30 May 2012

Belching Out the Devil



Belching Out the Devil by Mark Thomas, 2008

Mammon Review:

Mark Thomas uses a comedic-cynic style to investigate reports of abuse by Coca Cola around the world. Seems Coca Cola is not shy about using strong arm tactics to enhance its bottom line and secure its market share. In Colombia, any worker deemed left of center is seen as a union conspirator. Workers were literally shot dead on the production floor and outside the bottling plant by company paramilitary. [The Coca Cola Corporation distances itself from the bottlers by the legality of ownership, hence responsibility.] In India, Coca Cola builds plants that deplete aquifers and pollute local streams; adversely and severely impacting local populations and farmers. In Turkey, a plant sit-in by workers and family members attempting to unionize were showered with tear gas and beat with riot sticks. In El Salvador, the harvesting of sugar cane destined for Coca Cola uses child labor. In Mexico, Coca Cola bullies and sanctions small shop owners into only carrying Coke products. [Mexico’s President Vicente Fox (2000-2006) had previously been President of Coca Cola Mexico.]

Mark Thomas starts his journey with a visit to the World of Coca Cola in Atlanta, a display of marketing hubris with a gift shop, and ends at the Delaware annual shareholders meeting, where executives pontificate Coca Cola’s Corporate Social Responsibility. At the meeting, Mark Thomas meets up with B. Wardlaw, The Coca-Cola Anarchist and substantial Coca Cola shareholder, and Ray Rogers, coordinator of the Killer Coke campaign. These collective activists strip back the marketing veneer and expose a dark side to corporate globalization.




India Coca-Cola compensation law is passed in Kerala
24 Feb 2011
The southern Indian state of Kerala has passed a new law that will allow people to seek compensation from the soft-drink giant Coca-Cola. The company is mired in controversy over its bottling operation in Palakkad district, which campaigners say has caused environmental damage. They say it has also led to a severe water shortage in the area. The state government says the plant "over-extracted" ground water at the site, which led to shortages of drinking water. It says the disposal of sludge containing metals from the plant affected crops as well as the health of local people - causing skin diseases, breathing problems and other ailments.

29 May 2012

Coca Cola Anarchist



Coca Cola Anarchist by B Wardlaw, 2010

Mammon Review:

Born with a silver spoon, B Wardlaw, whose investor grandfather birthed a fortune helping Atlanta banker Ernest Woodruff take Coke public in 1919, was raised in Atlanta in an idyllic Southern countryside with room to roam and black servants that he grew to love as family. B came of age during the 1950s where the Southern social order was very stratified and structured, especially amongst the privileged. B embodies the rise of the Beat generation, rejecting class privilege through social activism and poetry, challenging social norms through the Vietnam and Reagan eras and the present, and grappling with the privilege to be rebellious against a system from which this privilege is derived and perpetuated. The pie incident was brilliant, and his homeless advocacy is admirable. An insightful book on many levels.

I met B once at his daughter’s [J] house party. With a badass attitude and a sharp tongue to match, J definitely carries the Wardlaw torch, burn baby burn.


Regimes and Coca Cola



For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

In order to thrive inside Nazi Germany, its Coca-Cola franchises had waged a rigorous campaign to disassociate themselves from their American roots. While the soft drink came to symbolize American freedom, the same Coca-Cola logo rested comfortably next to the swastika. The drama of German Coke’s survival before, during, and after World War II swirls around one central figure – Max Keith, at once the quintessential Coca-Cola man and Nazi collaborator.

The 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin marked a moment of triumph for Max Keith, who provided enormous quantities of Coca-Cola for athletes and visitors. As young men goose-stepped in formation at Hitler Youth rallies, Coca-Cola trucks accompanied the marchers, hoping to capture the next generation.

Goring and Goebbels hosted elaborate parties for foreign guests, most of whom were suitably impressed by what they saw. One of those guests was Robert Woodruff, who had brought over an entire Coca-Cola entourage. Woodruff belonged to network of corporate executives, many of whom were worried about their German subsidiaries and interests. With was clouds darkening, these titans of American industry quietly maneuvered to protect themselves against all contingencies. Some, like Henry Ford, were in fact Nazi sympathizers, while others, such as Walter Teagle of Standard Oil, avoided taking sides but saw nothing wrong with doing business with the Nazis. Like his friend and hunting companion Teagle, Woodruff practiced expediency. His politics were Coca-Cola, pure and simple.

In March of 1938, as Hitler’s troops stormed across the Austrian border.  Far from expressing horror at Nazi aggression, Keith and his men swiftly followed the troops into Austria, establishing a Vienna branch in September. And as the Allied forces pushed the Germans back toward Berlin, the Coca-Cola men surged into Germany along with their bottling plants, refurbishing European mineral water operations and continuing to serve the troops their favorite beverage.

And therein lies the true beauty of capitalism. The Coca-Cola religion has no real morality, no commandment other than increased consumption of its drink. Consequently, it has been perfectly willing to co-exist with Hitler, bejeweled Maharajas, impoverished migrant workers, malnourished Africans, Guatemalan death squads, clear-cut Belizean rainforests, or repressive Chinese.  Unlike most world governments, however, the Coca-Cola Company eventually acts out of enlightened self-interest. Because it values its squeaky-clean image above all else, it reacts far more quickly to bad publicity than any potentate.

Whenever you hear "Have a Coke," you hear the voice of America
[1945 Coca-Cola Advertising Slogan]

While touring the Dusseldorf fair, Hermann Goring paused for a Coke, and an alert Company photographer snapped a picture. [Find Picture]




Kosher Coke

28 May 2012

Military and Coca Cola



For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

Given the popularity and symbolic weight Coca-Cola achieved during WWII, it was predictable that Coca-Cola would bring a considerable amount of money on the black market and the informal commerce to soldiers. It seemed fitting that Mary Churchill, Winston’s daughter, should christen a new destroyer with a bottle of Coke. During the war years, explicit treatment of Coke-as-religion cropped up. Since the notion of a soft drink being worshipped was disconcerting, these references were often humorous. During the Battle of the Bulge, a priest was supplied with Coca-Cola in lieu of sacramental wine.




The Last Phoenix by Carl Douglass, 1997

In forty-five minutes they were in a helicopter over the South China Sea traveling at about three thousand feet. The moonlight shimmered and sparkled on the calm surface of the water casting beautiful but eerie shadows from the silhouettes of the archipelago of islands. There was a single US Navy destroyer making its way toward Danang and a few sampans sitting at anchor, the lamplights and cooking fires on their afterdecks creating dots of light on the surface of the black water.

The softly whimpering girl lay in the fetal position on the greasy steel deck of the chopper. The Nungs were each armed with a .45 and a cruel looking curved two-edged dagger. There were no signs of resistance, and none of the occupants talked until they were well out to sea. There was only the steady loud rattle of the craft’s engine and rotors to interrupt the silence of that starless night.

“You have one chance to repent and to make yourself clean. Do it now. If you don’t, you alone are responsible for your daughter’s fate.” Mr. Phan begged, cajoled, pleaded, and cried in a stream of nearly unintelligible Vietnamese. DuParrier shouted in the ear of the Nung guard seated next to him. The Chinese man roughly grabbed the diminutive girl by her blouse front and the belt of her blue pleated school uniform skirt. He easily lifted her off the vibrating floor and duck walked to the open door with the terrified girl.

“Tell me!” menaced DeParrier. “Five seconds!” was all he added. He looked straight into the stricken father’s eyes and began to lift the fingers of his right hand methodically.

Phan watched the number of fingers increase in horrified fascination. It was as if he were struck dumb. He dropped his face into the palms of his hands, and his body shuddered with his sobs. DeParrier jerked the captive man’s head up when the five seconds had elapsed. He nodded to the Nung.

The Chinese mercenary sneered at the girl then made a sign crossing two fingers in front of her as a mortal insult. Then he made a sudden violent jerking motion and pitched the hapless little girl into the black void. Her decrescendo screaming trailed off into the night.

Anders had heard and ignored rumors that the CIA backed system had condoned the torture and killing of old people, women, and even children, sometimes for mere sadism, sometimes for petty revenge. This reality he had just witnessed made even the worst of what he had heard about have a deep ring of truth.

First, Mr. Pham’s right arm and leg became flaccid and dangled like wet spaghetti at his side. The left side of his face became slack. He burbled unintelligently, emitting a nearly inaudible syllable salad. Then he slumped to his right. Phan Pho Ngo, the Coca Cola bottler and distributor for South Viet Nam, was dead. When his daughter flew out of the helicopter door, his blood pressure had shot off the manometer; a blood vessel deep in his brain burst from the strain and blew the left side of his cerebrum to pieces.

Duparrier gestured angrily at the two Nungs. They took hold of Phan’s limp body and pitched it unceremoniously out over the South China Sea. There would be no evidence of their night’s work.

Tea and Coca-Cola



For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

Sugar and tea were initially considered exotic luxuries available only to the wealthy nobility in Great Britain. In addition to their use as rare spices, they were supposedly potent medicines for almost any ailment. A German traveler who met Queen Elizabeth in Shakespearean times described her black teeth – “a defect the English seem subject to, from their too great use of sugar.”

Poverty-stricken factory workers learned to grab a quick meal away from home, using hot sweetened tea as a pick-me-up. Teatime, a new British ritual, was gradually assimilated into all aspects of daily life.

This should sound all too familiar. Like tea and sugar, Coca-Cola started life primarily as a medicine, though not strictly for the upper crust. Like sweetened tea, Coke contained caffeine and sugar, along with a tiny amount of cocaine for fifteen years or so. A Coke break quickly became the American equivalent of the British teatime, while advertising stressed the role of the “pause that refreshes” as an aid to industry.

 

27 May 2012

Schools and Coca-Cola



For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

Coca-Cola intensified its drive to penetrate schools to snare youthful consumers early. “Whether it’s a morning pick-me-up, a lunchtime refresher or for after class with friends,” a Coke internal organ advised, “students want their drinks easily accessible.” School officials, eager for soft drink money to supplement their meager budgets, agreed. The Colorado Springs School District signed a 10-year exclusive contract with Coke that guaranteed to bring in $7.5 million – provided, that is, that its 32,000 students bought a sufficient number of soft drinks for the schools’ vending machines.  A school district official wrote a letter to each of the principals. “We must sell 70,000 cases of product,” he wrote, “at least once during the first three years of the contract.” To do so, he urged schools to “allow students to purchase and consume vended products throughout the day” and to add more coolers. “The Coke people surveyed the middle and high schools this summer and have suggestions on where to place additional machines.” The school official signed off as “The Coke Dude.”

In 1998 and 1999, hundreds of schools became active participants in marketing soft drinks, signing up for exclusive Coke or Pepsi deals in a veritable feeding frenzy. Coke soon received an unexpected bonus. Although it was illegal to sell soda as part of the school lunch program, many schools began to give away soft drinks in order to lure students on open campuses into staying for lunch. Coca-Cola purveyors had known that “sampling” programs were an excellent way to build business. Now, the schools were doing it for them!

Several new Coke ads made an unabashed appeal to high school students. In one spot, a teenage boy taking an exam reached up and grabbed a Coke that magically appeared overhead. He and a beautiful classmate were lifted up into a fantasy sky of blue. In another ad, a teenager went on and on about philosophical matters until his bored girlfriend suggested, “Do you wanna have a Coke and make out?” In a third, a young girl tried on different outfits while drinking her Coke. In a surreal ad called “Machine Teen Central,” active teens swarmed around a Coke vending machine. Fueled by soft drinks, they rode bikes up buildings, glided above earth on skateboards, and finally tossed schoolbooks into the air to form a stairway to heaven, the book covers changing to a Coke logo.



Nutrition and Coca Cola



For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

Twenty years ago, boys consumed more than twice as much milk as soft drinks. Today, those figures are reversed. Girls consume twice as much soda as milk and build 92 percent of their bone mass by age 18. Americans drank an average of 576 twelve-ounce servings of soft drinks per year in 1997 – or 1.6 cans a day for every man, woman, and child.

By relying primarily on the instant energy of glucose, people forego vitamins, fiber, and other necessary nutrients. While it is possible to get those vital nutrients elsewhere, the more Coke you drink, the less room you find for healthy food in a typical 2,500-calorie daily “budget.” It is more likely that Coca-Cola fiends, particularly those who use it to wash down fatty junk foods, will ingest too many calories – one of the reasons that 12 percent of teenagers and 35 percent of adults in the United States are overweight. Worse, poor and black American children are three times more likely to become obese while suffering from malnutrition. Even the conservative Wall Street Journal ran a front-page series on the inner-city “deadly diet” of high-fat, salty, sugary food and drink sole in popular fast food outlets, which offer a refuge from the ghetto.

As for those who lump Coke with junk food and blame it for the poor nutrition of immigrants, inner-city blacks, and Third World people abandoning their traditional diet, the Coca-Cola executives reply that they advocate drinking the beverage only as part of a balanced diet. It isn’t their fault if people don’t eat well. “Actually,” CEO Doug Ivester observed in 1998, “our product is quite healthy. Fluid replenishment is a key to health. Coca-Cola does a great service because it encourages people to take in more and more liquids.” Indeed, a fifth of American toddlers one or two drink soft drinks at an average of seven ounces a day.


 

26 May 2012

Coca-Cola Cocaine Content Removed



For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

The removal of cocaine had presented a delicate public relations problem. The implication would be that they had removed it because it was harmful, which might open the door to lawsuits. Besides, it was unthinkable to admit that Coca-Cola had ever been anything but pure and wholesome. Finally, they didn’t want the public to know that one of the drink’s more enticing ingredients was now missing. After 1900, the Company poured on the advertising, stressing the soft drink’s healthful qualities.

Candler orchestrated a mighty revision of Coca-Cola history. In later years, he repeatedly denied, under oath, that the drink had ever had cocaine in it. Even today, the Company feels compelled to deny it, though there has been no cocaine whatsoever in Coca-Cola since 1903.

In December 1902, the Georgia legislature made the sale of cocaine in any form illegal.

Coca Colla hopes to create a buzz in Bolivia
21 Apr 2010
Bolivia has started producing a new fizzy drink using the coca leaf. It is called "Coca Colla" after the Colla people, the Andean tribes who cultivate coca in the areas bordering Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. For some a matter of indigenous pride, for others another sign of Bolivia's growing anti-US feelings, this humble local initiative has set its sights on competing domestically with giants such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull.

It is backed up by a government policy of industrializing the cultivation of the coca leaf. The leaf is a key element in the Andean people's culture and economy. However, it is also cocaine's raw material. Most famously, coca leaves helped to give the kick in Coca-Cola's original formula. The company dropped cocaine from its recipe more than 100 years go, but the secret formula still calls for a cocaine-free coca extract.


25 May 2012

Coke Fiends



For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

Cocaine, the 1885 wonder drug, had become the 1900 scourge of humanity, and in the South it allegedly caused crazed Negroes to attack their bosses and rape white women. A major race riot occurred in Atlanta, though it primarily involved whites attacking blacks rather that vice versa, caused by inflammatory newspaper accounts of black “brutes” attacking white women. There may have been vestiges of truth behind the sensational headlines, since many farmers were giving cocaine to their black sharecroppers in lieu of food, and cocaine in the city, where 50 cents bought a week’s supply, was a cheaper high than alcohol.

Virtually every town in America had a Coca-Cola bottler. No longer simply a soda fountain drink for upper-class urban white processionals, Coca-Cola was increasingly consumed by blacks. Sensational stories of “Negro coke fiends” attacking whites caused many to fear the widespread availability of Coca-Cola. As the century turned, so did public opinion, and in 1900 Candler found himself under intensified pressure to reform his “dope.”

Medicinal Cocaine Controversy



For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

Asa Candler consolidated his claim to Coca-Cola two weeks after Pemberton’s death, on August 30, 1888. He bought the remaining interest through a tangled chain of titles. Throughout 1889, without much advertising, Candler saw sales of Coca-Cola mushroom. The combination of cocaine and caffeine induced repeated calls for Coca-Cola and the first indication of habitual users, soon labeled “Coca-Cola fiends.”

Candler’s Coca-Cola had phenomenal growth. From almost 20,000 gallons in 1891, sales shot up to 35,360 gallons in 1892, then [during a nationwide depression] to 48,427 in 1893, 64,333 in 1894, and 76,244 in 1895. By 1900, Coca-Cola was already not simply a soft drink, but a phenomenon. With success, however, came increased notoriety and controversy. The drink’s cocaine content had been a source of trouble from the beginning, but it was also a major selling point.

The early ads were almost universally medicinal. Curiously, this was a turn away from Pemberton’s first ad for Coca-Cola, which called it “Delicious and Refreshing.” While the firm letterhead did proclaim that Coca-Cola was “Delicious, Refreshing, Exhilarating, Invigorating,” Candler’s early ads failed to use those adjectives. Instead, Coca-Cola was “Harmless, Wonderful, Efficient, Quick, Relieves Headache, Gives Prompt Rest.” It was the “Ideal Brain Tonic and Sovereign Remedy for Headache and Nervousness. It makes the sad glad and weak strong.” Candler believed in the drink’s beneficial effects, even if he denied they were due to cocaine.

Popular t-shirt logo during the late 1970s and early 1980s


Cocaine Lyrics, Eric Clapton
If you wanna hang out you've got to take her out; cocaine.
If you wanna get down, down on the ground; cocaine.
She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie; cocaine.

If you got bad news, you wanna kick them blues; cocaine.
When your day is done and you wanna run 'round; cocaine.
She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie; cocaine.

If your thing is gone and you wanna ride on; cocaine.
Don't forget this fact, you can't get it back; cocaine.
She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie; cocaine.

24 May 2012

Pemberton Creates Coca-Cola



For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

Pemberton may have first resorted to morphine to ease the pain of his own war wounds, continuing its use throughout his periodic illnesses. Pemberton was an addict. “Morphinism,” as it was called then, was increasingly prevalent, particularly among physicians and pharmacists. Pemberton had a personal interest in coca as a cure for morphine addiction. In the late 1970s, Pemberton first read about this miraculous new substance.

Pemberton told a reporter in 1885 that “I am convinced from actual experiments that coca is the very best substitute for opium, with a person addicted to the opium habit that has ever discovered. It supplies the place of that drug, and the patient who will use it as a means of cure, may deliver himself from the pernicious habit without inconvenience or pain.”

Pemberton granted that cocaine, if misused, could be dangerous, but he same could be said for any effective medicine. “I wish it were in my power to substitute the Coca and compel all who are addicted to the use of opium, morphine, alcohol, tobacco, or other narcotic stimulants to live on the coca plant or any of its true preparations,” he said. “It is perfectly wonderful what coca does.”

Pemberton’s label for his new syrup: “Coca-Cola Syrup and Extract for Soda Water and other Carbonated Beverages. This Intellectual Beverage and Temperance Drink contains the valuable Tonic and Nerve Stimulant properties of the Coca plant and Cola nuts, and makes not only a delicious, exhilarating, refreshing and invigorating, but a valuable Brain Tonic and a cure for all nervous affections – Sick, Head-Ache, Neuralgia, Hysteria, Melancholy, etc. The peculiar flavor of Coca-Cola delights every palate.”

 

Cocaine Miracle Cure



For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

Chewed by native Peruvians and Bolivians for over 2,000 years, coca leaves acted as a stimulant, an aid to digestion, an aphrodisiac, and a life-extender, giving the mountain-dwelling Andeans remarkable endurance during long treks with little food. The Incas had called it their “Divine Plant,” and it was central to every aspect of the political, religious, and commercial life.

Cocaine had first been isolated in 1855 by the German Gaedeke, but it was Americans who pursued active experimentation. By the early 1880s, doctors and pharmacists were reporting on the use of coca and its principal alkaloid, cocaine, as a possible cure for opium and morphine addictions. The importation of opium to the U.S. had increased dramatically, from almost 146,000 pounds in 1867 to over 500,000 pounds in 1880. Addiction was so common among veterans of the Civil War that it was called the “Army disease.” 

By the mid-1880s, one drug journal accurately described a “veritable cocamania” as a result of the “crusade against the enormously increased use of alcohol and morphine.” It was impossible to open a drug journal without finding numerous articles about new uses for the leaf and its principal alkaloid. In response, manufacturers produced coca tablets, ointments, sprays, hypodermic injections, wines, liqueurs, soft drinks, powders, and even coca-leaf cigarettes and chewing tobacco, was extensively advertised in 1885. Advertisements purporting to offer cures for the habit appeared frequently in Atlanta papers.


 

21 May 2012

I'm not a Witch!






Advert for Republican Christine O'Donnell: 'I'm not a witch'
31 Oct 2010
The Republican candidate to represent Delaware in the Senate, Christine O'Donnell, has produced a simple advert in which she tells voters in a direct appeal, 'I am not a witch ... I am you'. Her campaign was knocked off balance by revelations that she dabbled with witchcraft in college. Ms O'Donnell's comments about witchcraft were made during a 1999 taping of comedian Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect show. "I dabbled into witchcraft, I never joined a coven," she said on the show, comments which were recycled in the media.

20 May 2012

She’s a Witch!





Monty Python’s She’s a Witch

Lockerbie Bomber Dies - Scapegoat or Not?



Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi dies in Tripoli
20 May 2012
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing above Scotland which killed 270 people, has died at his home in Libya. Megrahi, 60. He was freed from Scottish jail in 2009 on compassionate grounds because of cancer, stirring controversy when he outlived doctors' expectations. Megrahi's release sparked the fury of many of the relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie disaster. The US - whose citizens accounted for 189 of the dead - also criticized the move. But others believed he was not guilty of the bombing.

'Cloud of suspicion' over Lockerbie bomber release
20 August 2010
Following his release from a Scottish prison in August 2009, Megrahi got a hero's welcome in Tripoli. The UK Foreign Office warned ahead of the anniversary of Megrahi's release that similar scenes would be deeply insensitive to families of the 270 people killed in 1988. Of those who died in the bombing, 189 were Americans. Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill  took the decision to release Megrahi.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement on Friday that the US continued to "categorically disagree" with the decision to release Megrahi. "As we have expressed repeatedly to Scottish authorities, we maintain that al-Megrahi should serve out the entirety of his sentence in prison in Scotland. We have and will continue to reiterate this position to the Scottish and Libyan authorities," she said.

'A convenient scapegoat?'
20 Aug 2009
Dick Marquise, chief of the FBI "Scotbom Task Force" from 1988-1992, said investigators could find nothing later to link this plot with Lockerbie. "We never found any evidence," he told the BBC. "There's a lot of information, there's a lot of intelligence that people have said there were meetings, there were discussions. But not one shred of evidence that a prosecutor could take into court to convict either an official in Iran or Ahmed Jibril for blowing up Pan Am flight 103." Megrahi is now dying, but he may have been a convenient scapegoat for a much bigger conspiracy.

Lockerbie evidence not disclosed
28 Aug 2008
But there have always been doubts expressed about who was behind the bombing and what was their motivation. In June last year the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), which has been investigating the case, concluded that al-Megrahi could have suffered a miscarriage of justice and recommended that he should be granted a second appeal. The specific terms on which the recommendation was made have never been fully published.

'Secret' Lockerbie report claim
02 Oct 2007
Lawyers acting for the Lockerbie bomber are expected to ask the High Court to examine claims that vital documents were kept from the trial defense team. Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi is currently serving a minimum of 27 years for the 1988 atrocity in which 270 people died when Pan-Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie. He is awaiting an appeal on the grounds of a possible miscarriage of justice. The documents, which relate to the timer which allegedly detonated the Lockerbie bomb, are believed to have come from the American CIA - which demanded that they were not disclosed.


Gideon’s Spies by Gordon Thomas, 1999, Excerpts

On a December evening in 1988, Pan American Airways Flight 103 from London to New York exploded in the air over Lockerbie in Scotland. Pan Am 103 had been destroyed as an act of revenge for the shooting down on July 3, 1988, by the USS Vincennes of an Iranian passenger plane in the Persian Gulf, killing 290 people. It had been a tragic error for which the United States had apologized.

On board the aircraft as it left London on that December night in 1988 were eight members of the US intelligence community returning from duty in the Middle East. Four of them were CIA field officers. Also on board were US Army major Charles McKee and his small team of experts in hostage rescue. They had been in the Middle East to explore the possibility of freeing the Western hostages still held in Beirut.

Though the Lockerbie disaster investigation was under the jurisdiction of a Scottish team, CIA agents were on the scene when McKee's still closed and miraculously intact suitcase was located. It was taken away from the scene for a short time by a man believed to be a CIA officer, though he would never be positively identified. Later the suitcase was returned to the Scottish investigation team, who logged its contents under "empty." No one queried what had happened to McKee's belongings, let alone why he had been traveling with an empty suitcase. But at the time, no one suspected that the CIA officer might have removed from the suitcase data that explained why Pan Am 103 had been destroyed.

The airline's insurers hired a New York firm of private investigators called Interfor. The company had been founded in 1979 by an Israeli, Yuval Aviv, who had immigrated to the United States the previous year. Aviv claimed to be a former disk officer with Mossad. Aviv had satisfied the insurers he had the right connections to unearth the truth. Aviv had concluded that the attack had been planned and executed by a rogue CIA group, based in Germany, who were providing protection to a drug operation which transported drugs for the Middle East to the US via Frankfurt. The method of drug smuggling was quite simple. One person would check a piece of luggage on the flight, and an accomplice working in the baggage area would switch it with a piece of identical luggage containing the narcotics. 

The CIA did nothing to break up the operation because the traffickers were also helping them send weapons to Iran as part of the arms-for-hostages negotiations. McKee had discovered the scam while pursuing his own contacts in the Middle East underworld in an attempt to find a way to rescue the Beirut hostages. 

Aviv's report claimed McKee had learned about the "CIA rogue team," which had worked under the code name of COREA, and that its members also had close ties to another of those mysterious figures who had found his niche on the fringes of the intelligence world - Monzer Al-Kassar. Al-Kassar had built a reputation as an arms dealer in Europe, including supplying Colonel Oliver North with weapons for him to pass on to the Nicaraguan Contras in 1985-86. Al-Kassar's brother-in-law was head of Syrian intelligence and his wife was a relative of the Syrian president. Al-Kassar had found in COREA a ready partner for the drug-smuggling operation. Aviv stated in his report that "McKee planned to bring back to the US proof of the rogue intelligence team's connection to Al-Kassar." 

On the fatal night, a Syrian terrorist, aware of how the drug operation worked, had switched a suitcase with one containing the bomb. His reason was to kill the US intelligence operatives whom Syria had discovered would join the flight.

In 1994, Joel Bannerman, the publisher of an Israeli intelligence report wrote: "Twenty-four hours before the flight, Mossad tipped off the German BKA that there could be a plan to plant a bomb on flight 103. The BKA passed on their tip to the COREA CIA team working out of Frankfurt who said they would take care of everything." So far Mossad has kept to itself all it knows about the destruction of the flight. There are sources who claim that Mossad is holding on to its knowledge as a trump card should Washington increase its pressure for Mossad to cease its intelligence activities within the United States.

19 May 2012

Passing Sentence: Condemned to the Fire



The Malleus Maleficarum by Kramer and Sprenger, 1489, Excerpts

And in case all should fail, then let him take note that, if she has perpetrated the like before, she is not to be altogether released, but must be sent to the squalor of prison for a year, and be tortured, and be examined very often, especially on the more Holy Days. But if, in addition to this, she has been defamed, then the Judge may proceed in the manner already shown in the case of simple heresy, and condemn her to the fire, especially if there is a multitude of witnesses and she had often been detected in similar or other deeds of witchcraft.

For in the 18th chapter of Deuteronomy it is commanded that all wizards and charmers are to be destroyed. The divine law commands that witches are not only to be avoided, but also they are to be put to death, and it would not impose the extreme penalty of this kind if witches did not really and truly make a compact with devils in order to bring about real and true hurts and harms.


Suicide Witchcraft



The Malleus Maleficarum by Kramer and Sprenger, 1489, Excerpts

After they have admitted their crimes, they try to commit suicide by strangling or hanging themselves. And they are induced to do this by the Enemy, lest they should obtain pardon from God through sacramental confession. We have often learned from the confessions of those whom we have caused to be burned, that they have not been willing agents of witchcraft. Similarly, after they have confessed their crimes under torture they always try to hang themselves; and this we know for a fact; for after the confession of their crimes, guards are deputed to watch them all the time, and even then, when the guards have been negligent, they have been found hanged with their shoe-laces or garments

In conclusion we may say that it is as difficult, or more difficult, to compel a witch to tell the truth as it is to exorcise a person possessed of the devil.


Demons taking soul of hanged peasant girl. Engraving, 1520

18 May 2012

Torture till Confession



The Malleus Maleficarum by Kramer and Sprenger, 1489, Excerpts

The next step of the Judge should be that, if after being fittingly tortured she refuses to confess the truth; he should have other engines of torture brought before her, and tell her that she will have to endure these if she does not confess. If then she is not induced by terror to confess, the torture must be continued on the second or third day, but not repeated at that present time unless there should be some fresh indication of its probable success.

The Judge should act as follows in the continuation of the torture. If he wishes to find out whether she is endowed with a witch's power of preserving silence, let him take note whether she is able to shed tears when standing in his presence, or when being tortured. For we are taught both by the words of worthy men of old and by our own experience that this is a most certain sign, and it has been found that even if she be urged and exhorted by solemn conjurations to shed tears, if she be a witch she will not be able to weep: although she will assume a tearful aspect and smear her cheeks and eyes with spittle to make it appear that she is weeping; wherefore she must be closely watched by the attendants. But it may be objected that it might suit with the devil's cunning, with God's permission, to allow even a witch to weep; since tearful grieving, weaving and deceiving are said to be proper to women.

After giving her Holy Water to drink, let him again begin to question her, all the time exhorting her as before. And while she is raised from the ground, if she is being tortured in this way, let the Judge read or cause to be read to her the depositions of the witnesses with their names. The Judge shall ask her if she will confess if the witnesses are brought before her. And if she consents, let the witnesses be brought in and stand before her, so that she may be shamed into confessing some of her crimes.

Finally, if he sees that she will not admit her crimes, he shall ask her whether, to prove her innocence, she is ready to undergo the ordeal by red-hot iron. And they all desire this, knowing that the devil will prevent them from being hurt; therefore a true witch is exposed in this manner.





Formal Examination: Preparations for Torture



The Malleus Maleficarum by Kramer and Sprenger, 1489, Excerpts

Common justice demands that a witch should not be condemned to death unless she is convicted by her own confession. We are to consider now is what action the Judge should take, and how he should proceed to question the accused with a view to extorting the truth from her so that sentence of death may finally be passed upon her.

While the officers are preparing for the questioning, let the accused be stripped; or if she is a woman, let her first be led to the penal cells and there stripped by honest women of good reputation. And the reason for this is that they should search for any instrument of witchcraft sewn into her clothes; for they often make such instruments, at the instruction of devils, out of the limbs of unbaptized children, the purpose being that those children should be deprived of the beatific vision. The hair should be shaved from every part of her body. The reason for this is the same as that for stripping her of her clothes, which we have already mentioned; for in order to preserve their power of silence they are in the habit of hiding some superstitious object in their clothes or in their hair, or even in the most secret parts of the their bodies which must not be named.

The Judge shall use his own persuasions and those of other honest men zealous for the faith to induce her to confess the truth voluntarily; and if she will not, let him order the officers to bind her with cords, and apply her to some engine of torture.

If the Bishop and the Judge are well persuaded that, all circumstances considered, the accused is denying the truth, let them torture him slightly, without shedding blood, bearing in mind that torture is often fallacious and ineffective. For some are so soft-hearted and feeble-minded that at the least torture they will confess anything, whether it be true or not. Others are so stubborn that, however much they are tortured, the truth is not to be had from them. There are others who, having been tortured before, are the better able to endure it a second time, since their arms have been accommodated to the stretchings and twistings involved; whereas the effect on others is to make them weaker, so that they can the less easily endure torture. Others are bewitched, and make use of the fact in their torture, so that they will die before the will confess anything; for they become, as it were, insensible to pain. Therefore there is need for much prudence in the matter of torture, and the greatest attention is to be given to the condition of the person who is to be tortured. But if the accused cannot thus be terrified into telling the truth, a second or third day may be appointed for the continuation of the torture; but it must not be repeated then and there.

A second precaution is to be observed, not only at this point but during the whole process, by the Judge and all his assessors; namely, that they must not allow themselves to be touched physically by the witch, especially in any contract of their bare arms or hands. Let it not be thought that physical contact of the joints or limbs is the only thing to be guarded against; for sometimes, with God's permission, they are able with the help of the devil to bewitch the Judge by the mere sound of the words which they utter, especially at the time when they are exposed to torture.

And note that, if she confesses under torture, she should then be taken to another place and questioned anew, so that she does not confess only under the stress of torture.


17 May 2012

Method of Initiating an Inquisition



The Malleus Maleficarum by Kramer and Sprenger, 1489, Excerpts

The first is when someone accuses a person before a judge of the crime of heresy, or of protecting heretics, offering to prove it, and to submit himself to the penalty of talion if he fails to prove it. The second method is when someone denounces a person, but does not offer to prove it and is not willing to embroil himself in the matter. The third method involves an inquisition, that is, when there is no accuser or informer, but a general report that there are witches in some town or place. Let him take note that there are ways by which a witch can be convicted, namely, by witnesses, by direct evidence of the fact, and by her own confession.

First, that her house should be searched as thoroughly as possible, in all holes and corners and chests, top and bottom; and if she is a noted witch, then without doubt, unless she has previously hidden them, there will be found various instruments of witchcraft, as we have shown above.

Secondly, if she has a maid-servant or companions, that she or they should be shut up by themselves; for though they are not accused, yet it is presumed that none of the accused's secrets are hidden from them.

Thirdly, in taking her, if she be taken in her own house, let her not be given time to go into her room; for they are wont to secure in this way, and bring away with them, some object or power of witchcraft which procures them the faculty of keeping silent under examination.

Punishment for High Treason against God's Majesty: Torture and Burning



The Malleus Maleficarum by Kramer and Sprenger, 1489, Excerpts

Our main object here is to show how, with God's pleasure, we Inquisitors of Upper Germany may be relieved of the duty of trying witches, and leave them to be punished by their own provincial Judges; and this because of the arduousness of the work: provided always that such a course shall in no way endanger the preservation of the faith and the salvation of souls. And therefore we engaged upon this work, that we might leave to the Judges themselves the methods of trying, judging and sentencing in such cases.

Their opinion is, then, that all witches, diviners, necromancers, and in short all who practise any kind of divination, if they have once embraced and professed the Holy Faith, are liable to the
Inquisitorial Court

Witchcraft is high treason against God's Majesty. And so they are to be put to the torture in order to make them confess. Any person, whatsoever his rank or position, upon such an accusation may be put to the torture, and he who is found guilty, even if he confesses his crime, let him be racked, let him suffer all other tortures prescribed by law in order that he may be punished in proportion to his offences.

The Inquisitor of Como has informed us that last year, that is, in 1485, he ordered forty-one witches to be burned, after they had been shaved all over. And this was in the district and county of Burbia, commonly called Wormserbad, in the territory of the Archduke of Austria, towards Milan.



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