Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ferguson-killer Darren Wilson reportedly received a "mid-to-high six figure sum" for his interview with ABC News / Daily Mail reports that he now has a "1$ million war chest" - PLUS: The perverted Grand Jury process in the Ferguson case

Darren Wilson: Killing does pay...a lot!

By Patrick

There is hardly any good news in US politics these days. The events in Ferguson have split the already deeply divided country even further, and justice and peace are nowhere to be seen. At least not when we look at current events.

Adding to the injustice of rigging the grand jury process in order to avoid a trial for killer Darren Wilson (for more about this, see below), is the complete lack of morals. I am talking about the mainstream media, which reportedly got into a bidding war for having an interview with Darren Wilson. An independent news website, and interestingly, it is a right-wing news website, reports that Darren Wilson received a "mid-to-high six figure sum" for giving the interview to George Stephanopoulos from ABC News:

A NBC source with knowledge of the #DarrenWilson interview talks said that ABC offered to pay “mid-to-high” six figures for the interview.

The source did not say an exact figure because NBC stopped bidding for it after ABC upped the ante.

While there is no independent confirmation for this report, it appears very believable. It is certainly not uncommon at all to be paid big bucks for these kind of media appearances. Even Sarah and Bristol Palin received already $ 100,000 for appearing in a cover story for In Touch Weekly in 2010, as an example.

In addition, this reported fact about the money paid to Darren Wilson also ties in with a new report by the Daily Mail, in which the paper reports that Darren Wilson now has a "1$ million" war chest, which at least $ 500,000 coming from donations.

The message that this payment to Darren Wilson sends to the USA and the rest of the world is terrible, and it paints the US society as a place where morals have little or no place. To say that the killing of Michael Brown was "controversial" would be a huge understatement. As is apparent for anyone with a functioning brain not impaired by the relentless right-wing propaganda, the killing itself as well as the following judicial process has been a huge scandal.

The Grand Jury proceedings made a mockery of the established rules. "Think Progress" quotes Supreme Court Justice Scalia in a ruling from 1992:

It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880). As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.

One immediately can spot the problem, and one does not have to be a lawyer in order to understand that in this case, the traditional Grand Jury process was perverted by purpose. The "Grand Jury" was promoted a full jury, deliberating in secret.

Legal experts agree:

But the presentation of all of the evidence to the grand jury struck other legal experts as inappropriate.

“[McCulloch] put the grand jury in the role of being a trier of fact, which is not its role,” Cohn said. “The grand jury was put in the position of basically being a jury, but in a one-sided, closed proceeding. The only people inside the grand jury room are the grand jury and prosecutors.”

In contrast, she said, “In a trial, there are lawyers on both sides, witnesses, and the evidence is presented in an adversarial way.”

Making the grand jury weigh evidence and question witnesses also shrouded that process in secrecy—a factor that led to the “rampant speculation” McCulloch criticized in Monday’s night press conference, McGraugh said.

“People could do nothing but speculate because he was using a secret grand jury proceeding,” she said. “He didn’t acknowledge that people had to speculate as a result of his own actions.”

She added that even within the realm of grand jury proceedings, the case spoke to a lack of “equal treatment under law.”

“The law was not applied to Officer Wilson the same way it would be applied to someone who wasn’t a police officer,” said McGraugh, who previously worked as a trial attorney and spent eight years at the Missouri State Public Defender’s Office. “If my client killed someone tomorrow and claimed it was in self-defense, he would be arrested and required to post bond while awaiting a grand jury decision. Then, the prosecutor would not be allowed to bring both sides of the story into the building.”

This sets a very dangerous precedent. Ignoring the "rule of law" is the first step into a lawless society - a society in which the rich and powerful decide themselves how the laws should be interpreted, and in which they decide that existing rules can be ignored, if necessary.

This is one step further towards an authoritarian system. In the USA, there seem to be few people able to imagine that society could gradually slip towards authoritarian rule. According to common US belief (correct me if I am wrong), "good" always wins in the end, always eventually triumphs over evil. A society in which "evil" reigns seems incredibly hard to imagine. People are optimistic that the "system" is going to work properly in the end.

But what if the system can be perverted, without any consequences?

In this context, just yesterday, I came across an interesting little "fun fact" which at first does not seem to be terribly important, but which in my view strongly supports my opinion that the belief that "good" has to triumph in the end is firmly embedded in the American psyche, and is also very hard to ignore.

Many of you will remember the excellent movie "Brazil", made in 1985, a very dark satire in which former "Monty Python" member Terry Gilliam shows a world under dictatorial rule and with perverted morals. It is available on Youtube in low quality HERE.

Now, what is significant regarding this movie? It is 132 minutes long, in its original version, and one if its most important messages is that it actually does NOT have a "Happy End." Well, if you didn't already know, I think you can guess what comes now. A world under dictatorial rule, a dark satire, and no "Happy End"? Not for Americans!! Deciding that Americans should not be bothered with such a rather unpleasant storyline, Universal studios had other ideas:

Sidney Sheinberg, the president of Universal studios had taken an interest in BRAZIL -- Sheinberg "liked many parts of BRAZIL, and thought there were many moments of bravura filmmaking," but what Sheinberg saw lacking was commercial potential. The cure for this, in Sheinberg's eyes was a re-edit, one that took the various parts of BRAZIL that were commercially viable, namely Sam's pursuit of his dream girl, the stunning set design and Gilliam's off-beat style of humor, while removing those things that were not, namely the film's dark ending, the overtones of the dehumanizing effects of the government, and Michael Kamen's witty but dark orchestral score. (...)

Ultimately, this edit subverted the entire point of BRAZIL, making the movie a futuristic fairy tale about a man's quest for a dream woman, with a lot of action and a sub-plot about terrorism thrown in. Gilliam's original message of dehumanization and technology gone wrong was subverted by Scheinberg's edit, which sent the message that if you play the game and stay a good little cog in the machine, that one day you'll end up with your dreams come true.

Yes, stay a good little cog, and keep on dreaming.

In case of the "Ferguson Grand Jury", the system failed. We can only hope that this was a single incident. But in my opinion, the system failed again when Darren Wilson received hundreds-of-thousands of dollars for giving an interview about the killing. Society should be guided not just by laws, but also by morals. Darren Wilson clearly does not deserve to become rich due to the fact that he shot Michael Brown. The media should not support such actions by a police officer, as this was not an apparent case of self-defense, according to numerous witness statement. But it appears that nobody in the media did consider this. All they wanted was "the scoop", all that mattered were the ratings. I call this perverted as well.

See this graphic which was compiled by PBS NewsHour (click to enlarge):

The saddest part: If Michael Brown was was white and Darren Wilson was black, we probably wouldn't have this discussion.

(Big h/t to zane1!)



I wanted to share two items which are not related to this topic, but which you might find interesting.

First, "Sex, Lies and Cigarettes", a new gripping documentary about how the tobacco industry currently conquers Asia, targeting children and teenagers, as well as manipulating politics. It is an industry also devoid of morals, which I found very shocking, maybe because I thought that that tobacco companies have "changed":

Secondly, a new satire clip I found, a real rarity from Monty Python, absolutely brilliant, with the appropriate title "Away From It All" - but you have to watch the full clip in order to get the message, as the first minutes are merely the introduction:

Have a good weekend, everybody!



Retired Philadelphia Cpt. Ray Lewis talks about Police Corruption


Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

There is too much snow in Buffalo, and President Obama will probably be blamed for it - Open Post - UPDATE

By Patrick

Well, this headline is of course not meant to be taken seriously, but just wait until the first right-winger claims that God wanted to punish the people of the USA with a big snowstorm....just wait!

Anyway, let's forget politics for now, as a "once in a lifetime thing", a "monster winter storm", as NBC News calls it in their report, struck Buffalo, New York. It's a real spectacle, and for the people who are trapped in it, it's also a really serious disaster - like our reader "BuffaloGal", who informed us about her situation in the comments of the previous post.

Here is the TV-report by NBC:

There are amazing videos to be found on youtube, some with really beautiful impressions of this magnificent storm - an event which is of course a huge catastrophe as well, which has already claimed the lives of several people.

This is a great time-lapse clip of the storm:

Another good clip from youtube which shows the insanity of the situation (please click here, as I cannot embed the clip).


The cars on the road are stuck (the "still picture" below is misleading, however):

Then, there is the beauty of nature again, captured in this wonderful clip, using a camera-drone:

"RAW"-video without commentary by CBS, posted several hours ago:

Our reader BuffaloGal gave us some insights about her situation 10 hours ago:

Storm update: This is beyond belief. I went to bed last night at 8pm because I was panicking and decided to stop watching it come down. Got up at 4am and forced myself to face the reality of what was outside my window. omg. The snow on the walks and streets measures 5ft, easily. I don't know how I can clear it. Everyone is stranded. Few sidewalks are cleared because the personal plows can't handle it. And it's still coming down like crazy. Nat'l Guard has been called to our little South Buffalo area but I've heard that even the main artery that is in my area is still not done. Supposedly the snow is so deep that regular plows can't handle it. Even if a snow hauler ends up coming down here at some point today, I have no way to get to the street. Beyond my little neighborhood, people are still stranded on the thruway and have been there for days. 100 miles of the thruway , still closed. We've had 4 deaths. This is really bad. Nothing has ever been seen like this. And, to top it off, I'm getting really tired of potato soup! (tho i'm awfully grateful for it too)

We do hope that BuffaloGal is fine right now.

BuffaloGal is not the first reader of Politicalgates who was affected by a natural disaster. In 2012, our reader NYCgirl had to leave her house which was destroyed by hurricane Sandy. She was in a really difficult situation, and from what I remember it took quite a long time for her situation to improve afterwards.

So take care, everyone, as it is supposed to continue snowing - this is the weather forecast:


UPDATE: Saturday, November 22

We received a new, very interesting report from BuffaloGal. The citizens of Buffalo helped each other in a very effective way, which is a very positive and uplifting message indeed!

Update - Hard to believe it's only been 5 days. Feels like a month. Good news of the day is that the thaw is underway. Unfortunately, that's also the bad news. So far, the snow is being compacted and not so much melting. Tomorrow will begin the worrisome event.

South Buffalo is almost dug out. You would not believe the number of troops and military vehicles that are here. They have been amazing. We are a small town, but we got hit so very hard. It was an entire disaster. No one would have believed we could be this far this soon. At the moment I can see the lights and hear the beeps of the snow haulers that are finally working on my street. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the help that has come in from all over.

Last night, my son went out to take food to a friend who couldn't get out to the store. On his way back, he stopped to help a National Guard unit, working to get cars dug out and pushed so the plows could come through. Ben stayed with there for 4 hours. He arrived home feeling exhausted but happy to have helped. Also last night, someone in our area had a great idea and posted a call for action and suggested a "Shovel Brigaide". He asked for volunteers to meet up at 9am this morning to go out and help dig people out. Over 500 people showed up and went door to door in different neighborhoods. And today, we heard of the arrival of large group of Amish who came, shovel ready, ready to get to work. The show of caring, empathy, support and love has been overwhelming. Something happened here this week that will never be forgotten.

We are on our way to the other side of this thing. Thank Goodness! You have all been wonderful, sticking with me and Buffalo / WNY. (and seriously, you all really did help to keep me sane. i was really starting to unravel there at one point. ) Thank you, thank you and thank you.

With the newly bought groceries I was able to make a nice meatloaf for my son and pumpkin muffins for myself. And now, I shall also have a cocktail (and most likely, another ).

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Witch Hunts and Theocracy Then and Now: A Cautionary Tale

by BBT

Right-wing fundamentalists often claim that the United States is a “Christian country,” some even going so far as to argue that it should be governed by “Biblical Law.”  I'd like to take you back in time to look at the theocratic government that existed in northeastern Massachusetts in the 1600s and the terrible consequences of its theocratic excesses; these influenced the founders of the United States to reject theocracy in favor of separation of church and state.

Let's start with a brief recollection that, by the 17th Century in Europe, there were already many examples of why the fusion of religion and political power was, often literally, a double-edged sword – nice for those wielding the power, but not so good for those on the wrong side of the religious-political divide. They were often persecuted, stripped of their power and property, and exiled or executed. The power balance often shifted rather quickly, too, as the “ins” became “outs.” No one was immune, least of all royalty. English King Charles I, who had incurred the suspicion of the Puritans who controlled Parliament when he married a Catholic, and whose tumultuous reign included many military misadventures, led England to civil war and was beheaded in 1649. His Catholic grandmother, Mary, Queen of Scots, had met the same fate in 1587 during Elizabeth I's reign.

Mary, Queen of Scots
Death of Mary, Queen of Scots

This turmoil in England took place during the first century of English colonization of North America. At the same time, England was battling for control of Ireland, Scotland and Wales and engaged in struggles for European supremacy as other countries (especially Spain and France and to a lesser extent Portugal, Holland and Germany) were also colonizing the Americas. Almost all of these political struggles had religious and economic overtones or underpinnings.

The disputes were far more complex than “Catholics vs. Protestants.” Not only Catholics, but Quakers, Lutherans, Mennonites, French Huguenots and other Christian groups were persecuted in England, Holland, Germany, France and elsewhere; where they had political power, they persecuted others. Jews were often marginalized in Europe and America. Religious affiliations were very complicated and very political.  More on this here. While differences about religious dogma could be significant, it was the fusion of religion with political and economic power that often led to war and conflict.

There was also a real belief in witches who actively partnered with the devil to harm to people, crops and livestock. Witch-craft explained natural disasters, and “witches” - most of whom were women - were often scapegoated during plagues, droughts, crop failures etc. From the late middle ages to the late 17th Century, an estimated 80,000-100,000 Europeans were executed for witch-craft. Many more were accused. 

This image is broken!
"Witches" burned at the stake

Against this backdrop, religious persecution was probably the rule more than the exception if you were not one of the “ins” at any particular point in time.  For these, and many other social, economic, political and other reasons, many people chose to take the dangerous voyage to an unknown land. 

From the outset, there were distinctions among the colonies, and within them, about religion. New York and Pennsylvania attracted Mennonites, Lutherans, Quakers, Jews and others who were persecuted in Europe. In Massachusetts, the Pilgrims who settled the Plymouth Colony were “Separatists” who did not follow the Church of England, unlike the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, founded a decade later. The Puritans' religious “platform” was to “purify” the Church of England with rigid interpretations of biblical tenets. 

The Massachusetts Bay Company was rigidly Puritan, but even so, it rejected the call by some adherents for government strictly based on Biblical law. Instead, Massachusetts colonial law expanded upon English law and incorporated theocratic admonitions. The Body of Liberties  was the basis of the first Massachusetts code of laws.

The Body of Liberties is in many ways a remarkably progressive document for its time, enumerating the rights of colonial “freemen” and even including some rights for women, children, servants, “strangers and foreigners” and even animals. Slavery was ostensibly abolished, except that the exceptions in effect legalized slavery in most instances. (Massachusetts abolished slavery in 1780.) In all, these laws, as they applied to civil matters, were remarkably progressive for the 17th Century.

They were not progressive as they applied to religious beliefs, however. Missing church on Sunday was a significant offense that could result in imprisonment, whippings and fines. If you were convicted of being a witch, or a blasphemer, or an adulterer, or a believer in anything other than what the Puritans believed, that was a capital crime for which the punishment was being put to death.

Quaker Mary Dyer being led to her execution 

And they did. Quakers, a new religious group in the 1650s, were persecuted and hung in Massachusetts because they refused to adhere to Puritan orthodoxy. They disrupted church services, engaged in civil disobedience, defied bans and persistently challenged the Puritans' rules. Even on the gallows, they steadfastly refused to save themselves by betraying their beliefs. Here is an account of the persecution of Quakers in Massachusetts, which ended when King Charles II intervened on their behalf.  (Yes, by then, the English were more tolerant than the Puritans.)

There was dissent against the Puritans' rigid theocracy from the earliest days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Roger Williams, a brilliant and charismatic minister who arrived in Massachusetts in 1631, was a separatist who rejected Puritan orthodoxy and preached tolerance. He was a strong and passionate advocate of freedom of religion and the separation of church and state, and is said to have strongly influenced Thomas Jefferson and other founders on this issue. He was offered the ministry in Boston when he first arrived from England, but declined because he refused to adhere to their strict tenets, arguing among other things that there should be no punishments for blasphemy, heresy, adultery or other religious transgressions. He became the minister in Salem, where he was generally well-respected, although his “radical” ideas continued to attract attention. In 1635, the Massachusetts General Court convicted him of sedition and heresy, ordering him to be banished. He narrowly avoided being jailed, escaping on foot during a blizzard and walking 105 miles in deep snow to Narragansett Bay, where he was taken in by Native Americans. He went on to found Providence Plantation, where laws only applied to “civil things,” not religion – the first “western” government with separation of church and state. The area attracted many Quakers, Baptists, Jews, and others who were persecuted elsewhere, and was the most tolerant and progressive of the colonies – so much so that Connecticut, Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay Colonies tried to get it abolished. Williams went to England and succeeded in getting a charter for the area that eventually became Rhode Island.

Roger Williams and Narragansetts

Anne Hutchinson was another charismatic religious leader. She led well-attended weekly meetings of women in Boston that professed a “covenant of grace” that differed from Puritan orthodoxy. Her gatherings became so popular that she had to expand them to include men, including then-Governor Henry Vane. The Puritans became increasingly alarmed at her “free grace” views and growing influence, which were at the root of the Antimonian Controversy. The Puritans voted Vane and others supporting “free grace” out of office in 1637 and prosecuted Hutchinson later that year. She was convicted of contempt and sedition and banished; she escaped to Providence Plantation, establishing a settlement nearby. These settlements, with other religious dissidents, united and formed the colony and later the state of Rhode Island, which became a bastion of religious tolerance. The colony passed laws outlawing witchcraft trials, imprisonment for debt, most capital punishment; Rhode Island also outlawed slavery in 1652.

The Puritans were not only concerned with ridding Massachusetts of religious dissenters; they soon turned their attention to witch-craft. From 1648-1663, 80 people were accused and 13 women and 2 men were executed. The first was Margaret Jones, a midwife and healer whose 1648 execution was witnessed by then-12-yearold John Hale, who later played a key role in the witch-hunts of 1692. In 1688, Cotton Mather, the influential minister of the Old North Church, zealously persecuted a laundress known as “Goody Glover” for bewitching the Goodwin children; he witnessed her execution, took in her children and wrote a book Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions. This book quickly became a “best seller” in Massachusetts. Perhaps as a result, in 1689 there were enough accusations of witch-craft that the jail in Salem could not hold all those accused. 

This all came to a boil in 1692, the year of the infamous Salem Witch Trials. The witch hunt began not in the city of Salem but in Salem Village (now the town of Danvers; see map here); soon it spread to communities throughout northeastern Massachusetts. This account suggests that unrest due to King William's War and other socio-economic factors played a role.

The trouble began in January 1692 when two girls in the household of Reverend Parris started having “fits” and behaving strangely – much like the Goodwin children as described in Mather's book. (It's surprising that the girls themselves weren't accused of being witches; some say that is because they were so young that they were presumed innocent, yet a four-year old child was accused.) Soon, other girls started showing similar behavior. (Interestingly, no boys were affected.) A doctor could find no physical ailments and concluded witch-craft was the cause of their afflictions.

Salem Witch Trial

This led to the accusations. The first accused were women who attracted attention because they were outspoken, not submissive, provocative, “unpuritan,” or social outcasts. 

Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne were accused in late February, along with Tituba, the Parris family's slave. Tituba confessed to being a witch and was spared; her confession was instrumental in causing the hysteria to expand, but she later recanted it.  Sarah Good, who had been born to a prosperous family but lost her property in a legal battle, by 1692 was a pregnant beggar and outcast who was an easy target; she was hung in July and her infant daughter was born and died in the jail. Good's 4-year old daughter was also accused and imprisoned. Sarah Osborne may have been targeted because she hadn't attended church due to illness. She was an in-law of the Putnams and had been involved in disputes with them. She was never tried; she died in jail in Boston after being held captive for several months. Bridget Bishop was another woman who did not fit the mold of women in Puritan society; she was a tavern keeper, had been married 3 times, was described by some as promiscuous, and had been twice accused of witch-craft previously. She was the first of the accused to be tried because the magistrates felt that it would be easy to convict her because of the prior accusations. They were right; she was the first to be hung, in June of 1692. 

While those accused at the outset of the witch hunt were all “outcasts” in some fashion – they did not conform to the Puritan model – this soon changed. That spring and summer, Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse and many other well-respected members of the communities were accused, and some, including Corey and Nurse, were convicted and hung that summer.

Martha Corey was known for her piety and regularly attended church; however, she did not believe in witch-craft and was outspoken about her opinion that the girls making the accusations were lying. At that point, they accused her. She had no doubt that she would be exonerated; however, the girls' actions at Corey's trial gave the impression that they were possessed and controlled by Corey, leading to her conviction. She was hung in September.

Rebecca Nurse was an elderly, pious, well-respected resident of Salem Village. She was accused by Anne Putnam and her daughter, among others, although Putnam's brother-in-law and others in the family were among those who spoke in Nurse's defense. Apparently Nurse had criticized the younger Anne Putnam for bad behavior on several occasions. Another accusation came from neighbor Sarah Holten, who claimed that Nurse cast a spell that caused her husband to die, after they had argued because his pigs destroyed Nurse's garden.  39 people risked their own lives by signing a petition attesting to her good character and seeking her release. She was initially acquitted, but the girls accusing her starting having fits in the courtroom after the verdict was read, and Chief Magistrate Stoughton ordered the jury to reconsider. Nurse was then convicted and hung in July. To the end, she proclaimed her innocence:

I can say before my Eternal Father I am innocent and God will clear my innocency…The Lord knows I have not hurt them. I am an innocent person.”

Rebecca Nurse's sisters, Mary Easty and Sarah Cloyce, were also accused, and Mary was executed. Sarah was released from prison in January 1693.

Rebecca Nurse Homestead

Remarkably, part of Nurse's 300-acre 17th Century farm and her house are still intact in the midst of a very suburban area; the property includes a graveyard with her remains (dug up from Gallows Hill and moved by her grandson) and those of several other victims of the 1692 witch trials. Three Sovereigns for Sarah was filmed there.  (The Salem Village Historic District is well worth a visit; however, I was alarmed to see that several key buildings in other parts of Danvers, including the Israel Putnam house and Sarah Osborne's house, are falling into disrepair.)

Elizabeth Howe was a cousin of Rebecca Nurse. Howe's husband was blind, leaving her with the tasks of running the farm as well as the household. She had an “assertive personality” and had been accused of causing fits in a girl ten years earlier. In 1692, she was accused of afflicting cows, horses and pigs. At her trial, she said: If it was the last moment I was to live, God knows I am innocent of any thing of this nature”. She was hung. Here is an excellent account of Howe's story. 

Martha Carrier's “crime was not witchcraft but an independence of mind and an unsubmissive character.” Susannah Martin apparently ruffled feathers by contesting her father's will.  Anne Pudeator was a nurse and midwife who was accused after some of those in her care died or babies were stillborn.  Wilmot Redd was an “eccentric” character with a volatile temper who was known to get into lively arguments with her neighbors in Marblehead. Margaret Scott of Rowley was an elderly beggar.  "Non-conformist" Sarah Wildes, Mary and Alice Parker were also executed.

John Proctor was the first man accused (along with his wife, Elizabeth). Proctor was a prosperous farmer with large landholdings in the southern part of Salem Village, in what is now the city of Peabody. He is one of the main characters in Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible (which is not historically accurate). He was executed and his wife was also condemned, but her execution was delayed because she was pregnant, and she was released the following year.

Harvard graduate George Burroughs, who had been a minister in Salem Village, was hung the same day as Proctor, even though he had no “witches marks” on his body and was able to recite the Lord's Prayer, which Puritans believed that witches could not do. After he spoke, the crowd was so moved that they began calling for him to be freed, but Reverend Cotton Mather stepped in and argued that he and four others should be executed.

Death of Giles Corey

80-year old Giles Corey, whose wife Martha was accused, was tortured and crushed to death because he refused to enter a plea, thus preventing the court from seizing his property from his heirs. John Willard was accused after he refused to arrest those whom he thought were innocent; he was hung.  Samuel Wardell, his wife and step-daughter were all accused. He confessed to witch-craft to save himself, but then recanted, and was hung. George Jacobs, Sr. was also executed, based on testimony by his granddaughter, who was also accused and was trying to save herself.

Convictions were often based on hearsay and “spectral evidence.” This was testimony based on visions and dreams that the accusers – many of whom were children - claimed to have, with no tangible proof. Spectral evidence did not meet the legal standard even then, but the magistrates allowed it anyway. The trials led to the execution of 20 people; at least 5 others died in prison.  Another 150 people were jailed in horrible conditions that year, and 200 more were accused. By the fall, more leaders were speaking out against the trials and particularly against spectral evidence.

Cotton Mather 

Several Puritan ministers like Cotton Mather played a key role in instigating the witch-craft hysteria; others helped bring it to an end. Reverend Samuel Parris, minister of Salem Village, helped inflame the hysteria that began in his own household. Reverend John Hale of Beverly testified against the accused in several cases, but his views changed dramatically when his wife and several parishioners were accused. He became a critic of the proceedings and two years later wrote a forthright account, admitting that they had lost their way and became irrational out of fear. Reverend Dane in Andover, where many accusations took place, argued against the hysteria and especially against the use of spectral evidence, and is considered one of the heroes who helped save people from death. Samuel Willard played a similar role in Salem Village and helped foster reconciliation after the end of the hysteria.  Ipswich town records indicate that ministers there spoke out against the witch-craft accusations in 1689 and again in 1692. 

Even Cotton Mather wrote a letter in early June condemning the use of spectral evidence. His father Increase Mather (who was the influential president of Harvard College) decried the use of spectral evidence in a letter in early October, writing: "It were better that ten suspected witches should escape than one innocent person be condemned." 

Thomas Brattle and Robert Calef were community leaders in Boston who were highly critical of the witch trials and whose critiques helped bring them to an end. Calef was a particular critic of Cotton Mather, blaming him for establishing fertile ground for the hysteria to occur. His book More Wonders of the Invisible World is a direct rebuttal of Cotton Mather's 1693 book Wonders of the Invisible World; Calef's book is one of the best contemporaneous reports on the witch trials. 

Eventually, the accusers went too far, accusing more and more respected members of the community, including the wives of Hale and other ministers, and even the wife of Governor Phips. In the fall he disallowed spectral evidence and disbanded the special court; early the next year he put an end to the trials, and in May he pardoned and released the remaining prisoners.

And now Nineteen persons having been hang'd, and one prest to death, and Eight more condemned, in all Twenty and Eight, of which above a third part were Members of some of the Churches of N. England, and more than half of them of a good Conversation in general, and not one clear'd; about Fifty having confest themselves to be Witches, of which not one Executed; above an Hundred and Fifty in Prison, and Two Hundred more accused; the Special Commision of Oyer and Terminer comes to a period. --  Robert Calef

Governor Phips wrote:
When I put an end to the Court there ware at least fifty persons in prision in great misery by reason of the extream cold and their poverty, most of them having only spectre evidence against them and their mittimusses being defective, I caused some of them to be lettout upon bayle and put the Judges upon consideration of a way to reliefe others and to prevent them from perishing in prision, upon which some of them were convinced and acknowledged that their former proceedings were too violent and not grounded upon a right foundation ... The stop put to the first method of proceedings hath dissipated the blak cloud that threatened this Province with destruccion.”  Governor William Phips, February 21st, 1693

Here is a summary from The Smithsonian. On this site, you can read the testimony from many of the trials. 

Of course, it is hard to put ourselves in the 1692 mindset of those who actually believed in witch-craft and to whom the devil was a real entity. Still, how could the accusers – many of them children – be given such credence? This is not just hindsight; many argued at the time that there was no basis to believe that their testimony was true – it made more sense to believe that it was “made up.” But it was accepted by the infamous Court, and people were executed on that basis.

There was also a huge 17th Century Catch-22. If you confessed to being a witch, you would be spared, but if you didn't you'd be executed. Only those who were most true to their religion, refusing to lie and steadfastly maintaining their innocence, were condemned and executed. That in itself would seem to be a red flag that the process was seriously flawed. Who couldn't see that? Why wasn't it obvious. Religious zealotry can blind people to reason.

If anything good could come of such a travesty, the Salem Witch Trials have served for centuries as a cautionary tale against intolerance and mass hysteria. Apt parallels were made during the McCarthy era, when the anti-communist fervor led to a similar suspension of people's rights and lives were ruined based on hearsay and associations. Arthur Miller's play “The Crucible” was inspired by this very parallel.

The Salem Witch Trials set a clear example of why the separation of church and state is necessary. I would take it a step farther: arguably, all religion is “spectral” - there is nothing tangible that proves the tenets of the world's religions. They are based on faith, not evidence. People's faith is real, but in any religion, because the articles of faith are subject to people's interpretations, there will always be differences of opinion and interpretation about what they mean, or what is most important. That's the nature of the beast.

Many of the founders recognized the evils that men do in the name of religion. Practically speaking, they also had to blend the interests of many people of different faiths, and some of no faith, to create a viable political union. That included Rhode Island, founded on principles of religious liberty and separation of church and state. It included Dutch Mennonites in New York, German Lutherans in Pennsylvania, Catholics, Jews, Episcopalians, Baptists, deists and, yes, atheists. In fact, a number of key revolutionaries and founders of the nation were deists, including George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and Ethan Allen. They wisely built a wall to separate church and state.

witty, quotes, sayings, thomas jefferson, religion

We've already had a theocratic tragedy in our early history which can serve as a cautionary tale, if only we are willing to take heed: though religion is supposed to be a force for good, mixing it with political control is unwise and can lead to persecution and bloodshed.

More than once it has been said…that the Salem witchcraft was the rock on which the theocracy shattered.
— George Lincoln Burr

Yet some don't understand the history or choose not to heed the lesson. The Dominionists are the Puritans of today, but with a much more extreme political agenda, fewer scruples, and a stronger determination to combine their religious beliefs with government. Their 7 Mountains strategy aims to take control of business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family and religion. Here's a site that has a lot of information on this topic.  Their infiltration of all these areas is well underway; perhaps the infiltration of not only the civilian government, but of the U.S.military, is particularly troubling.

We can learn from history, or we can repeat it.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Extremely interesting new revelation from Alaska: After Sarah Palin left office, she gave about $ 100,000, which was left in "her bank account", to Mat-Su Hospital in Palmer, where she claimed to have given birth to Trig

Mat-Su regional hospital in Palmer, Alaska: House of many mysteries

By Patrick

We haven't published a post about "Babygate", Sarah Palin's faked pregnancy with Trig, for quite some time. You know, the pregnancy which according to the national mainstream media DID in fact happen just as described by Sarah from Alaska, but which in reality did not happen.

The most ridiculous part of this whole saga is that virtually everyone in Alaska who matters knows that the pregnancy was faked, as we have learned from many conversations with Alaskans during the last five years.

However, as time goes by, more new fascinating details do and will come to light. We sit and wait patiently, and today an incredibly interesting new fact came to light (big h/t to our reader Barb Dwyer), which raises many questions for anyone who is familiar with the details of Sarah Palin's "official pregnancy story."

The Alaska Dispatch News reported yesterday, in an article about the candidates for the race for Governor in Alaska:

Palin’s endorsement, announced Oct. 22, prompted the Alaska Federation of Republican Women, representing 600 women across the state, to publicize a letter comparing Walker to Palin.

The organization had supported Palin during her bid for governor in 2006, even raising about $100,000 for her campaign, said president Rhonda Boyles. But Palin turned her back on the Republican Party.

“She wasn’t very principled in how she dealt with the Republican Party,” Boyles said. “She went on that ticket but she was never part of the Republican establishment and in fact worked against that.”

When Palin left office, she had about $100,000 in her bank account that she could have given to a political entity such as the Republican women’s group. Instead, she gave it to the Mat-Su hospital where she gave birth to Trigg, Boyles said.

“There are a lot of disgruntled women in the state because of that,” Boyles said, adding that support for publishing the commentary was unanimous among the 20 board members who attended a statewide teleconference meeting. “Even if it was just $5,000, it would have been a statement saying 'Thank you for helping elect me.' ”

OK, what??? After she left office, Sarah Palin gave about $ 100,000 to Mat-Su hospital in Palmer, where she gave birth to Trig? That raises a lot of questions indeed. Also, it's "Trig", not "Trigg", as reporters in Alaska should really know by now.

Some questions which should be asked:

First of all: Which account was it? Was it an official account? Where did the money come from? Could she decide about it alone? Was she entitled to give the money away? I am surprised that the ADN did not immediately ask these details.

Then, the choice of the recipient, as well as the timing, is most curious.

Although this is not "officially acknowledged", we do know that Mat-Su hospital took part in a carefully staged event on April 18, 2008, when Trig was "officially born" and "presented" to the public - with only Sarah Palin's parents, Chuck and Sally Heath, to be available for the media.Trig himself, the Down Syndrome baby with a hole in his heart, looked anything but newborn, but looked as if had already spent quite a while on this earth.

Mat-Su hospital in Palmer was long known to have been taken over by religious extremists, as for example Salon reported in a piece about baptist minister Howard Bess already in 2008:

Bess — a fit-looking, 80-year-old man in a gray University of Illinois sweatshirt and blue jeans – spoke with me over coffee at the Vagabond Blues, a cafe in Palmer with a stunning view of the nearby snow-capped Chugach Mountains. The retired minister moved to the Mat-Su Valley with his wife, Darlene, in 1987, after his outspoken defense of gay rights at Baptist churches in the Santa Barbara, Calif., area and Anchorage landed him in trouble with church officials. In the Mat-Su Valley, Bess plunged into community activism, helping launch an assortment of projects, from an arts council to a shelter for the mentally disabled. Inevitably, his work brought him into conflict with Palin and other highly politicized Christian fundamentalists in the valley. “Things got very intense around here in the ’90s — the culture war was very hot here,” Bess said. “The evangelicals were trying to take over the valley. They took over the school board, the community hospital board, even the local electric utility. And Sarah Palin was in the direct center of all these culture battles, along with the churches she belonged to.”

Sarah Palin herself was also a member of the Mat-Su community hospital board in the past, but I cannot find a reference with the correct date right now. I will update later.

Let's look a the pictures from the day when Trig was officially born - the  April 18, 2008. KTUU presented their readers and viewers exclusive pictures of Trig, taken on April 18, 2008 - fortunately, the original story has been preserved:

KTUU - Original story about Trig Palin's birth, published on April 18, 2008


So what prompted Sarah Palin to give "about $ 100,000" to Mat-Su hospital?

Her die-hard supporters would probably says: Thankfulness.

Actually, I would agree - but Sarah Palin was thankful in the first place that Mat-Su hospital took part in her deception. Also, she surely wanted to make sure that certain people would keep their mouths shut, now and in the future.

Also, Sarah Palin might have simply settled a debt:

This new piece of information ties in with a piece of inside information from Alaska, which we already received a few years ago: We were told that Trig was in fact born at Mat-Su hospital, but that curiously his birth was not covered by insurance. So, how could THAT be? Sarah Palin, Alaska's Governor, would have had top-notch medical insurance.

Although this piece of information came from a credible source back then, it was understandably always difficult to verify.. But knowing that Sarah Palin gave such a high amount to Mat-Su hospital after she left office, without an apparent reason, makes this piece of inside information suddenly appear very relevant again.

Because, if Sarah Palin didn't give birth to Trig at Mat-Su, it was somebody else. I think we do not need to look very far.

Also, Sarah Palin might have settled a "private" debt with official funds. That would be a real bombshell.

Sarah, Sarah, I tell you, you won't be able to keep your big secret forever! Especially now, where you have seriously annoyed the Republicans in Alaska. Because I can tell you that, from direct, personal knowledge: The Republicans in Alaska, THEY KNOW about you and your "pregnancy."

When it comes to the ADN (in the past, "Anchorage Daily News", after the sale, renamed to "Alaska Dispatch News"), one also shouldn't forget the memorable interview that ADN-columnist and former editor Michael Carey gave on September 2, 2008 - explaining that the faked pregnancy issue was intensively discussed within the ADN and that he has a friend, a "smart lawyer", who told him that the rumour about Palin's faked pregnancy was "the absolute truth":

(big h/t to Barb Dwyer letting us know about the new ADN-article)


In case you are interested in Sarah Palin's faked pregnancy, please watch this documentary, which was created in cooperation with our researchers a few years ago, and which provides facts which were mostly ignored by the mainstream media.

We are only interested in facts, not conspiracies!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Also, watch how Sarah Palin's description of her "Wild Ride" on April 17, 2008 changed over the years:



Here is a collection of important "Babygate" posts, full with facts, photos, incriminating published emails and other documentation:

Sarah Palin Babygate flashback - February 15, 2008: When Sarah Palin was supposedly six months pregnant, but was also the slimmest person in the room! 

The claim, that the crucial "Palin pregnancy photos" from March 26 and April 13, 2008 cannot be properly dated, is false! 

Sarah Palin's "pregnancy" with Trig: Revealing email exchanges with two liberal journalists 

Sarah Palin's unbelievable "Wild Ride" from Texas to Alaska on April 17, 2008 - Five years later 

Sarah Palin's lawyer John J. Tiemessen wrote threatening six-page letter to Professor Brad Scharlott's employer, Northern Kentucky University, trying to shut Professor Scharlott up and to stop him talking about "Babygate", Sarah Palin's faked pregnancy with Trig - Read the outrageous letter! 

Newly released emails reveal in detail how Sarah Palin's staff at the Governor's office fought viciously against the investigation of the "Anchorage Daily News" into the Trig pregnancy, with stonewalling, threats and insults 

New pictures of the non-pregnant Sarah Palin from March 26, 2008 - Finally the breakthrough in the "Babygate" investigation? 

Shame.On.You. - Julia O'Malley and Anchorage Daily News 

Anchorage Daily News journalist Julia O'Malley: "Photoshopping", "lightened pictures" and "reading comprehension skills" - A journalistic failure 

Posted in "The Guardian": Sarah Palin, unreliable narrator - By Kathleen Baker, editor of Politicalgates 

The Rogue, Chapter 19 by Joe McGinniss -- Sarah Palin's Trig Pregnancy Questions 

Prof. Brad Scharlott on the Peter Collins Show, talking in detail about Sarah Palin's pregnancy hoax and the "spiral of silence" in the media 

The media finally discovers Sarah Palin's "Trig pregnancy hoax" - The wall of silence is being torn down, and more voices are being heard

Justin Elliott's "definitive debunker" of "Trig Trutherism": Flawed witnesses, flawed evidence and politics 

Sarah Palin's Fake Pregnancy? How Big Does a Conspiracy Have to Be?

Author Christopher Hitchens: "An astonishing number of well-informed people tell me that Sarah Palin is not in fact the mother of baby Trig" 

Frank Bailey's book "Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin": Sarah already fights in April 2008 against rumors that she is not pregnant - but has no evidence!