29 yo jailed LulzSec hacker speaks on hacktivism

Published: December 20, 2014 3:45 pm

Excerpt from imprisoned former LulzSec hacker/hacktivist Jeremy Hammond in the Guardian:

Here in prison, I am asked a lot about hacking and especially about Anonymous, because of course there is interest in new technologies like Bitcoin for money or darknets for fraud. After all, convicts – like hackers – develop their own codes and ethics, and they are constantly finding ways to scam and exploit cracks in the system.

The anti-government message of Anonymous rings true among prisoners who have been railroaded, condemned and warehoused. So when they hear about hacked government websites and cops getting doxed, my fellow inmates often tell me things like, “It’s good to see people finally doing something about it.” That rejection of established, reformist avenues for achieving social change is why Anonymous continues as a force to be reckoned with, made all the more obvious by the presence of Guy Fawkes masks at the protests in Ferguson, Missouri – and beyond.

“I’m an Anonymous hacker in prison, and I am not a crook. I’m an activist” @ the Guardian

New KKK group: ‘Race, religion and sexual orientation unimportant’

Published: November 10, 2014 5:45 pm
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An earlier member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) has started a new offshoot of the group which accepts members “regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation”, apparently  inspired by the success National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP).

“The KKK is for a strong America,” Abarr told the Great Falls Tribune. “White supremacy is the old Klan. This is the new Klan.”

The new KKK? White supremacist claims race, religion and sexual orientation no barrier for new joiners, but the hoods are compulsory @ Independent.co.uk

 

Origins of the heart symbol: a Roman contraceptive?

Published: November 8, 2014 12:36 pm
Silphium seed heart symbol Cyrene Coin

Is there a connection between the heart symbol and the extinct contraceptive herb silphium? The herb was used extensively in Roman times, both as a contraceptive and for seasoning, so much that it was driven to extinction in classical antiquity. The shape of the seed (right image) clearly resembles the heart symbol, and is the first representation of the shape to be discovered. From Ancient Origins:

Other than the possibility that the rampant use of an artificial contraceptive and abortifacient by Roman pagans may have contributed to the early Christian idea that in any way blocking conception is a most evil thing, silphium has impacted our society in another unusual way.

You may have heard that the common heart symbol, which is shaped nothing like an actual heart, is actually a representation of either the stylized shape of the female buttocks, or pubic mound, or is a medieval depiction of various flowering plants, such as fig leaves, ivy, or water-lilies.  However, the use of the familiar double-tear shaped heart symbol first appears in the historical record on the currency of Cyrene.  The undeniable shape, which is believed by most to be a reproduction of the visual appearance of the silphium seed, has some people wondering if the origin of the modern symbol for romance and love is in fact quite a bit older than the Middle Ages.

Read the article at Ancient-origins.net

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy

Published: November 2, 2014 1:56 pm
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Gabriella Coleman has written perhaps the most comprehensive book yet on the decentralized hacktivist group AnonymousHacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous. The book has already been highly recommended by journalists and activists such as Glenn Greenwald, Julian Assange and Douglas Rushkoff.

The US government and its allies have spent years castigating, prosecuting, and jailing members of Anonymous, with the director of the NSA going so far as to warn ominously of the potential of an Anonymous-led power blackout. But Gabriella Coleman’s fascinating history of Anonymous makes clear that almost all of the hacktivism attributed to this global collective has been devoted to exposing wrongdoing, not wreaking destruction, even as she also carefully shows that Anonymous is not a shadowy organization but a loosely knit collection of activists all over the globe, fighting for government and corporate transparency. The NSA’s treatment of Anonymous is disturbing and extreme, and Anonymous’s surprising activist turn is heartening. Essential reading.”

— Glenn Greenwald, author of No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State

The title will be released Tuesday November 4th.

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous by Gabriella Coleman

History of Los Angeles cults

Published: October 22, 2014 4:02 pm

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From Curbed LA’s Cults Week, a 5-day series ‘exploring Los Angeles’s fruitful and sordid relationship with cults‘, Adrian Glick Kudler presents an introduction to the history of cults in Los Angeles.

The mystical opulence of Los Angeles’s nature and the hoards of sick migrants in its early days probably are at least partly behind the local weakness for cults; McWilliams also blames the shortage of medical scientists in the city’s early days, which was quickly made up for with “Chinese herb doctors, faith-healers, quacks, and a miscellaneous assortment of practitioners,” plus the newness of the city in general, with lots of fresh arrivals eager to leave their pasts and old beliefs behind.

You can read the entire article over at Curbed LA.

As a part of Cults Week, Curbed LA has also published the Q&A session ‘Ask the Experts: Why Does Los Angeles Attract So Many Cults?

British agents “deliberately stoked up a satanic panic” in N. Ireland 72-74

Published: October 9, 2014 6:04 pm
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In the Guardian today, some information regarding the Northern Ireland conflict has come to light. Professor Richard Jenkins from Sheffield University claims in his new book Black Magic and Bogeymen: Fear, Rumour and Popular Belief in the North of Ireland 1972-74, that british agents from military intelligence used fears about satanic masses and witchcraft as part of a psychological war against emerging armed groups in Northern Ireland between 1972 and 1974.

British military intelligence agents in Northern Ireland used fears about demonic possessions, black masses and witchcraft as part of a psychological war against emerging armed groups in the Troubles in the 1970s, a study says.

Prof Richard Jenkins, from Sheffield University, spoke to military intelligence officers, including the head of the army’s “black operations” in Northern Ireland, Captain Colin Wallace.

Wallace told Jenkins that they deliberately stoked up a satanic panic from 1972 to 1974, even placing black candles and upside-down crucifixes in derelict buildings in some of Belfast’s war zones.

Read more at the Guardian

Richard Jenkins: Black Magic and Bogeymen: Fear, Rumour and Popular Belief in the North of Ireland 1972-74 @ amazon

The Evolutionary Tree of Religion

Published: October 2, 2014 11:37 am

A brilliant infographic on the evolution of the world’s main religions  was posted to Reddit a couple of days ago. It turns out the user/project Human Odyssey, or Simon E. Davis, has also made other comprehensive infographics on subjects such as Sacred Symbols of the Stone Age (below) and Secret Ciphers. Have a look at his public Facebook page for more infographics.

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KHORASAN IN SYRIA: FAKE?

Published: September 28, 2014 4:40 pm
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Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain from the Intercept has written an in-depth article on the possibility that the ‘Khorosan Group’ was invented by American officials to justify the war on Syria on other grounds than the beheadings of western journalists and aid workers:

On September 25, the New York Times – just says days after hyping the Khorasan threat to the homeland – wrote that “the group’s evolution from obscurity to infamy has been sudden.” And the Paper of Record began, for the first time, to note how little evidence actually existed for all those claims about the imminent threats posed to the homeland:

American officials have given differing accounts about just how close the group was to mounting an attack, and about what chance any plot had of success. One senior American official on Wednesday described the Khorasan plotting as “aspirational” and said that there did not yet seem to be a concrete plan in the works.

Literally within a matter of days, we went from “perhaps in its final stages of planning its attack” (CNN) to “plotting as ‘aspirational’” and “there did not yet seem to be a concrete plan in the works” (NYT).

Read the extensive article at https://firstlook.org/theintercept

VICE.com talks to “Denmark’s Latest Batch of Extremists”

Published: September 25, 2014 9:39 am
Blog Danish Defence League

Last week the SFI, Denmark’s National Research Center for Welfare, published a report naming 15 groups they consider extremist and anti-democratic. Of the 15 groups, six are right-wing, four are left-wing, and the final five are radical Islamist groups. Through analysis of the groups’ recruitment methods and attitude towards violence, the report aims to give an indication of the state of affairs in the more extreme Danish communities

 

In this article by VICE.COM the Danish National Socialist Movement, Antiracist Network, Danish Defense League, Libertarian Socialists, Hizb ut-Tahrir and others get their say on the new report.

Ukraine-crisis: Who Are The Terek Wolf Sotnia?

Published: September 12, 2014 2:07 pm

Terek Wolf Sotnia

Another interesting observation by Bellingcat, this time in regards to the situation in Ukraine:

The most prominent members of the militia appear to be part of a mysterious and ideologically questionable unit known as the Terek Wolf Sotnia. The profiles of the men show a recognisable V shaped insignia of a black, green and red tricolour, with the head of a wolf in front. The emblem and name of the unit are based on a WW2 Russian Cossack military unit which fought alongside the Nazi’s led by a man named Andrei Shkuro.

Read the whole article at Bellingcat

Pyramid and Cross/Ankh tattoo found on jihadi ISIS-fighter in Kurdistan

Published: August 23, 2014 11:13 am

Twitter-user @Brown_Moses, founder of Bellingcat (a new site for open source investigative journalism), yesterday retweeted a tattooed symbol found on a dead ISIS-fighter in Kurdistan. As you can see, it shows a pyramid with either a cross or an ankh coming out of the apex of the pyramid. This is by no means an Islamic symbol, and besides, tattoos are widely seen as haram (forbidden) in orthodox Islam. The symbol of the cross and pyramid has been used by groups such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Rosicrusian Order and other masonic orders inspired by Egyptian mysticism. The ankh and the cross is interestingly also connected to the ancient mystery school of the Egyptian goddess (you guessed it): Isis.

What the origins of the specific symbol is however still a mystery. Please contact us is you have any interesting information about this.

UFO cult flies pro-swastika banner over New York

Published: July 15, 2014 2:11 pm

UFO cult flies pro-swastika banner over New York

Remember the UFO cult that claimed to have cloned a human being? Here is yet another odd PR-campaign from The Raëlian Movement:

A pro-swastika group stunned New York beachgoers when it flew a banner bearing the symbol associated with Nazism and anti-Semitism over Coney Island.

The International Raelian Movement hired a plane and flew a banner brandishing the swastika next to a peace sign and a heart, followed by the website proswastika.org.

The group’s intention was to rehabilitate the swastika and promote its pre-Nazi meaning of peace and love as used by Hindus.

Read the whole article at the Independent.

Church of Scientology unveils new Australian HQ

Published: May 30, 2014 1:14 pm

Scientology Sydney HQ
Over at Vice.comNelson Groom visits the new $9 million Australian headquarters for the Church of Scientology. From the article:

The outside of the building melds surprisingly well with its surroundings. However, this all changes when you walk inside. As soon as you step through the entrance, the vibrant lighting and futuristic decor make you feel like you’re on the set of the latest terrible sci-fi dystopian flick. It’s prompt validation that this is not your average church.

I was soon acquainted with my guides, Carolyn and Colin. Both were dressed in Navy-esque uniforms, which are intended to honor Hubbard’s time spent in the Navy. The first stop of the tour was in a similarly honorary vein: the L Ron Hubbard memorial office, fitted with a library of his very own books. I was told this was “a mark of thanks to Hubbard.” I suppose the €440 million he acquired through the church wasn’t enough.

Read the whole article (with photos of the new compound) at Vice.com. The article also links to an interesting write-up from Queensland-based The Courier-Mail from last year, which refers to Australian census-figures showing that Australia has significant higher number of  “satanists, pagans and witches” than that of members of the Church of Scientology. To be more accurate, the Courier-Mail article quotes:

Religion is the only optional question on the census form; there is no requirement to give any answer. But in the last census 16,849 were happy to declare themselves as pagans, 8413 Wiccan witches, 2454 Satanists, 1046 said they were druids, 1395 pantheists, 2542 Zoroastrians, 2921 follow Jainism, 2161 Scientologists, 1485 are into theosophy and 1391 are Rastafarian.

Buddhist tattoos forbidden in Sri Linka

Published: May 12, 2014 2:26 pm
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As widely reported around the world, the government of Sri Lanka recently deported a UK tourist simply because she had a tattoo of the Buddha sitting on a lotus flower. Sri Lanka has the longest continuous history of Buddhism of any predominately Buddhist nation, and there are Buddhist political parties in office.

From the Guardian:

A British tourist is to be deported from Sri Lanka because of a tattoo of Buddha on her arm.

Sri Lankan police said Naomi Coleman, 37, was arrested at Bandaranaike international airport in the capital, Colombo, after she arrived from India.

A police spokesman said she was arrested for “hurting others’ religious feelings” after the tattoo of Buddha seated on a lotus flower was spotted on her right arm.

6 Hollywood celebrities who were in a cult

Published: May 12, 2014 1:55 pm

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In Hollywood it is not unheard of for actors to be a part of various cults and alternative communities. TheVine has a roundup of 6 celebrities who at one point were a part of a cult, such as Children of God, Church of Scientology and even OTO (which is more of a secret society). Including among others; Michelle Pfeiffer , Glenn Close, Joaquin Phoenix and recently deceased Peaches Geldof.

Find out who were a part of which cult over at TheVine

LIFE mag: Photo gallery of English Pagans in the 1960s

Published: April 1, 2014 5:35 pm

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From Life.com:

Just about 50 years ago, in the fall of 1964, LIFE magazine published what must have felt to the venerable weekly’s long-time readers like a strikingly weird feature. Titled “Real Witches at Work,” the piece included photographs of modern-day British pagans — doctors, housewives, nurses, teachers — celebrating their ancient rites, dancing around fires and generally behaving like perfectly normal, faithful worshippers of the sun, the moon and Mother Nature have been acting for thousands of years.

View the complete photo-gallery The Wonderful World of Witches: Portraits of English Pagans at Life.com.

Medieval graffiti in churches in the UK

Published: March 30, 2014 1:08 pm

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PHOTO: Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey

The Guardian has published a great photo gallery of medieval graffiti from the churches of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. The graffiti shown in the gallery are often representations and portraits, but there’s also quite a few symbols such the pentagram and the geometric figure known as the flower of life, the latter which interestingly also can be found inscribed in Rural Architecture Museum of Sanok in Poland (link to photo), dating back to 1681. The flower of life symbol in Poland has been described as being used to ward of lightening from the building, and has also been found in such diverse places as ancient Assyria and dynastic China. Other symbols, such as the house pictured above right, are more enigmatic, though it has some identifiers such as the cross and the fleur-de-lis (often used to denote French heraldry).

Click here to see the full photo gallery at the Guardian.

Nigerian Campus Cults (short documentary)

Published: March 21, 2014 4:42 pm

The Nigerian writer Akinwande Oluwole “Wole” Soyinka, who was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, explores the phenomenon of Nigerian campus cults for UK’s Channel 4. The short documentary is from 2005, and shows how these university campus cults (such as Pyrates Confraternity and Black Axe) have contributed to the country (specifically the Niger delta) spiraling into violence since they were established in the 1950s. Warning: Violent images/NSFW.

You can also read more about Wole Soyinka and this documentary at Guardian Films.

NY Mag: – What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society

Published: March 14, 2014 4:02 pm
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Did you know Wall Street have their own semi-public “secret-societies“? One of them is the fraternity Kappa Beta Phi, which we have an article on here. From the New York Magazine article titled “What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society“:

A few more acts followed, during which the veteran Kappas continued to gorge themselves on racks of lamb, throw petits fours at the stage, and laugh uproariously. Michael Novogratz, a former Army helicopter pilot with a shaved head and a stocky build whose firm, Fortress Investment Group, had made him a billionaire, was sitting next to me, drinking liberally and annotating each performance with jokes and insults.

“Can you fuckin’ believe Lasry up there?” Novogratz asked me. I nodded. He added, “He just gave me a ride in his jet a month ago.”

The neophytes – who had changed from their drag outfits into Mormon missionary costumes — broke into their musical finale: a parody version of “I Believe,” the hit ballad from The Book of Mormon, with customized lyrics like “I believe that God has a plan for all of us. I believe my plan involves a seven-figure bonus.” Amused, I pulled out my phone, and began recording the proceedings on video. Wrong move.

Read the whole article at New York Magazine. Good weekend-reading.

Mysterious Devil coins found hidden in Scandinavian churches

Published: February 16, 2014 12:44 pm

Devil Coin 13. maj 1973 Anholt mystery CIVITAS DIABOLI alchemySince the 1970s, over 370 coins depicting the devil on one side and the inscription “13 MAJ ANHOLT” on the other side, have been discovered behind walls and sculptures in churches around Denmark and Norway. The coins have, according to the Danish paper Politiken, sometimes been found together with “occult letters and objects”. Recently the Norwegian national broadcaster NRK wrote about two restaurateurs finding the same type of coin on 3 separate occasions when working on Norway’s old stave-churches. The coins are of high quality and made of either copper or silver. Other inscriptions are “CIVITAS DIABOLI” and “ØEN MED DE TO ANSIGTER” (the island with the two faces).  The reference in the inscription “CIVITAS DIABOLI” (society of the devil), is probably taken from the churchfather St. Augustin, for unknown reasons. On the coin pictured (upper right) you can also see the alchemical sign for mercury placed between “19” and “73”. Other coins include motifs such as the greek mermaid-goddess Melusine (bottom right).

Anholt
is a Danish island in the middle of Kattegat-strait, where there has been documented human activity since the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age). Some Viking finds have also been made there. 

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