History

psychics

The investigation had dragged on for three long years already, and there was still no sign of Charles Frank Jordan. As supervisor in charge of the Key Largo Customs office, which at the time boasted the most drug seizures in the country, Jordan was discovered to be one of 23 federal Customs employees working in concert to smuggle several thousand pounds of cocaine and marijuana into the United States during South Florida’s drug trafficking heyday in the 1980’s. In 1985, the self-proclaimed “Ruler of the Keys”, was charged with conspiring to smuggle 52,000 pounds of narcotics into Louisiana, along with 10 other men. The following year, a trial in New Orleans resulted in his acquittal, but after being indicted for perjury in the Spring of 1987, he decided to take his chances and run.

Reagan had just declared the war on drugs a matter of national security with decision directive 221 in 1986, opening the door for the U.S. Department of Defense to take the lead in the interdiction of illegal narcotics, both inside and outside its borders. The Pentagon’s formal role in this capacity was still a few years away, but in the meantime the DIA - official intelligence organ of the DoD - was using a controversial program inherited from INSCOM (U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command) to assist the FBI’s investigation with a highly unorthodox method: Extra Sensory Perception or ESP.

Talking Plants and Psychic Spook Roots

The origins of the government’s involvement in the paranormal can be traced to Grover Cleveland “Cleve” Backster, co-founder of the CIA’s polygraph program, who was at his New York office late one night in 1966 working on a difficult case for the FBI. Cleve Backster was, by then, a well-known figure in law enforcement circles, testifying as an expert witness in state prosecutions with regularity. The evening in question had been a long one, and in a brief moment of distraction absentmindedly fixed his gaze on a house plant his secretary had recently brought to the office. Staring at the plant, his focus suddenly started to coalesce over a harebrained idea. Could he potentially demonstrate plant consciousness by attaching his polygraph machine’s sensors to the leaves and provoke a reaction?

Cleve Backster put aside the case file in front of him and reached for his polygraph equipment. He decided to set one of the leaves on fire, surmising that this would certainly elicit a reaction from the potted organism - if there was one to be had. What happened next changed the course of Backster’s life, and set the stage for the creation of a highly classified, government program comprising a team of men and women charged with gathering intelligence of remote locations and events using their innate or - in some cases - learned psychic powers.

Backster claims that the very act of striking the match on the matchbox produced a dramatic spike in the polygraph readings. The founder of the Backster School of Lie Detection dedicated the rest of his life to the study of plant consciousness and paranormal phenomena, such as ESP and telepathy. He would go on to publish several papers in scientific journals and other publications.

One of the people who came across Backster’s research was a physicist in California, who was also dabbling in questions about extrasensory perception and related topics. Harold “Hal” Puthoff was a young 35-year physicist working at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), a think tank in San Francisco. SRI was home to many government-funded programs with close ties to intelligence and the military, which included a cybernetics and artificial intelligence divisions.

Puthoff contacted Backster in a letter, proposing an experiment involving quantum biology inspired by Cleve’s recent work. The former polygraph expert introduced the physicist to Douglas “Ingo” Swann, a gifted psychic Backster had been using as a subject for his own research into ESP. In 1970, Swann would travel west to participate in a sophisticated experiment designed to test his extrasensory abilities under strict laboratory controls at SRI. Six doctoral candidates, in addition to Hal Puthoff witnessed what seemed to them an impossible task as Swann successfully disturbed the operation of a magnetometer - a state-of-the-art piece of physics research equipment created to detect quarks - using only his mind’s intent.

Puthoff shared his findings through a report with a few colleagues at SRI. A couple of weeks later, he got a knock at the door. Two CIA agents, holding Swann’s test results were asking to come in. As a former Naval Intelligence officer, Puthoff was perfectly suited to hear what they were here to tell him. The Agency’s concern over the Soviets’ continued research into parapsychology and possible advances in so-called “psychoenergetic” weapons, was growing and they were looking for a research laboratory, that could carry out their own, low-key investigations into these same phenomena.

For the next decade and a half, Dr. Puthoff would serve as the lead scientist in several iterations of government-funded research of the ‘supernatural’, and develop the protocols for the development of a team of “psychic soldiers”, who would put their sixth senses to work in the service of Cold War targets and other intelligence gathering needs of the U.S. government.

intelligence
FILE PHOTO - Defense Intelligence Agency headquarters building at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington D.C

Where in the World is X

The Army needed to distance itself from the esoteric nature and derisive perceptions surrounding ESP, especially within a military environment. Part of this effort centered on what the advertising world calls copy writing. Scientific-sounding terminology was created to replace much-maligned words like telepathy, psychokinesis and psychics, mainly for the purpose of credibility in the eyes those holding the purse strings on Capitol Hill.

RMS, RP, and RV, were all acronyms designed to give ancient divination methods a modern technological sheen. Remote Map Sensing, Remote Pertubation and Remote Viewing, respectively, appeased the overwhelmingly skeptical Pentagon officials who, nevertheless, dedicated at least two decades to the use of these ‘occult’ arts.

Despite efforts to duplicate the talents of Swann and other innate psychics, who passed through the secret ESP programs and experiments by developing training techniques, the truth is that the military never really ascertained the source of these mysterious forces, and barring very few notable exceptions, were never able to turn ‘regular’ soldiers into psychic mediums. The earliest program, code named “Grill Flame”, employed six “remote viewers”, whose work consisted in carrying out reconnaissance missions of far off places in the world from a building in Fort Meade, Maryland using the power of concentration and, essentially, magic.

Joe McMoneagle was one of those notable exceptions who was able to ”learn’ his psychic abilities, although certain events during his tour of duty in Vietnam point to the possibility that they were simply dormant in him. In any case, McMoneagle was the program’s first (official) star remote viewer, delivering exceptional results in many of his RV sessions. One of his most celebrated occurred during Remote Viewing Session C54, when he was able to ‘see’ a clandestine Soviet submarine project, which contemporary spy satellite imagery could not possibly discover. The Soviets were building a massive new submarine vessel in the Severodvinsk Naval Base, inside a concrete structure several yards inland. McMoneagle described the vessel as it was being constructed, and even discerned its name. Satellite image confirmation arrived months later, when pictures of the “Shark” stationed on the water at Severodvinsk were seen by astounded Pentagon officials.

Regardless of McMoneagle’s success or that of his peers, remote viewing showed little to no actionable value, since confirmation was almost always required. It also didn’t help that the research continually failed to identify the source and mechanisms behind this seemingly supernatural power. As long as no one understood how it worked, trusting it as a viable intelligence tool would be very difficult.

The Gifted One

Angela Dellafiora had known she was psychic since childhood. As a civilian woman in a male-dominated environment - first at the FBI, where she worked filing criminal fingerprints in a database and then at INSCOM working for Army intelligence - her career was not bereft of obstacles. Her paranormal abilities didn’t necessarily make things any easier, even when she became a part of Sun Streak, as the remote viewer project was now named. The black program had been absorbed by the Defense Intelligence Agency after the original INSCOM project was cancelled a month earlier by Brigadier General Harry Soyster, who came on as INSCOM’s new commander, forcing General Stubblebine - the project’s biggest sponsor - into retirement.

Grill Flame had run into some PR trouble as a result of a hoax perpetrated by James Randi, a popular magician, and militant skeptic of the entire psychic/telepath/paranormal milieu. For years, Randi had been aggressively pursuing any avenue to discredit people who claimed to have any sort of psychic powers. Uri Geller, the famous Israeli spoon-bender in particular, was one of his favorite targets. Randi’s latest campaign centered around a new age retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains called the Monroe Institute, which offered psychic training programs to the public, among other things. James Randi recruited two young men to pose as psychics and undergo several of the tests offered at the Institute. Despite largely failing to prove anything with the stunt, Randi - who had a platform - made a bit of a scandal out of the whole affair. While the incident barely caught people’s attention, the fallout in the Army was severe enough to end the program at INSCOM.

The program Angela Dellafiora would be a part of would add many more layers of secrecy and compartmentalization to the already black project, so as to avoid situations like what had occurred with Grill Flame. Her natural talents, however, grated on some of the empirically-minded project managers and her “psychically-trained” colleagues, as well. Having no need to follow the steps established by SRI in their remote viewer protocol designed years earlier, Dellafiora followed her own process, which produced far quicker and more accurate results than any other non-psychic team members.

The day they asked her to locate Charles Frank Jordan, the Sun Streak supervisors had already tried sessions with the other remote viewers, each of whom came up with different locations -from Mexico to Minnesota. Dellafiora focused her mind on the target and, within minutes gave Jordan’s location as Lowell, Wyoming. Fern Gauvin, the operations manager, suggested she meant Lowell, Massachusetts, since the former location doesn’t exist. But, she insisted. After consulting an atlas, Gauvin found a Lovell, Wyoming. Dellafiora confirmed that was the location, and the psychically-obtained intel was forwarded to their point man at DIA, Dale Graff.

A few weeks later, she was asked to do another session on Jordan. Dellafiora then revealed he was living at or near an old Indian burial ground, adding that if they didn’t get him now he would escape them. A few days later, a ranger at Yellowstone National Park recognized Jordan from the alerts issued by the Customs Service. He was apprehended 50 miles from Lovell, Wyoming, where the FBI later confirmed he had been.

The Hidden Hand of Fear

The story of the U.S. government’s interest in the paranormal goes back decades before the creation of Grill Flame and its subsequent - possibly continuing - iterations. In fact, the search for mystical knowledge is a ubiquitous feature of most regimes in the history of mankind. Still, the mystery of the origins and functioning of these abilities continues to escape us.

Yet, it almost seems that the more we look for it; the more we try to find ways to bottle it and sell it on street corners, so to speak, the more elusive it becomes - and, ironically, the more paranoid we get.

MKULTRA, the most notorious mind control R&D initiative undertaken by the American military industrial complex, was born out of the same desire and paranoia. Much of the technology we “enjoy” today has emerged out of these and similar programs. Highly advanced research, dating back to the late 50’s has already yielded a technologically feasible imitation of telepathic communication, where thoughts are transferred directly to the mind of another human being thousands of miles away.

From a certain, trivial perspective, that might seem like an amazing feat. But from another, it is quite sad. In our hyper-connected, increasingly privacy-deficient world, instead of asking how we can distill and package psychic abilities or mind-reading, maybe we should ask ourselves why such faculties occur so infrequently and appear so tenuous and intangible. Or better yet, don’t ask at all. Can we live with the unknowable or are we too afraid?

Author’s Note: Much of the research for this article is based on Annie Jacobsen’s book “Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government’s Investigations into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis”

Lucky Stars

Once in a while, you get lucky in Miami. No, not that kind of lucky; the kind that lets you escape the ubiquitous flashiness and frivolous pursuits that characterize our touristy enclave. Last night, at the North Miami Beach Bandshell, everyone got lucky and witnessed a virtuoso performance by acclaimed Iranian musician, Sahba Motallebi, who was accompanied on stage by Naghmeh Farahmand, an accomplished percussionist trained by her father, Mahmoud Farahmand, considered a master of ancient Persian drum music in Iran.

Motallebi’s story is one of resilience in the face of religious and gender bias in her country, which she left in 2003 to pursue graduate studies. Although her supreme talent was recognized by winning the Best Tar Player award in the Iran Music Festival for four consecutive years, the graduate of the Tehran Conservatory of Music was impeded from continuing her studies as a result of being part of Iran’s largest non-Muslim minority, the Bahá’í. The fact that she was also breaking into the traditionally male-dominated world of Tar playing, made her advancement that much more difficult. At the age of 27, she left Iran for Russia, and later Turkey to further her musical education. Motallebi would eventually emigrate to the United States, where she resides today with her husband and two daughters.

Beyond the strings

Sahba Motallebi travels the world performing her beautiful compositions for the Tar, which means “string” in Persian, and is one of the oldest known musical instruments. The Tar is both the literal and linguistic ancestor of the guitar (gui-tar), which was brought to Spain by gypsies, and is the direct progenitor of Flamenco and other rich musical traditions of the Iberian Peninsula.

 

Naghmeh Farahmand
MIAMI BEACH, USA - JANUARY 27: Naghmeh Farahmand on stage playing the Daf, an ancient Persian drum, at the Bandshell in North Miami Beach, Florida on January 27, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles.com ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

In a recent interview with the Miami New Times, Motallebi said that she sees herself as an ambassador for Iranian culture: “Naghmeh Farahmand and I are trying to introduce audiences to Iran through our music.” As well as a role model for Iranian women: “They are going to see me as a person that is going to talk on their behalf, on behalf of women who don’t have civil rights.”

Her passion for music and learning has led Motallebi to impart her knowledge through online instructional materials, which she does whenever she’s not on tour. Fortunately for us, she came to our little slice of dubstep hell, and graced the audience at the outdoor beach venue with a magical and inspiring performance many won’t soon forget. The first piece of the concert is presented in the video, and if you find yourself wishing you could listen to the rest of the show, all I can say is, better luck next time.

NAP

Analog History

Exactly one century ago in 1917, British Naval Intelligence intercepted a telegram sent from the German Foreign Office to the President of Mexico, Venustiano Carranza. In the missive, Germany proposed an alliance with the burgeoning nation south of the Rio Grande if the United States choose to enter the war. The Germans also offered weapons and munitions to help Mexico regain its lost territories in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, hoping Carranza could be prodded into launching a suicidal offensive against its northern neighbor and draw resources away from the European theater. Known as the Zimmerman telegram, the explosive communiqué would thrust the United States into World War I and forever change the course of human history.

The story of how that telegram ended up in the hands of Sir Reginald Hall, Director of British Naval Intelligence, and eventually on Woodrow Wilson’s desk has enough intrigue to make for a great Hollywood spy thriller. Today, the transmission of messages is far less romantic, but far more advanced as billions, if not trillions, of encrypted communications are transmitted daily and relayed through a central nervous system of servers called Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). There are hundreds of Internet Exchange Points in cities around the world. Yet most of us wouldn’t even know that they exist or that every email, Facebook post, Snapchat or SMS we send from our phone or computer makes a split-second stop in these usually massive buildings before being re-routed to their ultimate destination.

NAP
MIAMI, FL – June 6: American Airlines Arena view from a parking lot next to the NAP of the Americas in Miami, Florida on June 6, 2017 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles.com ©2017 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Right in the heart of downtown Miami, less than a hundred yards away from American Airlines Arena stands “The Cube”, a 750,000 square foot concrete box that relays digital information from around the globe. The official name of the massive data center is Network Access Point of the Americas (NOTA) and serves as a pathway for digital traffic from 148 countries.

Had it not been for an unscrupulous Mexican counterfeiter, the United States Congress may have never voted to enter the “war to end all wars”. Happenstance was a crucial component of successful intelligence work up until late in the 20th century when analog forms of communication prevailed. In the digital age, however, luck is no longer an issue. Everyone can be spied on and the only thing left for Congress to vote on is whether or not to make it legal.

A Sea Change

NOTA is unique among Internet access points because it actually rents servers to public and private enterprises, making it an information-sharing hub. Terremark Worldwide, a consulting and real estate development firm founded by Cuban immigrant Manuel D. “Manny” Medina, built the data center in 2001. Medina’s background was not atypical in Miami. Fleeing the Castro regime, he came to Miami with his parents at the age of 13 and, like many children of post-revolution, first-wave Cuban immigrants, he attended and graduated college. Armed with a degree in accounting from Florida Atlantic University, he landed a job at the PriceWaterhouse Latin American division and while employed at the UK-based accounting giant, he developed important relationships with investors throughout Latin America, which would prove invaluable in the future.

By the time Castro hit Miami with a second-wave of Cubans via the Mariel Boatlift, the Magic City was booming and Manny Medina was about to make a killing. He quit PriceWaterhouse and incorporated Terremark in 1980. Soon, he was not only advising investors on real estate deals, but also contracting public infrastructure, telecommunications and technology projects around the world. His priorities shifted in the mid 90’s when the Internet burst on the scene and he decided to build his own data center.

With construction already underway in downtown Miami, Medina learned that a public-private, non-profit consortium had issued an RFP to build a Tier-1 NAP of the Americas in Miami. Terremark partnered with Telcordia Technologies, a by-product of the landmark antitrust case United States vs. AT&T, formed by the Regional Operating Companies of the Bell System and considered a major architect of the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure. Telcordia was sold to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) in 1996, a company with deep ties to intelligence and government services.

Manny Medina, once again, found himself in the right place at the right time. He had worked his way here, no doubt; but his concrete-pouring savvy wasn’t a major consideration when the NAP of the Americas LLC consortium decided to award him the contract over Lockheed Martin and one other company from Silicon Valley. Telcordia’s previous experience engineering three NAPs and their technological knowhow would be the crucial factor. In a decade’s time, he would sell his stake in Terremark to Verizon Communications and pursue other ventures in cyber security and philanthropy.

Fiber Optic Dreams

In the late 1990’s, money flowed to the telecoms who raced to lay down fiber optic cable all around the South American continent. An oligopoly of companies was positioning itself to take advantage of the burgeoning digital bonanza. The colossal infrastructure project connected all the major points along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, through the Andes and elsewhere crossing land and sea, meeting on a relatively tiny 50-mile stretch of land between Miami and Boca Raton on the southern tip of the Florida peninsula.

NAP
MIAMI, FL – June 6: Cranes surround the NAP of the Americas as new condominium construction booms in downtown Miami, Florida on June 6, 2017 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles.com ©2017 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

This was to be the nadir of the booming telecom-carrier twin industries until it all came crashing down like the twin towers later that summer. The deluge of investment coupled with unbridled ambition and unrealistic expectations led to a string of catastrophic failures. One of the most notorious cases was the WorldCom accounting scandal, which resulted in the very public arrests of its CFO, John Sidgmore and controller, David Meyers, for claiming nearly 4 billion dollars in expenses as capital investment. The company would end up having to write off $50 billion in 2001.


According to Sir William James, the official biographer of Sir Reginald Hall, the Zimmerman telegram was obtained as a result of a convoluted tale that involved counterfeiting, betrayal and influence peddling.

The story goes that a Mexican print shop owner had discovered that one of his employees was counterfeiting money at work. The proprietor hid the printing plates he found and went to consult with a friend, the administrator of the Mexican telegraph office. Returning to work the following day, the employee discovered he had been found out and turned the tables on his boss, accusing him of being the true counterfeiter. The shop owner was promptly arrested and sentenced to death by firing squad. His friend appealed directly to Hall, who interceded successfully on his behalf with the Mexican government. As a token of appreciation, the administrator provided Britain’s Director of Naval Intelligence with a copy of the infamous telegram.

Odel Gauri
Writer & Editor

The NAP of the Americas consortium initially brought together 43 companies, but would soon expand to include many of the carriers who rolled back plans to have their own separate data centers. Today, the NAP is the largest of three data centers in South Florida, but the only one with the distinction of renting space to Uncle Sam. The facility has six floors, only four of which are built out. The second floor contains the heart of the operation, the so-called ‘peering room’, which is fitted with a dozen giant screens monitoring everything from the weather to the FBI’s most wanted list. The third floor is reserved for the U.S. government. Access to this area requires federal clearance and is restricted to U.S. citizens. It is one of the seven relay points for the Diplomatic Telecommunications Service, which supports U.S. diplomatic missions abroad.

Should the next dispatch that spurs the United States to war come from South America or Europe, chances are it will be patched through the NAP of the Americas. It may also be the case even if it comes from the President’s Twitter account.

Fracking

A Fracking Disaster

On September 10th, 1969, a few miles from the town of Parachute in western Colorado, the U.S. government detonated a nuclear device two and a half times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It was a test to determine the viability of using nuclear weapons for non-military purposes; in this case, the extraction of natural gas.

Just three weeks earlier, Woodstock had brought over 400,000 people together for a four-day festival of music and art, which marked the end of a decade of social strife in America, where anti-war protests, civil rights marches and free love collided with state oppression, political assassinations and a burgeoning military-industrial complex.

Project Rulison, as the nuclear fracking experiment was called, had captured the greedy imaginations of fossil-fuel-hungry capitalists and their federal partners who hoped to release hundreds of billions of cubic feet of natural gas at the experiment site. After an exploratory test well was drilled, scientists concluded that “no flow of water, or water supply” could be harmed by the atomic explosion. Much to their dismay, however, only 455 million cubic feet of gas was freed – falling well short of the billions estimated – and rendered useless by radioactive contamination.

Despite the disastrous results of the Rulison project, one more experiment was conducted on the other side of the Colorado River at Rio Blanco with not one, but three nuclear devices to raise the stakes to one hundred kilotons, or seven and a half Hiroshimas put together. Needless to say, the gas yield was far below expectations and radioactive.

Plowshare, the name of the federal program of which these short-sighted tests were a part of, was finally terminated in 1975. Its task was to repurpose the country’s over-supplied nuclear arsenal for geo-engineering projects, such as storing fuel oil under the seafloor off the coast of Guam or blowing up mountains to facilitate the construction of highways and railroads.

Roy Rodgers was slated to close the Woodstock with Happy Trails, but he declined, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall. Instead, Jimi Hendrix performed his iconic rendition of the Star Spangled Banner foreshadowing the torturous and disintegrating road our fossil-fuel addicted country was determined to embark on.

All three nuclear fracking experiment sites, Gasbuggy, Rulison and Rio Blanco are still monitored for surface contamination by the Department of Energy. According to them, no radioactivity associated with the tests has ever been found.

Unclassified Department of Energy newsreel film about Project Rulison

Transcript:

Hi everyone. I am Maram Susli. I am a Syrian journalist with a background in chemistry, but having grown up seeing the wars in Syria and Iraq I have come to understand them and how they connect with each other… And, um, first of all there’s basically the obvious thing… You have the same propaganda driving both wars (unintelligible), regime change, dictatorships, you know, “we have to liberate the people” and, uh, the superior West has to pass down their superior democracy onto these barbarian nations… um, nobody seems to question, however, that the West itself doesn’t have a proper democracy; especially when you have a Clinton and a Bush and a Clinton and a Bush running for power and the same people are constantly running things behind the scenes. Another war narrative that is often pushed forward for both this war in Syria and the war in Iraq are the WMDs and chemical weapons.

In 2003 you had, well actually, in 1991 they forced Iraq to disarm its chemical weapons and the reason they did that was not out of humanitarian concern or because these weapons can, you know, kill civilians but because these are (unintelligible) weapons. They are basically an answer to nuclear weapons. They are a cheap man’s nuclear weapons and that’s why they call them weapons of mass destruction, because they can kill thousands and thousands, tens of thousands of people and the U.S. can’t risk invading a nation or attacking a nation when that nation has nuclear weapons or chemical weapons and so this argument is pushed before any imperialism or overt imperialism takes place.

So in 1991 when Iraq disarmed, the U.S. then, later in 2003 comes back with a narrative that it didn’t, in fact, disarm and that there are some chemical weapons still left over and they use that as a casus belli for attack even without any United Nations resolution or any word from the OPCW that agrees with them and, as a matter of fact, this kind of sequence was so predictable that in 2014, in an interview I did with Vice, when they asked me what I’d predict would happen, uh, now that Syria has given up its chemical weapons. I said that the U.S. is going to “claim that Syria has not completely disposed of its chemical weapons and use that as an excuse to airstrike army positions and possibly after another small chemical weapons attack is set up. This is going to be a similar scenario to the lead up to the Iraq war of 2002. I believe that the U.S. will start air-striking the Syrian military, as well as Al-Qaeda-linked rebels, effectively attacking both sides of the war. Now, I’m not a psychic. This is just how they work and I think it should be obvious to everybody by now.

The other war narratives that have been pushed forward are what Jay touched on: minority governments; and at the same time they have the contradictory, simultaneous narrative that they have to protect minorities. So, they have to get rid of minority governments but then they have to protect minorities and it’s a bit schizophrenic. One of the things that you hear is that Saddam is a Sunni, majority of Iraq is Shiite; Assad is Alawite, majority of Syria is Sunni and no one, you know, the fact that these governments are secular in their basis doesn’t feature and the fact that Obama was black, black people are a minority in the United States didn’t occur to him when he said that Syria had a minority government. So, um… (audience laughter) Now, you know… once they kind of destabilize the country or even get rid of its government they move on to the second narrative, which is that they have to protect the minorities. So in, um, Iraq’s case, you know, Saddam gets the Kurds or more recently ISIS is killing Christians in Yazidis, so we have to go in and protect them and in Syria, at the moment, they’re protecting the Kurds, but even in 2014 we had like some hints that they were pushing for the new narrative, which is that they have to protect the Christians and even the Alawites and it became a perplexing thing because all along they were pushing for Al-Qaeda to take power in Syria for then to turn around and pretend that they’re protecting Christians and other minorities is ridiculous. I guess perhaps that was a bit premature of a narrative to push because the plan was, uh, always for Syria to be divided and for Assad to actually run away to the coast where the majority of Alawites are, and in doing so, um, basically disband the army and create a situation where the U.S. can come in to save the Alawites and the only way to create a situation where you can save the Alawites is to create the threat that’s attacking them, which is to create terrorism.

So, um, I’d like to go to… backwards now. Maybe five thousand years ago, um, thereabouts… I don’t know, 1750 B.C. and just to see how Iraq and Syria connected. Back then, in the olden days, Syria and Iraq were separate entities but then under the Assyrian empire they were connected as one state. It’s a very famous empire. It brought a lot of things to our society and then under the Roman empire again considered Syria and Assyria, separate states, but they always had some sort of connection between them and the reason why this is significant is these people from five thousand years ago, like the, the people, their history and ethnicities, they still exist today and the considerations that existed way back then, they still exist today. I mean, the Armenians still exist, the Syrians certainly still exist and all the battles that were happening five thousand years ago are actually affecting what’s happening now. Um, and here comes Sykes-Picot.

When the Ottoman empire fell, of course… sorry, I misspelled Sykes-Picot, excuse me… But um, when the Ottoman empire fell, basically the French and the British divided the Middle East amongst each other and um, the narrative is kind of pushed forward subtly in media that Iraq and Syria are artificial nations because the borders were drawn up by Sykes-Picot. Well, in reality, um, the borders that were drawn out by Sykes-Picot were wrong only because they didn’t encompass enough territory of the natural borders of Iraq and Syria. So, the purpose that Sykes-Picot had in drawing up these borders is to try to, as much as possible, create landlocked nations. Um, Lebanon and Kuwait were basically created as a way to restrict Syria and Iraq access to the Mediterranean and gulf seas and they were also designed to divide population centers from resource-rich areas. Kuwait holds a lot of petrol and Lebanon holds a lot of water. So, this is a way to kind of make sure that people stay in poverty and, of course, finally they want to divide people along sectarian lines and keep them fighting with each other for centuries or decades to come and, um, Lebanon and Syria were exactly created along these religious and sectarian lines. You know, initially in fact, Sykes-Picot wanted to create even more divisions inside Syria. But, all sects of Syrian society or religions were against it. So, if you look at the first map, um, that is in fact how the Sykes-Picot was meant to be drawn up. The… Uh, there was supposed to be an Alawite state over here, a Druze state, Damascus and Aleppo was supposed to be divided but the only thing that they achieved was the, uh, region of Lebanon because of the Maronite relation there, um, they achieved that division and they annexed this Turkish part right here… and if you can just keep this in mind and compare it to the new Sykes-Picot, the new drawing up of the Middle East and the divisions that they want to create you can see that it’s very similar to the states that,… well they divided Lebanon, they divided Hatay, they want to go back and get their Alawite state and get their Druze state, as well; and with Iraq, you know, they want to divide Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds, and the only thing really different about this map to the previous map, um, which I’m not going to risk going backwards, um, is that they have this Kurdish section here.

So, this Kurdish section wouldn’t have existed back then in Sykes-Picot’s time because the Kurdish population in Syria wasn’t as significant. The only reason it grew in Syria is, um, because of the Armenian and Assyrian genocide and the Kurdish population’s involvement and help with the Turkish government in doing that and then, subsequently, the wars that were fought against Turkey… multiple wars that were fought by the Kurdish uprising against Turkey to try to, um, you know, get their own independent state and as a result of that there were several influxes of refugees coming to Syrian territory, which continued up until the fifties.

So, um, this is something I’m going to talk about more deeply in my next talk but, the interesting thing, um, this map here – the beginning map – is from The Center of, I’m sorry, The Council on Foreign Relations. Much of these maps are drawn up by think tanks that – the Washington government basically replicates any advice that they’re given by these think tanks – and as you can see, they wanted to create not only Kurdistan and the Alawite state, but something called Sunnistan and if you compare that to the borders of where ISIS is, you can see that ISIS is exactly the Sunnistan that they wanted to create. In fact, ISIS has been essential to all these plans, um, because the Syrian war and the sectarianism that happened in this war would not have been possible without the Iraq war; it wouldn’t have been possible without the introduction of violence and weapons and militias and hatred between Shiites and Sunnis and Iran and Iraq, if not for the Iraq war… and the U.S. at the time of the Iraq war, I remember, the theme the media was saying is that ‘we need to prevent a civil war’ and the U.S. is, like, there to prevent a civil war, but as a matter of fact they were acting to always undermine the unity of Iraq by introducing, for example, federalism into the constitution for removing a secular government and introducing a religious-leaning Shiite Dawa party by disenfranchising one sect and empowering another and getting an army built from one sect to fight cities that were resisting in another… and also, they would even go down… well, I’ll just say Saudi influence also funding these groups and finally they would even stoop to creating false flag attacks. These two men are SAS (British Special Forces) soldiers. They were caught by the Iraqi police, pro-U.S. government Iraqi police – caught them dressed up as Arabs shooting at them and this was a story that was quite hidden in the media because on that very same day, British tanks destroyed the entire police station to get these two men out. So, you can see that they were already trying to, um, get some sectarian tensions happening. So, um, I’m gonna rush. I forgot the time. So, Syria and Iraq, you know, now the foreign policy papers are coming out with: ‘Do Syria and Iraq exist?’, ‘Should we even consider they exist?’ and ‘Should we base our U.S. policy on the idea that these sovereign nations that are seen as sovereign under the United Nations exist?’. Basically, they say that they no longer exist and, of course, the narrative is that Sykes-Picot got it wrong and that’s why there are wars and that by separating these nations under sects, this will be the end of wars. But, in reality, the wars are happening because the imperialists want to implement Sykes-Picot as it was originally meant to be implemented, dividing people further.

And you might ask, you know, why would that be? Well, of course, it is to control landlocked countries, it’s… there… to make sure they’re resource-poor, to make sure they continuously fight alongside (sic) of each other and they want to have a way to get their oil pipelines through without having to ask a government that controls the land to get their pipelines through. Now at the moment, the U.S. is actually building illegal military bases in the north of Syria and just, you know, they plan to invade from the south so they can connect their pipeline through. And, you know, speaking of these think tanks that are re-drawing these maps and creating these maps of the Middle East, I believe Condoleezza Rice called it the “birth pangs” of a new Middle East. What she meant was, you know, all the children that were dying in Iraq – that suffering was just the birth pangs of a new Middle East.

All of that is actually predated by the Israeli Odid Yinon plan, which was written in 1982, which said explicitly that these nations should be divided under sectarian and ethno-centric lines, so that they would be in perpetual war with each other and Israel could have its casus belli of expansion and, in fact, at the end of the day a lot of it is about imperialism, yes. But there is this other agenda driven under the scene of a greater Israel, of a creation of… expansion of Israel, of driving populations out. The land that is written in the Zionist handbook is that everything from the Nile to the Euphrates and of course the Kurdish borders that are being drawn up by these think tanks  are everything beyond the Euphrates and that’s why you have Turkey coming into Syria with Operation Euphrates Shield, because these borders and this chaos that’s been happening has been planned a long time ago. So, the thing is though that these redrawing maps might not be… someone that’s (not) a nationalist, you might not care about borders but in order to redraw these maps ethnic cleansing has to take place, because in order to create areas that are designated for different sectors of society you have to get rid of areas of the ethnicities that are already in certain areas. So, um, for example, to create the Kurdish state right now they’re… In Iraq and Syria a Syrian minority is getting pushed out of their land by the Kurdish, uh, U.S. supported Kurds, um, Yazidis… and ISIS has been, like crucial to this because whilst the Kurdish militias are well armed, the other ethnicities have no arms and no training and, in fact, when they do arm themselves the Kurdish militias threaten them with attack if they do not disarm and once they disarm… uh, there has been recently, in fact, in Iraq where the Pashmerga basically left the Assyrians and the Yazidis to the devices of ISIS. So, ISIS has been, basically, the enzyme that’s built to create these (unintelligible) and there will be more on that in my next presentation, but I’d like to finish off with a little bit of, um, a counter statement because these things are not set in stone. For example, really what they expected was for the Al-Qaeda to be too strong, to overwhelm the Syrian military to begin to do what they promised, which is to ethnically cleanse Christians and Alawites. What they hoped was for Assad to run to the coast and therefore they would come in with savior complex and create an Alawite state. That hasn’t succeeded because, in fact, the people of Aleppo who were running away from the Al-Qaeda rebels, the majority of them are Sunni and where did they run? They ran to the coast. So, this is actually the opposite of the, uh, the ethnic division that they want to create. In fact, they achieved more of a unity inside the coast. The only thing that they have been moderately successful with is the creation of this Kurdish state; and now, Kurds are 1.5 million people in Syria. Our population is 22 million. So, you can imagine, you know, one out of twenty-two trying to take over this swath of land filled with oil and water. Um, so the counter narrative of that, however, is that Syria is planning to connect Palmyra, Dier ez-Zur and Qamishli thereby cutting off what would have been a sliced-in-half Syria and that’s probably the reason why the U.S. is conducting air strikes on Dier ez-Zur, the Syrian army location, because even though it has been under siege by ISIS for so many years, they really want it to fall. So, this is what’s happening now. We’ll talk more about the ethnic cleansing element of it and more specifically about which areas are being ethnically cleansed in my next talk so I hope you’ll stay.

Transcript by Deep City Chronicles

 

The Bock Party Is Having A Midlife Crisis

Southwest 8th Street in Miami has long been the center of the Cuban diaspora. Little Havana grew on its asphalt banks as waves of immigrants escaping the Castro regime, landed on its shores year after year and decade after decade since the early 1960’s.

The first Calle Ocho festival was held in 1977. It was a Cuban festival. Created by Cubans for Cubans to celebrate their success in exile and thumb their noses at the tyrant ninety miles away. As the years passed, it grew bigger and louder as if to make sure the music would be heard on the island.

Slowly, other immigrant groups from central and south America began to join in on the festivities as their numbers also began to swell in the city. Coaxed out of their countries as a result of their own political and economic upheavals, Miami began to see a large influx of Nicaraguans, Colombians, Venezuelans, Argentinians, Dominicans and even Mexicans. Soon, the food kiosks at the Calle Ocho festival would begin to serve ‘arepas’, tacos and churrásco in addition to the staples lechón asado, platanitos and congrí.

Changing of the Guard

As long as Fidel was watching, it was all well and good. The more, the merrier, the better to show how everybody came together when they were dancing to the music and sharing in the “Aemrican Dream”. But then something happened last year that will likely to transform the meaning of Calle Ocho forever.

In 2016, Fidel Castro Died and Donald Trump became president of the United States. Cubans in Miami of a certain generation - the generation that created Calle Ocho - overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump’s candidacy and Obama’s eleventh hour rescinding of the so-called “Wet Foot - Dry Foot” policy, through which Cubans who managed to reach land in America were automatically granted asylum, strengthened the notoriously anti-Obama Trump’s support among Miami’s Cuban community in hopes that he will, at some point, restore the policy and continue the traditionally hard Republican line against the Cuban regime.

Donald Trump’s immigration policy, of course, does not sit well with every other immigrant group that has made Miami their new home besides Cubans, which makes this year’s Calle Ocho festival an awkward affair, to say the least. There was a “Trump Shop” kiosk selling all kinds of Trump presidency mementos, souvenirs and, of course, “Make America Great Again” caps. People would stop and take a picture of the odd, double tent store. Some annoyed revelers cursed loudly at it as they moved past.

Moving to the Rhythm

It is clear that the original intent of the festival and its original hosts are about to clash with history as it moves on to a new era without Fidel Castro and a Trump White House. After forty years of moving to the rhythms of Salsa and Rumba, then incorporating the sounds of Norteñas and Bachata, it looks like the Calle Ocho has finally reached its midlife crisis. Will it survive as a stronghold for immigrant resilience or will it die in a fiery crash in its brand-spanking-new, red sports car?

“When they drill upon the earth, let them eat their corn, their purchased corn; let them drink their water, their purchased water. The clouds and the mountains they will climb in the time of their defeat; in the time of mutinies and rebellions. ”

- The Prophecy of Oxlahun Tiku | Katun 13 Ahau
The Book of Books of Chilam Balam

On the banks of the Potomac River, the monuments of empire remain intact. But just a few hundred yards away, descendants of those who first settled along her creeks and basins are marching to protect the only clean water source they have left.

The crowd that came to support the Standing Rock Sioux and all native people in Washington D.C. today is modest compared to the thousands that have camped out 1,500 miles away in North Dakota. Representatives of over one hundred tribal nations - unprecedented in history - have gathered to defend the integrity of the Missouri River and an entire ecosystem that will be put at risk by the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Water has been at the center of the war against the First Nations for centuries. Ethnic cleansing, broken treaties and legal chicanery have all been used to dispossess the original people of North America. No enemy, however, has proven as destructive as the Army Corps of Engineers.

Since 1944, the federal agency has built dozens of dams along the “Big Muddy”. The Missouri River, once a thriving source of game and fresh water for Native Americans, has been harnessed to provide power to urban centers like Kansas City. Among the consequences has been the flooding of hundreds of thousands of acres of reservation land, as well as the decimation of wildlife.

The artificial lakes created by the dams have themselves been contaminated with toxic waste and pesticides from industrial agriculture operations, causing an epidemic of cancer diagnosis and other illnesses among Native populations in the area.

While they have been fighting this war for more than 500 years, the fact that it has reached this point should be a warning to the entire world.

Those who benefit and profit from an obsolete energy paradigm will do everything in their power to maintain it. Wether it’s our government protecting the interests of big oil with rubber bullets, mace, tasers and attack dogs or your neighbor running over your bicycle with his S.U.V., the reality is that all of it will seem trivial compared to what happens to us if we don’t move on from the destructive nature of fossil fuels.

Water is life.

Choosing to dispute this fact, makes us fools. Continuing to choose oil and gas over our rivers and lakes makes us fossil fools.

Jara

On June 27th, 2016, former Chilean army lieutenant Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuñez was found “liable” by a U.S. District Court for the murder of revered Chilean folk singer, Victor Jara, killed in 1973 during the coup against the socialist government of Salvador Allende.

The Lieutenant

Jara’s murder, just days after the military putsch, became a symbol of the brutal regime that would span 17 years and leave a traumatized nation in its wake. Jara was held at Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez Prádanos (Estadio Chile) along with thousands of others who had been rounded up by the far-right junta. The popular troubadour was singled out by his barbaric captors and his hands broken to send a message. According to eyewitness and former Tejas Verdes conscript José Paredes, Barrientos played a game of “Russian Roulette” with Jara, which culminated with a kill-shot to the back of the head. Jara’s tortured and bullet-ridden body was saved from disappearing into a mass grave by a civil registry clerk who recognized the legendary folk singer’s corpse among the hundreds that were brought in for processing and took it upon himself, at great personal risk, to inform the late singer’s wife. His body was clandestinely recovered from the morgue and buried in a nearby cemetery.

The 67-year old Barrientos emigrated to the United States in 1989, ostensibly working as a landscaper and short-order cook, eventually becoming a U.S. citizen. Barrientos belonged to the “Tejas Verdes” army regiment (led by Manuel Contreras Sepulveda who later headed the DINA) known for silencing Pinochet’s political opponents. Barrientos now resides in Deltona, Florida. He was tracked down by a Chilean TV show in 2012 and interviewed on camera, where he denied ever being present at the stadium where Victor Jara was detained, claiming he was stationed east of the Moneda Palace at the time of the coup.

Paper Justice

Many of the brutal regime’s known torturers and oppressors have escaped prosecution for decades as a result of a blanket amnesty law passed by Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1978; a law that has not been repealed by the Chilean parliament to this day. Pinochet himself was arrested during a visit to London in 1998 under an international warrant for human rights abuses, but was able to avoid any repercussions citing health problems. The amnesty law, however, has not been invoked in any Chilean courtroom since 1998 and 280 cases have been prosecuted following a ruling by Chile’s Supreme Court in 2013 stating that the law should not apply to human rights violations.

The civil suit against Barrientos was filed on September 4th 2013 before U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on behalf of Jara’s widow Joan Jara (88) and her two daughters by the Center for Justice & Accountability, a San Fransisco-based legal advocacy group, and pro-bono counsel Chadbourne & Parke. Barrientos is also a defendant in a criminal prosecution in Chile, whose official request for extradition has so far gone unanswered by the United States government.

The suit was brought forward under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, a statute that allows for the filing of civil suits in the United States against individuals who, acting in an official capacity for any foreign nation, committed torture and/or extrajudicial killing. It is also worth noting that the U.S. Supreme Court blocked overseas human rights criminal cases from reaching U.S. courts in a unanimous decision in 2013, leaving the Torture Victim Protection Act as virtually the only recourse for such cases. Several former conscripts testified via videotaped depositions against Barrientos in the trial that lasted just 8 days before a jury produced a guilty verdict, awarding $20 million in punitive damages and $8 million in compensatory damages.

The $28 Million Question

Col. Gerardo Huber was found lifeless, skull shattered on the banks of the Maipo river in Chile in 1992, days before he was to testify about illegal weapons sales to the newly formed Croatian government, then under a United Nations embargo.

Colonel Huber uncovered the furtive arms deal as director of logistics for the Chilean army, a post he had held for barely one year. The deal had originated with former British spy Sydney Edwards, who along with Vladimir Secen were in Chile attempting to procure armaments for Croatia, and Yves Marziale, a representative of Ivi Finance & Management Incorporated. In November of 1991, Marziale signed a contract worth over $6 million for 370 tons of armaments with FAMAE, a nominally independent concern run by one of Pinochet’s most trusted associates, General Guillermo Letelier Skinner. According to María Inés Horovitz, of Chile’s Council for the Defense of the State, FAMAE was part of a “an entire apparatus of paper companies that allowed the payment of bribes for arms purchases and sales.”

Huber’s death was ruled a suicide, but the truth partially emerged years later thanks to the work of judge Claudio Paez who won convictions against general Victor Lizárraga and brigadier Manuel Provis for the colonel’s murder in 2006. Claudio Paez’ investigation into Huber’s death was brought on by sudden revelations of Pinochet’s illicit enrichment through bribes and arms trafficking, estimated at $28 million. An inquiry into terrorist financing by the United States Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations revealed foreign accounts in excess of $8 million held by Pinochet at the infamous, Washington D.C.-based Riggs Bank. Members of the Chilean army based in the United States held personal bank accounts at Riggs Bank since the mid 1960’s; a common practice according to the former head of Pinochet’s secret police, Gen. Manuel Contreras.

Chile’s own investigation into FAMAE and the illegal arms trafficking case determined that Pinochet was indeed the ringleader of the operation and further disclosed that several companies had been created in offshore havens such as the Isle of Jersey and used to open four separate bank accounts in Coutts International of Miami. These brass plate companies - Cornwall Overseas Corp, Berthier Investment Inc., Lego Corp, Tasker Investment and Eastview Finance - were all headed by members Pinochet’s high command.

General Pinochet died of a heart attack in December of 2006 while facing indictments for human rights abuses, corruption and tax evasion. He was never convicted of any charge. His wife, Lucia Hiriart, and the couples five children were charged with corruption in Chile following the disclosures by the investigation by the U.S. Senate, but all charges were later dropped. Another inquiry into the involvement of Pinochet’s relatives in illegal activities was also terminated in 2013 by Chilean judge Manuel Valderrama.

In January of this year, the state prosecution service in Chile (CDE) began to seek the re-opening of the probe into the general’s massive fortune.

2001 Interrupted

Victor Jara’s murder was only one among hundreds of targeted political and ideological assassinations carried out by a transnational covert intelligence and operations network created in the 1970’s called Operation Condor. The network was comprised by members of the military from 8 South American countries, including Chile, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. It facilitated cross-border persecution, disappearance and execution of the states’ political opponents and was underpinned by principles of the Cold War/National Security Doctrine espoused by the United States at the time.

Documents declassified in 2000 show how the U.S. National Security apparatus sponsored and supported Condor operations, not only through direct coordination with the totalitarian regimes by the CIA, FBI and diplomatic channels, but also as lynchpin of the network’s communication system. In a stunning discovery by researcher J. Patrice McSherry, a 1978 cable transmitted by then U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay, Robert White, he identifies the Panama Canal Zone U.S. Military base, which also housed U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), U.S. Special Forces, and the notorious School of the Americas, as the secure transnational communications center for Condor. In September 2000, the CIA itself admitted that Pinochet’s own intelligence chief, Manuel Contreras, was a CIA asset between 1974 and 1977.

Washington’s role in the creation of a transnational system of political repression in Latin America in the 60’s and 70’s, that has left a legacy of weak civilian governments throughout the region, is now beyond question. The first decade of the 21st century was shaping up to be a watershed for revelations about American policy transgressions during the post-war era. But, on the very day that Henry Kissinger was sued by the family of Chilean military Commander Rene Schneider, for orchestrating a series of covert activities that led to his assassination and on the very day that marked the 28th anniversary of the U.S. sponsored coup that brought Pinochet to power, a group of 19 muslims and their cave-dwelling leader were tragically introduced to the world in a horrific event that would bring the curtain down on more than 50 years of Cold War, anti-communist policies and ideologies and begin a new chapter of geo-political maneuvering focused on maintaining an economic advantage in a multi-polar world.

West

Scholars trace the roots of western civilization to Greece; to some honest students, a stretch of the academic imagination. Though Greek civilization did bequeath many things to the west, the direct link described by many historians is misleading at best. Greek knowledge was diffused into Europe already filtered through the ‘lens’ of other civilizations. Despite the politics of academia or the ideological directives of those who finance it, western civilization is a much newer phenomenon.

But how useful is the term ‘western civilization’ to define our current cultural paradigm?

Oswald Spengler wrote extensively about what he believed to be the a-priori demise of western civilization nearly a century ago; Neitzche, the last of the west’s great thinkers, arrived at roughly the same conclusion, offering us his tenuously constructed ubermenchen, itself a projection into a future that escaped purely western thought and a testimonial to the basic thrust of western civilization, which exalted the individual above and beyond any other value.

In a burgeoning global culture, can such a thing as ‘western’ civilization even exist? Some will rightly question whether we are, in fact, building a global culture or simply consolidating corporations across international boundaries, perpetuating the hyper-individualistic, market-based economy and ignoring expressions of true global interaction between different economic and social groups.

The market is both the motor for globalization as well as its greatest nemesis, the former a consequence of its essence, exchange, and the latter caused by the exclusive and repressive models used to actualize it. Trade in goods and services connects people on a level which should allow for the germination of richer cultural expressions, but at the same time the homogenizing tendencies of the ‘western’ or ‘individualistic’ market, i.e. the concentration of wealth and means of production in few hands, constantly subverts any possibility of open-ended cultural exchange.

Nevertheless, things have a way of evening out, and at some point a time will have to arrive when people will have to walk upon the bridges that have been built.

Civilizations are love affairs of the collective unconscious. A shape is drawn and slowly people begin to dance around it, eventually becoming the shape itself. They are inorganic entities and as such have the ability to exist indefinitely or until a new shape becomes visible over the horizon.

We have seen a new shape emerge over the last century and a half as the sun has set on western civilization. We are on the shoulders of a giant, as the saying goes.

MOTHER TOUNGE

Pictograms, characters and vocalizations were developed to allow human beings to communicate with each other. Our power of conceptualization, and consequently our ability to perceive time can be traced directly to our use of oral and written language. Hence the opening salvo of the gospel of John, “In the beginning was the word…”

All civilizations have one thing in common, just like all men and women, they are born in the same way.

Civilizations’ mother is language and we might define language as any self-contained collection of symbols agreed upon by those expressing themselves through it. The temperament of each civilization is defined by the meaning of those symbols.

For the West, the emergence of Christianity marks the ideological period of germination, through a process of individuation of ‘beliefs’ which set the stage for European culture, still centuries away on the other side of the dark ages.

An inherent paradox is contained in the social effect of Catholic dogma and its message. Catholicism hijacked all belief systems within its sphere of influence* and declared its own as the only means to achieving fulfillment –after death. Safe passage into the next life required only one condition: believe it to the exclusion of everything else. The other side of that coin is that the believer will not be rewarded in ‘this’ life and it forms the basis of the Church’s discourse. This effectively removes the ‘gods’ from the world, leaving people to their own devices – almost.

Following Christian doctrine ultimately leads to the elimination of reliance on external or other worldly forces, in favor of the individual, albeit vicariously through a particular symbol, Jesus – a living symbol that serves as the model which a believer must follow to reap the rewards of heaven. Christianity was a half-way point between paganism and the need for man to stand on his own, enough to lead men away from dissipating energy through an endless pantheon of gods and demi-gods, neglecting their own power.

But the most significant and overlooked, perhaps even completely ignored contribution of Christianity to the world is the invention of mass media.

Jesus on the cross was the first full-fledged logotype. The campaign to burn this image into people’s minds was so great that it spawned a counter movement known as Iconoclasm.

Two thousand and some odd years later you may still find an iconoclast somewhere, but you can bet he watches TV.

A NEW LANGUAGE

The new shape that is emerging, the new civilization comes to us from our newest ‘alphabetized’ form of communication: images.

Words are easily distinguished from our perceptions, but TV and film have blurred the line considerably, to the point that some of the most vulnerable psyches in our society struggle to tell the difference*, and it might not be farfetched to state that, in a much broader sense, this is true for most people as well, though in a less obvious form.

When speaking of people’s growing threshold for ‘violence’, it is said that we are ‘de-sensitized’. Repeated viewing of violent images dulls our response to ‘violence’ whether we encounter it on a screen or in our actual lives. The point to make here is that so-called ‘de-sensitization’ is an example of how we as human beings process and assimilate the new visual language.

We are naturally wired to perceive visual information (closely aided by audible cues) as the supreme source of fact and truth – “I’ll believe it when I see it” is a phrase that bluntly expresses the ultimate distrust we have in words and the ultimate faith we have in images.

A feature film can be a powerful experience precisely because it tricks us into suspending our belief, allowing us to accept what we see as if actually occurring. A general understanding of this new language is still in its infancy, most people don’t know the ‘alphabet’ of images. There are, however, people who understand the new language quite well. You can find plenty in Hollywood, but the true masters are found in a handful of Advertising firms.

THE ART DIRECTORS

The power of advertising is largely misunderstood by those who are exposed to it. It has been tasked with changing cultural idiosyncrasies and has performed flawlessly almost every time. In the 1950’s DeBeers, the diamond cartel, decided to create a market in Japan. The J. Walter Thompson advertising firm was hired to change the traditional Japanese engagement ritual of exchanging wooden cups in favor of a diamond ring. The campaign was a total success and only took a few years.

Today, there are a lot of people trying to make us believe something, anything, it seems.

We have crossed that threshold where belief is only a ‘click’ away and the logotypes etched in our ‘corneas’ are so many that everyday is a buffet of sorts. No longer is belief a matter of survival, only a matter of choice.

We’ve come a long way, Baby – Slogan for Virginia Slims cigarettes

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