June 12, 2003
Wild, Wild West Edition
Due to the volume of responses that I received to the last newsletter, I had planned to devote this edition to reviewing and responding to many of your comments. But since those comments are still arriving, I decided to hold off on the follow-up until next week.
That decision left me in something of a dilemma, since I didn't have another topic waiting in the wings. There was, in other words, the distinct possibility that this newsletter would lack focus -- and we all know how much I hate it when that happens. Luckily then, I stumbled upon this reprint of a recent New York Times article: http://www.iht.com/articles/98633.html
The article concerns the legendary Wild West lawman Pat Garrett, who gunned down the legendary Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid -- except that it seems as though that story may not actually be true. According to the Times article, "modern science is about to touch Garrett's fame in a way that some say could expose him as a liar who covered up a murder to save his reputation."
The scenario being investigated is that Garrett killed the wrong man and then covered that fact up to save his own skin. A more likely scenario though is that Garrett actively conspired with the Kid to fake his death, after assisting him in making an escape. The Times piece acknowledges that one enduring story "holds that Garrett and the Kid may have been in cahoots for some reason and that Garrett had stashed a gun in the outhouse at the jail that the Kid used to kill the deputies and escape." Just weeks after that escape was when Garrett supposedly killed the Kid.
But according to sources cited in the Times article, and elsewhere, the Kid may have lived to the ripe old age of 90, after taking the name "Brushy" Bill Roberts. Roberts died in 1950, shortly after his photo appeared in the January 21, 1950 edition of the San Antonio Express:
Roberts is the gentleman standing in the center of the photo. To his right, seated, is Colonel James R. Davis, who claimed to be a former U.S. Marshal for the Cherokee Indian Nation. Davis was 109 when this photo was taken. To Roberts' left, lying in bed, is 102-year-old J. Frank Dalton. Dalton claimed to have been an even more notorious Wild West outlaw than Billy the Kid: Jesse James.
And that brings us to our topic for this outing: the strange and twisted tale of the man known as Jesse James. I actually started to write on this topic last year, but soon got distracted by some sort of Team Bush shenanigans. So let me now dust off that discarded missive and present it here for your reading pleasure.
But wait a minute, you're thinking, what does Jesse James have to do with gaining an understanding of twenty-first century U.S. politics? What does America's most famous outlaw have to do with contemporary 'conspiracy theory'? Where is the relevance? What, as my mother used to say, does Jesse James have to do with the price of tea in China?
I'm not really sure why mom used to say that, just as I am not sure why any statement by me or my siblings that began with the words "I want ... " would get the response: "That's too bad; people in Hell want ice water." Apparently during the 1960s and 1970s there was some sort of logistical problem with getting adequate supplies of ice water to Hell, but I never really understood why that meant that I couldn't have a BB gun.
But none of that really has anything to do with this story.
The question here is: what is to be gained from examining the life of Jesse James? If this was to be a standard recitation of the life of the Wild West's most notorious figure, then the answer would be: not much. But this isn't the account of Jesse's life that has passed into popular mythology; this is the account of Jesse's life that was told by his grandson.
If this account is accurate, and much of it does have a ring of truth to it, then it illustrates once again the extent to which the official history of this country is nothing but a tangled web of lies. But how much of this story is true? That, alas, is difficult to determine. When the lies run so deep, when they have been repeated so frequently as to become a faux reality - a collective hallucination - then it is a daunting task finding anything close to the truth. But whether true or not, it is a story that is too good to not pass along.
This story was published nearly three decades ago, by Jesse James III and a writer by the name of Del Schrader, under the title Jesse James Was One of His Names (the title refers to the claim that James operated under some six dozen assumed identities). The book is all but impossible to find today.
Before we get to the alternative history, let's first review the facts of Jesse's life that are generally agreed upon. Jesse James was the second son born to a Baptist minister named Robert James and his wife, born Zerelda Cole Mimms. The couple's first-born son was Alexander Franklin James, better known as Frank. Frank entered this world on January 10, 1843, and Jesse followed on September 5, 1847.
Robert James died when the boys and a younger sister were still very young. In 1855, Zerelda married again, to a wealthy doctor, landowner, and slave owner named Rueben Samuels. Six years later, the South seceded from the Union, forming the Confederate States of America, and the bloody American Civil War began.
At the onset of war, Frank James joined an elite Confederate military unit known as Quantrill's Raiders, and brother Jesse, who wasn't yet 18 when the Civil War ended, soon followed suit. The 200-man force, led by homicidal schoolteacher William Quantrill, included an elite sub-group led by the possibly even more homicidal William "Bloody Bill" Anderson.
Anderson once reportedly lined up a group of captured Union soldiers and personally executed all twenty-six of them. Included in his elite unit were such luminaries as Thomas Coleman "Cole" Younger and, of course, the James brothers. These men, and the rest of the Raiders, made a name for themselves during the war by repeatedly perpetrating massacres of both soldiers and civilians. The Raiders' most notorious act was the August 21, 1863 burning and pillaging of Lawrence, Kansas that left more than 150 unarmed civilians dead.
After the war, the James brothers and various others embarked upon a life of crime in the Wild West, robbing banks and trains and stagecoaches and doing all the other sorts of things that the Wild West outlaws were supposed to have done, just like they do in the books that we have all read and in the movies and television shows that we have all seen.
In April 1874, Jesse's uncle, Methodist minister William James, officiated at the wedding of Jesse to his cousin, Zerelda Amanda Mimms -- not to be confused, of course, with his mother, Zerelda Cole Mimms. Frank took as his bride a young schoolteacher named Anna Ralston.
Meanwhile, local authorities and the notorious Pinkerton organization - forerunner of the modern FBI - relentlessly pursued the James Gang in a cat-and-mouse game that now captures the imaginations of millions of Americans who are prone to view the James brothers as romantic anti-heroes.
In an example of law enforcement excess from the days of yore, the Pinkertons once reportedly tossed a bomb into the Samuels' family home. Frank and Jesse weren't there, but the blast reportedly killed their disabled half-brother and blew off one of their mother's arms.
Missouri Governor Thomas Crittenden ultimately put a $10,000 price tag on the James brothers' heads -- an unprecedented reward in those days. Jesse was allegedly shot in the back by the Ford brothers, Charles and Robert, on April 3, 1882. He was buried on the Samuels' farm. Frank reportedly attended the services, alongside a veritable army of law enforcement officers, even though he was wanted "dead or alive" at the time.
Frank later surrendered to authorities and was brought to trial for his crimes; he was twice acquitted of all charges brought against him. Frank James remained a free man until his death in 1915. Charlie Ford, meanwhile, caught a bullet to the head, while brother Bob met up with a fatal shotgun blast.
All of that, alas, can be found in official retellings of the legend of the larger-than-life Wild West outlaw known as Jesse James. But that isn't quite the whole story, at least not according to Jesse James III and a number of witnesses cited in the James/Schrader book.
Jesse, you see, was a member of an occult-based 'secret society,' The Knights of the Golden Circle, that formed the core of the massive intelligence apparatus assembled by the Confederacy. Other key members of the order were President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, Albert Pike (a notorious occultist who has been credited with playing a key role in the creation of the Ku Klux Klan), and Captain William Clarke Quantrill, whose Raiders were essentially an early version of an elite, 'Special Forces' unit.
The South did in fact have an extensive intelligence infrastructure. And Albert Pike was a key figure in that intelligence network. The only real news here is the claim that Jesse James was a key figure within that intelligence community as well. And, of course, the business about The Knights of the Golden Circle.
Schrader claims, quite credibly, that the Confederate intelligence network did not simply disappear with the official end of the war; it remained largely intact and continued to fight the war from 'underground' for another two decades. And it continued to be under the control of the Knights of the Golden Circle. Jesse James remained a key figure.
The James Gang's train and bank robberies, it is claimed, were fundraising operations to finance the activities of the Knights of the Golden Circle, as well as to wreak general havoc with the plans of the Northern reconstructionists. James is also said to have been involved in supplying weapons and training to the Plains Indians, as a means of waging proxy war against the Union Army.
In 1861, at the onset of the Civil War, populist Benito Juarez had been legally elected president of Mexico. While his imperialist northern neighbor was preoccupied with waging a brutal war of self-destruction, Juarez set about instituting a number of reforms that proved to be popular with the Mexican people, but not so popular with the Western powers. In 1864, French forces dispatched by Napoleon III deposed Juarez and installed Maximilian as Emperor of Mexico. Maximilian, the brother of Austriaís Emperor, Francis Joseph, had previously been the Archduke of Austria.
After the Civil War ended, Maximilianís unstable puppet regime continued to be threatened by forces loyal to Juarez. According to the Schrader book, a force composed of 2,000 Missouri cavalrymen and a regiment of Confederate-led Red Bone Indians was dispatched to Mexico in support of Maximilian. When this force ran into stiff resistance, an elite force was sent to the rescue; that force was led by Captain William Quantrill and Colonel Jesse James.
History books say that Maximilian was executed by firing squad on June 19, 1867, after being captured by Juarez loyalists. Schrader and James claim that he was rescued by the James/Quantrill team and transported back to the States, where he lived out his life under the name John Maxi. The James' team also allegedly transported a vast amount of plundered wealth back to the States, for which they were richly rewarded by Maximilian.
James is said to have been one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in America, even before being rewarded by Maximilian. He is said to have invested heavily in the Texas oil boom, and to have provided financial backing for the Hughes Tool Company, founded by Howard Hughes, Sr., and the Ford Motor Company, founded by Henry Ford.
The most fascinating part of the Jesse James story, as presented by James III and Schrader, concerns another rather notorious figure in American history whose death has been called into question by numerous researchers: John Wilkes Booth.
An inconvenient and therefore unmentionable fact is that Booth was not acting as a lone assailant when he shot President Lincoln; he was acting as part of a larger conspiracy, as was openly acknowledged at the time. No fewer than six additional conspirators were brought to trial; four received death sentences and two were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Booth, of course, never stood trial. He was allegedly killed by agents who were attempting to capture him. Schrader and James, and numerous others, say that Booth's death was faked to allow him to escape prosecution and punishment. They also say that Booth, like James, was an agent of the Confederate intelligence services.
Booth is said to have functioned as a courier -- and his career, it must be said, would have provided the ideal cover for such activities. It will be recalled that Booth was one of the most popular actors of his day. As such, he traveled extensively with various productions, and therefore had the unusual ability to move rather freely between North and South.
The story goes that after killing Lincoln, Booth was given safe passage to Texas by the Confederate underground. Once there, he took the name John St. Helen and worked as a bartender. A problem arose, however, when Booth developed a drinking problem, and with it a tendency to shoot off his mouth about the life he used to lead.
Booth, in other words, became a liability that had to be dealt with. Sent to deal with the problem was none other than Jesse James, accompanied by William "Wild Bill" Lincoln, a distant cousin of the slain former president. The pair tracked Booth to Enid, Oklahoma, where he was poisoned.
Now I will be the first to admit that the claim that famed Wild West outlaw Jesse James was sent as an assassin to 'neutralize' notorious presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth seems a little, shall we say, iffy. Strangely enough though, the authors back that incredible claim up with a sworn statement by William Lincoln:Our branch of the Lincoln family was never satisfied with what really happened to Booth, and I spent fourteen years of my life running down the true story. Strangely enough, I learned it from Jesse W. James, head of the Confederate underground. I was present at Booth's real death.So there you have it -- the Jesse James story from a slightly different perspective than it is normally told. I leave it to each of you to decide for yourselves whether to file this one in the 'truth is stranger than fiction' file, or in the circular file. Meanwhile, I've got to move on to other things -- like the 1997 North Hollywood bank shootout, the modern version of the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
I have been reminded on several recent occasions of that notorious incident, first by a reader who had recently viewed the new television 'docudrama' allegedly depicting the event, then when I forced myself to view one of the endless repeats of the film on the FX channel, and then again when I happened upon this fascinating article buried deep within a recent edition of the L.A. Times:One of the rifles confiscated from Buford O. Furrow Jr. on the day he killed a postal worker and wounded five people at a Los Angeles Jewish community center was sold at the same Tacoma, Wash, gun store linked to the rifle used by the Washington, D.C. snipers ... In 1997, the Tacoma retailer, Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, sold Furrow one of two .308 caliber Imbel rifles found in his van ... Authorities have also traced the Bushmaster .223-caliber semiautomatic assault rifle allegedly used by John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo ... to the same Tacoma gun store. After the manufacturer shipped the gun there, there are no records reflecting how it left the store, according to court records ... Authorities have traced guns involved in 52 crimes to Bull's Eye from 1997 to 2001 ... At least 238 guns - including the one allegedly used by the snipers - have "disappeared" from the store in the last three years ...Small world, isn't it? What are the odds that two high-profile, hopelessly contrived, stage-managed crimes, committed on opposite coasts, would have both been made possible by guns obtained from the very same gun shop located hundreds of miles from where either crime occurred? And what are we to make of the fact that that gun shop, as reported in a previous newsletter, is owned and operated by a former instructor at a U.S. Army sniper training center?
Here's another entry for the "it's a small world" collection: one of the rifles used in the North Hollywood shootout was the very same type of Bushmaster rifle that received so much media attention in the DC sniper case -- except that the North Hollywood version had been converted from semi-automatic to full-automatic function.
The recent television 'docudrama,' "44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shootout," is, if I'm not mistaken, a Fox production ... and, true to form, it is a singularly bizarre and offensive piece of work. But despite being overstuffed with disinformation and deliberate omissions, the unabashedly pro-police production did refresh my memory on some of the telling details of what happened that day.
As the title of the film hints, the producers had no interest in providing any sort of context for the events that are depicted. No background on the gunmen is provided. In fact, they are never even identified, either in the film itself or in the closing credits, and their faces are covered by stocking caps throughout much of the film. They are presented as nameless and faceless representations of pure evil.
Virtually no one is identified by name in the film. The credits list such characters as "One of the Cops," "Another Cop," "News Anchor," "Uniform," and, my personal favorite, "Stud Guy." The focus is almost entirely on the shootout itself, with anonymous gunmen exchanging fire with anonymous police officers while anonymous bank employees and patrons huddle in fear and anonymous reporters provide breathless coverage of the unfolding events.
One thing that the filmmakers depict fairly accurately is the preposterously unlikely police response. Beginning the moment the robbers entered the bank, the police mobilized a massive force to surround the building. Literally within minutes (as the film title indicates, the entire incident lasted just 44 minutes from beginning to end), the LAPD had a fully staffed mobile command center up and running in a local furniture store. At the time that all of this manpower was being mobilized and coordinated, there was no indication that anything more significant than a routine bank robbery was in progress. And in L.A., that is hardly an earth-shattering event.
The last time I checked, Los Angeles was the bank robbery capital of the world. A CNN report concerning the North Hollywood incident revealed that in the prior year there had been "a total of 1,126 bank robberies in the Los Angeles area." Statistically speaking then, the North Hollywood robbery was but one of three that would occur in the county on that day alone. (http://www.cnn.com/US/9702/28/bank.shootout/)
Someone though apparently knew that this wasn't to be a typical L.A. bank robbery. Some 350 officers were ultimately dispatched to the scene, including a number of paramilitary SWAT teams. Also on hand were scores of police vehicles, fire engines, ambulances, and a 'military surplus' armored personnel carrier.
The gunmen also apparently knew that this wasn't to be a typical day in L.A. They came prepared not to rob a bank, but to wage war on the city. They were completely covered in heavy body armor, which severely hampered their movements and rendered them incapable of doing much more than standing as stationary targets throughout most of the gun battle.
In one of the most surreal spectacles ever televised, the gunmen stood fully exposed and seemingly oblivious to the hail of incoming police fire while calmly spraying the streets of North Hollywood with automatic weapons fire. One eyewitness reported that one of the gunmen looked like he was "in a trance. He was walking like there was nothing going on ... It was like he didn't have a care in the world." (http://www.amarillonet.com/stories/stories/030197/robbers.html)
The suspects' vehicle held a seemingly endless supply of automatic weapons and ammunition, far more than would be required to pull off a bank robbery. After the battle was over, the gunmen's vehicle still contained some 2,000 rounds of live ammo, in addition to the numerous full ammunition clips found on the bodies of the downed gunmen.
On the scene from the very beginning, long before the robbers exited the bank with guns blazing, was a Fox News helicopter providing a live feed to the nation. The Fox helicopter was soon joined by other news choppers. Amazingly enough, with seemingly half the LAPD force mobilized at the North Hollywood Bank of America branch, the department's helicopters were nowhere to be seen, and the news choppers were given free reign over the skies.
Anyone who lives anywhere in the vicinity of the crime scene knows that this is a most remarkable fact. I happen to have spent the last few years living in the vicinity of North Hollywood - or NoHo as we hipsters like to call it - and I can tell you with absolute certainty that the LAPD is not shy about deploying air power in this area.
Rarely does a night go by that an LAPD helicopter does not make a pass or two over my house. Occasionally they will, for no apparent reason, thoughtfully light up my backyard in the middle of the night. And that is not because they are 'out to get me.' It is because I happen to live in North Hollywood. All of my neighbors get the same treatment.
The truth is that the LAPD will call in air support to write a jaywalking ticket. They are obsessed with weapons and tactics and with the 'Powell doctrine' of overwhelming force -- and they have been for a very long time. It is inconceivable, therefore, that the airspace over North Hollywood was not quickly secured and filled with LAPD helicopters the day of the shootout.
Another of the more bizarre aspects of the incident was that, as one character in the film noted, hundreds of rounds of ammunition (1,100-1,200 by official police estimates) were fired and yet only the two bad guys died ... which, come to think of it, reminds me that there were actually at least three bad guys, as was widely reported on several local live telecasts from 'ground zero.'
Initial print reports of the shootout also made mention of additional suspects. ENN news service, for example, reported that in addition to the two robbers killed, "three suspects are reportedly in custody; some may be wounded. A tense search continues in nearby neighborhoods for additional suspects." That search continued for more than twelve hours after the two identified suspects had been killed.
CNN reported that police "made several arrests in connection with the shooting, but the two dead gunmen are the only two suspects known to be involved in the robbery attempt, [Police Chief] Williams said. The L.A. police chief, however, could not confirm that all of the suspects had been captured or accounted for." Williams never explained what the other unidentified suspects were being held for, if not for involvement in the robbery.
CNN also quoted Police Commander Tim McBride as saying: "We have many suspects who have multiple guns, and they continue to out-gun us and fire at us at will." Elsewhere in the CNN article, the gunmen are referred to as a "band" of bank robbers. Maybe it's just me, but I don't normally think of two guys as being a "band."
The film makes several oblique mentions of "multiple perpetrators" without ever specifically saying how many gunmen there were, although the filmmakers clearly want us to believe that there were only two, both of whom died that day. Unmentioned is that a lawsuit later filed on behalf of the children of one of the suspects claimed - based on, among other things, interviews with eyewitnesses, including employees and patrons of the bank who came face-to-face with the gunmen - that there were no fewer than six gunmen involved.
How the two acknowledged gunmen were killed is deliberately obscured in the film as well. One of them, whose name was Emil Matasareanu, was tried, convicted, sentenced and executed on the streets of North Hollywood by the LAPD.
Protected by body armor, the suspect sustained wounds only to his extremities, primarily to his legs. None of his wounds was life threatening. In fact, he was pictured on the frontpage of the Los Angeles Times, very much alive and alert, though obviously in pain, after being handcuffed by police. It took him somewhere around 30 minutes to bleed out on the streets of NoHo, if I remember correctly, while dozens of L.A.'s finest stood idly by. Emergency medical personnel were prevented from treating him. None of that is depicted in the film.
The death of the other gunman, Larry Eugene Phillips, Jr., is portrayed quite ambiguously. He is shown raising a handgun to his own head, while an LAPD detective simultaneously draws a bead on him from a position in front of the suspect. There were claims at the time of the incident that the suspect committed suicide, and that has apparently become a part of the official mythology. It is the overriding impression that the film creates -- in spite of the fact that live video feeds clearly and unequivocally showed that the suspect took a sniper's bullet to the back of the head as he was walking down the street.
Again, early media reports accurately reported that fact. A CNN reporter, for instance, wrote that "cameras were rolling as police shot one suspect in the head." Similarly, an ENN reporter wrote: "Suddenly out of nowhere, the suspect was shot in the head and killed."
(http://www.cnn.com/US/9702/28/bank.shootout/ and http://www.emergency.com/lapdbank.htm)
It was, needless to say, rather odd that the LAPD failed to take credit for the justifiable killing of one of the suspects and chose instead to put out the blatantly fraudulent suicide story. You would think that police officials would be more then eager to take credit for doing their job, but you would, in this case, be mistaken.
Instead, the LAPD chose quite deliberately to portray themselves as hopelessly outgunned and almost completely helpless to stop the mayhem. Admitting that Phillips was taken out with a sniper's bullet to the head would have revealed that the police were not in fact helpless that day and could have stopped the rampage much sooner than they did. There are clear parallels here, by the way, with the downing of Flight 93 on September 11, 2001.
A former LAPD SWAT team member, now a weapons instructor, wrote a report on the lessons to be learned from the incident. That report indicated that SWAT units were well equipped to deal with the situation: "The LAPD SWAT officers were also able to select appropriate weapons because they have the choice in their car of MP5s, M26s, Shotguns, H&K .223 caliber assault rifles and AR 15s."
The last ten minutes of the film is devoted to an utterly shameless salute to the allegedly heroic officers of the LAPD. It is difficult to sit through, but it is there, in those final minutes of the movie, that we begin to sift out the truth of what happened that day. An actor portraying a fictional and quite heroic LAPD detective speaks the following words to an off-camera interviewer:It's kind of weird the way it happened. The morale in the LAPD was at an all-time low. The public was all over us. And then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, this happened. After that, even the media were calling us heroes.True enough, although the media hadn't exactly been on the attack prior to that, but rather had been actively engaged in covering up the massive corruption and criminality of the LAPD. That task was much easier to accomplish in the aftermath of the North Hollywood shootout.
Fully militarizing the LAPD was a much easier goal to attain as well. At the very end of the film, the following words appear on screen: "As a result of the North Hollywood shoot-out, LAPD officers now have access to M-16 machine guns when on patrol in the field."
That's certainly good news. I for one feel much better knowing that LAPD officers, while on routine patrol, have access to fully automatic weapons. Nothing is quite so reassuring as knowing that the next officer to pull me over for a traffic infraction could have an M-16 trained on my head as he approaches my vehicle.
The LAPD obtained 600 'surplus' M-16s for its officers. That is how the Pentagon described the guns that it gave to the department. I've never figured out though why it is that brand new, fully operational M-16s, or any other type of weaponry routinely used by U.S. servicemen, would be considered 'surplus.'
What are we, in the final analysis, to make of the North Hollywood shootout? The entire incident had a distinctively staged, surreal, made-for-television flavor. As one witness noted, it was "just like a movie." (http://www.emergency.com/lapdbank.htm) In fact, as one report mentioned, it was just like one particular movie:The shooting recalled the bloody 1995 movie "Heat," starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, in which a band of meticulously organized but high-strung bandits hold up a downtown Los Angeles bank. The movie robbers burst into the bank in black clothes and full-body armor, then most are killed in a wild running gun battle through downtown traffic. (http://www.amarillonet.com/stories/stories/030197/robbers.html)Perhaps it was appropriate then that "the shootout occurred," as CNN noted, "not far from the Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. studios."
And now, before signing off, I must take time here to thank all of you who wrote in response to Newsletter #37, including Brendon, Jim, Mick, David, Mark, Henry, Brock, Vicki, Jean, Sandra, Peter, Tracey, Margie, Edward, Arlene, Sherry, Meria, Al, Larry, and a few anonymous others. My sincerest thanks to all of you.
Special thanks to Reuven, whose words rang so true; and to Bill, a local 'soapbox orator' extraordinaire; and to John and Reggie, who sent in links to two sites that I haven't had time yet to check out (communistvoice.org and tvnewslies.org); and to David, for generously offering his assistance; and to Bruce, for informing me that, during my absence, The Smirk redesignated the international workers' holiday of May Day as "Loyalty Day."
I had seen that story circulate previously (as Bruce pointed out, Bush first signed such a bill last year, and then did so again this year), but had thought that it was a satirical piece, courtesy of some muckraking website like The Onion. I had forgotten, briefly, that this administration is so over-the-top that the dividing line between parody and reality has all but disappeared.
As a final note, to the reader who inquired, the answer to your question is, no, I did not travel to Tahiti on behalf of the CIA. I should have mentioned in the last newsletter, by the way, that the islands of French Polynesia are some of the most preternaturally beautiful islands in the world. And I must confess here that I have a weakness for lush tropical islands. So if the CIA is interested in funding an extended visit to Tahiti, all expenses paid, I wouldn't necessarily be opposed. Hawaii would be good also. Or maybe Fiji. I haven't been there yet.
And that, I suppose, will suffice for this week ... oh, wait a minute ... I almost forgot to mention one last thing: you know that story about how the famous inventor and statesman Benjamin Franklin flew that kite in the thunderstorm? Well ... it turns out that old Ben just sort of invented that story (http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/06/01/1054406077856.html). And now the Russians are saying that we may not have actually landed on the moon (http://english.pravda.ru/printed.html?news_id=9994). And the Finns are saying that Al Qaeda doesn't really exist (http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/uriks/article.jhtml?articleID=396241). Next thing you know, someone is going to be saying that Iraq didn't really have any weapons of mass destruction, or that the Jessica Lynch rescue story is an "amerikansk fiksjon." It's getting to where I just don't know what to believe anymore.