Category Archives: Useful Idiots

Another ATF operation comes under scrutiny after supplying Mexican drug cartels with guns

Dennis K. Burke, the former U.S. attorney in Phoenix, said convictions in the ATF’s White Gun operation “put a stop to a well-financed criminal conspiracy to acquire massive destructive firepower.” (Matt York, Associated Press / March 4, 2011)

Members of Congress want to see whether White Gun, like Fast and Furious, lost track of firearms that ended up with Mexican criminals.

Another ATF weapons operation comes under scrutiny

LA Times | Jan 12, 2012

By Richard A. Serrano

Reporting from Washington—In the late summer of 2010, the ATF agent leading the failed Fast and Furious gun-smuggling operation in Arizona flew to Mexico City to help coordinate cross-border investigations of U.S. weapons used by Mexican drug cartels.

Hope A. MacAllister wanted access to police and military vaults for American weapons recovered by Mexican authorities in raids and at crime scenes. She especially was interested in firearms from another ATF investigation, code-named White Gun, that she was running.

Now members of Congress who have spent months scrutinizing the Fast and Furious debacle are seeking to determine whether White Gun was another weapons investigation gone wrong.

“Apparently guns got away again,” said one source close to the investigation, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). “How many got into Mexico, who knows?”

Officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives declined to comment on whether any firearms were lost in White Gun. But unlike Fast and Furious, they vigorously defended the previously unreported White Gun operation as a well-managed investigation that produced three arrests and convictions.

The three men “were looking to acquire military-grade weapons for a drug cartel,” said an ATF official, who asked for anonymity because the case involves an undercover operation. “This was a classic example of bad guys showing up at a location to get the weapons they desire but getting arrested by law enforcement instead.”

In Fast and Furious, more than 1,700 firearms were lost after agents allowed illegal gun purchases in U.S. gun shops in hopes of tracking the weapons into Mexico. In White Gun, the ATF ran a traditional sting operation with undercover agents and confidential informants trying to snare suspects working for the Sinaloa drug cartel.

According to internal ATF documents, including debriefing summaries and border task force overviews, White Gun and Fast and Furious both began in fall 2009, and the same ATF officials ran both cases.

MacAllister was the lead agent. Her supervisor, David J. Voth, was head of the ATF’s Group VII field office in Phoenix. His boss was William D. Newell, then the special agent in charge in Phoenix.

According to documents that the ATF sent to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, an umbrella group of U.S. agencies that seeks to disrupt major drug trafficking and money laundering, White Gun targeted nine leaders of the Sinaloa cartel. The list included Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman, who heads the cartel and is Mexico’s most wanted drug suspect.


Fast and Furious: Mystery of the White Guns

Fast and Furious weapons were found in Mexico cartel enforcer’s home

In ATF reports, MacAllister wrote that U.S. intelligence showed cartel members were setting up military-type training camps in the Sierra de Durango mountains, near Guzman’s northern Mexico hide-out, and wanted to bolster their arsenal with grenade launchers and .50-caliber machine guns.

The agents focused first on Vicente Fernando Guzman Patino, a cartel insider who was identified as one of their weapons purchasers and who often used code words and phrases, saying “57” for “OK,” for instance.

In fall 2009, the ATF team sent an undercover agent posing as an arms dealer to Guzman Patino. Photos of weapons, including a Dragon Fire 120-millimeter heavy mortar, were emailed to his “Superman6950” Hotmail account.

According to the ATF documents, Guzman Patino told the undercover agent that “if he would bring them a tank, they would buy it.” He boasted he had “$15 million to spend on firearms and not to worry about the money.” He wanted “the biggest and most extravagant firearms available.”

The two met again outside a Phoenix restaurant, and the undercover agent showed Guzman Patino five weapons in the trunk of his vehicle, including a Bushmaster rifle and a Ramo .50 heavy machine gun. The undercover agent said he could get that kind of firepower for the Sinaloans.

Just as Guzman Patino seemed ready to buy, according to the ATF records, the investigation into his activities abruptly ended. The documents do not explain why, and they don’t indicate whether he obtained any weapons.

A second case involved cartel members who were seeking shoulder-launched antiaircraft missiles and antitank rockets, according to the ATF records.

The same undercover agent met the pair in February 2010 at a Phoenix warehouse. David Diaz-Sosa and Jorge DeJesus-Casteneda brought 11 pounds of crystal methamphetamine to trade for weapons. The undercover agent showed them shoulder-launched missiles, rocket launchers and grenades before ATF agents moved in and arrested them.

Diaz-Sosa, 26, of Sinaloa, Mexico, pleaded guilty in April to gun and drug charges. DeJesus-Casteneda, 22, also of Sinaloa, pleaded guilty to drug charges. A third suspect, Emilia Palomino-Robles, 42, of Sonora, Mexico, pleaded guilty to delivering drugs as a partial payment for military-grade weaponry.

None of the three was included on the list of nine cartel leaders who were targeted in the operation.

The U.S. attorney in Phoenix at the time, Dennis K. Burke, who later resigned over Fast and Furious, called the White Gun convictions “a tremendous team effort that put a stop to a well-financed criminal conspiracy to acquire massive destructive firepower.”

By that summer, MacAllister had gone to Mexico City to check the police and military vaults. The ATF documents don’t detail what she found, but they note she discovered “weapons in military custody related to her current investigations.”

Iraq vet comes home to get shot in the face by Oakland police with “projectile”

Scott Olsen was marching because he felt corporations and banks had too much government influence. He had served two tours in Iraq. PlanetEarthAwakens1 via YouTube

Iraq vet gets skull fractured during clash with cops at Occupy Oakland protest

Scott Olsen was marching because he felt corporations and banks had too much government influence. He had served two tours in Iraq.


OAKLAND, Calif. — Among demonstrators injured during a clash between Oakland police and protesters is a 24-year-old Marine veteran who served two tours in Iraq.

Dottie Guy, of the Iraq Veterans Against the War, an advocacy group for vets, said member Scott Olsen suffered a fractured skull. A spokesman for Highland Hospital in Oakland says he was in critical condition.


Olsen was hit by a projectile while marching toward City Hall. Guy said it was not immediately clear if he would need surgery.

She said Olsen was marching Tuesday because he felt corporations and banks had too much government influence.

The clash Tuesday came after officials complained about deteriorating safety, sanitation and health issues.

Occupy Protesters Rally Around Wounded Iraq Vet

Norway police explore several Breivik links

Anders Breivik Templar Knight Commander | Aug 26, 2011

by Lyndsey Smith and Michael Sandelson

Anders Behring Breivik may have had an international network of people with the same ideals.

According to Breivik’s lawyer, Geir Lippestad, his client has already hinted there are “friends abroad that think the same way as him and that they will continue his work.”

Dagbladet reports this consists of the Norwegian defence league (NDL), the English Defence League (EDL) and the Stop Islamisation of Norway (SIAN). The groups contact each other via social networking sites like Facebook, where groups can be made private and only available for members to view the contents.

EDL blogger Paul Ray is in Norway this week being questioned by police over alleged mentoring connections. Ray has already admitted being a possible influence.

Breivik sent a message to members of the EDL before killing 77 people, saying, “In these dark times all of Europe are looking to you in search of inspiration, courage and even hope that we might turn this evil trend with Islamisation all across our continent.”

Investigators are also searching through Facebook for traces of links between Breivik, the EDL, NDL, and SIAN, and believe they have found a connection with a key member of this last organisation. The SIAN member has deleted his account, but there are suspicions they have been in contact a great deal.

Prosecutor Christian Hatlo says if this is true, “it will be necessary to bring in people from this community. There have already been some interviews, without us being able to go into further details.”

Heads of other European extremist organisations have been quick to deny association with Breivik when questioned. Leader of Stop Isamisation in Europe (SIOE) Dane Anders Gravers told Dagbladet Breivik was not a member and had been rejected as his views were too extreme.

Responding to reports by Danish blog site P77, allegedly supported by a screen dump showing the two were friends 13 months ago, Gravers says, “Breivik’s claims are lies. SIOE’s leaders have never been in contact with him, and we have never discussed a strategy, of course.”

Breivik has spoken to police about his connections with extremist organisations, however, openly discussing how he had talked of discussed a plan with members of SIOE and the EDL.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian Defence League (NDL), formed in 2010, has three different stories about its involvement with the 32-year-old mass murderer. NDL’s current leadership denies having any contact with Breivik.

Former leader Havard Krane claims that Breivik left after a few days as he found the organisation too mild. Successor Lena Andreassen has a contradictive story stating that he was a member but she kicked him out. Finally, the organisation’s present leader, Ronny Alte, says “he was a member here for a short period under the previous leadership, but chose to resign from the NDL himself.”

Norway killer ‘mentor’: Breivik NOT a lone wolf, but part of larger agenda

The Norwegian man who has confessed to killing 77 people was not a “lone wolf,” a British far-right activist thought to be the gunman’s “mentor” said today. Source: AFP

Norwegian mass killer ‘not a lone wolf’, far-right activist says

AFP | Aug 26, 2011

THE Norwegian man who has confessed to killing 77 people was not a “lone wolf,” a British far-right activist thought to be the gunman’s “mentor” said today after being interviewed by Norwegian police.

Paul Ray, a blogger and former member of the English Defence League, told Norway’s NTB news agency that police were “very interested” in British far-right cells mentioned by the attacker, Anders Behring Breivik.

“I don’t believe Breivik is a lone wolf … he is part of a larger movement which has its own agenda,” Ray said, without going into detail.


“They (the police) were very interested in the British cells,” added Ray.

“They asked me if I was (head of) a cell.”

In a statement he released shortly before embarking on his July 22 killing spree, Behring Breivik had spoken of the existence of secret cells that he said came under a new order of Knights Templar.

The police were not available to comment today.

Ray, who lives in Malta, came to Norway voluntarily to speak to police investigating the twin attacks in Oslo and a nearby island.

He is widely considered to be the unnamed “mentor” mentioned by the 32-year-old Behring Breivik in the 1500-page manifesto he posted online shortly before carrying out the attacks.

Describing himself as a crusader at war against multiculturalism and Islam, Behring Breivik explained in the document that he once had “a relatively close relationship” with an Englishman he gave the pseudonym “Richard”, “who became my mentor.”

Ray, who heads the “Knights Templar” movement and runs a “Richard the Lionhearted” blog, has said he recognised himself in the Norwegian right-wing extremist’s description.

Asked in an interview on Wednesday with Norway’s NRK television station if he had any contact with Behring Breivik, including online, Ray said “never”.

Ray has called the July 22 attacks “pure evil” in an interview with The Times.

Behring Breivik has confessed to setting off a bomb outside government offices in Oslo killing eight people, before going on a shooting rampage on the nearby island of Utoeya, where the ruling Labour Party’s youth wing was hosting a summer camp, killing 69 others, many of them teenagers.

He is currently being held in solitary confinement at a high-security prison near Oslo, and has claimed he acted alone.

ASU hosts model North American Union legislature

University student participants from Mexico, the United States and Canada participate in a week-long simulation exercise simulating a congressional meeting between North American legislators. | May 26, 2011

The North American Center for Transborder Studies (NACTS) at Arizona State University will co-host the 2011 “Triumvirate” at the Tempe campus.

The sixth edition of the Triumvirate, the only trinational inter-parliamentary student simulation in North America, will take place from May 29 through June 3. Organized by ASU and the North American Forum on Integration (NAFI) from Montreal, the event will bring together about 50 students from seven American, Canadian and Mexican universities.

“The Triumvirate, is a unique, one-of-a-kind event,” NACTS director Rick Van Schoik said.

University student participants from Mexico, the United States and Canada participate in a week-long simulation exercise simulating a congressional meeting between North American legislators. Student delegates are assigned one of the three roles: legislator (representing a country other than their own), journalist, or lobbyist. The legislators will debate themes of a political, economic and environmental nature, while lobbyists will attempt to influence the legislators’ decisions and the TrilatHerald journalist team will analyze the evolution of the debates.


WikiLeaks: ‘North American Initiative’ no ‘theory’

For five days, participants will discuss hot political topics affecting North America: immigration and guest worker programs, green building practices, corporate social responsibility in the mining industry, and the promotion of North American trade corridors.

As a pioneer on the political scene, the Triumvirate seeks to bring together future North American leaders to increase their awareness of the issues that characterize North American relations while enabling them to develop a better knowledge of democratic institutions and the realities of the member countries of NAFTA.

Triumvirate seeks to strengthen a sense of belonging to North America and discuss regional integration issues. “The event is a bull’s-eye target for NACTS’ work and commitment to social and economic development in the Americas,” Van Schoik said.

“The simulation enables participants to delve into the heart of the North American political dynamics and to negotiate draft bills that, we hope, will inspire our political leaders,” Christine Fréchette, executive director and founder of NAFI, said.

Apocalypse not right now: ‘Rapture’ end of world fails to materialise

Judgment Day Believers Proclaim May 21 Is Day Of Armageddon Photo: GETTY

Reports of the end of the world appeared to have been exaggerated today.

Telegraph | May 21, 2011

By Bonnie Malkin, in Sydney, and David Barrett

Inhabitants of New Zealand, scheduled to be among the first to meet the apocalypse according to a US fundamentalist preacher, this morning confirmed they were still in existence as the appointed time was reached in their time zone.

There were also unconfirmed reports that Tonga has, thus far, failed to boil into the Pacific.

Eighty-nine-year-old tele-evangelist Harold Camping had prophesied that the “Rapture” would begin with powerful earthquakes at 6pm in each of the world’s regions, after which the good would be beamed up to heaven.

This morning, Kiwis confirmed there were no signs of the dead rising from the grave, nor of the living ascending into the clouds to meet Jesus Christ.

Twitter users were disappointed by the absence of Armaggedon.

Daniel Boerman said on Twitter, the micro-blogging website: “I’m from New Zealand, it is 6.06pm, the world has NOT ended. No earthquakes here, all waiting for the Rapture can relax for now.”

Gavin Middleton wrote: “Well it’s 13 minutes past the Rapture here in New Zealand. I’m still holding out hope for the trumpet call and the firey rain…”

Similarly, on the Pacific islands whose clocks ticked over to 6pm before the fateful hour hit New Zealand, there was no evidence of a “super horror story” predicted by Camping – no zombies, no true believers hurtling skywards, no arch-angels and no trumpeters.

A post on Godlike Productions, a website dedicated to conspiracy theories and UFOs, reported that Tonga, which reached 6pm one hour before New Zealand, was “still on the map”.

Likewise, no reports of chaos were heard from Christmas Island in Kiribati, where the super-earthquake was set to hit first.

Two minor earthquakes did hit the Pacific earlier in the day, measuring 3.1 and 4.8 and not triggering any tsunami warnings, but earthquakes of that magnitude are a regular occurrence in the region.

Vicky Hyde, spokesman for the New Zealand Skeptic Society said she was confident the Rapture was not imminent.

“These kind of predictions come up particularly in times of economic or social uncertainty – which is pretty much almost every year actually, you can track them, whether it’s commentary impacts or the rapture or giant space aliens or something.

“And the only thing they have in common is they are all wrong,” she said.

Camping spread his message of doom via Family Radio, which has a network of 66 radio stations and online broadcasts.

After today’s day of reckoning, he said non-believers would suffer through hell on earth until October 21, when God would pull the plug on the planet once and for all.

But after incorrectly predicting the end of the world in 1994, Camping’s prophecies have been met with derision. And it seems this time he was wrong again.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg – who is Jewish and, according to Camping’s prophecy, therefore unlikely to be beamed up to sit alongside Jesus in heaven – said on his weekly radio show yesterday that he would partially suspend parking restrictions in New York if the world ended today.

David Speer, on Twitter, said: “Oh well no rapture. Just as well. New Zealand didn’t need that right now. Another delay to the filming of The Hobbit would’ve been terrible.”

Google Invades Your Home…Android Phones Control Your Appliances and Accessories

As Google enables you to create a smart-home, they could also be building the Internet of Things. There will be an RFID chip, NFC panel, or computer embedded in everything you own. | May 21, 2011

by Aaron Saenz

Soon your smart phone may be the only light switch you’ll ever need. At this year’s Google I/O conference, enterprising executives from the Silicon Valley search giant announced that their Android OS for mobile devices will soon be able to reach out and touch appliances in your home. The open Accessory Development Kit (ADK) will allow developers to wire lights and other common electrical devices to control boards that can interact directly with Android (via USB or BlueTooth). Google wants to take this hardware interactive capability and use it to turn your home into a smart living space. Push a button in an app on your Android and specially enabled lamps will turn off and on, music will start playing on your speakers, or maybe your air-conditioner will kick in. It’s all up to you – you can command your entire house from your phone or tablet with Android as your operating system. That’s the Android@Home concept and it could make it easy and cheap to upgrade your bachelor pad from a neanderthal’s lair to a real high-tech Batcave. Check out the Google I/O 2011 presentations for the ADK and Android@Home in the video below. Using Android to send commands to other electronics is a great idea, but I’m much more excited about information flowing in the other direction. As Google enables you to create a smart-home, they could also be building the Internet of Things.

Google I/O 2011 streamed live on YouTube, so you can find almost every second of the conference online. I’ve cued up the following video from the day one key note address to where Google starts discussing the ADK. Following an awesome presentation with a life-sized Labyrinth game controlled by tilting an Android tablet, you’ll be able to see the presentation on Android@Home.

The Android ADK should allow developers to make almost any device talk with Android OS. Working with Lighting Science, Google is creating a line of LED bulbs which will be able to talk with Android OS as well as using Android@Home connectivity standards. Coming home to a dark house? Just push a single button on your Android phone and all your lamps could spring to light instantly. Pretty cool, and these bulbs are scheduled to arrive by the end of 2011. Google has also created specialized hubs for this communication through their Project Tungsten. The hubs, which appear as glowing boxes or white orbs, will be able to use WiFi, BlueTooth, or near field communication (NFC) to receive commands from Android devices, read information from NFC embedded products (like CD or DVD cases, action figures/dolls, etc), and control multimedia presentations.

Clearly Google is attacking the “wire your stuff up to Android” idea from different angles. I’m sure we’ll see specialized “Android-enabled” products from third party developers in the near future. The exercise bike seen in the presentation video was a good example. I imagine MP3 playing stereos are also going to be a first wave product as well, and of course those LED light bulbs will be coming soon. At the same time Google will be pushing their Project Tungsten boxes as ‘all in one’ sort of solutions for your media center. Eventually I’m sure we’ll see models that can handle larger appliances and power consuming devices around the house.

A smart house, however, isn’t just about what you can command, but what you can learn. When you send a message to a lamp to get it to turn on, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be able to send data back on its consumption, its bulb life, etc. Or alternatively this data could be collected at the Android device side of things. Either way you have digital information tied to the physical object you’re using. Whether we’re talking bulbs, blenders, or bicycles doesn’t matter – as soon as you have a computer tracking electronic objects in order to give them commands you can use the same computer to track the history of those objects.

As I’ve mentioned before, this object tracking is at the heart of the Internet of Things – the massive system of smart devices and sensors that is forming in parallel to our own people-inhabited internet. On a commercial level the IoT will enable us to track shipments of food, pharmaceuticals, and other goods, but in your home the near terms benefits of the IoT are all about finesse and efficiency. Let lamps turn off automatically when you leave the room. As you drive home your mobile phone could call ahead and fire up the heater or A/C to prep the environment – making your arrival more pleasant and saving energy by matching the timing perfectly. Your tablet, now the magic wand that remotely controls all your appliances, could notice that your refrigerator is cycling on (using more electricity) than normal. Did someone leave it open or is it time to get the appliance fixed?

Are those little money savers too boring for you? How about turning every appliance in your house into a burglar detection system: if a single device is activated while you’re out of the home, an alert could be pushed to your phone warning you that someone flipped on a light or opened your automatic garage door. With products like the Android ADK and Project Tungsten you could even wire up your doors with electronic locks you can remotely control. If someone breaks in, you lock them in, crank up the stereo, and make them listen to your worst Polka MP3s for an hour. You get the idea…if you imagination can dream it up, you should be able to enable it with IoT technology.

Applications like these haven’t been developed yet, but they’re exactly the sort of products I would expect us to eventually create when concepts like Project Tungsten and Android@Home fully muture. We’ve seen other companies bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds, but with Google now in the mix we may see this trend accelerated considerably. Android is a proven market with a large developer base. Now that Android is in the business of controlling other electronics, you can bet that both the necessary hardware and software will arrive – and much sooner than if Google hadn’t thrown their hat into the ring. Some precursors to the Internet of Things are already here, and now I expect more will be coming shortly. We’ve had smart homes for a while, but now the phenomenon could be hitting the mainstream, and smart cars are sure to follow (actually some of them are already here as well). From there it just keeps getting smaller and smarter. One day soon your closet will tell you which clothes match today’s weather forecast, your mobile phone will match your lunch order with your medical record to maximize your health, and there will be an RFID chip, NFC panel, or computer embedded in everything you own. Like so many other technology giants, Google’s moving from the digital to the physical world – get ready.

All-female sect worships Vladimir Putin as Paul the Apostle

Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin addresses the parliament at Russian State Duma in Moscow Photo: REUTERS

Vladimir Putin has become the object of veneration for a bizarre Russian all-female sect whose followers believe that the tough-talking prime minister is a reincarnation of the early Christian missionary Paul the Apostle.

Followers are reportedly encouraged to sing upbeat patriotic Soviet songs at ‘services’ rather than hymns.

Telegraph | May 12, 2011

By Andrew Osborn, Moscow

Members of the sect that has sprung up in a Russian village some 250 miles southeast of Moscow believe that the 58-year-old macho Russian politician is on a special mission from God.

“According to the Bible, Paul the Apostle was a military commander at first and an evil persecutor of Christians before he started spreading the Christian gospel,” the sect’s founder, who styles herself Mother Fotina, said.

“In his days in the KGB, Putin also did some rather unrighteous things. But once he became president, he was imbued with the Holy Spirit, and just like the apostle, he started wisely leading his flock. It is hard for him now but he is fulfilling his heroic deed as an apostle.”

Reports from the sect’s headquarters close to the town of Nizhny Novgorod say that its members are all women who dress like nuns and pray for Mr Putin’s success in front of traditional Russian Orthodox Church icons that have been placed alongside a portrait of the Russian prime minister himself.


Russian sects: from Rasputin to the ‘Jesus of Siberia’

Followers are reportedly encouraged to sing upbeat patriotic Soviet songs at ‘services’ rather than hymns.

As befits a sect that worships a man who has denounced the decadence of the oligarchs, the sect’s members are said to survive on a Spartan diet of turnips, carrots, peas and buckwheat.

According to local media, Mother Fotina’s real name is Svetlana Frolova.

Father Alexei, the priest in the local village church, has dismissed the sect.

“Her so-called teachings are a nonsensical mixture of Orthodoxy, Catholicism, the occult, Buddhism and political information,” he said.

“But (Mother) Fotina does not come across as a mad person.”

Mr Putin’s spokesman said he was bemused.

“This is the first I’ve heard of such a religious group,” said Dmitry Peskov. “It is impressive that they think so highly of the prime minister’s work but I would like to recall another of the main commandments: thou shalt not worship false idols.”

A new political front created by Mr Putin meanwhile announced it may choose a candidate to run in the 2012 presidential election, in the latest sign the Russian strongman is eyeing a Kremlin return.

Mr Putin set up the Popular Front political movement to unify his supporters, from celebrities to pensioners alike. Dmitry Medvedev, the current president, vowed to respond to Mr Putin’s new coalition, by promising to create “other election alliances”, in the latest sign of a rivalry between the duo.

Could Charlie Sheen’s “breakdown” be an act?

Charlie Sheen with longtime friend, Alex Jones. “I’m a total freakin’ rock star from Mars. We are high priests, Vatican assassin warlocks.” Photo:

With his incoherent ramblings, the star has reached a whole new level of fame. How much of it is calculated? | Mar 3, 2011

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Is Charlie Sheen crazy like a fox? It was just a week ago that the “Two and a Half Men” actor went stunningly rogue — even by Charlie Sheen standards — on Alex Jones’ radio show, seemingly decimating his career by ranting against Chuck Lorre, the “clown” responsible for his hit TV show. Cut to montage of what followed next: CBS and Warner Brothers shutting down production of the series, Sheen appearing on every single television and radio show in America  (I thought his “Wind Beneath My Wings” on “Idol” was a little flat), Sheen finally getting on Twitter, Sheen amassing over a million followers in one day, the words “tiger blood” officially entering the vernacular. I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.

Yet thanks to his flair for a colorful turn of phrase, in the span of a few days, Sheen has gone from being a mere garden-variety train wreck to the new mad prophet of the airwaves. His ability to turn drug dependency, repeated allegations of domestic abuse, public insults to his colleagues, and quite likely serious emotional problems into a potential career move surely proves that all the world loves a nut job – and that Jim Belushi is no longer the luckiest SOB in show business.


And as Sheen has continued to dominate the news — the early weeks of 2011 will go down forever in history for Wisconsin, Gadhafi and Charlie Sheen’s porn star girlfriends — both cynics and savvy media watchers have begun to wonder if this shambling wreck of a man who brags of recently “banging seven-gram rocks” is in fact just riding us all like a Sheen in a whorehouse. Patton Oswalt tweeted Wednesday that “Hate to pee on everyone’s @CharlieSheen foam party, but he’s using a service. Not him. Reliable source. ‘Night!” And indeed, while that Twitpic of him cheerfully holding a jug of chocolate milk is surely the real thing, the not-so-subtly drummed up hashtagging of “#winning and #tigerblood — along with his surprisingly self-aware bio as an “unemployed winner” — does seem a little contrived. Or as a friend mused yesterday, “He has got to have somebody writing this stuff for him.”

For a man who is the son of a famous actor, who has spent his entire life in the public eye, Sheen does seem to have developed a very sudden gift for bons mots. Even at the height of his wild man partying, even when he’s spouted the most wackadoo Truther nonsense,  he’s never before come up with a “Most of the time — and this includes naps — I’m an F-18, bro.” Until now, he’s managed to keep it under wraps that he’s “a total freakin’ rock star from Mars” and that “We are high priests, Vatican assassin warlocks. Boom. Print that, people.”

Print that they have….

Read More

Alex Jones on The View

How the Boston rock scene grew up, got real jobs, and became — Freemasons?

The Masons of Amicable Lodge. PHOTO: Mike Pecci

A horrifying contraption looms on a metal tripod, covered in wool and brown with age. It has stirrups. Large glass eyes stare out from a head with giant goat horns. The placard identifies it as a Bucking Billy Goat and says that lawsuits precluded its continued use in initiation rituals. | Feb 18, 2011


The Masons of Amicable Lodge have tattoos curling out from under their button-down shirts. They wear giant rings and waist aprons that look like oversize satin envelopes. They wear ties and medals and amulets. They carry staffs. Each month, they gather to practice secret rituals in Porter Square.

Once, they played in Boston bands like Slapshot, Crash and Burn, Sam Black Church, Victory at Sea, the Men, and Cradle to the Grave. Back then, none of them would have dreamed of joining the Masons. Masonry — a fraternal society that dates back to the 1700s — has not, heretofore, been associated with rock and roll.

But people get older and settle down. They get married. They have kids. They get jobs. They join the Masons.

In a strange way, this seems like a logical next step for veterans of the Boston rock scene. “A lot of people become involved in music because they’re looking for something higher — or to get girls, which is something higher,” says Ian Adams, Mason, film grip, occasional Phoenix illustrator, and member emeritus of 8 Ball Shifter and Rock City Crimewave. “It’s looking for that thing that’s bigger than you — the first time you hear the Ramones on the radio, it’s that spiritual thing.”

Masonry fills that need, Adams says. “The idea that you’re doing something that other people have done in the past [allows] you to step out of time,” he explains. “We’re born, get old, and die, but the rituals remain the same. It’s a time machine. It’s a connection to eternity.”

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: The Masons of Amicable Lodge


Along with other fraternal organizations — the Knights of Columbus, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, the Elks, the Lions, the Rotarians, Kiwanis — the Masons had their heyday in the scotch-soaked early 1960s, when men brought home the bacon and women stayed home with the kids. Fred Flintstone, a man of his time, belonged to the Loyal Order of the Water Buffaloes. After a hard day at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company, Flintstone would slide down the bronto crane, don a silly hat, and drink beer with his brethren before returning home to Wilma and Pebbles.

Freemasonry, the first and largest of these secret societies, began with medieval stonemasons’ guilds who adopted esoteric rites, rituals, and degrees of initiation, collectively known as the Craft. Today, Masons are avowedly non-denominational, though membership requires belief in a Supreme Being.

Masonry came to America with the colonists. Boston is home to the nation’s oldest Masonic Grand Lodge. It sits right on the Common — that building with the tiled beavers on the side. Inside are grand, lushly appointed meeting halls. In rooms smelling vaguely of stale cigar smoke, lockers made of glass and carved wood hold funny hats and cloaks. A tiled-floored, dimly-lit chamber is populated by marble figurines in cubby holes. The Masonic conference room is wallpapered in a gold square-and-compass pattern; the conference table is dotted with Masonic coasters.

“I think a lot of people’s misconception of the fraternity is that it’s a bunch of stodgy old men,” says Master Mason J.R. Roach. Roach, 41, is a big dude with black hair and a couple of tattoos that he keeps covered up. Once he was the drummer for Boston stalwarts Sam Black Church and played with KISS, Ted Nugent, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, and Dio.


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“There’s a saying in the ceremony that basically says the organization will not regard any man for his wealth or appearance. So it’s a very interesting mix of people. You go to Lodge and the reverend of your church could be sitting next to a guy with really long hair, and nobody cares. Everybody’s considered equal.”


Roach is at the vanguard of the Masonic resurgence. Membership — like that of all fraternal orders — declined after the salad days of the 1960s. But something changed in the mid-2000s: young men became interested in the Masons once more. Gen-Xers settled down and needed a night away from the wife and kids, and Gen-Yers rebelled against navel-gazing, Baby Boomer parents.

Or maybe they read Dan Brown’s 2003 thriller, The Da Vinci Code, or saw Nicolas Cage’s star turn in the 2004 film National Treasure. Both narratives placed Masons at the heart of international conspiracies upon which hinged nothing less than the fate of the world.

Or maybe it was the exposure. Lead by Massachusetts lodges, the Masons began to open the doors of their temples of the public and offer guided tours of their facilities. Whatever the reason, the number of men who joined the Masons began to increase dramatically. And with it, the number of young creatives.

Nick Batzell, a 25-year-old sculptor’s apprentice, got interested in Masonry when he saw a picture of Czech printmaker Alphonse Mucha in full Masonic regalia. “I studied Romanesque and Gothic architecture in [art] school,” Batzell says. “William Hogarth was a Mason, and Paul Revere — he was the most famous silversmith, ever.”

Roach spent 18 years on the road as a musician. “Record labels, promoters, club owners — sometimes you meet the sweetest people in the world and sometimes not so much,” he says. “I really wish, with all the traveling I did, that I had been a Mason.” Now, as a professional Mason, Roach spends his days in the headquarters of the Supreme Council, 33rd Degree, of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite.

Headquarters shares a Lexington campus with the National Heritage Museum. In the high-ceilinged museum lobby, a librarian keeps watch at the information desk. In the middle of the exhibition, a horrifying contraption looms on a metal tripod, covered in wool and brown with age. It has stirrups. Large glass eyes stare out from a head with giant goat horns. The placard identifies it as a Bucking Billy Goat and says that lawsuits precluded its continued use in initiation rituals.

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