Saturday, January 03, 2009

Freedom of Speech on the Internet Win

Freedom of Speech on the Internet Win - SLAPP upheld in Oregon‏

New age guru Eric Pepin's attempt to silence online critics was defeated Thursday as Portland-based federal Judge Ancer Haggerty dismissed a defamation suit brought by Pepin's organization, Higher Balance Institute, against an Internet forum that had published critical comments.

Web site, operated by a team of international researchers, initially published pointed criticisms of Pepin's spiritual discovery techniques. After forum participants learned that Pepin had been charged, but acquitted, of having sex with a minor, the site's forum posted opinions that it was beginning to look like Higher Balance Institute was a "front for pedophilia" and that Pepin was a "psychopathic deviant" who was "conning the public" into "falling into confluence with psychopathic reality."

Higher Balance Institute sued for defamation, but Judge Haggerty dismissed the case under Oregon's SLAPP ("Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation") statute, which requires plaintiffs complaining of speech on public issues to establish that their case has a reasonable probability of success. The Court ruled that the statements about Pepin and his organization may have been somewhat hyperbolic, but they were opinion on a matter of public interest and protected as free speech.

Pepin, a self-proclaimed psychic and meditation guru, was charged in 2006 with sexual abuse related to an alleged encounter with an underage male employee of Higher Balance Institute. After a trial without a jury in 2007, a Washington County judge acquitted Pepin based on reasonable doubt, although the judge said he believed the acts had probably occurred.

After newspaper articles from the Oregonian about Pepin's arrest and trial were posted and commented on in the forum, Higher Balance sued Laura Knight-Jadczyk and several research and publishing groups she works with, including Signs of the Times (aka, and the Quantum Future Group. Ms. Knight-Jadczyk posted the critical comments that were at the center of the litigation.

SLAPP stands for strategic lawsuit against public participation. SLAPP statutes, which exist in several states, are intended to prevent wealthy individuals and organizations from silencing critics through expensive but meritless lawsuits. "This is just how the SLAPP law is supposed to operate," said Stephen Kaus of San Francisco's Cooper, White & Cooper LLP, who represented the defendants. "It prevented this wealthy and relatively powerful man and his company from intimidating our clients from saying what they think."

To briefly recap the core of the case, we quote from Judge Haggerty's opinion which can be read in its entirety here:

On November 4, 2007, Knight-Jadczyk re-posted portions of The Oregonian newspaper articles concerning Pepin's arrest and acquittal and posted her own commentary which included, in part, the following: "It's really starting to look like this Eric Pepin and his Higher Balance Institute is merely a COINTELPRO and a front for pedophilia."

The court notes that plaintiff focuses its argument upon the "front for pedophilia" posting, and does not advance specific arguments regarding Knight-Jadczyk's other posting. The court has conducted an independent review of Knight-Jadcyzk's other comments and concludes that the following analysis is applicable to all of her postings.

On that same date, Knight-Jadczyk also responded to a post from another forum user who asserted that HBI serves a valid purpose to those seeking answers. Knight-Jadczyk posted, in part, the following:

Horse hockey. There is nothing there except a pathological deviant and his deviant followers conning the public. There's nothing at all about "waking up" there. For example, most meditation will do little but put you back to sleep. It's an act of self-calming and falling into confluence with the psychopathic reality.

Plaintiff's claims against Knight-Jadczyk, therefore, rely upon her assertions that "HBI is a 'front for pedophilia;' HBI is a "cointelpro" organization; HBI markets nothing more than an act of "falling into confluence with a psychopathic reality;" and HBI is "conning" the public. [...]

This court concludes that the postings by Knight-Jadczyk constitute information provided by "another content provider" under Section 230 of the CDA. Therefore, defendants SOTT, QFG, and QFS are immunized against those postings by the CDA. Because plaintiff cannot show a probability of prevailing on its claims against QFG, QFS, and SOTT, involving either the moderators' postings or Knight-Jadczyk's postings, the applicable anti-SLAPP statutes compel that the claims against these defendants are stricken. [...]

Defendant Knight-Jadczyk concedes that the CDA does not prohibit claims against her based on her own postings. Nevertheless, plaintiff cannot show a probability of succeeding on its claims against Knight-Jadczyk individually. [...]

Plaintiff maintains that Knight-Jadczyk's statements are false and defamatory. A defamatory statement is a factual assertion that subjects another to "hatred, contempt or ridicule" or tends "to diminish the esteem, respect, goodwill or confidence in which [the other] is held or to excite adverse, derogatory or unpleasant feelings or opinions against [the other]." [...]

Whether a statement is capable of a defamatory meaning is a question for the court. [...]

This court concludes that Knight-Jadczyk's statements constitute protected opinion.[...]

Finally, the court examined whether the postings were sufficiently factual to be susceptible of being proven. This examination also supports concluding that the postings constitute protected opinion. [...]

For the reasons provided, QFG's Special Motion to Strike Complaint, Knight-Jadczyk's Special Motion to Strike Complaint [28], and QFS and SOTT's Special Motion to Strike Complaint are granted. [U.S. District Court in Oregon, Case 3:08-cv-00233.)

Before ultimately ruling that the statements were Constitutionally protected opinion, and not assertions of fact, Judge Haggerty found that the organizations had immunity under the federal Communications Decency Act, which immunizes "interactive computer service" and "information content" providers from liability for statements made by third-party users. The judge dismissed plaintiff's assertion that moderators who posted allegedly defamatory statements were agents of the defendants, stating that the "moderators are unpaid volunteers who do not represent the opinions of defendants."

For the same reason that the court dismissed plaintiff's defamation claims, it also dismissed Higher Balance's false light, intentional interference with business relationships, and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage claims.

The defendants were represented by Cooper, White & Cooper LLP attorneys Stephen Kaus, Walter Hansell, Merrit Jones, and Leila Knox ( The case was filed in U.S. District Court in Oregon, Case 3:08-cv-00233.

About Signs of The Times: is an independent alternative news and analysis outlet that seeks to shine a spotlight on significant events and trends that affect the entire world. helps bring clarity out of a sea of media spin. The site is funded entirely by donations from individuals and groups that seek to support its work. For more information visit

About Quantum Future Group: Quantum Future Group (QFG) supports activities that bring together people to engage in and to promote the study of scientific ideas and research in all scientific and socio-cultural fields that further the deepest understanding of our world and our place within it without regard to nationality or ethnicity. QFG seeks to increase the understanding of humankind by humankind, as a whole, by sponsoring research into all the parts to see how they fit together. QFG supports documented research that is made freely and widely available to all humanity. For more information visit:

Contact: Joseph Quinn Email: Web site:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Let it be

The Beatles (Lennon/McCartney)
When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree,
There will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be. Yeah
There will be an answer, let it be.

And when the night is cloudy,
There is still a light that shines on me,
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, of music
Mother Mary let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be,
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The assassination of Robert Kennedy, Part 3

"The assassination of Robert Kennedy, Part 3 -- The woman in the polka dot dress" source: Psychopaths, psyops and COINTELPRO author:
A. Branson summary: "

As we dig deeper into the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, things get curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would say. It seems there are some things that people just "know." There are no such things as ghosts, astrology and psychic powers are just ploys used to get money from the gullible, the chances that Earth will be hit by a comet within our lifetimes are astronomical (forgive the pun) and everyone deep inside is basically the same: just trying to be good as they understand it. The strange thing about this kind of "knowing" is that no one can tell you just how they know. Ask them how they know that two plus two equals four and they will have at least a vague recollection of their early school years. But ask them how they know about ghosts, astrology, psychics, comets and the psychology of the rest of humanity and you'll likely get a response that is something akin to, "Everybody just knows that." But the question bothers me. Just when did "everyone" learn these things and why can't they remember having learned them?" text: "Here, we find a key to how people can be coerced into taking part in a conspiracy they know nothing about. It is the beliefs they hold, masquerading as knowledge or "common wisdom" (beliefs that will paradoxically be defended more vociferously than 2+2=4) that are skillfully manipulated by the perception managers. Throughout our lives, rarely anything happens to trigger a fear of ghosts, aside from the occasional scary movie that is easily dismissed as the product of the scriptwriter's imagination. We live our lives blissfully unaware of that part of us, still very much alive in our minds but normally quiet, that does believe in ghosts and knows that there is compelling evidence for the reality of spirit. If we were to find ourselves alone in a drafty, creaky old house on a dark, windy night, we would be forced to face that part of ourselves. Despite what we would claim to believe in the movie theater or in the bright sunlight, our fears of things unseen would begin to creep up the back or our neck and cause the hair to stand up. We would find ourselves involuntarily looking behind, just to be sure there is nothing there. And when we find the evidence that our fears were unjustified and childish--the banging shutter or the gap in the window through which the wind whistled--we would laugh at our gullibility and feel a palpable sense of relief that sanity had been returned to the world. And even if something inexplicable actually does happen, we rush to explain it away even at the cost of lying to ourselves. We specifically look for the evidence that our fears are unfounded because the key to our beliefs, that "common knowledge" without a remembered lesson, is a desire for a world that is fully knowable, under control and, ultimately, safe for us. We want to believe that our most dire fears are only the product of our overactive imaginations. And when those fears are triggered, any "rational" explanation that returns sanity to the world is welcomed with open arms. Even many of the most ardent seekers of truth have fears and beliefs they keep deeply buried under stones that must never be turned. It is a childish belief--not the belief in ghosts, but the belief that ignorance, masquerading as common wisdom, provides safety. So, we see even vehemently outspoken critics of the U.S. government label as conspiracy theorists of the lowest order those who would dare claim that, as an example, 9/11 was the product of anything but Arab hijackers. This is how it is with events like 9/11 or the assassinations of JFK, MLK and RFK. For a moment, our deepest fears seem realized. We madly grope for something, anything, that will return sanity to the world. We desperately look for the banging shutter or broken window that will assure us there is nothing unseen, nothing unknowable and, ultimately, nothing really unsafe. In this way, each of us can be made, is made, a part of the conspiracy even without realizing that the conspiracy exists. And now, on with our story... The Woman in the Polka Dot DressSandy Serrano, a young campaign worker for Kennedy, was there at the Ambassador Hotel the scary night that Bobby Kennedy died. Needing a break from the heat and the crowd, she found a little quiet on the steps that lead from the back of the kitchen area. Somewhere around 11:30 pm, she encountered three people, a woman and two men, entering the kitchen from the back, using the stairs she was sitting on. The woman she would described as wearing a white dress with dark polka dots and having a "Bob Hope" type nose. The two men with her were described as,
White male (Latin extraction), 5'5" tall, 21 to 23 years old, olive complexion, black hair, long - straight, hanging over his forehead and needed a haircut. [The other was] white male (Mexican American), about 23 years of age, 5'3" tall, curly, bushy hair and wore light colored clothes. She said after seeing a picture of Sirhan Sirhan in the newspaper she felt certain that this was the same person she saw go up the stairs with this woman. [Turner and Christian; The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, The Conspiracy and Coverup]
Sometime later, seconds after Serrano heard what she described as sounding like automobile backfires, the woman and one of her male companions came running back down the stairs. According to Serrano, the woman was yelling, "We shot him, we shot him." When asked who they shot, she replied, "Senator Kennedy." Serrano was not the only one to describe the woman in the polka dot dress and associate her with Sirhan and/or the assassination. Amongst them was Kennedy campaign worker Darnell Johnson and the son of an Ambassador Hotel maître d', Thomas Vincent DiPierro. DiPierro said that the only reason he noticed Sirhan was that there was a very good looking girl next to him. According to DiPierro,
I would never forget what she looked like because she had a very good looking figure - and the dress was kind of looked like a white dress and it had either black or dark-purple polka dots on it.
Minutes after the shooting and well before any of the stories of the woman in the white dress had been made public or could have been shared, LAPD Sergeant Paul Sharaga heard news of the shooting on his police radio. Already in the vicinity, he arrived at the scene within a minute. An older couple approached Sharaga and, as he tells it:
They related that they were outside one of the doors of the Embassy Room when a young couple in their early twenties came rushing out. This couple seemed to be in a state of glee, shouting, "We shot him, we shot him, we killed him." The woman stated that she asked the lady, "Who did you shoot?" or "Who was shot?" and the young lady replied, "Kennedy, we shot him, we killed him."
The only defining characteristic of the young lady that the witnesses could give was that she was wearing a white dress with polka dots. Sharaga immediately put out an all point bulletin for police to be on the lookout for a woman in a polka dot dress in the company of a man. And then something very strange happened that, as far as we know, has never happened before or since in the history of the LAPD. For about 15 to 20 minutes, all police radio communications were lost on all frequencies. This was ample time for the woman in the polka dot dress and her companion to get off the streets and out of reach of the police. The elderly couple Sharaga had interviewed were lost and have never come forward. Serrano, being the sole witness to the woman in the polka dot dress claiming, "We shot Kennedy" was brought to the notorious Rampart Division of the LAPD for extensive questioning. I encourage you to follow the link on the Rampart Division. The story of the ongoing corruption in the LAPD and the Rampart Division in particular is very informative. The Bobby Kennedy assassination is not the only one in which the Rampart Division has taken part. In this case, however, the witness was not so much questioned as she was browbeaten and verbally tortured into renouncing her testimony. The "questioning" was performed by Sergeant Enrique "Hank" Hernandez who, according to his resume, played a key role in "Unified Police Command" training for the CIA in Latin America. As is clear from the questioning, Hernandez had one goal in mind - to discredit Sandy Serrano and anything having to do with the story of the woman in the polka dot dress. Here, for your listening pleasure, are two excerpts from that taped session which, amazingly, survived after the LAPD had attempted to destroy all evidence that would discount the official story of the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Keep in mind as you listen that Sgt. Hernandez is allegedly questioning a material witness who has nothing to gain from lying. Serrano and Hernandez part 1 Serrano and Hernandez part 2 A thread of the webHernandez played a key role in the special LAPD task force created to investigate the Kennedy Assassination, called Special Unit Senator, or SUS. SUS was headed by LAPD Lieutenant Manuel Pena. Interestingly, Pena had officially retired from the LAPD in November of 1967, less than a year before the Kennedy assassination, to take a position with the Agency for International Development Office of the State Department, or AID; AID, a known cover agency for the CIA for its counter insurgency and torture operations in South America. AID is probably best known for one of its most infamous agents, a man who Pena allegedly had worked with, Dan Mitrione. From 1960 to 1967, Mitrione worked with the Brazilian government under the cover of AID, torturing then killing, without trial, political dissidents. Though Pena's farewell was a well attended and publicized event, sometime around April 1968 he returned to the LAPD quietly, without fanfare. His explanation was that the job with AID had not turned out to be what he had hoped. Within two months, he would find himself in charge of the most important murder investigation ever conducted by the LAPD, the man who would have the final say on virtually everything that would happen in the investigation. And here, we have an interesting thread of web to examine. Two of the most important investigator's of the case, Hernandez and Pena, are both ex (or perhaps current at that time) CIA operatives, both involved in CIA operations in South America. Pena, the man running the entire investigation, had just returned from duty with AID, a CIA front organization that specialized in crushing political dissidents and likely worked with Dan Mitrione. In 1970, Mitrione was kidnapped by the Tupamaros, a leftist guerrilla organization fighting against the U.S. sponsored dictatorship in Uruguay. Though his name was changed, that event was the basis of the movie State of Siege. Mitrione's funeral, much like Pena's "retirement" from the LAPD, was a well publicized and attended affair. Following his funeral, a benefit concert was held in his home town of Richmond, Indiana, headlined by none other than Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis (go figure). Sinatra, as you may remember, was one of the stars of the John Frankenheimer film The Manchurian Candidate. The film is a fictional account of a man, played by Lawrence Harvey, who is hypnotically programmed to perform assassinations without conscious knowledge of doing so. Following the Kennedy assassination, Sinatra purchased the rights to The Manchurian Candidate and removed it from circulation until 1987. On June 3rd, Bobby Kennedy had dinner with his friend John Frankenheimer (who, coincidentally, drove him to the Ambassador Hotel that fateful night) along with a pretty actress named Sharon Tate and her husband, Roman Polanski. Now, please bear with me as we descend into something of an abyss. When trying to see the web, we run across strange coincidences that may seem on the surface to be tenuous, improbable or even downright laughable. It's the nature of the beast. If you want to know what is really going on, these things must at least be put on the table, even if they are discarded later. Remember, though, webs are tenuous things made from very delicate threads. Often times, the most obvious and easily accepted data turns out to be nothing more than something caught in the web - an artifact, if you will, rather than the web itself. That said, here we go. In August 1969, Sharon Tate was murdered by members of the Manson Family, who had strong connections to the Laurel Canyon music scene. Curiously, the year Kennedy was shot Sharon Tate was in the process of making a film entitled The Wrecking Crew, which co-starred Dean Martin. That same name was taken by a group of Los Angeles studio musicians associated with Phil Spector, who were also closely connected with the Laurel Canyon music scene. And Dean Martin, her costar in that film, was of course a long time collaborator with Jerry Lewis, who shared billing with Frank Sinatra at the Dan Mitrione benefit concert following his funeral. During the filming of that movie, Tate would be trained to do her own stunts by the martial arts expert Bruce Lee, with whom she would become close friends and who also later died under mysterious circumstances. Tate, it should be noted for those who don't remember her, was a movie star on a meteoric rise. She was beautiful and talented. As the Hollywood Reporter stated concerning her role in The Wrecking Crew, "Sharon Tate reveals a pleasant affinity to scatterbrain comedy and comes as close to walking away with this picture as she did in a radically different role in Valley of the Dolls." Tate, it should also be noted, had taken a keen interest in Bobby Kennedy's campaign. She was a frequent attendee at Kennedy campaign dinners. It's funny (and not in a humorous way) how often those in the public eye who take a political stance that is in favor of human rights, human dignity and simply doing the right thing are found in a pool of their own blood. As for Dan Mitrione, he was not the only famous former resident of Richmond, Indiana. For a fairly small town (the 2000 census shows a population of only 39,124) it has had more than its fair share of celebrity. Richmond can boast at least four NFL players, one of whom was a rookie of the year, an NFL coach, two NBA coaches, an Olympic gold medalist, Margaret Landon (the author of The King and I), Orville and Wilbur Wright, the legendary and cutting edge R&B singer Baby Huey and actress Polly Bergen along with Mitrione and a street preacher there who Mitrione befriended while he was Chief of Police in Richmond; a man by the name of Jim Jones. But that is another story for another time. More to come..." comment: "" date: Sat May 31 00:29:00 -0400 2008 type: Editorial id: "157890" votes: "38" link: "" classification_id: "2"

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Web Site Defendant Moves to Dismiss Defamation Suit Under Anti-SLAPP Statute

Web Site Defendant Moves to Dismiss Defamation Suit Under Anti-SLAPP Statute

QFG and defend Internet First Amendment rights. - May 02, 2008

(PRNewsChannel) / Portland, Oregon - Quantum Future Group, Inc. ("QFG"), the only defendant that has been served in an Internet defamation suit brought by New-Age guru Eric Pepin's sales company, has forcefully challenged the merits of the case and has asked an Oregon federal judge for a dismissal and attorneys fees.

The case concerns postings on a forum hosted by (Signs of the Times), an Internet site devoted to news and analysis in various fields, including analyzing and exposing cults. Citing Oregon's anti-SLAPP ("Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation") statute, QFG contends that the statements about Pepin and his company, Higher Balance Institute, LLC ("HBI") are constitutionally protected. Because HBI cannot show that it probably will prevail, QFG argues, the case must be dismissed before QFG or the other defendants must spend large amounts to defend themselves.

"Without exception," the motion states, "the statements are all constitutionally protected expressions of opinion rather than verifiable assertions of fact. HBI cannot meet its burden to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the statements are false, let alone that Defendants knew that they were false or had serious doubts as to their truth."

The statements cited in QFG's complaint question Pepin's meditation techniques and comment on Pepin's 2007 trial on multiple sexual charges involving a 17-year-old male acolyte. The statements at issue include a November 7, 2007 comment that "It's really starting to look like this Eric Pepin and his Higher Balance Institute may be merely COINTELPRO and a front for pedophilia" and a November 4, 2007 comment by an anonymous poster that something "fishy" was going on at HBI.

QFG's motions state that the forum posts are opinion based on stated facts published on a mainstream news source and are constitutionally protected. The motion also argues that the operator of an Internet forum cannot be liable for the posts of third parties under the Communications Decency Act of 1996 ("CDA") and questions Oregon's jurisdiction over QFG, a California non-profit corporation whose primary place of business is in France.

"These are exactly the sort of statements that the First Amendment and recent statutes protect as free speech," said QFG attorney Stephen Kaus, who prepared the papers with his colleagues Walter Hansell and Merrit Jones. "People are entitled to believe in gurus such as Pepin and buy their books and courses for hundreds of dollars or more, but people are also entitled to point out their view that the techniques of telepathy and development of a sixth eye promoted by Pepin are nonsense."

Much of the dispute concerns Pepin's trial on charges of sexual misconduct with a minor. Pepin was acquitted in a court trial because the judge did not feel the charges had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. According to the article in the Oregonian, Washington County Circuit Court Judge Steven L. Price stated that it was, " 'probable that the conduct alleged in all counts occurred,' but he wasn't convinced beyond a reasonable doubt" and "called the leader of a metaphysical Internet sales company manipulative and controlling and his testimony unbelievable, even as he acquitted him today of charges that he had sex with an underage boy."

SOTT.NET posters point out that being found "not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" is not the same thing as being found "innocent of all charges."

The sexual charges aside, the SOTT.NET forum topic on Pepin and HBI has been the site of a lively debate on whether he is an exploiter, ever since a visitor posted an inquiry about them in 2006. Several Pepin devotees have posted fervent praise, while others have denounced him as a power-lusting cult leader who takes advantage of gullible followers.

SOTT.NET contends that it is the public's right to examine the claims of any company selling a product or service to the public and to form their own opinion as to whether it is "snake-oil" sold by con-artists or not and that those opinions may be made public for the safety of consumers.

In a previous press release, atty Walter Hansell noted: "HBI's lawsuit is a frontal assault on free speech, and on the free global flow of information and opinion on the Internet. It is a blunt force attack on the discussion of sincere opinions among people sharing common interests."


Following the filing of the motions to dismiss on April 25th, Walter Hansell of Cooper, White & Cooper said: "The intent of this suit by HBI is to stifle free speech, but luckily the anti SLAPP statute allows us to nip the matter in the bud before the cost is out of hand."

About Signs of The Times: is an independent alternative news and analysis outlet that seeks to shine a spotlight on significant events and trends that affect the entire world. helps bring clarity out of a sea of media spin. The site is funded entirely by donations from individuals and groups that seek to support its work. For more information visit

About Quantum Future Group:
Quantum Future Group (QFG) supports activities that bring together people to engage in and to promote the study of scientific ideas and research in all scientific and socio-cultural fields that further the deepest understanding of our world and our place within it without regard to nationality or ethnicity. QFG seeks to increase the understanding of humankind by humankind, as a whole, by sponsoring research into all the parts to see how they fit together. QFG supports documented research that is made freely and widely available to all humanity. For more information visit:

About Cooper, White & Cooper LLP:
Cooper, White & Cooper LLP, based in San Francisco, is longtime defender of free speech and communications. For more information visit

Contact: Joseph Quinn
Email: :
Phone: : +33 563 048231
Web site:
To view this press release online

This press release was issued by For more information, please visit

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

JFK Spins From the Grave

Scott Ogrin
Tue, 29 Apr 2008 10:11 EDT

JFK speaking at podium

One of my favorite stories from recent memory is of a particular French pal of mine. He voted for Socialist candidate Segolène Royal in the last election. Of course, he pretended that he actually liked and had voted for now President Sarkozy, simply because that's what he thought everyone else wanted. He didn't want to stand up for his views and beliefs - he wanted to go along with the crowd. Now that Sarko's approval rating is at a whopping 28%, he has revealed his actual vote, no doubt again to go along with the crowd. You see, that is exactly the problem...

Why do we do silly things like that? Are we so afraid of standing up for what we believe in that we will sacrifice our own convictions and maybe even our own soul just to ensure we're accepted by others? If so, where does it end?

So what do we do about all this? That's a very popular question nowadays. And I think JFK just might have the answer...


Here's a bad joke for you: What did French president Nicolas Sarkozy say to Carla Bruni the first night they met?

Give up?

"Voulez-vous karcher avec moi ce soir?"

(Karcher is a manufacturer of power washers.)

And really, can you blame him? I mean, let's face it: there are people in this world who love to take advantage of others. These parasites use everyone around them for their own personal gain and glory. They feed off of the hard work of normal people like you and me. They don't believe in a hard day's work; they believe in hardly working. They lie, cheat, steal, and then more or less complain about how unfairly they're being treated by using the most mangled logic to justify their actions. Quite often, even when caught in a lie, they just keep on lying.

That's the kind of scum we're dealing with here.

So, I agree wholeheartedly with the good Sarkonator: break out the powerwashers!

Of course, I'm not talking about those pesky bothersome immigrants (*SHUDDER!*) that take all the jobs that no one else wants because the rest of the people are too busy trying to "live large" with a giant house and 2.5 SUVs and a 3,000 inch ultra high-def big-screen flat panel television. No no no - I'm talking about psychopaths. You know, those men and women that seem to be so popular in the halls of power nowadays, even as the people look around at each other saying things like, "Um, dudes, I don't know ANYONE who voted for this clown. So, like, how did he get into power? I mean, 60% of the votes?! Gimme a break!"

One of my favorite stories from recent memory is of a particular French pal of mine. He voted for Socialist candidate Segolène Royal in the last election. Of course, he pretended that he actually liked and had voted for Sarko, simply because that's what he thought everyone else wanted. He didn't want to stand up for his views and beliefs - he wanted to go along with the crowd. Now that Sarko's approval rating is at a whopping 28%, he has revealed his actual vote, no doubt again to go along with the crowd. You see, that is exactly the problem...

Why do we do silly things like that? Are we so afraid of standing up for what we believe in that we will sacrifice our own convictions and maybe even our own soul just to ensure we're accepted by others? If so, where does it end? Doesn't that mean that we would also go along with the murder of millions? Do you really think that people today are that special, that different than those Germans that turned a blind eye during the reign of Hitler and the Nazis? You do? Well, guess again, my friend!

So what do we do about all this? That's a very popular question nowadays. People want to do something, but like always, they want to go along with the crowd. They want someone else to lead the way. They want to continue to be followers instead of leaders.

And so, it is for this very reason that I am sitting here writing this little article. But, let's face it: I'm no literary genius. And besides, I'm an engineering type, and we just hate inefficiency. So, I figure, "Why reinvent the wheel?!" There is one man in particular whose words remain so powerful and relevant today that I could hardly hope to best them myself. That man is JFK.

Now, before some of you get your undies in a bundle about how everyone always praises JFK, but in reality he was a womanizer, a crook, etc., let me just point something out: in words and deeds, JFK arguably did more than any other American leader to battle the disease that is pathocracy - the psychopathy that has so evidently taken over our nations today.

If you don't understand how this is true, you need to educate yourself. Start here: Evidence of Revision. Yes, I may have just called you uneducated. You shouldn't be offended, because the psychopaths in power treat you like that every single day - you just may not realize it yet. They rely on you to not know anything about anything, and to not care about the things that truly matter if any of us are to have a real future. They rely on you to be so busy wanting to just "live your life" and "make babies and be happy" that you will always look for someone else to be the leader so that you can be the follower. And then they do what they want, when they want, and get it broadcast over every media outlet as the "right thing to do" - rubbing it in your face, as it were. They insult your intelligence every time you watch the evening news or read a newspaper, and you let them do it.

So, quite frankly, I don't give a rat's ass how many women JFK slept with, or if he used the mafia to get into power. I judge the man by what he said and what he did, and what he intended to do had he not been assassinated. Great people sometimes have great faults, but that doesn't negate the magnitude of what they accomplished when the bigger picture is taken into account. That's good enough for me. And unless you enjoy pointing out the mote in another's eye while ignoring the splinter in your own, it should be good enough for you, too.

I think after reading the following, you will really begin to see that the answer to the question, "What can we DO about this mess?!" is perfectly clear, and has always been so. It's just that we always tend to look for solutions in the wrong way. In this case, I think a lot of us wait for someone else to tell us what to do. We wait for someone else to take the first step so that we can follow, just like we always do. We keep doing what we've always done, so we keep getting what we always got.

Sometimes it takes that most powerful of human faculties which the psychopath lacks to help us find our way.

The following is a collection of various JFK quotes, blended together with a dash of creative license. And so, without further ado, I give you The Man himself:

To know how to battle the pathocracy in our world today, we must first recultivate a long-extinct crop: courage.

A world which has forgotten the quality of courage, which in the past has been brought to public life, is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today - and in fact we have forgotten. But efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction. Direction requires truth, and truth requires facts.

Our leaders should not be afraid to entrust the people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For leaders that are afraid to let their people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market are leaders that are afraid of their people.

Without these facts and ideas, we have come to enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie: deliberate, continued, and dishonest; but the myth: persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.

In addition to the myths perpetrated on us by our leaders, secrecy has become a way of life for them, while our privacy is destroyed. The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society. We as a people should be inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.

To solve these problems, let us not seek the "Republican" answer or the "Democratic" answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past, except insofar as it allows us to understand where we must go in the future. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future. Everyone counts. The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all. It is not enough to simply conform to the day's norms: conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.

We must realize how to work for an end to this most dangerous of games. Without belittling the courage with which many men and women have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which some people have lived. A person must do what he or she must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality.

As we stand on the edge of the pathocratic abyss, there is no room for second place. Once you say you're going to settle for second, that's what happens to you in life. For time and the world do not stand still: Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.

Now is also not the time for neutrality, but the time for taking a stand. Dante once said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crises maintain their neutrality.

But the problems of the world also cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need people who can dream of things that never were.

To dream of a new tomorrow, we need to know the facts, no matter how painful. To state the facts frankly is not to despair the future nor indict the past. The prudent heir takes careful inventory of his legacies and gives a faithful accounting to those whom he owes an obligation of trust.

For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. We should not shrink from this responsibility - we should welcome it. We must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to merely utter words, but to live by them.

There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.

And so, let us take that first step. Let us step back from the shadows of eternal war and destruction and seek out the way of peace. And if that journey is a thousand miles, or even more, let history record that we, on this planet, at this time, took the first step.

Things do not just happen. Things are made to happen. Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

We have the power to make this the best generation of humankind in the history of the world - or to make it the last.

We should choose such a course of action not because it is easy, but because it is hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our skills and talents, because that challenge is one we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.

So do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men and women. If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help.

Let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous effort on which we have set out. No one can foresee precisely what course it will take or what costs or casualties will be incurred. Many months of sacrifice and self-discipline lie ahead - months in which both our patience and our will shall be tested - months in which many threats and denunciations will keep us aware of our dangers. But the greatest danger of all would be to do nothing. Our goal is not the victory of might but the vindication of truth - not peace at the expense of freedom but both peace and freedom around the world. That goal must be achieved.

What really counts is not the immediate act of courage or of valor, but those who bear the struggle day in and day out - not the sunshine patriots but those who are willing to stand for a long period of time.

We on this planet, in this generation, are, by destiny rather than choice, the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of "Peace on earth, good will toward all." That must always be our goal, and the truth of our cause must always underlie our strength.

You already know what to do: use the fire in your hearts to fight for your future, and that of your children. That fire is our greatest strength, and one that a psychopath cannot possibly even begin to comprehend.

And you already know how to do it: "What to do" is different and unique for each person. All of us have something to contribute to peaceful change.

The flapping of a million teensy butterfly wings... Evolution, not revolution...

So, what do you say?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Fri, 07 Mar 2008 06:10 EST

Yesterday, as I was working on finishing up the next installment of the Comet Series of Articles, FedEx delivered a packet of mail from our corporate registered agent in the U.S. It was "Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial" filed in the State of Oregon by Eric Pepin's Higher Balance Institute, LLC. The reason? A discussion on the SOTT Forum that begins HERE.

Well, that was entertaining enough when you think about the fact that the discussion that he objects to was centered on several newspaper articles that describe his close calls with the legal system in Oregon over charges of sex abuse.

The legal document I received is 10 pages long so I'm just going to summarize it here. If you want to read the whole thing (it's hilarious beyond belief!) go HERE for the pdf.


Civil No.: CV '08-0233 HA


Limited Liability Company, dba HIGHER


California corporation, and LAURA
KNIGHT- JADCZYK, Defendants.

Plaintiff Higher Balance LLC, dba Higher Balance Institute ("HBI") files this Complaint against defendants Quantum Future Group, Inc. ("QFG") and Laura Knight-Jadczyk and alleges the following:

...defendants committed intentional torts that were purposefully targeted at HBI within the State of Oregon; defendants knew that HBI is a resident of the State of Oregon; defendants' tortious conduct cause HBI to suffer economic harm within the State of Oregon; HBI's claims arise out of defendants' activities relating to the State of Oregon; and the exercise of jurisdiction over defendants is reasonable in light of their intentional misconduct directed towards a resident of the State of Oregon.

As this Court has specific personal jurisdiction over the defendants, venue is proper in this district and division under 28 U.S.C 1391(a)(3)

General Allegations:

HBI is an Oregon-based company with over 40,000 customers from all over the world. HBI is dedicated to helping its customers relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and achieve emotional balance and spiritual enlightenment through meditation techniques. The majority of HBI's revenues are derived from the online sale of its books and CDs, which are designed to help its customers learn these meditation techniques.


Defendant QFG operates a website known as Signs of the Times ("SOTT"). QFG posts articles and sponsors forums regarding various conspiracy theories and allegedly corrupt organizations on the SOTT website.

Employees and agents of QFG, including defendant Knight-Jadczyk, serve as administrators and moderators of SOTT forums. QFG employees and agents, including defendant Knight-Jadczyk, post comments and analyses in SOTT forums. These employees and agents act within the course and scope of their agency for QFG when serving as administrators and moderators of the SOTT website and when posting comments and analyses on the SOTT website.

SOTT forums are available to the general public online.

...Many of HBI's existing and potential customers read the SOTT website as a source of alternative media....

FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF - Defamation - Libel

....Beginning in May 2006, QFG sponsored a forum on the SOTT website concerning HBI under the heading "COINTELPRO."

Beginning in November 2007, defendants intentionally posted several false, baseless, and derogatory accusations concerning HBI on the SOTT website including, but not limited to:

a. HBI is a "front for pedophilia";
b. HBI is a "cointelpro" organization;
c. Meditation, as sold by HBI, is an act of "falling into confluence with a psychopathic reality";
d. Those associated with HBI must be careful to avoid sexual molestation by HBI members;
e. HBI is conning the public;
f. "Fishy sexual conduct is occurring at HBI; and
g. HBI "leads people more deeply into sleep."

By posting these statements in a public internet forum, defendants have published and communicated false and baseless accusations concerning HBI to third parties, including existing and potential HBI customers.

Defendants' statements tend to subject HBI to hatred, contempt, and ridicule and tend to diminish the esteem, respect, goodwill and confidence in which HBI is held by the public and by its customers.

Defendant made these false statements with knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard for their truth.

As a result of defendants' false and defamatory statement, HBI suffered general damages in the form of loss of reputation in an amount to be determined at trial, but in any event, not less than $500,000. HBI has also suffered special damages in the form of lost income in amounts to be determined at trial, but in any event, not less than $834,732.

Defendants defamatory statements are still available to the general public on the SOTT website and are easily found through internet searches relating to HBI. Defendants conduct causes HBI irreparable harm, and HBI is entitled to an injunction preventing defendants' continued defamation of HBI.


Defendants intentionally gave publicity to matters concerning HBI that placed HBI in a false light before the public. etc

...economic damages ... not less than $834,732.

THIRD CLAIM FOR RELIEF: Intentional Interference with Economic Relations - Interference with Business Relationships

Defendant intentionally interfered with many of these business relationships by communicating the false and defamatory information listed...

...economic damages ... not less than $97,299.

HBI... has also suffered damages in the form of loss of reputation ... damages .... not less than $500,000.

...Defendants conduct was malicious and warrants punitive damages...

FOURTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF: Intentional Interference With Economic Relations - Prospective Economic Advantage

Defendant's interference has diminished the esteem, respect, goodwill, and confidence in which HBI is held by the general public, thereby hindering HBI's ability to obtain many new customers with whom HBI had a prospective business relationship. ... damages to be determined at trial...

...On its First Claim for Relief, that HBI be awarded general and special damages in amounts to be determined at trial, but in any event, not less than $1,334,732, and that defendants be enjoined from their continued defamation of HBI.

...On its Second Claim for Relief, that HBI be awarded damages in an amount to be determined at trial, but in any event, not less than $1,334,732. and that defendants be enjoined from continuing to place HBI in a false light.

...On its Third Claim for Relief, that HBI be awarded damages in an amount to be determined at trial, but in any event, not less than $597,299. plus punitive damages, and that defendants be enjoined from their coninued interference with HBI's prospective business relationships.

...On its Fourth Claim for Relief, that HBI be awarded damages in an amount to be determined at trial, but in any event, not less than $1,205,000 plus punitive damages, and that defendants be enjoined from their continued interference with HBI's business relationships.

... That HBI be awarded pre-judgment and post-judgment interest on all damages recovered.

...That HBI be awarded its costs and disbursements incurred in this action; ...

Harry and David demands a trial by jury on all issues so triable.

25th day of February, 2008.

Bullivant houser Bailey PC
Renee E. Rothauge
Chad M. Colton
Tel 503.228.6351
Attorneys for Higher Balance Institute

Whoah! That's some heavy duty stuff, eh? Sounds like we just ripped up on that poor guy for no reason at all!

But that's not quite the situation. The original article about Eric Pepin that was brought to our attention on page 5 of the above-mentioned forum thread read as follows:

A 39-year-old Aloha man who promises spiritual awakening through meditation books and CDs he sells on the Internet is facing sex-abuse charges.

Beaverton police Detective Mike Smith said Eric J. Pepin runs what appears to be a cult out of his Higher Balance Institute on Southwest Second Street in Beaverton.

Pepin was arraigned Tuesday in Washington County criminal court on one count of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct, two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, and four counts of third-degree sexual abuse. He was released after posting $26,750 cash, or 10 percent of $267,500 bail. A trial was set for Sept. 12.

Using a child in a sexual display is a Measure 11 crime punishable by a mandatory minimum of 5 years and 10 months in prison.

Jamison Dwight Priebe, 21, who works for Pepin and lives at the same address in the 19600 block of Southwest Cooperhawk Court in Aloha, also was arrested on one count each of using a child in a sexual display and third-degree sexual abuse.

Priebe and Pepin turned themselves in at the Washington County Jail last week after a grand jury handed down secret indictments. Priebe was released after posting $25,375 cash bail and is awaiting arraignment Monday.

Smith said a man who is now 20 was 17 and working for Pepin when he allegedly was sexually abused at the Higher Balance office in the 11900 block of Southwest Second Street in Beaverton and at Pepin's former home in the city.

A call to the Higher Balance Institute on Wednesday was answered by a "Personal Star Reach Coach," who referred questions to Pepin's private attorney, Sam Kauffman.

"The charges are false, and we are confident Mr. Pepin will be exonerated," Kauffman said.

Pepin's Web site claims he has located more than 100 missing persons and runaways, along with U.S. Navy submarines, through a psychic ability he calls "remote viewing."

Pepin's meditation systems, which sell for $79 to $149, help customers develop their "sixth sense" and apply it "inward to awaken a dimensional universe within the mind," the Web site says.

According to an affidavit Smith filed with a request for a search warrant, the alleged victim told police that Internet customers who rave about Pepin's teachings are men and women usually older than 35. But, the man said Pepin told him he should recruit "good-looking men" between the ages of 18 and 24 to work for him.

The court record also says Pepin knew the man was 17 when he forced him to perform sex acts.

The boy, Smith wrote, "was taught by Pepin to believe that the sexual contact was only a spiritual necessity." But after a while, the affidavit says, the boy decided he was being used by Pepin, who bought him meals and paid him $200 after sex.

The man contacted Beaverton police in January.

Smith said anyone who may have had underage sexual contact with Pepin should call him at 503-526-2280.

Smith said the man accusing Pepin told police he met one of Pepin's followers at Beaverton Town Square in April 2004. He told Smith the recruiter invited him to meet Pepin and see him demonstrate levitation.

Pepin introduced himself dressed in a robe emblazoned with the words "Master Eric" and a triangular symbol and told the victim to take off his shirt, the detective said.

"It's a cult," Smith said, "anytime you have a guy who fancies himself as the master, the leader."

In another story from Associated Press found HERE, we read:

Beaverton police Detective Mike Smith said Pepin operated the Higher Balance Institute in Beaverton. Smith said the ornate robe emblazoned "Master Eric" turned up during a search.

Well, I've been falsely accused of trying to start a cult myself, so I might ordinarily have had sympathy for Pepin, but when I read the bit about the robe, I blew my tea through my nose. I guess that's why I'm such a failure as a cult-leader (aside from the fact that I'm not interested in the job) - I hardly ever wear anything other than sweats and bedroom slippers and spend all my time working!

In any event, even though a grand jury felt that there was enough evidence to indict Pepin, he was eventually acquitted in trial before a judge as the following report informs us:

Institute leader acquitted of sex charges

HOLLY DANKS - HILLSBORO -- A Washington County Circuit judge called the leader of a metaphysical Internet sales company manipulative and controlling and his testimony unbelievable, even as he acquitted him Wednesday of charges that he had sex with an underage boy.

Judge Steven L. Price, after a five-day trial without a jury, found Eric James Pepin, 40, not guilty of two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, four counts of third-degree sexual abuse and one count of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct.

Also acquitted of third-degree sexual abuse and using a child in a pornographic display was Jamison Dwight Priebe, 21, who has worked for Pepin's Higher Balance Institute since he was 18.

"Everybody has stood by me who knows me," Pepin said Wednesday after hugging supporters. "They had faith in me, prayed for me. I told them I wouldn't let them down. I did nothing of what was alleged. I've been nothing but honorable and impeccable."

However, Price said it was "probable that the conduct alleged in all counts occurred," but he wasn't convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. "There's a lack of strong corroboration," such as a date-stamp on a videotape of the sexual encounter, the judge said.

The accuser testified Pepin had him take off his shirt the first day they met at Pepin's Beaverton home in April 2004.

"He was going to try and fix my energy and he needed me to trust him," the accuser said. Pepin touched the teen's "chakra points" on his heart, head and lower abdomen.

"Eric asked me to tell him everything I had done in my life that I was ashamed about," the teen added.

The accuser said Pepin asked him how old he was the first day they met and that he told him the truth.

"He said students had to be 18 because he didn't like parents fussing around," the accuser said.

But within days the two were having sex, including a three-way encounter with Priebe, the youth testified. Pepin called it "crossing the abyss," the accuser said, "surrendering yourself to your teacher, your master."

Pepin testified he is gay and has had sexual relationships with most of his 11 employees, but not before they were 18. Pepin said he gave his accuser a job, even though the teen was a poor worker, and continued to be intimate with him and give him money after he was fired, to help him out.

Stephen A. Houze, Pepin's private defense attorney, called the accuser a liar more than 100 times in his closing argument and noted that Pepin was "the perfect patsy" because society wants to believe the worst of a gay man. Houze said the accuser brought the charges because he wanted to shake down Pepin.

Pepin's Higher Balance Institute, now on Northwest Saltzman Road in Cedar Mill, reached an annual high of $2 million in Internet sales of meditation CDs, tapes and books before his arrest in July.

Pepin touts himself as a psychic and "remote viewer" who has found lost submarines and missing people, and says he created the "psychic pill" Magneurol6-S that enhances brain function, heals nerve damage, heightens paranormal experiences and relieves stress for $79 a bottle.

Andrew Erwin, deputy district attorney, called Higher Balance nothing more than a sex cult run by a "snake oil" salesman who preys on the troubled.

The accuser had nothing to gain by going to police and turned down $250,000 from Pepin to drop the sex charges, Erwin said.

"I'm disappointed," Erwin said of the verdicts. "The judge wants proof beyond all doubt and that's too high a standard."

And now, Pepin wants to sue QFG and yours truly for talking about these articles, published in a newspaper and scattered across the web (though all of them are no longer on the newspaper's website, wonder what's up with that?)!!

Notice that Pepin, himself, revealed his "sex cult" practices in his own testimony. We'll be trying to get transcripts of the trial to publish so our readers can hear it from the horse's mouth; stay tuned for that.

Notice also that Pepin's attorney, Houze, accused the victim of bringing charges because he wanted to shake down Pepin even though the kid turned down 250 K hush money offered by Pepin. Well, maybe that's what gave Pepin the idea of suing me. Only thing is, he's gonna have a hard time collecting his 4.47 million because I don't own a thing, live in a rented house, drive a used car and QFG rarely has more than a grand in the bank at any given time. When we have fund-raisers, the funds are used almost instantly, repaying loans and covering basic expenses for the site and equipment.

It's also humorous that Pepin is suing QFG which only sponsors a world-wide group of independent researchers who, together, make up QFG doesn't own sott, nor does QFG have any employees nor any official oversight of anything that the researchers say or do.

But the bottom line is this: Eric Pepin is convicted out of his own mouth of being a sexual predator. I mean, what kind of teacher of meditation says that he has sex with all his employees? And all of them young men?

Nope, we aren't backing down. We firmly believe, based on available official documents and court records, that Eric Pepin is a danger to innocent people looking for spiritual guidance. Obviously, young guys just looking for sex and money and a good time will be delighted to take his pills, listen to his tapes and attend his retreats. But the wider public who are not aware of these things in Pepin's background, who are not aware that even the judge who acquitted him regretted having to do so, and that the Prosecutor of the case was also convinced that justice had NOT been done, need to be warned about this sexual predator in our midst.

Maybe Eric Pepin will take down, we don't know. We don't have money for an expensive defense attorney, we barely stay afloat. But even if that happens (and we hope our readers will help us out now as never before), there are others who know and I don't think that Eric Pepin and all his minions can track down and silence all of them.

Even if you can't give to our legal defense fund, I will appreciate letters of support during this trying time. Write to sott(at) and I will try to answer each and every one.

And thanks to all our readers for your constant support and encouragement.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Signs of the Times

Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Mon, 02 Apr 2007 10:11 EDT

My last contribution to the Blogosphere must have been pretty scary. Geeze! You shoulda seen my mail! People going bananas and writing "what to do? what to do!?"

Well, this one's not going to be any better. But let me say in advance that today's particular collection of items will lead us to a certain point of hope which I wish to elucidate at the end.

It is 7.17 am, Eastern Standard Time, on the thirtieth of June [some year in the not-too-distant future]. Suddenly the power fails.

The basement centre of the Defense Communication Operations Unit adjoining the White House is plunged into darkness, and only the distant rumble of early morning traffic reminds the duty officer that another day has already begun. There have been power failures before, however, and there is no hint of impending crisis

Almost immediately, an automatic switch brings in the emergency supply. But now the duty officer observes that something is wrong. Telephone links to the outside world have gone. These include the open links, via commercial cables, to NORAD's bunker a thousand feet under Cheyenne Peak in Colorado, and to the Offutt command post near Omaha

Within seconds it is ascertained that neither the President nor Vice-President, both of whom are out of town, can be contacted: radio communications are blacked out, on all frequencies. Further, because of the telephone failure, none of the Presidential stand-ins scattered around town and country can be expected to call in to give their exact locations, as they would normally if there were a recognized national emergency. However, the Secretary of Defense, third in the chain of command, is at breakfast somewhere in the White House

It has taken 45 seconds to confirm the general breakdown of communications; it takes another 45 seconds to locate the Secretary of Defense and inform him of the problem; and it is another 90 seconds before the Secretary finds himself in the cramped underground Situation Room along with his advisors. He is aware that the travel time of a missile from a hostile submarine off the Atlantic coast to Washington is just over fifteen minutes; three of these minutes have gone

Emergency procedures for transferring authority are now in hand and the Secretary of Defense becomes in effect the new President. The 'gold codes', which would enable him to initiate a nuclear response, are placed before him. The black SIOP books with their theoretical scenarios are produced. The 'Mystic' and 'Nationwide' communication systems are successfully activated utilizing deeply buried, protected cables. He now has control of the National Command Authority, the channel of communication for execution of a nuclear strike; and another two minutes have gone

The underground cables to Cheyenne, Offutt and other SAC bases are now open with secure links to the radar lines covering the northern approaches. None of them - Dew Line, the 55th Parallel or Pine Tree - is functioning properly, however; their screens are strongly upset with many spurious signals: there seem to be huge scattering modes in the ionosphere.

Satellite communication with military forces abroad is impaired. No information is coming in from the big synchronous DSP satellites over South America, the central Pacific or the Indian Ocean; nothing is arriving from the relay stations near Aurora in Colorado or Pine Gap in Australia. And the 'hot line' is dead. On the other hand in the minutes before the confusion they had reported no anomalous infrared emissions and hence no evidence of heat from the exhausts of rising missiles. At the moment all that can be said is that there is a very unusual atmospheric disturbance, that telephone lines are dead and that there are widespread power failures. The disturbed atmosphere might just be some strange effect due to sunspots or the like, but the telephone and power failures are ominous. On such a scale, the only plausible explanation is an electromagnetic pulse caused by nuclear fireballs

Eight minutes into the emergency - if it is an emergency - the Secretary issues a number of precautionary orders. His deputy is ordered upstairs to await the arrival of a helicopter from Quantico Marine Corps base about 30 miles away. This will transport the deputy to the waiting 'Nightwatch', a Boeing 747 which functions as an airborne command post. Another helicopter is dispatched to retrieve the President. A 'flash alert' is sent to Hawaii, to get a second command post aloft, but the message goes unacknowledged. SAC missile silos and bomber bases are put on full alert

Nine minutes on, information begins to flood in from sensors and antennae in orbit, at sea and scattered round the Earth. Much of it is reassuring: there are no patterns of activity on land, sea or air consistent with hostile intentions, no evacuations of barracks or the like are in progress.

But now something deeply disturbing is coming in from one of the DSP satellites. A television screen shows a brilliant patch over south-east Nevada, bright enough to saturate the lead sulphide cells in the satellite. Intense heat is radiating from an area of about ten thousand square kilometres. Distant ground sensors are reporting large tremors emanating from the same area - unnecessarily, as the Situation Room has begun to sway and vibrate, and loud rumblings are coming up from deep under the ground.

Then, from Offutt, comes devastating news. Air Force pilots are reporting a huge explosion in the desert area close to Boulder City. The city itself has gone, reduced to rubble. Las Vegas and other towns within 100 miles are enveloped in huge firestorms. The Hoover Dam has disintegrated. A column of dust and rubble has been sucked up to great altitude and a mushroom cloud is spreading outwards. Huge amounts of smoke are blanketing the state of Arizona and spreading into New Mexico and Mexico itself. The Secretary and his advisors can see it all on their television screens

The Secretary now has a maximum of five minutes in which to discuss and evaluate the information, make any decisions and implement them.

He is informed that the damage corresponds to explosions amounting to at least twenty megatons, and must have been caused by more than one bomb. The possibility of accidental detonations is quickly ruled out, because of its technical improbability and the magnitude of the explosion. Further, he is told that both ground and air bursts must have been involved to disrupt both cable and ionospheric communications. The conclusion seems unavoidable that for some reason the Soviets have targeted bombs on to American territory having somehow circumvented military radars. perhaps armed satellites with low radar cross-section have suddenly been diverted downwards; or perhaps submarine-launched cruise missiles have been fired; or perhaps bombs had already been smuggled into the area.

But why? The desert is a bizarre choice of target, Boulder, Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam of low strategic value. No sense can be made of the attack.

Perhaps, it is suggested, they were chosen because they have little value. The attack may be a prelude to some major military adventure and may be a warning, a "keep out' notice pitched at a level low enough that the risks of 'nuclear response are not justified and yet high enough to demonstrate deadly earnest. Or, the impacts may be intended to disrupt radar and communications for reasons which can only be guessed at

Whatever the merits of such speculations, the Secretary cannot responsibly rule out the possibility that further bombs may follow, completely jamming command and control over nuclear weapons, or even that Washington is an imminent target whose destruction might for example be awaiting only the positioning of armed satellites, already in orbit, over the city, or the arrival of cruise missiles.

Twelve minutes into the emergency, the Secretary's deputy is still on the White House lawn waiting for a helicopter, there is no communication with the President and the only information still coming in confirms that towns over several thousand square miles have been destroyed in nuclear blasts. He has no time left and must come to an immediate decision

He could initiate the dreaded 'Major Attack Option'. This is quickly ruled out because it is beyond reason, leading only to mutual annihilation. He could choose to do nothing. But it is pointed out that in the present situation paralysis could also lead to holocaust. Whether the National Command Authority is 'decapitated' in the next few minutes depends on whether further missiles are about to land. If they are, then all control over the counter-strike force may be lost and, with bombs falling on the USA, a full-scale attack on the Soviet Union will, following standing instructions, be unleashed by individual submarine commanders, and by the one-star generals aboard their Cover All airborne command posts. It is therefore vital to forestall any further nuclear attacks by calling the bluff, that is by retaliating at a similar level. All the options are dangerous. The least dangerous is an immediate 'controlled response'

The discussions are interrupted by confused reports of a storm of missiles, a cataract of fire pouring in over the states of the western seaboard and Canada. But the reports go unconfirmed; again, communications are failing over the whole of the United States

It is 7.30 am, Eastern Standard Time, on the thirtieth of June. In the revamped over-the-horizon radar base near Gomel in ByeloRussia officers are horrified to see, through the confusion of the still disturbed ionosphere, a dozen missile tracks appearing on their screens. Peacekeepers are rising over the plains of Kansas..

Even as they look, however, another unheralded missile is encountering the atmosphere high over the Bernese Oberland. Coming in at sixty thousand miles an hour, a hundred kilometres above Interlaken, the missile is gathering around itself a narrow skin of compressed air whose temperature surges up to about half a million degrees. Waves ripple within the hot air-turned-plasma; atoms, scattering off the waves, reach huge speeds, collide violently, and are stripped to their nuclei; electrons, torn from the atoms, accelerate violently and radiate fiercely at all wavelengths. For the most part this fierce emission is invisible, hard ultraviolet light or soft X-rays, and the atmosphere absorbs these at altitude, 50 to 90 kilometres up.

Only a tiny fraction of the radiation reaches the ground as visible light. Even so, Europe is lit up as if with a flashbulb: survivors from Ireland to Austria and from Denmark to Italy later describe 'a bluish white light, too bright for the naked eye', or 'a fire brighter than the Sun', or 'a thunderbolt ... blinding in its intensity'.

Approaching from the south east, the missile passes on a long, shallow trajectory, throwing moving shadows over the Jungfrau, Berne and Basle. It crosses the sky in a few seconds, leaving a wake of hot, luminous debris and air surrounded by a rapidly expanding red trail. Ten seconds after its first encounter with the atmosphere, the missile has penetrated the ionosphere, passed through the stratosphere and is moving rapidly into the lower atmosphere

Here at an altitude between 10 and 15 kilometres, the missile hits significantly denser air and suddenly disintegrates. It never reaches the ground therefore and instead unloads its stored-up power, 200 megatons of impact energy, into the air over Louvain, a medium-sized town in central Belgium. The missile vaporizes in a third of a second. It is now, momentarily, an incandescent cylinder a few kilometres long and a few hundred metres across. The temperature within the cylinder is over100,000 C. The pressure for an instant reaches some tens of thousands of tons per square inch; the missile blows up into a ball of fire radiating X-rays of huge intensity. These are absorbed within a few metres by the surrounding air; but, in doing so, the envelope of atmospheric gas acquires their energy. Simultaneously, hot, compressed material is thrusting rapidly outwards from the point of disintegration and snowploughing the air ahead of it. A blast wave develops; 'the fireball expands. From the first trace of incandescent tail high over Interlaken, to the beginnings of the fireball over Louvain, less than eleven seconds have elapsed.

When the fireball has reached about four miles in diameter the shock wave breaks away and races ahead of it. The corresponding blast brings a wind speed of over a thousand miles an hour. Survival at this distance is impossible; Louvain, directly under the fireball, disappears in less than a second. The fireball meanwhile inflates and soars rapidly upwards for several kilometres until, in the stratosphere, it flattens out and takes the classical mushroom shape. The cloud is seen from Copenhagen to Florence, from Edinburgh to Budapest. And over the whole of Europe, the ground shakes and buildings sway dangerously. Trains are derailed in southern England and beneath the Channel. The mushroom cloud is quickly broken up by jet streams at about 60 kilometres altitude and is subsequently dispersed around the globe

Within 25 kilometres of Louvain, all buildings are reduced to rubble. A few girder bridges survive due to accidental cancellation of pressure waves from above and below. The shock wave reaches Brussels to the west and Liege to the east. The buildings within these cities collapse, domino-like, as the wave sweeps through; and all traces of roads are immediately erased by rubble.

Beyond 25 kilometres, some structures survive, although few houses remain intact. Throughout Antwerp, for example, about 50 kilometres from ground zero, roofs are stripped bare of tiles and window frames and doors are blown in. Beyond this the damage becomes lighter: about 100 kilometres to the north, the blast, sweeping through Eindhoven, blows tiles off roofs and shatters windows

People out of doors and 25 kilometres from Louvain are hurled about to metres and are usually killed. Flying glass, though, is the greatest hazard. Shopping precincts and office complexes within 50 kilometres find themselves swept without warning by lethal blizzards of flying glass. Indeed, shards of glass account for most of the loss of life in these areas. Even 100 kilometres from the epicentre of the explosion, the blast is still strong enough to flatten forests

Nuclear reactors within reach of the ground tremors and air waves are damaged, their coolant pipes snapped and containment vessels cracked. Some begin the process of meltdown. Already, swathes of radioactive debris are pouring into the atmosphere, mingling with the dense chemical smog, drifting into Germany, and destined for Poland and Scandinavia

Immense destruction is caused by fire as well as blast. Serious flash burns from the thermal pulse of the fireball are sustained over an area of several thousand square kilometres, and virtually all exposed individuals within about 50 kilometres of ground zero receive third degree burns (charred skin) requiring labour-intensive hospital treatment, but in the hours and days following the impact it is impossible for medical services from outside to reach, let alone cope with, the seriously burned, and many of the injured die untreated from shock within twelve hours

The intense heat from the rising fireball sets off fires at a range of 70 kilometres or more. Fanned by the updraft of air sucked in behind the rising ball, these merge into a mass fire, a single all-consuming conflagration. Such fire services as have survived are immobilized in a sea of debris, deprived of water and overwhelmed by the extent of the raging fire.

The Sun eventually sets, but Europe is already dark, only the light from raging fires penetrates the smoke

Sixteen hours after the event the Sun rises again, but it shines down only on a dense, choking smog created by blazing cities and petrochemical complexes. Aerial survey is impossible. Within a circle of radius 50 kilometres, the dead greatly outnumber the living. Even without the mass fire which is still blazing, penetration of the area is impossible as roads are strewn by debris and wrecked vehicles. It will be several days before the fires burn themselves out and the smog disperses enough to reveal the flattened cities and towns, villages and farms. Belgium, it will turn out, has been obliterated. And several weeks would need to pass before French, German and Dutch forces have the capacity to clear the roads, shelter the living and bury the dead. Belgium, however, will wait in vain ...

For the Earth has encountered a cosmic swarm.

Twelve hours later, the death-dealing fusillade is peppering the other side of the globe. Indeed, the bombardment continues for nearly a night and day, the planet rotating all the while, first presenting one face, then the other, until eventually it emerges on the far side of the swarm.

Compared with the fireball over Hiroshima at the end of the Second World War, that over Boulder was a thousand times greater whilst that over Louvain was ten times bigger again, but they are just two of the several hundred pieces of grape-shot that meet the Earth, and they are trivial compared with the larger pieces of ordnance in train. These rarer missiles are each capable of unloading as much energy as would be unleashed in a major nuclear war, and in their case the atmosphere provides relatively little protection. Thus unlike their smaller counterparts, these larger bodies get through to the surface of the Earth, an ocean impact generating a tsunami, a land impact generating a small crater.

There is another difference: each huge fireball is now too energetic to be properly contained by the atmosphere. As before, it ascends, laden with dust, but now it breaks through generating a vacuum in its wake which is filled by a vast stream of air. Thus, on the ground, once the initial blast has swept past, there is a counter flowing hurricane, itself sweeping up dust thrown up by the impact, and blowing it upwards after the rapidly receding fireball. Within minutes the fireball has reached an altitude of several hundred kilometres, in the high stratosphere. Here it stabilizes, and the dust begins to spill outwards over the top of the atmosphere

Closer to the ground, the intense heat of impact from one large fireball has generated hundreds of fires over an area about the size of France. Essentially everything combustible along the line of sight of the rising fireball has caught fire. Loss of life over this area, already massive from the prompt effects of blast and heat, becomes almost complete when these fires merge into a single, all-consuming conflagration. About fifty million tons of smoke pour upwards, in dense plumes rising 10 kilometres into the atmosphere

Within a few days, the wildfires are almost global in extent. Tens of millions of tons of fine dust lofted into the stratosphere, and a comparable amount of smoke in the lower atmosphere, have spread over the northern hemisphere and are beginning to cross into the southern one. At ground level, sunlight is blocked from reaching the ground, and all activity takes place in a black, choking smog. There is no question of mounting any rescue operation to save the devastated areas: the damage is so widespread that communications around the globe have now effectively ceased to exist; individual regions are virtually isolated; devastated populations are thrown back on their own resources; dozens of cities are reduced to smouldering rubble; river pollution is rife; and forests throughout the world are ablaze. Life as we know it is drawing to a close

The cosmic encounter is over. Our planet has finally emerged from the swarm. Both continue, of course, along their predestined paths, the swarm merely a few missiles less, the Earth now charred and encased in a lingering veil of dust and smoke. With the destruction of cities and urban areas, the infrastructure of civilization has already gone; with the loss of sunlight, continental land temperatures have already plummeted to those of a Siberian winter; thick ice covers rivers and lakes; storms of unprecedented intensity rage along the continental margins; with animal and plant life devastated, farming and agriculture have already collapsed. Soon, the disrupted weather patterns will cause the continental land masses to be blanketed in a thick covering of snow

After several months, the Sun begins to be seen through a hazy sky. When, eventually, the dust clears, the land masses of the northern hemisphere are covered in a snowfield which, reflecting sunlight back into space, has become permanent. The snowfield is added to each year, centimetres at a time. A thousand years on, North America and Europe are covered in ice sheets half a mile thick and the ocean level has dropped by about fifty metres. The Earth is locked into a new ice age. Mankind has survived, but the human population has crashed and society has dissolved into hungry marauding bands. A new ecological balance is being worked out on the blasted landscape: indeed the struggle for survival has only just begun... [The Cosmic Winter, Victor Clube and Bill Napier]

In short, the Hammer of God struck.

Victor Clube and Bill Napier are not members of some whacked out "Doomsday Cult" as I have been accused of being after first presenting the idea that the Earth is facing a date with a swarm of cometary bodies over 13 years ago. At the time the book quoted above was written, Clube was Senior Research Fellow in Astrophysics at the University of Oxford and had also been Acting Director of the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh. Napier was an astronomer at the Royal Observatory. They were cited by Firestone et al, whose scientific work on the Holocene Extinction suggests that the planet encountered a massive "swarm" of cometary bodies that nearly destroyed every living thing on Earth about 12000 years ago. As Firestone et al wrote:

Until recently, the astronomical mainstream was highly critical of Clube and Napier's giant comet hypothesis. However, the crash of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter in 1994 has led to a change in attitudes. The comet, watched by the world's observatories, was seen split into 20 pieces and slam into different parts of the planet over a period of several days. A similar impact on Earth, it hardly needs saying, would have been devastating.

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