Friday, April 29, 2016

True Spanish lies: A scam in any tongue is still a scam

For some time I've been aware of -- and have blogged and Facebooked about -- the fact that certain Scamworld sociopaths in the US love to hate on "the illegals," by which, traditionally, they most often mean Hispanic/Latino immigrants from Mexico and Central America. More recently the hucksters have been hating on Syrian/Muslim immigrants as well, warning that the Muslims are taking over Europe, raping all the women in their path, and that the US is next -- but by no means have these vociferous xenophobes let "the Mexicans" off the hook. Some have been griping for years about the influx of undesirables from South of the border.

For instance, there's currently imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka Katie,
who, as reported in this June 2011 Whirled post, came down hard on the "Mexicans" a few years ago. In November 2012 my pal Salty Droid also paid tribute to Katie's apparent racism (or at least Katie's pandering to racists, which is just as bad).

And on the Fourth of July, 2014 (cue patriotic music), former Trudeau b.f.f. and alt-health/cancer quack/fake doctor/conspiracy theorist/racist Leonard Coldwell, linking to the aggressively nativist NumbersUSA site, wrote about how he is proud to be "AND [sic] AMERICAN." He wrote that "they" (the New World Order and Obama and all enemies of freedom) "want to destroy our national pride, our way of life, our language and our culture by flooding us with these illegal immigrants." By "our" language I assume he means English, which he is doing quite an effective job of destroying on his own, but I digress.

More recently, LoonyC shared this on Facebook, linking to yet another article that attempts to indict all "illegals" for the crime committed by one. Obama is blamed too, of course; it wouldn't be a proper Loony rant (or in this case, Loony-approved rant) without vilification of our president.

Then of course there is GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, and if you don't think he belongs in a discussion of Scamworld,
read this. Apart from that whole "build a wall" shtick, Trump has made himself very not-loved by Latino voters by running off at the mouth about illegal "Mexican" immigrants being diseased criminals.

Here's a recent Facebook posting from the aforementioned Loony Coldwell, citing an article regarding yet another Trump tweet about "Mexicans."

Of course the scammers, including and perhaps especially Trump, mostly insist that they're not, not, NOT racist, and that they have nothing against "Mexicans." It's just those lazy, diseased, sexually predatory illegals they don't like. By way of proving that he's not racist and actually likes Mexicans, for instance, Kevin Trudeau said, back in 2011, that he admires Che Guevara and likes guacamole. Things haven't gotten any better since then. If anything they're worse, and If you call someone who's clearly racist out for being clearly racist, the least violent response you can expect is to be jeered at for being "politically correct" and a "libtard."

But for even the most racist scammer, one yuuuuge thing trumps (so to speak) white Western Euro-purity, and that one thing is, of course, money. And any scammer worth his or her salt has realized by now that the Spanish-speaking market is enormous and potentially very lucrative -- and damned if they're going to let a good cash op pass them by.

Accordingly, Kevin Trudeau's scampire has been
peddling some of his info-frauducts in Spanish for years, both online and via infomercials. I'm sure the company currently handling those info-frauducts would gladly accept moneys from the undocumented, no questions asked. For that matter, I bet that Katie's legal defense fund would be similarly open-minded.

Leonard Coldwell, brave guardian of the English language and American culture, brags that his "mega bestselling" books are being translated into Spanish, but I'm guessing that he won't be demanding proof of citizenship status before taking money from those people who are helping to destroy said language and culture.

And despite his apparent racism, and the fact that he has
shot himself in the foot business-wise with his racist remarks about Latinos, Donald Trump would gleefully welcome the Latino vote and has said he's confident he'll get it if he wins the nomination, because, he asserts, "Latinos love me".... though thousands of Latinos nationwide apparently disagree. (Illegal immigrants have no voting rights, despite what the wingnuts would have you believe.) Regarding "illegals," Trump has little room to speak, given his own business practices. And he knows as well as anyone else that if all illegal immigrants were suddenly deported, the US economy would implode.

Although there's no way of knowing for sure, I have little doubt that had Trump's more blatant Scamworldly enterprises such as
Trump University and the Trump Network been longer-lived, those scams would have penetrated deeply into the Spanish-speaking market. As it is, Trump is currently dealing with a class action lawsuit over the alleged fraud that was Trump U, and he blamed the fact that the suit wasn't thrown out on the hostility of a "Spanish" judge.
[Update 29 May, 2016: Important development in the case of Drumpf and that "Spanish"/"Hispanic"/"Mexican judge.]

But as Salty Droid indicated in his posts about Trump U and Trump Network, linked to in the first sentence of the paragraph above the update (and you should read those posts, if you haven't already), Trump has proven himself to be a fan of network or multilevel marketing, or, as Salty put it, "the MLM fraud vortex of doom." Which is as good a way as any to segue into this point: If you think the MLM industry is sitting on its hands when there are potentially so many millions of Spanish-speaking victims to suck into that vortex, you simply haven't been paying attention.

Brown folks' money is just as green as white folks' money.
A long-running theme on Salty's blog is the destructive force that MLMs have been in the lives of so many people. I published a two-part guest post about the matter myself in December 2013. (
Here's the link to Part 1.)

One of Salty's most frequent targets has been
the mega-scam and pyramid scheme Herbalife, which he addresses yet again in his post of April 26.

I'm sure he'll have more to say about this subject soon, in light of his yet-to-be-completely-told tale of stowing away on a scammer sea cruise last fall, and of the recent release of a documentary about the Herbalife scam, Betting on Zero, which made its debut at the recent Tribeca Film festival. For the time being he has embedded a heartbreaking thirteen-minute bilingual video that poignantly demonstrates how a scam is still a scam, even in a loving tongue.

There is also a thriving Herbalife wannabe called 90 for Life, which is the unholy child, spawned in 2012, of Youngevity (founded by long-time frauduct peddler and former veterinarian Joel Wallach) and Livinity (founded by Barb and Dave Pitcock, who cut their huckster teeth with Kevin Trudeau back in the late 1990s). I've mentioned all of these folks on this Whirled previously, and here they are again. Loony Coldwell and his ex-bro Peter Wink were even involved in 90 for Life for a while, under the company name Coldwell Brothers LLC, until Loony blew his little balding top at Barb Pitcock some time in 2013, and that was that.

But more to the point here, 90 for Life, which peddles a large line of overpriced nutritional drinks and supplements and potions, launched its big Hispan-o-scam a couple of years ago, and front and center in that scheme was another longtime Katie bud (and frauduct/flopportunity peddler, Scamworld circle jerker mutual admiration society member, apparent xenophobe and Trump lover) Fred van Liew. who has also been mentioned here a few times.

"I am heavily invested in this project to open the door to the Huge Spanish speaking community throughout the world, as well as the US and Canada," said Fred in 2014. And here's a May 2015 upload of Spanish Financial Freedom with Dave & Barb Pitcock: "The most effective system for building wealth ever created."

I only recently found this upload and felt a need to join in the conversation, but so far it's just a monologue and not a conversation. I seem to run into that problem a lot. On the other hand, that particular video has only had 206 views at the time I'm writing this, so there's that.

But... if you've seen one scheme, you've seen 'em all. As Salty wrote in his April 26 post about Herbalife:

Everything they do :: everything they say :: everyone they hire … it’s all about perpetuating a lie that facilitates some of the world’s richest people str8 stealing from some of the world’s poorest people.

Every distributor I’ve investigated :: every lead generation method :: every retention method … everything … fucking all of it … lies

Yep, that about says it all. A good rule for financial, emotional and perhaps even physical survival is this: If some smirking, overfed huckster approaches you blathering about a new opportunity to realize the American dream... solo di no.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Health Danger and Fact Rearranger Mike Adams spews again

Like most career fear-mongers and conspiracy tale peddlers, Mike Adams, aka the Health Ranger, head of the NaturalNews "independent journalism" scampire, seems to care far more about sensationalism than about accuracy. This is no big secret. I'm not breaking any new ground here. The skeptical blogs have been on his case for years, and RationalWiki has an entry about him, which redirects to their entry about NaturalNews.

But I've mentioned Adams a few times on this blog too.
I first wrote about him in June 2013, in response to a Natural News post about one of this blog's favorite topics, imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka Katie. In that post I cited Adams' disregard for accuracy, as reflected in a patently false statement about the $37.6 million FTC fine hanging over Trudeau's head. Mike Adams' big headline proclaimed:

Kevin Trudeau ordered to surrender his passports as feds try to force $37 million in GIN refunds

And to this day, nearly three years later, the headline remains intact.

GIN, as most of you probably know, is the Global Information Network, a major scam that was originally Trudeau's brainchild and personal piggy bank. It was officially launched in late 2009 and continues operation to this day, under"new" ownership (a group of Katie's longtime buddies).

But here's the thing (as the stunning, slow-motion-walking, marginally age-appropriate and vaguely predatory-looking women love to say on
the Viagra commercials that are currently airing in the US). Wait, I lost my train of thought. Oh, yeah. Here's the thing: that $37.6 million fine Adams blared in his headline has nothing to do with GIN refunds. Rather, it is in relation to a civil contempt case (which also became a criminal contempt case, and it's the criminal case that ultimately landed Katie in prison). The fine had to do with claims Trudeau made in an infomercial about his diet book. But the case itself had been ongoing since 2003, though Trudeau's history of wrongdoing dates back years before that. Even after Trudeau serves his ten-year sentence he will still owe that fine, probably with interest, unless he can negotiate to get it reduced or reversed.

But as I explained in my 2013 blog post, the fact that the fine had nothing to do with GIN refunds was of no import to Mike Adams, whose own post provided only the lamest of criticisms of Trudeau's possible wrongdoings. The main purpose of Adams' post wasn't to call out Trudeau's fraud, but rather to engage in one of Adams' favorite hobbies: wingnut political ranting against President Obama. Adams scoffed at the description by ABC News of Trudeau as a seller of dreams and false hopes, citing Obama as a much worse offender in that regard. Had he chosen to do so, Adams could have corrected the error on his post regarding the fine, and still left his political rants intact. But he didn't. And for the most part he seemed to be defending Trudeau rather than criticizing him, which is why I referred to Adams as a phony hero in the battle against Scamworld.

I recognize, though, that the misstatement about Trudeau's fine is just one small and relatively trivial goof in Adams' massive and seemingly quite profitable ouevre of misinformation, distortion and outright lies. And he's not just a deceiver; he's a deceiver who has, according to several reports, physically threatened those with whom he disagrees, as I mentioned in
this 2014 blog post (see under the subhead, "Who is oppressing whom?"). Adams' claims that he is constantly being persecuted, threatened and endangered seem hypocritical when you consider some of his attempts to intimidate and threaten others.

More recently, Mike Adams was front and center in the conspiracy speculation about actor Rober De Niro's decision not to show the anti-vaccination fraudumentary Vaxxed at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. Here's my blog post, in which I linked to one of Adams' rants about the matter. And now we get to the main point of my present post: Adams uses that rant to seriously defame someone with whom he appears to be obsessed these days: a popular physician blogger. With this series of defamatory posts Mike Adams and some of his staffers appear to have reached a new low.

Mike Adams defames Dr. David Gorski
Adams and Dr. Gorski (aka Orac, author of the Respectful Insolence blog)
have been at odds for years, but Adams' recent series of vicious attacks on Dr. Gorski almost seem like he's asking for a lawsuit. Here's another one of his screeds. In this one as in others, Adams falsely links Dr. Gorski with a fraudulent doctor, Farid Fata, whom Dr. Gorski does not know but has repeatedly described as "evil."

And indeed "evil" seems an understatement. Though ultimately prosecuted and put away for money laundering and fraud,
Dr. Fata's true evil lay in the fact that he administered chemo to patients for years, telling them they had cancer when they didn't, and then he billed Medicare. He also over-treated terminal cancer patients rather than let them die peacefully, and when he could profit from it he under-treated cancer patients who very likely could have otherwise benefited. Last year he was sentenced to 45 years in federal prison.

Equally as repulsive, Adams is also spreading unsubstantiated rumors -- lies, most likely -- about Dr. Gorski being very unpopular with his patients. The basis of this claim seems to be a collection of what appear to be fake reviews planted by some Gorski/Orac detractors who more than likely have never been his patients.

Clearly Adams is on the offensive to destroy Dr. Gorski's reputation. As has been the case with other scammers I've written about, Scientology Fair Game policies and practices come to my mind. And indeed, for several years rumors have been floating around that Mike Adams has been somehow involved with Scientology. He certainly seems sympathetic to them and some of their viewpoints. This doesn't mean that he is involved with Scientology now (he has said he is not a Scientologist) or that his own Fair-Game-ish strategies are dictated by that evil "Church." But he seems to be using some of the same strategies of lies and intimidation that CoS has been using for decades. And those are disgusting tactics, regardless of one's "religious" affiliation or lack thereof.

Here is one of David Gorski's posts outlining and deconstructing the series of lies that Mike Adams is perpetrating about him.

But Dr. Gorski's attempts to defend himself don't seem to be making a dent in the NaturalNews universe of deception. Turning the skeptics' own terms around on them, Adams labels evidence-based medicine and science "pseudoscience." (And in a particularly loathsome rhetorical strategy, he has co-opted the very real problem of Holocaust denial, nattering on about "vaccine Holocaust denial.")

Adams also labels Gorski as a charlatan and cancer quack, which, given
the sins of some of Adams' own alt-health colleagues and scammers, is a classic pot-and-kettle case. As I noted above, these days on Natural News he seems completely obsessed with Dr. Gorski. Immediately below is a screen shot of the home page of Natural News on April 24, 2016. Notice the list of links on the right hand side. The far right column ("Health News") semi-pretends to be a list of links from outside news sources, but they are all from, which is very much Mike Adams' site as well.

Trying to conquer the Internet, one comical alt-site at a time
But I guess all of this is to be expected from the guy who is so afraid of people finding out the truth about him and his colleagues that he started his own lame version of Wikipedia:
the very ill-named TruthWiki. (Here's the TruthWiki entry about David Gorski. And while we're at it, here's Gorski, as Orac, writing about TruthWiki in 2014.)

Adams is also the guy who decided to give Google a run for their money by launching the also ill-named
GoodGopher. GoodGopher very carefully filters out what they consider "disinformation" and government/Big Pharma propaganda, instead stacking their search results with alt-nutty and rightwing sites (which are euphemistically called "independent news media") such as NaturalNews (of course!) as well as Breitbart, The Blaze, Washington Times (owned and run by Moonies), Drudge Report, Western Journalism and more.

It's a pretty lousy search engine, but it's tailor-made for the no-evil monkeys who want to avoid any fact or opinion that might shake their carefully constructed world of alt-health advocacy, Scamworld delusions, conspiracy theories and right-wing spin.

And despite Google's well documented evils such as tracking and privacy invasion -- not to mention the whole thing about sponsored links -- Google does seem to be trying to preserve and improve the integrity of search. Moreover it's not as if Google censors Mike Adams or any of his other lunatic fraud buddies. If you Google "Mike Adams," the first couple of entries are his own sites. There are some inconvenient results mentioning his quackery, though, which of course you'll not find on GoodGopher.

Another example: If you Google "Leonard Coldwell," there's currently a big sponsored entry that pops up first, describing Coldwell as an "Author" -- and it's all fluff and no criticism. It even refers to him as a doctor. But again... darn those critical links, which seem to pop up in the top results no matter what Coldwell's SEO team does.
RationalWiki's piece always seems to be up there.

Speaking of which,
here's the RationalWiki entry on GoodGopher.

The conspiracy that isn't
Like so many in the "alternative media" sector, Mike Adams never met a conspiracy theory he didn't like, particularly if it involves Big Pharma and other aspects of modern medicine. Especially vaccinations. The vax-conspiracy fans have all sorts of stories about how vaccinations are a nefarious plot by the New World Order to control the population by making undesirables sterile or outright killing them... or that vaccinations are being used to implant RFID chips to track us... or they're being used to make us all gay... you get the drift.

Where Dr. Gorski is concerned Adams has gleefully fabricated several conspiracy tales, not just falsely linking Dr. G. with the loathsome Dr. Fata but also bringing Wikipedia and The Huffington Post into his twisted, tangled narrative.

In his latest series of screeds Adams has accused Gorski of creating, editing or somehow being involved in manipulating the edits of
a Wikipedia post about the documentary Vaxxed, which includes many critical comments about the film. Never mind that Gorski insists -- and the Wikipedia edit history indicates -- that Gorski had nothing to do with it. Adams continues to spread his lies, and his fans enthusiastically embrace his version of "reality."

Another tale that has the reality-impaired fringe of the Interwebz buzzing is the claim that Huffington Post pulled an article about Vaxxed that was written by a guy named Lance Simmens, who had been a contributor to HuffPo for eight years. Although that supposed "censorship" is actually a standalone story and has been treated as such by most of the sites that mentioned it, leave it to Mike Adams to conflate the story with his false accusations about Gorski, both in his headline and post on April 19.

Now, there are several reasons to be critical of Huffington Post, and I've criticized them in the past for posting fluff by scammers such as convicted killer James Arthur Ray and Scientologist Grant Cardone. Another reason to not be a fan is
their utter disregard for independent contributors. Dr. Gorski has also criticized HuffPo. And according to Wikipedia...
The Huffington Post has been criticized by several science bloggers and online news sources for including articles by supporters of alternative medicine and anti-vaccine activists and for allegedly censoring rebuttals written by science bloggers before publishing them.[64][65]
So I seriously doubt there was some conspiracy to quash favorable reviews of or comments about Vaxxed on The Huffington Post. I doubt even more seriously that Dr. Gorski was involved in "censoring" the article.

But Mike Adams knows his audience well. The comments on his various posts about this so-called "conspiracy" -- and indeed all of his posts about Dr. Gorski -- are truly comical, and none of his followers seems willing to believe that things could be other than the way Adams laid them out. A few defenders of Gorski (not me, but others), and even Gorski himself, have been allowed to comment but were dismissed by the minions. 

In truth there is no conspiracy here. But, to quote one of this blog's favorite mantras: The facts don't matter if the story is good. And Adams knows that his readers love them some good conspiracy whoppers, and he gives them what they want.

Loony wants in on the drama
Not surprisingly, the aforementioned fake doctor, cancer quack and fellow conspiracy nutcake
Leonard Coldwell is faithfully copying and pasting the defamatory blog posts about Dr. Gorski on his own "blog" on his main web site. There are no comments there so far, though I tried to post a comment yesterday on the April 18 offering, with a link to this blog post of Dr Gorski's

One of the posts that Coldwell copied and pasted from Natural News wasn't written by Mike Adams but rather by one of Adams' staffers, Julie Wilson. It was published on April 20. This part, where Ms. Wilson quotes Adams, seems particularly defamatory:

"If we genuinely care about the health and safety of cancer patients, we must reasonably ask how many patients have died under the care of Drs. Farid Fata or David Gorski? How many of those patients were African-American?" asked Mike Adams, author of Food Forensics,science lab director of CWLabs dot com and creator of Medicine dot news.

"Is there a disparity in patient outcomes between blacks and whites? We already know that Dr. Farid Fata committed systematic medical murder involving Karmanos in Detroit. That is now established fact. What we don't know is how many other people have died from dangerous medical interventions carried out by other colleagues such as Dr. David Gorski."

Bringing the race card into it in this way seems to be a new record even for Adams. And Adams' continued insistence on linking Dr. Gorski with Farid Fata does seem almost criminal.

And this April 23 post by Adams himself, describing Dr. Gorski as "a deranged, mentally ill cancer surgeon who is widely known as a pathological liar" is over-the-top wacko, sounding very much like the kind of stuff that Coldwell writes about his critics (e.g., me, Salty Droid, et al.). Except the spelling is better than Lenny's. In this post Adams even brings other alt-health scammers into play, quoting Ty Bollinger of "Truth About Cancer"infamy. But again, I have to wonder if Adams is just baiting Dr. G for a lawsuit.

By the way, to give you another view of just how objective and reliable Adams' TruthWiki is,
here's the entry on Leonard Coldwell. As you can easily see, it is taken straight from Coldwell's web propaganda.

At any rate my attempts to comment on Natural News, as well as my attempts to comment on Coldwell's blog, have been a failure so far. It is probably a losing battle. But as long as the skeptical blogs remain up on the Internet, and searchable via real search engines, there's at least a chance for people to see Adams and his ilk for what they are.
Here is the Skeptical Raptor with a concise summary of Mike Adams' lies about David Gorski.

Happy searching. I'll try to keep you posted about developments in this ongoing drama, but you can also keep apprised via Respectful Insolence and Dr. Gorski's posts on the Science Based Medicine blog. For his part Dr. Gorski seems to be taking it all in stride. As he wrote, "being lied about by Adams is a badge of honor."
PS added on April 25: On the Science-Based Medicine blog, Dr. Gorski wrote:
NOTE: Anyone who has seen several derogatory articles about me on the web and is curious about what the real story is, please read this, this, and this.
I'd already linked to the second item a couple of times on this blog, but I thought it worth repeating, especially since the conversation there is ongoing.

PPS added on May 5: When Googling this topic this morning I came across a blog post on from another physician, Dr. Peter Lipson, a practicing physician specializing in internal medicine. Clearly Dr. Lipson is a friend of Dr. Gorski's and no fan of Mike Adams, and for me it's easy to see why on both counts. From Dr. Lipson's post:
Just this week, Adams published a piece titled, ”Karmanos cancer surgeon Dr. David Gorski linked to ‘skeptics’ kingpin James Randi caught on tape soliciting bl*w job from young man – source.” The really scary thing here is that the headline is the least inflammatory part of the article.
Let’s put aside the fact that the headline seems to imply that Gorski was the one doing the soliciting. Further reading shows that he simply knows the man who Adams is accusing of sexual improprieties. That sort of cowardly, defamatory garbage is just the lede. The real attacks come in the body of the blog. Here’s the point-by-point breakdown of Adams’s lies, dishonest allegations and defamatory (at least in my lay opinion) accusations:
  • Non-existent FBI investigation:
Dr. David Gorski–already the subject of a Natural News investigation that has submitted numerous allegations to the Federal Bureau of Investigation…
If you read carefully and follow the links, you see that Dr. Gorski is not the subject of any investigation but the one in Mike Adams’s own head. Adams’s writes that he himself has pestered the FBI to look into Gorski for…”reasons”? Making it seem as if a well-respected surgeon is the subject of a federal investigation is a dangerous road to go down.
  • Alleged “racketeering”:
    Dr. David Gorski…is the mentally deranged leader of an online hate group calling themselves “skeptics.” An ongoing Natural News investigation has revealed that Gorski is just one of several co-conspirators who engage in online racketeering, identity deceptions and alleged cyber crimes to commit scientific fraud while destroying their targeted enemies in the holistic health realm.
    Much of this is simply deranged opinion, but to state as fact that someone is “mentally deranged” and “leader of an online hate group” is dangerously close to making harmful, knowingly false statements about someone. And to state as fact that someone is engaged in a racketeering scheme seems to go well beyond “opinion.”
  • Guilt by association:
    David Gorski’s colleague was just convicted of massive medical fraud and sentenced to 45 years in federal prison
    This is as far as I can read without actually vomiting. Here in the Detroit area, a cancer doctor named Farid Fata was sentenced to prison for crimes that, for doctors like David Gorski and me, are so horrific as to be nearly indescribable...
I quoted Dr. Lipson at length -- and I hope he doesn't mind -- because the NaturalNews article linked to in his post (and here is that link again) appears to be gone now. Instead the link directs to a classically and characteristically arrogant but relatively innocuous August 2014 piece called, Top ten scientific achievements of Natural News and the Health Ranger (so far).

But clearly the offensive article existed for a while, since enough still shows up on Google search results from today (May 5, 2016) to indicate that Dr. Lipson wasn't just pulling words out of thin air.

And equally clearly, Adams isn't finished with Dr. Gorski, for here is yet another
defamatory screed from today.

How long will Adams continue to get away with this before someone takes legal action? As I said above, he seems to be baiting Dr. Gorski. Maybe he thinks he can nab Gorski et al. through discovery if they take the bait and sue him, or maybe he's just looking forward to being Gollum and crying that he meant no harm, but the fat Hobbit is out to get him.

But meanwhile Adams is possibly causing real harm to Dr. Gorski by pulling every dirty SEO trick in the book, littering the Internet with defamatory content via dozens of dummy sites in order to vilify the good doctor. (Why doesn't Google penalize Adams for that? Or do they? I don't know enough about how this stuff works to be able to tell.)

Amusingly, the dummy-site strategy is much the same thing that the profoundly stupid and evil Not-Doctor Leonard Coldwell accused me of doing to "defame" him, though in that case he was falsely accusing me, as I can barely keep up with my one little blog and my Facebook profile, both of which have my real name and online contact information.

And so it goes. The question is: when will it stop?

Friday, April 15, 2016

En-blight-en Us: Death Ray stars in Tribeca schlockumentary

While we view James Ray’s new life, he teaches that death is tangential. “We are all in the process of dying.” In that sweat lodge, at the end of the “ceremony,” participants had to crawl over the bodies of Kirby Brown, James Shore, and Liz Neuman. This film invites us to do the same...

...When asked at the end of the film how and why Sedona happened, Ray declares, “Sedona had to happen. It was the only way I could experience and learn… A test of character. I think I did ok.” Unfortunately, the people who were injured and traumatized, and especially those who died, are not so “ok."

Once again, Mr. Ray gets it wrong. Sedona did not have to happen. But his actions and inactions made these deaths inevitable. That Ray so easily walks over these deaths as a mere footnote in his “savior” story is evidence of his failure to understand his crime.

~ Virginia Brown
Mother of Kirby Brown, one of three people killed by James Arthur Ray's recklessness in October 2009
Founder of
SEEK Safely, Inc.

Tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival, a documentary called Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray, will premiere, and if I'm reading my pal Salty Droid's latest offering correctly, he will be attending in person and may even try to chat with the star of the show, Death Ray himself.

Salty screen-capped the last frame of the film, which bears the caption, "Nine months later, James was the keynote speaker at a personal development convention." Says Salty:

… victory :: it’s a happy ending for DeathRay. The comeback he desperately desires … but definitely doesn’t deserve.
What kind of “personal development conference” would have a triple homicide felon like James Ray as their keynote speaker? The kind that has nothing to do with “personal development” … and previously had NotDoctor Leonard Coldwell on retainer as its full time keynote speaker.
Yep, that would be the November 2015 Global Information Network (GIN) Family Ruin Reunion, as mentioned on this Whirled a while back. GIN of course is the scammy brainchild of now-imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau.

Under the Twitter handle James Ray's Shame (@RayShouldPay), Salty said he'll be live-blogging the "propaganda movie premiere" and will tell us more next week.

Meanwhile, take a look at this message from Ginny Brown, Kirby Brown's mom and founder of the nonprofit SEEK Safely, Inc. I'm appalled that SEEK was not invited to comment during the making of the film.

More soon.

PS added on April 16 ~ Early report from Jason is that he wanted to hate the film... but didn't. I'll link to his report as soon as it's up. 
PPS April 19 ~ The preliminary Salty Droid write-up on Enlighten Us is here, with a more extended review to come. For now...

Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray :: was made by CNNfilms … even though CNN itself played a role in both the rise and fall of James Arthur Ray.
The film conspicuously refused to include voices of dissent. James Ray :: and parties associated with James Ray … are allowed to make all their worst points. But the victim’s families :: and the wider context … are silenced.

And here's
the write-up in The Verge, also linked to in the April 18 Salty post. Though the writer, Matt Stroud, quoted Jason and included a couple of Salty links, I still think he gave short shrift to Jason's long-time coverage of this story.

As for the film itself, I haven't seen it and it's possible that it has some merit, if only for the fact that it showcases Ray's sociopathy (as evidenced by his lack of contriteness about the deaths). And Stroud also stresses, in his write-up, that Ray doesn't seem contrite at all. The fact remains that Kirby Brown's family have said -- through publicly issued statements as well as telling it to Matt Stroud -- that they wanted to participate in the film. Kirby's sister Jean told me that they were brushed off and placated by the film makers, effectively barred from attending the premiere, and even lied to about Ray's attendance at the premiere.

Stroud says that director Jenny Carchman explains the elimination of the victims' families from the film as "a purely narrative decision." To me that seems like a deeply flawed narrative, and Stroud would seem to agree. Apparently, though, Ray himself didn't have many problems with the narrative, at least not so much that he couldn't bring himself to pose at Tribeca with Ms. Carchman.

I'm still looking forward to reading the Salty Droid's take on it. And eventually when the film becomes available for home viewing, I'm going to watch it too.

April 29 ~ Enough with the postscripts. Here's an update.
While Salty Droid hasn't yet followed up with his full write-up of Enlighten Us (though he has been busily blogging, so don't neglect to pay him a visit), other bloggers have been on the job: most notably, the admirable LaVaughn at Celestial Reflections, who so doggedly covered Ray's trial a few years ago, and the equally admirable Yakaru at Spirituality is No Excuse, my fluent-in-German buddy who has been so helpful in my coverage of a certain Teutonic twerp.

Here's LaVaughn's post, which includes an embedded video of the snippet from Enlighten Us, in which Death Ray demonstrates some of his not-so-subliminal manipulation strategies. LaVaughn writes:

A magician never reveals his secrets... unless he's a down on his luck, ex-con, trying to mount a comeback, and you stick a camera in his face.

Sometimes I miss New York. This is one of those times, because this week's debut of
Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray at the
Tribeca Film Festival is an event I'm actually sorry to miss, if only for stunning reveals like the above. You want to see how I played my followers like fiddles? Watch my hands, as I subliminally conduct your thoughts and feelings. See? ACTING!!!

Indeed. Like many others, LaVaughn isn't exactly shocked at "the total lack of journalistic scrutiny" of Ray in the film, since, after all, it was produced by CNN Films. And CNN has, as LaVaughn points out, a history of enabling Ray, dating from the heyday of The Secret. Post-Secret, apart from CNN's negligent coverage of the criminal trial, there was that pandering interview with Piers Morgan shortly after Ray was released following his much-too-short prison sentence. So it isn't all that surprising that the families of the people Ray killed, most notably Ginny Brown, had no part in the film. As LaVaughn says:

I suspect that, much as he did with [the Piers Morgan] interview, Ray made his appearance in this documentary contingent upon Ginny Brown and his other critics being excluded. So, once again, the person who throws the biggest temper tantrum wins. I'll know better when I see it, but I suspect gaining that much free rein to run his suck on film is a mixed blessing for Ray, because he seems to have lost any ability to not reveal himself.
Yakaru participated in the comments section to LaVaughn's post, which is how I discovered his very thorough three-parter, posted on April 23-24. Though he addressed Enlighten Us, much of his content was devoted to a nearly line-by-line deconstruction of a pretty awful Daily Beast piece by one Lizzie Crocker.

Part 1 covers some of the major blunders in Ms. Crocker's fluff piece, calling her out for lazy journalism.

Part 2 mostly covers Ray's lies -- including some apparently new lies -- about the tragic death of Colleen Conaway at a San Diego Death Ray event in July 2009 (a few months before the Sedona heat tent deaths). Lizzie Crocker didn't bother to talk to Colleen's family.

Part 3 continues and concludes the deconstruction of Ms. Crocker's grossly negligent article, which Yakaru describes as "stenography." At this point in Ms. Crocker's article it seems that Ray is blaming a doctor (who in fact was one of the paying participants in the heat tent) for the deaths of Kirby Brown, James Shore and Liz Neuman.

By this point in his own narrative it is clear that Yakaru is beyond exasperated:

I really don’t expect journalists to understand complicated details of difficult court cases. But I do expect them to exercise caution when interviewing convicted criminals about the crimes they committed. This is especially important in Ray’s case, as it was the media who gave him a platform for softball, self promotional interviews. Four deaths later, and they are still queuing up for round five. Three homicide convictions hasn’t convinced any of them that maybe they should be a little more careful before jumping into bed with him.
And as he wrote in Part 2:
Anyone who was wondering how Ray got so much authority and could fool so many smart and decent people and lead them to their deaths, well this is exactly how it happens — built up by credulous, lazy, self interested journalists who lack even the simplest concept of ethics, don’t know how to fact-check, can’t tell when they are being lied to and don’t care to correct it when it is pointed out to them.

Anyway. Well done, LaVaughn and Yakaru.