technologies d’accélérations de particules.» Mais il ne sera lancé qu’à la fin de l’année. «Nous avons mené un test préliminaire, mais c’était la semaine avant l’orage», note-t-il.

Pas d’activités démoniaques, alors? «Ce lundi, le collisionneur fonctionne. Et il n’y a pas un nuage à l’horizon, il fait beau. Etrange, non?» ironise Arnaud Marsollier.

In other words, the cloud was over the centre of Geneva, not CERN; meterologists see nothing exceptional in the cloud formation on the night of 24 June, when there was a storm; and it did not coincide with any experiment.

Freedom Fighter Times is obscure, and most readers of British tabloids know that these kinds of stories are not to be taken seriously. Marsollier, speaking for CERN, seems to be relaxed about the nonsense.

However, it is worth remembering that Charisma Media – formerly Strang Communications – is an influential player in US evangelicalism, particularly at the Neo-Pentecostal end. The site carries accounts of supposed miracle healings and such that we may regard as credulous, but it aspires to being a serious source for news stories about evangelical churches and personalities in the USA. The site’s editors, one would expect, must take seriously Biblical injunctions that emphasise the importance of truthfulness.

Why, then, does Charisma News promote crackpot science-fiction conspiracy theories that have little to do with orthodox Christian beliefs and that make the site – and Christians – look ridiculous? In recent months, Snyder has suggested that the Gotthard Base Tunnel opening ceremony was “an Illuminati Ritual Intended to Honor Satan”, and that plans by archaeologists to reconstruct an ancient archway destroyed by ISIS might create a “portal” through which the Anti-Christ would arrive in London and New York.

We can giggle at the silliness – but the bottom line is that these lies play on people’s fears and encourage hatred against blameless people who are contributing to society through engineering projects and research. In a “post-fact world” of conspiracy theories, demagogues, and baseless allegations, laughter should be tempered with concern.

Snyder is also promoted by Jim Bakker; his main theme is “economic collapse”, which he links to Biblical prophecies and current events; his Economic Collapse Blog encourages the purchase of “Gold Coins”, “Silver Coins”, and “Emergency Food” (emergency food is also heavily promoted by Bakker). He has also written a book called The Rapture Verdict, in which he warns Christians that they will not be Raptured until after the End-Times Tribulation (and thus, presumably, they should stock up in the meantime). Rational Wiki has a suitably contemptuous profile of the man.

Report Notes Andrea Leadsom Link to YWAM

From Buzzfeed:

Tory leadership hopeful Andrea Leadsom has organised a school exchange project for the last 10 years with a Ugandan centre co-run by an anti-gay Christian group that performs “gay cure” ministries and whose founder condemned homosexual love as “a sin”, BuzzFeed News can reveal.

Leadsom discussed the project in parliament in 2013, telling MPs it was set up in 2006 with one Richard Johnson, who “runs a fantastic youth centre in Uganda” called the Discovery Centre.

…The Discovery Centre – whose stated goal is “to promote the gospel and kingdom of Jesus Christ” – is a joint project between a UK-based charitable trust run by Johnson and the Ugandan branch of international evangelical group Youth With a Mission, BuzzFeed has learned.

Buzzfeed notes the views of YWAM’s American founder, Loren Cunningham, that homosexuality is “a temptation to people who have been rejected”, and draws attention to the existence of a specific YWAM ministry in Amsterdam that claims to provide “a message of hope and healing to those affected by unwanted same sex attraction through the compassionate and transforming power of Jesus Christ”.

YWAM is certainly controversial: there are concerns that it works to spread the ideology of the US Christian Right abroad, and there have been complaints that it can be controlling. There are also some intriguing links between YWAM and The Fellowship, a discrete religious group that has been been operating among politicians in Washington for decades (discussed here and here; more on group here).

However, it seems to me that it is important not to jump to conclusions. Of course Cunningham has conservative evangelical views when it comes to sexual morality, and YWAM’s ambitions are a cause for genuine concern, but to describe the organisation simply as an “anti-gay Christian group” is reductive. YWAM undertakes many kinds of missionary activities, and has many affiliated ministries; and the “school exchange project” seems to be unremarkable and benign. According to a 2007 report in the Northampton Chronicle and Echo:

The project was set up by Andrea Leadsom, prospective parliamentary candidate for South Northamptonshire.

She said: “I wanted to do something to engage sixth-formers in politics and development. The six who go to Uganda will have a conference with 10 students from there, and other students are involved with putting together information about Uganda to integrate into the school curriculum, to show what life is like in the Commonwealth. There will also be an exhibition.”

Footnote

A number of recent media reports have focused on Leadsom’s Christianity, although there is a curious lack of detail about her denomination or style of worship. According to a video at the Bible Society’s Christians in Parliament website, she came to believe in God when she gave birth; speaking to the Telegraph, she explained that

“I am a very committed Christian. I think my values and everything I do is driven by that. It’s very important to me. I actually study the Bible in Parliament with a group of colleagues and I do go to church but I am not a regular.  There’s the cross party Christians in parliament group and there are various Bible studies groups, which I find incredibly helpful.”

Which “Bible studies groups” would be interesting to know about.

In 2011, as I blogged at the time, Leadsom attended a talk hosted by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) on the subject of sex education, given by the notorious anti-Kinsey obsessive Judith Reisman. According to SPUC, Leadsom “joined parents in delivering to the Department of Education a 47,000-signature petition to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, calling for ‘sex DVDs’ to be banned from the country’s primary schools.”

A few months later, the PSHE (Personal Social Health & Economic Education) Association expressed a concern that Channel 4 had decided to to “remove its well respected and established ‘Living and Growing’ Sex and Relationships (SRE) resource from its catalogue” after Schools Minister Nick Gibb and Leadsom “held a special meeting with Channel 4 executives to express their concerns”.

On same-sex marriage, Leadsom gave a somewhat unclear account in a recent interview with ITV. The Independent has transcribed what she said – one suspects because it would have been difficult to provide a succinct summary:

“…Civil partnerships are called marriage as well. As in registry offices marriages are still marriages. The concern I had was the potential compulsion for the Church of England so I don’t think that the Anglican Church should be forced down a route where many Christians aren’t comfortable about it. My own view on it was to positively abstain.”

“This is not about do I consider gay couples to be any less worthy of marriage than heterosexual couples – not at all, it’s exactly the same. The issue is one I have around the consequences, the very clear hurt caused to many Christians who felt that marriage in the Church could only be between a man a woman. I think we’ve muddled the terms of marriage, civil partnership, church etc. I would have liked that to have been clarified.I didn’t really like the legislation – that was the problem. But I absolutely support gay marriage.”

Prophecy “Expert” Declares Brexit a Luciferian “Ruse”

“Internationally Recognized Prophecy Expert, Minister, Speaker and Author” Paul McGuire turns his attention to Brexit, following his publication of a book called The Babylon Code:

The Babylon Code Reveals the Elite’s Plans for a Global Government with the EU as the Model—Linking ‘Brexit,’ Donald Trump’s Anti-Globalism Campaign and the Bible’s Greatest Riddle, ‘Mystery, Babylon.’

…McGuire says Brexit is almost certainly a carefully-orchestrated ruse by the elite to usher in a European superstate, and ultimately a global superstate.

“Clearly, the voice of the working class, middle class, and what Bilderberg calls the ‘Precariat’ class has not been completely silenced… But it would be highly naïve not to assume that the Brexit was orchestrated by the elite for the benefit of the elite. The ‘Transatlantic Union’ and ‘Transatlantic Matrix’ is the biggest and most profitable business in the world, which is manufacturing global illusion and virtual reality. The core financial mechanism, which has been driving the global financial system from the Tower of Babel until today, is a Luciferian system based on sorcery and printing money from nothing.”

In other words, McGuire’s prophecy-mongering is completely unfalsifiable. Had the UK voted to remain in the EU, this would have been evidence that the “global superstate” is advancing towards its ultimate goal; instead, the leave vote proves that the elite is of course attempting to hoodwink us into thinking that the “global superstate” is not advancing towards its goal.

The Babylon Code was published earlier this year by FaithWords, a Nashville-based religious imprint owned by Hachette. It was co-written with Troy Anderson, an apocalyptically minded journalist who founded the World Prophecy Network as a “a reliable source of end-times news, commentary and in-depth journalism”. Judging from Google Books, the opus does not actually address “Brexit” directly; instead, the book goes on about supposed Babylonian symbolism of the European Union and the occult significance of Schiller’s Ode to Joy.

McGuire has featured on this blog several times – most recently in 2013, when he spoke at a prophecy conference on the subject of “The Luciferian Elite: The Secret Plan For America and Prophecy”. McGuire accuses the British royal family of funding “occult-based mind control operations” and “the Rothschilds” of placing “Illuminati and Satanic symbols all over the monetary systems, governments and corporations”. He also claims that occultists are cloning a “master race” and creating body parts for the “super rich” in secret underground laboratories.

Is such a fringe figure worthy of consideration? Apparently, McGuire is “a frequent guest on the Fox News Network and CNN”, and it should be noted that FaithWords publishes books written or approved many mainstream American evangelical leaders. Inevitably, he has also been promoted by WND, whose editor, Joseph Farah, was previously sought out personally by Donald Trump during Trump’s “birther” phase. McGuire also has a radio show, where his topics have included promoting (in collaboration with Doug Hagmann’s “Northeast Intelligence Network” – previously blogged here) Russ Dizdar’s allegations of widespread Satanic Ritual Abuse.

Anderson, meanwhile, is an executive director of Charisma, a central vehicle of Steve Strang’s evangelical/Pentecostal media empire.

McGuire appears to have an ambivalent view of “the left” – on the one hand, the Occupy movement is a conspiracy created the Tavistock Institute using depth psychology and funded by George Soros, yet in his book he sought out the opinions of none other than Noam Chomsky; the book is described as

a five-year journalistic investigation involving more than 100 interviews with the world’s most notable experts on politics, economics, science and eschatology ranging from Billy Graham and Dr. Tim LaHaye to MIT Professor Noam Chomsky and Princeton University Professor Martin Gilens…

NY Times Notes Donald Trump’s Contact with Joseph Farah

The New York Times carries an article on “the Six Weeks Donald Trump Was a Nonstop ‘Birther'”. This was in 2011, during which Trump was in direct contact with Joseph Farah of WND (formerly World Net Daily) and Jerome Corsi:

[Farah] received the first of several calls from a Manhattan real estate developer who wanted to take one of his theories mainstream.

That developer, Donald J. Trump, told Mr. Farah that he shared his suspicion that President Obama might have been born outside the United States and that he was looking for a way to prove it…

…”He was looking for affirmation that he was on the right track,” Mr. Farah said. “He was looking for a smoking gun kind of sound bite that would resonate with people.”

But what most impressed Mr. Farah was just how many hours Mr. Trump was willing to devote to the question. “This was a busy guy, this was a multibillionaire, and I was surprised that he was willing to spend that kind of time on it,” he said.

Mr. Farah also stressed to Mr. Trump that the issue was one of “transparency,” and Mr. Trump began using the phrase.

The article describes Farah as being “on the fringes of political life”, and there’s a mocking reference to a series that WND ran in 2006 on the subject of how “Soy is making kids ‘gay’” (the word “gay” always appears in scare quotes on WND, even for headlines such as “50 Dead in Terror Attack at Flordia ‘Gay’ Nightclub“).

However, while much that appears on WND is either risible or dishonest (or frequently both), the fact of Trump’s personal interest shows that one should not be too dismissive of Farah – his WND website and book imprint publishes a wide range of right-wing authors and commentators, all pushing particular themes and claims. His book author list includes names such as Richard A. Viguerie,  James Inhofe, Judith Reisman, Vox Day, and Wayne LaPierre, among others.

On the main WND website, the anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller is among his more more notorious commentators; other figures include Reza Khalili, a “former CIA operative” who regularly produces extraordinary revelations about Iran’s links with al-Qaida and plans to weaponize smallpox, and Bradlee Dean, whose Sandy Hook trutherism is perhaps the vilest depths to which WND has sunk. Others have monitored WND‘s output in depth, in particular Terry Krepel of ConWebWatch.

WND also publishes on religion, and Farah is a significant link between conservative political conspiricism and the Christian Right. In particular, he works closely with Jonathan Cahn of the apocalyptic Harbinger best-seller, and although Cahn’s book was published by Steve Strang’s evangelical media empire, WND publishes complementary material about Cahn’s thesis about how God is punishing the USA. Farah, Cahn, and Jim Bakker also lead Holy Land tours, and Farah and Cahn participate at “prophecy” conferences where Biblical fundamentalism blends into speculative science fiction theories about demons and UFOs and such.

An article published by Strang’s Charisma news service listed Farah as a “great Christian leader” in its coverage of Trump’s recent meeting with evangelicals:

Amazing grace. That was the tone of Donald Trump’s meeting with more than 1,000 evangelical leaders in New York on Tuesday, hosted by Dr. Ben Carson and sponsored by United in Purpose and My Faith Votes.

…It was humbling to be present among longtime great Christian leaders like James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Bill Dallas, Jim Garlow, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, George Barna, Rick Scarborough, David Barton, David Jeremiah, Franklin Graham, Ralph Reed, E.W. Jackson, Bill Federer, Gary Bauer, Kelly Shackelford, Bob McEwen, James Robison, Carl Lentz, Alveda King, Penny Nance, the Benham Brothers, Joseph Farah, Ken Blackwell, Eric Metaxas and newer leaders and activists like Lila Rose, Leslie Unruh, Marsha Blackburn and Marjorie Dannenfelser as some of them conversed with Mr. Trump on issues of importance to us all.

According to Farah himself:

It was a moving event. Trump hit all the right chords. He was sincere about his plans to fight for religious liberty and name judges who stick to the Constitution – he even shocked many in the audience by suggesting it was time to lift the political gag order placed on pastors getting involved in politics by President Lyndon Johnson so many years ago.

In the heart of Manhattan, the Christians closed the meeting with stirring prayers for the future of the country, complete with calls for repentance and revival.

We look forward to seeing evidence of Trump engaging in the novel activity (for him) of “repentance”; after all, shortly after the meeting, James Dobson stated that Trump “recently gave his life to Jesus Christ as his Savior”.

“Fairly Good Natured” Anti-Brexit Protest in London Smeared

From Sky News:

Thousands of people have been protesting outside the Houses of Parliament against the result in the EU referendum.

Groups of demonstrators were singing songs and chanting slogans, many of which were aimed at the leaders of the Leave campaign.

…The crowd also sang ‘Hey EU’, to the tune of The Beatles song ‘Hey Jude’.

…Sky’s [Jason] Farrell said there was clearly a lot of anger in the crowd.

“They are shouting ‘Liars, liars’, clearly referring to the Out campaign, they are also shouting ‘migrants in, racists out’.

…”It’s fairly good natured, I have to say. But there is also a police presence here.

Hours of footage from the protest have been uploaded to YouTube by RT; although one must of course be wary of RT’s editorial agenda, it seems unlikely that the video misrepresents the general mood of the gathering, which, as Farrell notes, was “fairly good natured”. There were no arrests, and none of the media coverage suggests that anything seriously “spiky” occurred. There appears to have been some angry chanting from time to time, and some of the banners (all homemade) were uncivil (“Fuck Farage” etc.), but that’s about it. Even the Sun, which covered the protest under the mocking headline “Sour Grapes?“, does not suggest that the crowd was a threatening presence.

However, one person who wanted to give a different impression was the propagandist Paul Staines (“Guido Fawkes”), who wrote on Twitter that

There are hate-filled bigots shouting obscenities and threats at MPs in SW1. After Jo Cox the media will be outraged. Remainers you say? Oh.

This appears to have been extrapolated from a wry Tweet by Michael Crick, who noted the juxtaposition of “No more hate!” and “Fuck you Boris!” chants. Staines’s censure of vulgar expressions of contempt is difficult to take – here he is in a London street in 2012, shouting “you are a fucking cunt” in someone’s face while jabbing the air with a microphone stand.

Staines’s attempt to portray the protest as a dangerous mob was then followed up by Nadine Dorries MP, whose vicious dishonesty (at times coordinated with Staines and his gang) has been documented on this blog on a number of occasions. Dorries had apparently passed through the crowd earlier, and she had made the observation that  there had been “Lots of French accents!” However, following Staines’s intervention, she suddenly remembered that she had in fact been subjected to a terrifying ordeal:

I was very, very scared walking through that crowd. They surrounded me in seconds. [here] Tonight I was terrified [here]

Obviously, if you are publicly identified with a particular political opinion, and you walk through a protest expressing the opposite opinion, you will probably feel tense. However, there is no evidence that anyone even noticed her, let alone subjected her to anything uncivil or menacing. When she says that the the crowd “surrounded” her, she wants to give the impression that she was somehow circled and obstructed by a mob when all she means is that she walked into a crowd and found herself in its midst. If there was anything of substance to the story, she would have Tweeted about it immediately afterwards.

Dorries also used the non-incident to attack the pro-Remain Conservative MP Anna Soubry, who had addressed the crowd. Soubry’s speech can be seen here, starting at 3hr 54min, and the Huffington Post has a partial transcription here. Dorries decided to accuse her of having “egged… on” a mob, and she alleged that there were “ambulances screeching around while  @Anna_Soubry played to the gallery”. Ambulances of course frequently pass through central London at speed, and Parliament is just across the river from St Thomas’ Hospital, which receives 105 ambulances a day. There are no reports of injuries either suffered or inflicted at the protest.

Having criticised Soubry’s judgement, Dorries also moved in with some typically spiteful character assassination. Soubry’s voice had cracked momentarily during her speech, and Dorries seized her chance, Tweeting that “I saw Anna Soubry leave the bar before she went outside. She was inebriated, not emotional”. Soubry responded that this was untrue and defamatory, and named Paula Sherriff MP as a witness; Dorries then deleted her claim, albeit with typical bad grace. Soubry’s follow-up request for an apology has not been answered [see update below for what happened next].

Dorries’s “look at me” antics have done their work, though – a file photo of Dorries features prominently in the Daily Mail coverage of the protest, and the paper’s website has updated its headline from “Thousands of anti-Brexit protestors join demonstration at Parliament” to “Tories at war as minister Anna Soubry is accused of being DRUNK by fellow MP as she nearly breaks down telling campaigners Brexit is ‘a terrible mistake'”. Her claim of being “terrified” also features in the story – but although Dorries often pretends to have been victimized or scared in some way order to smear critics, the journalist in this instance doesn’t seem to have been particularly impressed.

It is unlikely that Dorries will face negative consequences for her lying, which is generally framed by the media in terms of an “outspoken” celebrity MP entertaining the public with a “spat” rather than as evidence of a malaise in public life.

***
UPDATE (4 July)
Dorries’s “inebriated” smear against Soubry has done its work, and Soubry’s social media timeline is now peppered with mocking jibes on the subject: “Had a tipple this afternoon have we?”, from UKIP’s Raheem Kassam; ” You probably shouldn’t have opened that last bottle. #BettyFord”, from a certain Casey Jones, and so on. One account even suggests that the only reason Dorries withdrew the claim was because she was under “duress”. This is no doubt very amusing to Dorries, who has a history of egging on abusive trolls.

Some of the continuing hostility against Soubry is because of her support for Theresa May in the upcoming leadership election. Soubry therefore reached out to Andrea Leadsom, her Cabinet colleague and the unexpected new front-runner in the race:

I’m sure my colleague @andrealeadsom would join me in condemning abuse and untruths from ppl on Twitter claiming to support her

That Tweet was RT-ed by Leadsom, which is encouraging. The leadership contest must of course be robust, but there is no need for it to be vicious. I hope Leadsom will continue to repudiate character assassination by those who support her candidacy – whether obscure social media users or fellow MPs.

Russian Security Council Warns of Foreign Agents Using Religion to “Erode Spiritual Values”

Staying with Russia, news from the Russian Security Council, via Interfax:

The special services of other countries are involving religious, ethnic, human rights and other public organizations in the activity to destabilize some regions in the world, a new version of the Russian information security doctrine published on the Russian Security Council’s website said.

…”The information impact on Russia’s population, primarily young people, is being augmented, in order to erode cultural and spiritual values, undermine moral backbones, historical foundations and patriotic traditions of its multi-ethnic nation,” the published draft of a new version of the information security doctrine, which the Russian Security Council has worked out, said.

Interfax‘s translation is clumsy, but the paranoia and conspiracy mongering is clear enough. It’s like a Russian version of the John Birch Society. The Russian text can be seen here – section 12 is the relevant passage.

But these are not the railings of some fringe organization: the Russian Security Council is part of the presidential apparatus, modelled in part on the United States National Security Council.

A year ago, Putin signed into law measures to shut down “undesirable” NGOs – it looks like religious persecution will be the next stage, on the pretext of protecting “spiritual values”.

Russian Orthodox Rexit and the “Holy and Great Council”

Interfax Religion, 2007:

All-Orthodox meetings for settling disputes are not held regularly to the ‘shame of Orthodox world’ – the Russian Church

The Russian Orthodox Church considers it necessary to conduct regular all-Orthodox meetings to settle controversial issues arising between local Churches and to work out the common notion of a canonical territory.

‘It is a shame of the Orthodox world that we are not able to settle our problems through a fraternal dialogue’, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations said at a church scientific conference in Moscow.

The AP, 2016:

The leaders of the world’s Orthodox Christian churches ended a historic gathering on the Greek island of Crete on Sunday hoping to repeat the meeting within a decade, despite a boycott by the Russian church — the most populous in a religion of some 300 million people — and three other churches.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow did not attend, arguing that preparation had been inadequate… Kirill described the Crete meeting as a preparatory one and called for a new full meeting at a later date. It is unlikely he will accept a decision to make such meetings a permanent acting body.

In other words, “fraternal dialogue” is only really acceptable if Russia is running the show. Back in 2007, it was Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople who was reluctant to agree to “All-Orthodox meetings” under Russia’s aegis; now it’s Russia worried about Bartholomew’s status in new regular meetings in the wake of the long-planned “Holy and Great Council”. The Russian Orthodox Church has been challenging the status and authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople for a long time.

Meanwhile, the pro-Kremlin Interfax News Agency has been busy interviewing Russian Orthodox experts ready to explain why Kirill was right to boycott the event. First up, Alexey Svetozarsky of the Moscow Theological Academy:

…We see the life of the Orthodox Church as a fraternal unity of separate local Orthodox Churches, which should settle problematic questions jointly, not dictated by a certain “Eastern pope,” very small pope, caricatured in a certain sense, even though in a high rank.

…The Constantinople Patriarchate focuses on Anglo-Saxons, on evident, inexplicable for an Orthodox person, attraction by Rome. Anyone can search in Internet browser “Patriarch Bartholomew,” he jumps out of the frock as he wants to serve with the Pope of Rome. They read Gospels together, the Creed. They only don’t commune together with the pope. It is absolutely inexplicable moment.

Kirill Frolov, of an organisation called the Byzantium Club, sees an American conspiracy:

“We can suppose who these benefactors from the State Department and other services are. Setting up a standing body of outside administration over local Orthodox Churches, imposing the program of their deautocephalization correlates with Washington idea of depriving national states of sovereignty by the way of holding orange revolutions there,” he said.

Frolov believes the Russian Orthodox Church as the world’s biggest Orthodox Church bears the responsibility of preserving unity of Orthodoxy, “dogma about Orthodox Church as the only true, and convene the truly Pan-Orthodox Council without pressure and doubtful dogmatic and canonical experiments.”

The Lebanon Star has some details about other absentees:

Aside from Russia, the Orthodox churches of Bulgaria and Georgia were also absent. Both are considered close to Moscow.

The Patriarchate of Antioch also stayed away because of a spat with Jerusalem over the appointment of clerics in Qatar.

The Qatar dispute goes back to 2013; the current Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III (a controversial figure), has links with the country going back to the 1990s. However, one has to wonder if citing the Qatar dispute is a way for the Antioch Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II to tactfully align with the rising power and protector of Christians in his home country of Syria.

Cliff Richard Reveals How South Yorkshire Police Mishandled False Sex Abuse Allegations

ITV’s daytime television programme Loose Women has broadcast its exclusive interview with Cliff Richard, following the news that the Crown Prosecution Service has decided that there is insufficient evidence regarding historic allegations against him of sex abuse. South Yorkshire Police spent almost two years investigating the claims before passing to the CPS what the CPS described as “a full file of evidence”.

Here’s what the singer had to say about how the police handled the first allegation against him, which was that he had molested a boy at a Billy Graham rally at Sheffield Football Stadium in 1985:

This very first accuser made so many mistakes. And, remember – and this is not good for the South Yorkshire Police – but they didn’t even check until four weeks and two or three days later after they broke into my apartment. He got so much wrong. The room he said it happened in, apparently didn’t exist in 1985. Goalposts were never kept in rooms. And then he got the year wrong. He said it was 1983, and Billy Graham wasn’t there till ’85. So now I’m thinking to myself “well of course they’re going to just throw it out. This is nonsense.” They didn’t throw it out, and because of the raid, and because of the accusation, because of the BBC, I found myself smeared and named.

Police apparently put some effort into reconstructing his schedule for that day, telling him

“It would take at least two hours to fill that stadium. You were there for a lot longer than that.” And they said, “Also, you did another event too, before it all started. You went into a marquee, you sang a song to all these people. You spoke about your faith.” I went, “oh yeah”. And then of course I did two-and-a-half hours onstage in front of 47,000 people. And he said, “and yes, afterwards you were taken to a hotel to speak to some other people.”…. I wasn’t quick enough. I should have said: “I did all that? How did I find time to molest anybody.”

The investigating police also ignored testimony:

And apart from anything else, Glo, there were five policemen on duty that night. They’re now retired, but they volunteered their services… The five retired policemen phoned South Yorkshire Police and offered to make a statement because they felt I couldn’t have done this. They were there the whole night with me. They weren’t even answered… They wouldn’t accept the call. And so fortunately for me, they had read who my lawyers were. They phoned the lawyers, and said “we would like make statements”. And they have written statements, just in case I had to go to court, saying “in our humble opinion, this could never have happened. We were with him that whole time.” The police weren’t interested. And that’s what makes me so angry and confused, because they had all this and we could have got rid of that first accusation immediately.

Instead, the publicity meant that other false accusers decided to chance their arm – the interview did not say much about these individuals, but a companion Daily Mail article has the background:

One of his accusers turned out to be one of the country’s most dangerous sex offenders. Another is a man who previously tried to blackmail Cliff. His demands were not met and he was reported to the police.

The ‘roller skate guy’, as Cliff calls him, went on to become a religious minister. Lest anyone think that gives him credence as a witness, the ministry offers anyone a chance to ‘become ordained almost immediately’.

Cliff points out: ‘I understand you can be ordained by paying $27 online.’

The “roller skate guy” claims that Richard roller-skated into a shop, groped him, and then did the same thing a short time afterwards. The absurdity is self-evident. Meanwhile, the sex offender accuser (a serial rapist, in fact) bandwagoned on well-know conspiracy theories about Richard and Leon Brittain deriving from a supposed list of attendees at the Elm Guest House that was compiled by the convicted fraudster Chris Fay.

The interview also mentioned Paul Gambaccini, Jim Davidson, and Jimmy Tarbuck as three other celebrities who have been smeared by false sex abuse allegations; Gambaccini and Davidson have both written books about their experiences, as has the former politician Harvey Proctor, who was falsely accused of sex abuse, torture, and child murder (more on Tarbuck here). In a recent conversation with Chris Jefferies, Gambaccini reportedly observed that police are “dumber” the further up the police chain, and that while “younger cops are interested in justice… senior ones interested in results”. Cliff Richard’s preferred term is “inept”.

Gambaccini also said that the names of suspects are regularly leaked by police to the press, and this was a major aggravating factor in Cliff Richards’s case – notoriously, the BBC was on hand with a helicopter when his apartment was raided, which obviously means that they knew what was going to happen some time before Richard did. Perhaps this was down to the accuser or his handler, but I’m doubtful: we do know for sure that the police “sent the BBC an aerial photograph of Sir Cliff Richard’s home the night before the raid”, in order to facilitate the live coverage.

 The end of the Loose Women interview includes a statement from the police:

The force apologies wholeheartedly for the additional anxiety caused by our initial handling of the media interest in this case and has implemented the learning from this and a subsequent review.

But it seems that the police generated “the media interest” in the first place.

One more point to ponder. Cliff Richard is nearly 76 years old, and appears to be in good health. But supposing he had died a few years ago? A detail in a Daily Mail article from August 2014 gives us a clue about to how things would have developed:

The allegation against Sir Cliff first emerged in October 2012 when the alleged victim contacted Mark Williams-Thomas, an investigative journalist and former detective who worked on an ITV documentary exposing Jimmy Savile.

Yesterday, Mr Williams-Thomas confirmed that he had also passed new information to the police about Sir Cliff in addition to the allegations he heard from the alleged victim.

Almost certainly, it seems to me, the British public would by now have been subjected to high-profile television documentary on “Cliff Richard Exposed”, with tearful pseudo-victims telling their lies (cherry-picked by the editors for plausibility) while protected by dim lighting and actors’ voices. Police would then have issued a sombre statement appealing for “further victims” to come forward, and there would have been calls for the Goddard Inquiry to look into the matter. All without the man himself around to defend himself.

How many other celebrities, particularly those famous in the 1970s and 1980s, are destined to be traduced in this way once they have died?

Some Notes on Allegations Against Clement Freud

From the Daily Star:

E-mails sent to Kate and Gerry McCann by paedophile Clement Freud to be handed to inquiry

Correspondence between the late Liberal MP and the parents of missing Madeleine will be submitted to an inquiry looking into historic abuse allegations.

…The former BBC broadcaster, who died in 2009, invited Kate and Gerry McCanns to his £1million Portuguese holiday home after Maddie was taken.

The above story follows an Express article headlined “Paedophile Clement Freud knew what happened to Madeleine McCann, says rape victim”, which is the immediately qualified with the somewhat less decisive opener that “the rape victim of disgraced MP Sir Clement Freud has said she ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ if he was linked to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann”.

However, the story is not just an example of tabloid sensationalism: Freud’s posthumous downfall started with a story in the Telegraph headlined “Sir Clement Freud exposed as a paedophile as police urged to probe Madeleine McCann links”, which it then followed up with “Police were told two years ago about Clement Freud’s Madeleine but ‘did nothing’ victim says.”

What exactly the police were meant to do remains mysterious, and the decision to hand over emails to the Goddard Inquiry seems to me to be a futile gesture that will only whip up conspiracy theorists.

The allegations against Freud have been widely reported, and his widow has indicated that she believes her late husband’s accusers. According to the most serious claims against him, he “groomed and abused” one girl “from the age of 10 in the 1950s”; “made advances to” a second girl “when she was 11 in 1971 and brutally raped her when she was 18”; and raped a third girl aged 17 “in the mid 60s”.

Grim if true, but what does this have to do with the McCann case? According to Matthew Freud, his father (who turned 80 in 2004) was not in Portugal when Madeleine McCann went missing; further, no-one has accused Clement Freud of molesting any child as young as Madeleine was (just under 4 years old in 2007), let alone implied anything approaching child kidnap and/or murder.

Perhaps the inference is that Freud was involved with other abusers, and befriended the McCanns so that he could keep an eye on the investigation; but again, there’s zero evidence that he was ever part of a group involved with organized abuse, and the idea is implausible and fanciful.

All we have is a wild speculation by one accuser, who says that

…it was “odd” that Freud had sought out the McCanns, because he was a “private person” who did not enjoy the media spotlight when he was not performing.

This person knew Freud in the 1960s, so it’s unclear how she knows anything about how he regarded “the media spotlight” decades later. And in any case, the link to the McCanns did not put him in “the media spotlight”. It wasn’t generally known until Kate McCann mentioned it in her book in 2011, four years after the disappearance (a bit of Googling shows that conspiracy theorists have been exercised about it since that time).

The first Telegraph article was published ahead of a documentary that was broadcast as part of ITV’s Exposure strand. The largest part of the programme concerned Slyvia Woosley, who had been informally fostered with the Freuds as a child. Woosley claims that Freud abused her from the age of 11 until she was old enough to leave home, and the programme included some corroboration: a lodger in her property later told her son that she knew that Freud was going into Woosley’s room late at night, and Woolsey says that she had a confrontational phone call with Freud’s wife about her accusations shortly after she left the Freud home (a detail Jill Freud is not denying).

The documentary also included punditry from Nazir Afzal, formerly of the Crown Prosecution Service. As noted in the Radio Times:

…According to Nazir Afzal, former national lead on the sexual abuse of children for the Crown Prosecution Service, the details of the abuse would have led to a prosecution if Sir Clement were alive today.

He tells the programme: “If I was still chief prosecutor I would have no doubt in my mind that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Sir Clement Freud, and it would definitely be in the public interest to prosecute him.”

In the programme, Afzal explained that Woosley demonstrates the “traits” of someone who has been sexually abused as a child, and that he found her “compelling”. This seemed to me be worryingly subjective – Woosley did present herself well, but Afzal is not a psychologist and to see him opining about the “traits” of victims was a bit odd.

It should also be remembered that the CPS does not make charging decisions about deceased suspects, as it recently clarified. Afzal was only speaking in a personal capacity, but such a statement risks continuing to confuse the issue.

Afzal was on the programme basically to give a verdict on the evidence – despite the fact that there has been no police investigation, and despite the fact that we can never know what kind of defence Freud might have offered. As such, his pronouncement tends towards the idea that if the CPS says it has sufficient evidence to proceed, then the accused person is probably guilty. I was reminded of Sussex Police pointlessly announcing last year that they would have arrested Bishop George Bell if he were alive today (he died 58 years ago).

Despite the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”, we all understand the idea of someone being reasonably described as a suspect. We can also reasonably conclude that someone did something they have been accused of, despite the lack of any trial (or, indeed, despite an acquittal – O.J. Simpson being the obvious example). Further, official judgments about the guilt of someone who has died may be appropriate in relation to inquests and civil actions, and there may be reasons why someone who has died is of continuing interest to the police.

However, we seem to me moving ever closer to the idea that the legal system can determine posthumous guilt based on testimony about events that occurred decades ago. This is a disturbing trend. A new article by Joshua Rozenberg on the proposed inquiry into the late Greville Janner raises related concerns.

UPDATE: On 25 June, the Daily Mail ran an article headlined “Revealed: Police launch probe into what Clement Freud knew about Maddie as we uncover new details about ex-MP’s disturbing relationship with the McCanns”. The report explained that police had travelled to Somerset and had “spent 90 minutes interviewing Vicky Haynes”, the woman who made link. According to the paper’s hack, David Jones:

…her son, Mason, told me he first emailed the Operation Grange team, to alert them to this disturbing suspicion, some three years ago

‘My theory is that if you live somewhere for 25 years [the length of time Freud owned his Algarve villa] as a paedophile, you become part of the paedophile ring that exists in that area. You share information and stories; that’s how it works.

‘I think the abduction was carried out by that ring, and Freud knew something about what happened to the child. Either he invited Madeleine’s parents to his house to get some sick turn-on out of their visit, or he was trying to get information about where the police had got to with the investigation.

We are told that “Mason is nobody’s fool nor a conspiracy theorist”, and that he “is one of the world’s most respected close-protection guards”.

The intrepid hack has also undertaken his own investigation, noting that Freud’s weekly Times column contained many details about his life in Portugal but included “little about the company he kept”. Now, why would that be? Jones formulates the sinister import as a question: “Was this perhaps because Freud didn’t want anyone to know about the dark company he kept?”

Further:

Perhaps not coincidentally, he was a friend of the paedophile entertainer Rolf Harris, too, having given the Australian his entrée into the London club scene when he managed a West End nightspot. And after being elected as the maverick Liberal MP for the Isle of Ely, in 1973, he shared a Commons office with another serial child abuser, Cyril Smith.

Some Notes on Liberty GB, Paul Weston and Jack Buckby

From ITV News:

Following the decision by all major political parties to not contest the upcoming by-election for Jo Cox’s seat out of respect for her family, one smaller party has announced that it will.

Jack Buckby, who is part of ‘radical patriotic conservative’ party Liberty GB, took to social media to make the announcement that he was standing for election in Batley and Spen.

Liberty GB (var. LibertyGB) was founded in 2013 by Paul Weston, who formerly headed British Freedom; in 2011 Weston was part of a “counterjihad leadership summit” in London, after which his party made a formal association with the English Defence League. In 2014, Weston spoke at an EDL rally in London, at which he denounced David Cameron as a “traitor”.

In 2012, as I noted at the time, Weston met with allies in the USA, and he spoke at an event in New York co-hosted by Brigitte Gabriel of Act for America and Lawrence Auster. Auster, who died the following year, was a self-described “racialist” with pro-BNP views.

Buckby, as has been widely reported, is himself formerly with the BNP; in 2013, VICE described him as the “Boy Wonder of the Far-Right”, and Macleans followed up with a profile. Buckby describes himself as the founder of a student movement called “National Culturalism”, in association with John Press (or, as he prefers to style himself, “John K. Press, Ph.D”), past president of the Brooklyn Tea Party and now based in South Korea (where he teaches English at Namseoul University, although he prefers to emphasise that he gives a course on his “Culturalist” philosophy).

A recent Tweet from Liberty GB has announced that “1st interview after announcing candidacy for election will be with @Gavin_McInnes today. Turned down UK media. No respect 4 lying UK press.” Buckby and Weston have appeared on the Gavin McInnes Show previously; in 2014, Media Matters described the presenter as a “Hipster Racist”, and gave an overview:

McInnes currrently writes for Taki’s Magazine, a “paleoconservative” website that publishes overtly racist articles including ones by neo-confederates. At Taki’s, McInnes has referred to Asian-Americans as “slopes” and “riceballs,” suggested Muslims are “stupider” and “more violent” due to inbreeding, defended blackface because some minstrel shows were “just mimicking black people” and “fun,” backed the racist comments of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, and argued that to yell the n-word at someone is “not racist” but “just very rude.” He also owns his own website, StreetCarnage.com, where he defended Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s racist comments because Bundy was just “wonder[ing]” if African-Americans were better off under slavery. In 2013, 18 Milling Rising gave him a “Lifetime Achievement Award in Hipster Racism,” a brand of racism marked by making “ironically” racist “jokes.”

Buckby and Weston take the view that the Labour Party is to blame for Jo Cox’s death, and on Facebook Liberty GB quotes her pro-immigration views under the heading “Death of a Fool”. Buckby also argues that “The left and LGBT” were responsible for the Orlando shootings, for not being anti-Islam.

When it was announced that the main parties would not contest the Batley and Spen by-election, it seemed like a reasonable (although not unarguable) gesture: there would be little appetite for proper campaigning after the tragedy, and a low-key transition to a new Labour MP would send a signal that the country rejects the idea that an assassin can influence the political process. But it also now means that a far-right candidate will be campaigning against just one mainstream party opponent, with other potential alternative voices reluctant to enter the electoral process for reasons of respect and good taste.