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

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

Dear Beloved Potus Shield Watchman & Warrior:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Footnote

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

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

A Note on Roy Moore’s “Jewish Attorney”

AL.com reports:

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

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

…Kayla Moore today explained why she made that reference.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Footnote

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

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

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

From The Telegraph:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Footnote

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

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

A Tweet from American model Christine Teigen:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Notes on Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj, “End Times” Visionary Who Says the Pope Is the Bible’s “False Prophet”

From Right Wing Watch, earlier this month:

On his television program yesterday, End Times prepper pastor Jim Bakker interviewed Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj, who has born to a Hindu family but converted to Christianity as a teenager and whom Bakker hails as a modern-day prophet for supposedly having prophesied Hurricane Harvey and the destruction it would cause to the city of Houston.

During the program, Selvaraj told Bakker that during the 2016 election, he was called up to heaven and directly told by Abraham that it has been decided by “the council of the prophets” that Donald Trump would be America’s next president.

Selvaraj was born in 1962; he has a television ministry based in Chennai (Angel TV), and he has apparently been undertaking regular missionary work in Tibet since 1986. As indicated by his use of the title “sadhu”, Selvaraj’s outward appearance is that of a Hindu holy man – he wears a simple orange gown, and he has an impressive white-and-grey beard.

Selvaraj says that God asked him to continue the work of Sadhu Sundar Singh, a famous Sikh convert to Christianity who similarly described himself as Christian sadhu at the start of the last century, and who attempted missionary work in Tibet before dying young. (1) One US Evangelical/Neo-Pentecostal book thus compares him to Elisha, the Hebrew Bible prophet who received Elijah’s mantle. (2)

In the US, Selvaraj speaks at annual conferences held at Reverend Ann Ott’s In His Presence Ministries in Houston, Texas, and at Pastor Joe Sweet’s Shekinah Worship Center in Lancaster, California; these events are described as being “hosted by Angel TV” (for 2015 see here and here), and if you happen to live in California it may be useful to know that Selvaraj recently told Jim Bakker that “The Lord has shown me that Lancaster California is one of the places of refuge chosen by God for the last days”. The California conferences also include Neville Johnson, an “End Times” neo-Pentecostal from Queensland, Australia. (3)

Numerous videos of Selvaraj have been uploaded to a YouTube, particularly by a channel called “The Seraphim”. Titles include “The Antichrist Will Politically Rise From Berlin, Germany” (here); “Donald Trump 4 YR Tenure is the Final Grace Period And Warning For America” (here); “Jerusalem Becomes a Burden to All Nations, Gog Magog War” (here, with a bizarre computer generated backdrop); “Israel will build 3rd temple in exchange for land. Prophecy !!!” (here); “Identification of the Beast (Revelation 13) as revealed to Bro. Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj” (here); and “URGENT WARNING!!! Prophet Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj says Trump Is In Danger 2017” (here). Much of his teaching is based on personal messages received from God, although he also draws on ideas promoted by others – thus he joined in promoting the “Four Blood Moons” phenomenon that was supposed to signal the End-Times in 2015.

Another video is “Pope Francis is the Prophesied False Prophet in Revelation 13”, and the American neo-Pentecostal news service Charisma News has in the last few days run a prominent piece claiming that ” information confirms Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj’s prophecy that Pope Francis is the false prophet from Revelation”. The “information” is presented in a discussion between Jim Bakker and Tom Horn, whose religious writings are full of extravagant and bizarre David Icke-style science-fiction elements.

In particular, Bakker cites the fact that the Pope does not approve of Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; Bakker, of course, is a fervent Christian Zionist who believes that modern Israel is an indication of the Last Days. Bakker and Horn also refer to the new anti-Francis book The Dictator Pope by the pseudonymous Marcantonio Colonna, and to attacks on the “Phariseeism” of Francis by the Catholic author Michael O’Brien (e.g. here). Horn, as discussed previously, believes (or at least claims) that Francis is in fact “Peter the Roman”, the final pope and thus involved in a plan to create an “Alien Serpent-Savior”.

Evangelicals of course have a long history of naming the anti-Christ, but it is nevertheless unusual for a high-profile source to positively state, without any wriggle-room, that a figure supposedly predicted in the Book of Revelation can be positively identified beyond doubt. Charisma News is owned by Steven Strang’s Charisma Media, and in 2005 Strang – author of a recent book on God and Donald Trump, discussed here – was one of Time magazine’s “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America”.

Footnotes

1. An essay by the late scholar of religion Eric Sharpe posted here explains that “during the 1920s, the attention of Christians in practically every part of the world was seized and gripped by the work, witness and personality of an Indian Christian preacher, Sadhu Sundar Singh.” Sharpe also notes his interest in Emmanuel Swedenbourg, and “resemblances between Sundar Singh’s visions (or rather the explanation which he gave to those visions) and some aspects of the teaching of Swedenborg.” He also quotes Singh as having written in 1929 that

I have conversed with Swedenborg and some other Hindu saints who, after entering into the spiritual world, have accepted the Lord as the only true God and Saviour…

This quote strays from orthodox Christianity, and as such some Evangelicals suggest that his conversion, which Singh claimed was facilitated by a vision of Jesus, was a demonic deception. The issue was raised in 2009 in relation to the controversial neo-Pentecostal evangelist Todd Bentley (blogged here); Bentley claimed in 2006 to have had “a vision” of Singh.

2.  Steven Brooks, Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Release of Mantles to the End-time Generation (Destiny Image, 2008). This was based on his 2003 Where are the Mantles?, which was self-published though Xulon Press.

3. Here’s Johnson speaking on the subject of “Sex With Strange Flesh – Jude 1:7 – Origins of Demons”.

Ted Malloch Tells Alex Jones About “Elite” Luciferianism


From WND:

“Spirit cooking.” Occult imagery outside meetings of the most powerful people in the world. Bizarre rituals held at globally important events…

Global insider Theodore Roosevelt Malloch… has a disturbing answer. It’s “Luciferianism.” And Malloch described the ideology and its influence on world leaders in a recent interview on Infowars.

..Malloch identified many people in the E.U. hierarchy and in the Democrat Party as aligned with this belief. He explained how Lucifer is seen as a symbol of independence and of true human progress.

…Malloch said the leaked emails of John Podesta, as revealed by Wikileaks, contain powerful evidence there is something sick and wrong in America’s political class.

…”They prove he is involved, very deeply involved, as a committed Luciferian,” Malloch intoned. “Among other things is the invitation by Marina Abramovic to what is called a ‘spirit cooking’ ritual, which I think is the most revealing.

…Malloch further contended cannibalism and pedophilia are “common practices amongst Luciferians.”

The long-distance interview was with Alex Jones, and the official Alex Jones Channel has uploaded it to YouTube here. It follows an earlier appearance with Malloch in the studio, which Jones uploaded on 8 December as “Former Head Of Davos Group Talks About The Elite Practicing Satanism And The Occult”.

There’s no evidence here that Malloch had anything to say to Jones that comes with the authority of being a “global insider”. Saul Alinsky’s jocular literary reference in 1971 to Lucifer as “the first radical” is frequently touted as evidence by some conservatives that liberals are literally in league with the devil, while lurid allegations about “spirit cooking” that were promoted by Wikileaks collapse under scrutiny. (1)

It is remarkable that Malloch was a year ago regarded as a serious commentator. An American business academic based in the UK, Malloch made various television appearances as a apparent expert on Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump – including on Newsnight and This Week.

It was also widely reported that Trump was intending to make Malloch the US Ambassador to the European Union (indeed, that he was the “frontrunner”), but although the claim was taken at face value across the media in both the UK and the US, the basis for it was oddly hard to pin down. The prospect even drew formal critical comment from the EU officials Manfred Weber and Guy Verhofstadt – which was in turn condemned on Aaron Banks’s Westmonster website as “EU Nationalists attempting to block Trump’s EU Ambassador” and by Nigel Farage on Twitter. Farage had interviewed Malloch on LBC in January, describing him as “the man tipped to be Trump’s EU ambassador”, and he provided an Afterword for Malloch’s book Hired: An Insider’s Look at the Trump Victory, which was published in the same month. (2)

However, things fell apart in February, when a bit of journalistic digging found a discreditable financial history and questionable claims about his academic status. The Financial Times reported at the start of the month:

This week the FT identified a number of misleading statements in Mr Malloch’s autobiography, including claims that he was “knighted” into the Sovereign Order of St John by the Queen and called a “genius” by Margaret Thatcher.

…He has built his credibility on associations with a wide variety of well-regarded institutions, from Yale University to the World Economic Forum. However, many of his roles have ended after two years or less.

The paper later added a footnote to its article “in response to false statements by Mr Malloch” about its reporting – in particular, it noted that BrexitCentral.com had “published a correction and apology above an amended article that had previously contained some of Mr Malloch’s false statements”. The footnote also rebutted claims made by Malloch at Breitbart. A later piece in the FT discussed court papers in the US alleging that Malloch had “made false statements to deceive two US banks into giving him multimillion-dollar loans”, and it noted that Malloch had filed for bankruptcy in 2013.

Eventually, the Wall Street Journal confirmed in May that according to “officials in Washington”, Malloch “is not and never was a candidate” for the ambassadorship.

Footnote

(1) Jones was careful to distinguish these claims from the related “Pizzagate” story that he apologised for promoting in March, following a legal threat. Inevitably, he now claims that “Pizzagate” was deliberate misdirection created by those who want to cover up the real conspiracy.

(2) The book was published by Joseph Farah’s WND Books on 9 January 2017, and came with several blurbs on the preliminary first page. The first of these was from the birther conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi.

Church of England and Sussex Police Criticised in Report about Bishop George Bell Abuse Claims

A bit late with this – from the Guardian:

The Church of England has been criticised for a “rush to judgment” in its handling of allegations of sexual abuse against one its most revered figures of the 20th century in a highly damaging independent inquiry.

The report by Lord Carlile, released on Friday (15 December), said that although the church acted in good faith, its processes were deficient and it failed to give proper consideration to the rights of the accused.

The findings, which the church has made public two months after receiving them, concerned claims made against George Bell, the former bishop of Chichester, who died in 1958. A woman now in her 70s alleged that Bell had abused her in the bishop’s palace over a period of four years, starting when she was five years old.

I looked at the allegations here and here. The report can be read on the Church of England’s website – Bell’s niece is of the view that the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, ought to resign over the matter. The woman is known in the media as “Carol”.

Criticism of the police

Carlile’s review has been widely discussed in the media, but it is worth highlighting here that he is critical of Sussex Police as well as of the Church of England. When the Diocese of Chichester first announced the allegations, in late 2015, it included the detail that

Following a meeting between the survivor and Sussex police in 2013, it was confirmed by the police that the information obtained from their enquiries would have justified, had he still been alive, Bishop Bell’s arrest and interview, on suspicion of serious sexual offences, followed by release on bail, further enquiries and the subsequent submission of a police report to the CPS.

As I noted previously, this tends toward the view that arrests are indicative of well-grounded suspicion, or perhaps even of guilt. The journalist Peter Hitchens made a complaint about the statement to Sussex Police’s Professional Standards Department, which was initially dismissed (anyone who has dealt with a PSD will know that this is par for the course) but eventually prompted a semi climb-down from Det Supt Jeremy Graves that “there was no intention to release a police statement about the alleged criminality of Bishop Bell”.

Carlile has a bit more on this:

On the 12 December [2013] Detective Constable CD from Sussex Police emailed Carol and informed her that DI EF would review the file to establish whether, if the suspect was alive, there would be a realistic chance of prosecution, i.e. would he have been charged with an offence?

This was clumsily phrased. DC CD should have referred to ‘a realistic prospect of conviction‘, the CPS evidential test for a prosecution; and to whether there was sufficient suspicion to justify interviewing the suspect under caution or, possibly, arresting him. A charging decision would not have been made without an investigation and interview, and in a case of this kind the advice and involvement of the Crown Prosecution Service would have been routine.

Further:

On the 5 March 2015 Detective Inspector EF of Sussex Police emailed Colin Perkins to the effect that: …If Bishop Bell were still alive he would have been arrested on suspicion of rape… Had Bishop Bell denied the accusations, a file would have been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service…

Carlile’s commentary on this is that (emphasis added):

Had Bishop Bell still been alive, unless there was evidence that he appeared to represent a danger to the public he would not have satisfied the arrest conditions. I am surprised that the police did not appear to be aware of this. The probability is that, had he been alive, his premises and any computer would have been searched under a warrant, and he would have been interviewed under caution at a police station, not under arrest. This is of some significance because the Core Group may well have taken an exaggerated view of the use of the word ‘arrest’, as being in some way of itself evidence pointing towards guilt – which it is not.

…Unfortunately, DI EF did not emphasise that no enquiries had been carried out beyond interviewing Carol. Nor did he set out accurately the two-stage test to be applied by the CPS in deciding whether to prosecute, namely whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction on the evidence and, if so, whether it is in the public interest to prosecute -using the merits based approach…

…Nor was any specialist criminal lawyer asked to advise on the strength of the evidence. 

…Had the evidence my review has obtained without any particular difficulty… been available to the Church and the CPS, I doubt that the test for a prosecution would have been passed. 

Reading this, one immediately recalls the headline “Police: If Ted Heath was alive today we’d quiz him under caution on child abuse claims”, which appeared in the Mail on Sunday in September (discussed here). Again, routine police procedure was presented in sensational terms, to the detriment of a dead man’s reputation and at the cost of misinforming the public more generally about what inferences they should draw from police investigations and legal decision-making (a matter of some particular significance for living people accused of comparable crimes, as seen for instance during Operation Midland) (1).

One mild criticism I have of the above is that more could have been said about the distinction between the “advice and involvement” of the CPS during an investigation and “a file” going to the CPS following an investigation. The latter may or may not be appropriate, depending on what an investigation uncovers. In this case, of course, there was no police investigation, just the record of a complaint. Sending Carol’s statement to the CPS without further scrutiny, it seems to be, would be in breach of the “Police duty to assess evidence before charging or referral”, as specified by the CPS and explained here.

Criticism of the 1995 church response

It should not be overlooked that while Carlile sees a “rush to judgment” in 2015, he is also critical of the way the woman’s complaint was handled dismissively by Bishop Eric Kemp, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1974 to 2001:

I have concluded that the Church did not serve Carol well in 1995, whatever the truth or otherwise of her allegations. As Bishop Bell’s successor, Bishop Kemp should have met Carol, or at the very least appointed a responsible person to meet her. He should have set in train a genuine process of inquiry and assessment. I find that the Church failed Carol in 1995.

The report reveals that a member of staff in 1995 advised Kemp that Carol lived at a location “where the council houses problem people” – a statement described by Carlile as “an inappropriate comment”.

Carlile also suggests that Kemp should have done more because 1995 was three years after Bishop Peter Ball had accepted a police caution for “gross indecency”. This was shortly after Ball had become Bishop of Gloucester, although before that he had been Suffragan Bishop of Lewes within the Diocese of Chichester. We now know that the police caution merely scratched the surface of – indeed, it served to minimise and gloss over – a long history of predatory sexual behaviour (blogged here and here). It is significant, although Carlile does not mention it,  that Kemp’s memoir falsely stated that Ball had been the victim of “mischief-makers”. This indicates that Kemp was aware of a plurality of allegations, and that his attitude was at best dismissive and at worst calculatedly dishonest.

General

The report contains a more explicit account of “Carol’s” allegations, specifying digital penetration, ejaculation, and the particularly grotesque and blasphemous detail that “he would always chant suffer little children to come unto me till I was anointed.”

Carlile states that he is not in a position to judge whether her account is true or not. However, he has met her, and he is confident that she believes that she is telling the truth. Further, he notes that “she has been examined by two experienced forensic psychiatrists, who found no evidence of any material mental illness or psychiatric condition.”

Carlile also notes that there have been no other allegations against Bell despite his access to many children, and he discusses a woman he calls “Pauline”, who as a child was the adopted daughter of Bell’s housekeeper and lived in the Palace. Nothing untoward happened to her, and Carlile suggests that had the team set up by the church to investigate the allegation – the “Core Group” – “been aware of this evidence, they might well have approached their task differently.” Carlile also criticises the Core Group for not pursuing further enquiries in relation to the Kinderstransport, which Bell was involved in prior to World War Two and which resulted in a number of Jewish children staying at the Palace.

The report also considers “Carol’s” knowledge of the Palace’s layout. Peter Hitchens has suggested that Carol has confused a medieval kitchen that is sometimes open to the public with a different private kitchen in the building; Carlile does not refer to this specifically, but suggests that a re-interview of Carol “might have ascertained evidentially material detail” pertaining to the layout, including asking her “which kitchen was she abused in”.

One member of the Core Group also drew attention to an apparent discrepancy: on the one hand, Carol supposedly told no-one, because Bell had had told her that the abuse was a secret; but on the other, she has supposedly told the person she visited at the Palace (which was why she was there) that the bishop had been “interfering” with her, and her account had been rejected as “fibs”.

Memory

The report included also a long quote from a psychiatric report by Professor Anthony Maden, which was apparently not provided in full to all members of the Core Group. Maden included general observations about memory and credibility in general, including the following:

…there are enormous problems for the expert arising from the fact that the Claimant is now assessed 63 years after the material events. The alleged abuse was not reported until over 40 years after the material events.

…Memory is not reliable over such long periods of time.

…The Royal College of Psychiatrists, in common with similar professional bodies in other countries, recognises that in some cases so-called “false memories” of abuse may arise. The emphasis in the College document on the subject (Brandon et al, 1997) is on such memories arising during therapy but the literature cited above gives no reason to believe the problems associated with recall of distant events are limited to therapeutic situations. Therapy is simply one of the many influences on the individual’s beliefs, needs and values that shape and determine memories.

…In the present case, the Claimant looks back on a life that for the first 30 years or so was often unhappy. There is an obvious temptation to seek to (consciously or unconsciously) allocate the blame for that unhappiness to the actions of others in the distant past.

…The Claimant strikes me as a sympathetic and in many ways admirable woman. She does not suffer from a personality disorder. I have no doubt that she is sincere in her beliefs. Nevertheless it remains my view that the possibility of false memories in this case cannot be excluded.

Carlile does not overstate the importance of this – after all, it seems to me that the general observation that a memory may be inaccurate is little more than a truism. Further, plenty of childhood memories are vivid and can be corroborated, which suggests that despite the reality of false memories (discussed here), radical scepticism goes beyond reasonable doubt. However, Carlile suggests that

Given the comments of Professor Maden cited above, had there been full knowledge of them in the Group, my expectation would have been that the majority would have steered back towards a fuller evidential investigation of the claim.

Footnote

1. In mid-2016, IPSO, the Independent Police Standards Organisation, dealt with a complaint that the Chichester Observer newspaper had been wrong to run a piece headlined “Bishop now known to have abused child”, given that this had not been established in a court of law. IPSO rejected the complaint, noting that the article “accurately reflected the Church of England’s position on the claim”. This suggests that it is acceptable for a newspaper to present a disputed allegation as fact and then to rely on the defence that they are merely “reflecting” one party’s view of the matter.

Former Arizona GOP Chair and Steven Seagal Publish Book on the “Deep State”, Foreword by Joe Arpaio

From the Ahwatukee Foothill News, April 2015:

Ahwatukee resident and author Tom Morrissey looks to the future after releasing the third novel of his “The Sacred Search” series.

…The series, which Morrissey said is categorized as a metaphysical martial arts series… even captured the attention of Steven Seagal.

…Now, Morrissey and Seagal are planning to team up on a new project. As explained by Morrissey, the project is a series that will focus on Native American law enforcement officers who do work as trackers.

The opus has now appeared: The Way Of The Shadow Wolves: The Deep State And The Hijacking Of America, published by Morrissey’s 5th Palace Publishing and complete with a foreword by none other than birther ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio. According to the blurb:

...Both author’s [sic] have worked with, confronted, and seen the power of the Deep State and the manner in which, at times, federal government agencies willfully violate the Constitution and the laws of the land in service to special interests. Recent events has for the first time made many American citizens aware that the Deep State is very real; that the mainstream media tends toward bias by often offering a false narrative designed by the secret intelligence world in service to special interests. The fight for America’s soul is taking place far from Washington, D.C. This is a story of one small group of patriots fighting the good fight.

The back cover comes with an endorsement from Louie McKinney, former Director of the US Marshals Service, who says that “although it is fiction, the story could have come from today’s headlines”.

The reincarnation of Chungdrag Dorje known as Stephen Seagal is known internationally; Morrissey is not quite so famous, although in 2012 the martial artist and former US marshal was the Arizona Republican Party chairman. Towards the end of his tenure, Morrissey raised doubts about the authenticity of Barack Obama’s birth certificate, while insisting that this did not make him a “birther”; a commentary piece in the Phoenix New Times suggests that this was “an effort to win back some of that crazy support he used to be able to count on”, but which had evaporated during his “disastrous chairmanship”. Morrissey then however stepped down, citing upcoming knee surgery. Two years later he came last in an election to become Maricopa County GOP chairman, despite support from Arpaio, who is a long-term friend, and Ted Nugent (videos available here).

Arpaio, meanwhile, has links with Seagal through Steven Seagal: Lawman, a reality show that relocated from Louisiana to Maricopa County following a lawsuit (later dropped without explanation) accusing Seagal of sexual harassment; in 2014, the Atlantic described Seagal as

part of Arpaio’s celebrity “posse” of tough guys who support the sheriff’s tough (and probably unconstitutional!) ideas for targeting undocumented immigrants in the state.

In 2011, there had been controversy over Arpaio’s decision to apprehend a suspected cockfighter by having a tank crash into the suspect’s property; there was some suspicion that while this made for exciting television, the destruction may not have been strictly necessary. At the time, it was reported that Seagal had been “riding” the tank, although a recent Washington Post profile says this is “disputed”.

News of the book came to wider attention from a Twitter user calling himself The Warax, whose thread also inspired a post on the subject at Boing Boing. The Warax also drew attention to supposed insight into the book provided by 5-star Amazon review by conspiracy theorist Robert David Steele:

I read this book in galley form after Steven asked me to when we shot a documentary together in Thailand in May 2017, and it was my great privilege to not only be able to work with him directly, but also with best-selling author and US Marshall Tom Morrissey, of Arizona, offering a few thoughts from my time as a clandestine case officer (spy) working the Latin American terrorist – cartel target and my time in Washington working the inter-agency enemies of the Constitution target…

This is a book written by patriots for patriots. This is a book that offers truths as fiction that the mainstream media will never report on accurately. The authors chose not to cover pedophilia and Satanism, and Uranium One was not on their scope, but they hit just about everything else.

Read this to understand how the Obama Administration was the peak of criminality started by the assassination of John F. Kennedy (both George Bush Senior and Yitzhak Rabin were part of the plot and present in Dallas) and going through multiple Administration both Republican and Democratic…

Presumably the last paragraph is an extrapolation by Steele, rather than a reflection of the content of the book. Steele has also produced an essay, which he originally posted as “to support a forthcoming book by Steven Seagal and Tom Morrissey” but now just says “to support a forthcoming book” (1).

Steele’s most extravagant claim perhaps is that NASA has kidnapped children to create a slave colony on Mars, as he recently explained to Alex Jones. I haven’t been able to confirm his claim about filming in Thailand with Seagal. Unlike the book’s authors, Steele is also engaged with the conspiracist left, denouncing “Rothschilds” and in the UK appearing on the David Icke-associated Richie Allen Show. It’s also not a surprise to see him on RT, being interviewed by Max Keiser.

Footnote

(1) The phrase was captured on a couple of scraper-sites, as shown by Google here.

Conspiracy Milieu Objects to Guardian Probing of Disinformation Against White Helmets

From the Guardian:

The Syrian volunteer rescue workers known as the White Helmets have become the target of an extraordinary disinformation campaign that positions them as an al-Qaida-linked terrorist organisation.

The Guardian has uncovered how this counter-narrative is propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government (which provides military support to the Syrian regime).

The article has been met with howls of outrage from the supporters of those named, and the author, Olivia Solon, has been receiving abusive comments (e.g. “You, and the Guardian are more distasteful, than a dogshit inadvertently trodden upon. Fuck off and die”).

Solon’s article contains much of interest, but I here focus here on the conspiracy theory angle. Solon notes that evidence from White Helmets was used during a UN investigation into Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack in April:

Some of the most vocal sceptics of the UN’s investigation include the blogger Vanessa Beeley, the daughter of a former British diplomat who visited Syria for the first time in July 2016; a University of Sydney senior lecturer, Timothy Anderson, who described the April chemical attack as a “hoax”; and Eva Bartlett, a Canadian writer and activist who said the White Helmets staged rescues using recycled victims – a claim that’s been debunked by Snopes and Channel 4 News.

…Beeley frequently criticises the White Helmets in her role as editor of the website 21st Century Wire, set up by Patrick Henningsen, who is also an editor at Infowars.com.

Beeley’s reporting has apparently been gratefully received by the Assad regime and Russia; Solon explains that

In 2016, Beeley had a two-hour meeting with Assad in Damascus as part of a US Peace Council delegation, which she described on Facebook as her “proudest moment”. She was also invited to Moscow to report on thedirty war in Syria”; there, she met senior Russian officials including the deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, and Maria Zakharova, director of information and press at Russia’s foreign ministry.

However, her work is problematic not just because of what she claims, but because of what she is willing to pass over in silence. Private Eye recently reported on this (1456 p. 10, and provided by Eliot Higgins here), after Beeley spoke at an event called “Media on Trial” at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church:

There was, of course, not one Syrian among the speakers. But there were some in a small group of dissenters… [One] of the protesters’ placards – “Tell the TRUTH about Assad’s TORTURERS” – touched a sore spot for Beeley. Earlier this year she had an exchange of private Twitter messages with an American conspiricist about whether the Syrian government uses tortue. “Tbh [to the honest] torture happened,” she wrote, “I am never going to say it publicly but it happened.” She added: “[I] have been to Syria and I know what went on and I don’t say it publicly… not going to give that opening to anti Syria brigades.”

The admission was made to one Scott Gaulke, and it was made public as part of a denunciation of her by Assad supporters who objected to even a private acknowledgement that the Syrian government was involved in torture. The exchange was then brought to wider attention on Eliot Higgins’s website.

Beeley appears to play both sides of the aisle when it comes to the conspiracy milieu: she doesn’t appear to have been interviewed by Alex Jones, but the association with Henningsen indicates an affinity, and she has been promoted in the US by Ron Paul (1). On the other hand, though, she has also appeared on the alternative left conspiracy podcast The Richie Allen Show, which is produced “in association with David Icke” (previously blogged here), and on UK ColumnUK Column‘s Brian Gerrish – previously noted on this blog for his promotion of Wilfred Wong’s Satanic Ritual Abuse claims – has responded to the Guardian article with a graphic full of arrows that has been commended by one Caitlin Johnstone at Medium.

According to Solon:

Separately, both Graphika and [Fil] Menczer’s Hoaxy tool identify Beeley, the British blogger, as among the most influential disseminators of content about the White Helmets.

Footnote

1. Beeley was also quoted by WND as part of the site’s attack articles aimed at Melissa Zimdars, an academic who included the site on an informal list of unreliable news sources (blogged here). WND advised readers to bombard Zimdars and her employer with emails and phone calls, and reported Beeley’s crowing that Zimdars had upped her social media privacy settings because she “can’t take the heat. Named ‘fake media’ & then protected all her own media sites.”

End-Times Author Presents Donald Trump with Award, Puts “God Bless Trump” Signs across Jerusalem

From the Friends of Zion Museum website:

President Donald Trump, received the Friends of Zion Award from Dr. Mike Evans founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem.  The event was attended by Vice President Pence, Senior Advisors Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump and faith leaders representing over 150 million Christians globally.

…During the ceremony Dr. Evans declared that: “No president in history has ever built such an alliance for the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and no president has courageously stood up for the State of Israel on the global stage as you had Mr. President. President Trump’s historic recognition of Jerusalem will secure his place in history as the first American president to take that step since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.”

The post comes with an official White House photograph, although the only detail on the White House website is a short notice from 11 December that is no longer available: “This afternoon, the President will participate in a presentation of the Friends of Zion award with Faith Leaders”. The photo shows that around 30 “Faith Leaders” were present –  and as with the Oval Office photo-op in July, the attendees were overwhelmingly white men in suits, exclusively representing conservative evangelicalism and the Christian Right. The only woman present in the photo, other than Ivanka Trump in the background, is “Trump’s God Whisperer” Paula White, who is placed at the President’s right hand. Next to her is Gary Bauer, and a central place in front of Trump’s desk is given to the controversial fundamentalist Robert Jeffress, whose loyalty to Trump was recently rewarded with a Presidential book plug.

Along with the official posed photo, Trump’s Instagram account has a photo of the “Faith Leaders” laying hands on him while he adopts a pious pose at his desk. Some of those present afterwards made statements praising Trump’s various policies, as recorded by CBN (in a video curiously titled “Christian Leader Steakout”).

Evans has now followed up with an advertising campaign across Jerusalem, involving 110 “God Bless Trump” signs “throughout the city, on billboards, buses and even camels”. The press release text is accompanied by a gimmicky photo of a festooned camel, held by what appears to be an uncomfortable-looking Palestinian in traditional dress.

Evans has been based in Jerusalem for many years, and he he has built relationships with Israel’s political leadership. His various books include works warning of the inevitability of conflict with Iran, such as The Final Move Beyond Iraq (blogged here) and Showdown with Nuclear Iran: Radical Islam’s Messianic Mission to Destroy Israel and Cripple the United States (written with the assistance of Jerome Corsi, whose birther “investigations” inspired Trump).

In 2012 Evans brought out The Final Generation: Jesus is Coming Soon. According to the blurb:

…I have written almost two-dozen books on the Middle East and radical Islam, many of them discussing their relationship to the evens of the book of Revelation. I have studies the prophecies about the end of the age given by Jesus, the Old Testament prophets, and the New Testament apostles. I have read and reread books on Bible eschatology written by experts, teachers, and scholars. And in all my research and years of experience, there has been no other time when the signs of Jesus’ imminent return were happening with the intensity we are seeing today. Bible prophecy after Bible prophecy points to the likelihood that the last generation before Jesus’ return is now on the Earth, and the last lap for the Church has begun.

A few days ago, a member of the Florida Senate named Doug Broxton told a Trump rally that “Where our soon-coming King is going to return back to Jerusalem, it’s because of President Trump declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel”.