Yesterday the Associated Press (AP) reported ridiculous conspiracy theories about the Waco Davidians as if they were credible.waco_burning.jpg

In an article published by the wire service titled “Agents visit Davidian site 15 years after botched raid” an AP reporter wrote, “The government claims the Davidians committed suicide by setting the fire and shooting themselves. But survivors say the blaze was started by tear gas rounds fired into the compound by government tanks, and that agents shot them ” even those fleeing the burning building.”

This AP report reflects more than just bias by totally ignoring the facts as repeatedly established through numerous investigations and years of litigation surrounding the Waco Davidian Standoff.

Not even noted by AP are the two congressional investigations that found such survivors claims to be totally false.

Republicans, not particularly friendly with President Clinton or his Attorney General Janet Reno, concluded within their report that such conspiracy theories about Waco were completely false. Here are some excerpts:

  • The Davidians started the fire.

“The evidence presented to the Subcommittees conclusively demonstrated that three distinct fires began in three separate parts of the Branch Davidian residence within a two minute period on April 19. In light of these facts, the Subcommittees conclude that the fires were intentionally set by Branch Davidian members in order to destroy the structure. Supporting this conclusion is that fact that the fire review team found that a number of accelerants were present in the structure, including gasoline, kerosene, Coleman fuel, and other accelerants.
Given that these accelerants were used to contribute to the spread of the fire, the Subcommittees conclude that the Davidians used them as part of a plan to destroy their residence.”

  • The use of “tear gas” (methylene chloride) specifically did not cause the fire.

“One of the theories forwarded to the Subcommittees comcerning the origin of the fire is that methylene chloride, a chemical used as a dispersant to carry the CS riot control agent injected into the Branch Davidian residence, may have ignited and started the fire. During the hearings Dr. Quintiere testified that it was his opinion that the methylene chloride in the CS agent neither caused nor contributed to the spread of the fire.

In light of this testimony, and the other information reviewed by the Subcommittees concerning the flammability of methylene chloride, the Subcommittees conclude that the presence of methylene chloride in the Branch Davidian residence did not cause the fire nor contribute to its spread.”

  • The Davidans could have left the compound freely, but chose to stay and die instead.

“Throughout the morning of April 19, none of the Davidians left their residence. After the fire broke out, however, nine persons left the building. This indicates that at least some opportunity existed for the Davidians to safely leave the structure had they wanted to do so. One of those who escaped the fire left the residence almost 21 minutes after the breakout of the first fire. Clearly, some means of escape from the residence existed for a significant period of time after the fire broke out.

An important question, however, is whether the Davidians might have been overcome by smoke and prevented from leaving the residence. The autopsies of the Davidians indicate that deaths from smoke inhalation or asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning accounted for only half of the Davidians who died in the residence. The other causes of death were gunshot wounds, burns, or other trauma. Thus, even after the fires began to consume the structure, at least half of the Davidians were not so affected by the smoke and fumes from the fire that they were physically unable to leave the structure.

Additionally, the location of the bodies of the Davidians indicates that few of the Davidians actually attempted to escape the building. Many of the bodies were huddled together in locations in the center of the building. Few of the bodies were located at points of exit from the building, and the cause of death of several of the bodies at exit points were self-inflicted gunshot wounds or gunshots from very close range.”

The subsequent independent Danforth Report came to the same conclusions.

Specifically:

  1. Government agents did not start the fire at Waco;
  2. Government agents did not shoot at the Branch Davidians on April 19, 1993;
  3. Government agents did not improperly use the United States military;
  4. Government agents did not engage in a massive conspiracy and cover-up. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Attorney General Reno, the present and former Director of the FBI, other high officials of the United States, or the individual members of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team who fired three pyrotechnic tear gas rounds on April 19, 1993.
  5. Responsibility for the tragedy at Waco rests with certain of the Branch Davidians and their leader, David Koresh, who shot and killed four ATF agents, wounded twenty others, shot at FBI agents trying to insert tear gas into the complex, burned down the complex, and shot at least twenty of their own people, including five children.200px-cm_cults-koresh_ho.jpg

Likewise, the Davidian survivors legal claims for damages were repeatedly rejected.

In 2000 a jury cleared the government of any wrongdoing. Their unanimous answers:

1. Did the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms use excessive force when its agents tried to serve search and arrest warrants on Feb. 28, 1993, at the sect’s compound? In particular, did agents fire at the compound either indiscriminately or without provocation in the gunbattle that broke out?

Jury’s answer: No.

2. Did the FBI act negligently in any of the following ways during its tear-gassing operation on April 19, 1993: By driving tanks into the building in ways that violated the Washington-approved gassing plan? By starting or contributing to the spread of the fire? By deciding not to have any plan to fight any fire that might break out, despite a directive from Attorney General Janet Reno to have “sufficient emergency vehicles”?

Jury’s answer: No.

And subsequent appeals by survivors and their lawyers to retry their claims ended in failure.

It seems strange that an AP reporter prefers to rely upon conspiracy theories rather than the facts as repeatedly established by the courts and Congressional Record.

But for anyone familiar with the sad history of destructive cults, such as Jonestown and Heaven’s Gate, the fiery deaths of the Waco Davidians is not an anomaly, but rather fits well within the historical context of other cult mass suicides.

And any responsible journalist should place the blame where it actually belongs, which is with cult leader and psychopath David Koresh, not the federal government.

This seems to be an uncomfortable truth that many people are unwilling to accept.

That is, the fragility of the human mind, which is far more vulnerable to undue influence than some of us would like to believe.

By allowing this bad reporting to pass through unedited Associated Press not only neglected journalistic integrity, but helped to perpetuate myths about Waco.

Twelve Tribes,” a notorious religious group, often called a “cult,” has apparently moved into a town in Colorado, Manitou Springs.

spriggs21.jpegThe group is ruled by a self-proclaimed “prophet”/dictator named Elbert Eugene Spriggs (see photo with wife left).

The sect has opened a café the “Maté Factor” and two group homes, which house 50 members.

But the local newspaper instead of reporting about the deeply troubled history of Twelve Tribes, provided what seemed like free advertising for the purported “cult.”

Amanda Lundgren writing for the Colorado Independent extolled the group’s “herbal-infusion tea made from the yerba maté plant,” and proclaimed herself a customer or “convert for life.”

However, the factor forgotten by the newswoman is the group’s sordid and well-documented history of child abuse, financial exploitation, family estrangement and lawbreaking.

Lundgren should have shared with her readers some of the decades of bad press that has followed Twelve Tribes wherever it goes including labor violations, illegal abductions and hate literature.

The Independent writer acknowledged that she had been told to “watch out” for the “cult,” but neglected to explain why anyone would be so worried if the group was really that benign.

Instead Lundgren dismissed such criticism as “‘cult’ catcalls” without any meaningful examination.

The reporter waxed poetic though about the group’s new “unofficial drink” sold at its Manitou Springs café.

But what about the official reports concerning its bad behavior?

Lundgren didn’t dig up much beyond a few cryptic comments made by the group’s spokesperson. He said that Manitou Springs is “a mini-Mecca” for the sect, where its tea sales would fuel “evangelism” to recruit “open minded” townspeople.

But before anyone in town “drinks the Kool-Aid,” or “Maté lattes,” maybe they should know just a few historical facts about the Twelve Tribes.

And though the 50 members of Twelve Tribes in Manitou Springs may live in cramped housing, its leader Spriggs lives in luxury like a multi-millionaire.Chased out of Chattanooga in the 1970s for its authoritarian and destructive ways, the Twelve Tribes eventually settled in Vermont, where it developed a reputation for child abuse.

The group is also notorious for its racist views and anti-Semitic literature.

Children have reportedly escaped from the sect through an “underground railroad” and subsequently have made public statements detailing the horrific physical abuse they were forced to endure.

Minor children of Twelve Tribes parents involved in custody disputes have been illegally abducted, but eventually found by law enforcement with group members in Florida and California.

Twelve Tribes has been fined for child labor violations.

All of this information is readily accessible to anyone with an Internet connection interested enough to do some research.

However, Ms. Lundgren is apparently either indifferent and/or too lazy to Google “Twelve Tribes.”

Not one of these historical facts managed to make it into the Colorado Independent article.

cover-26654.jpegIn the end the newspaper’s readers were poorly served and given a misleading impression that “cult” claims were somehow unfounded.

And Amanda Lundgren made sure that a Twelve Tribes couple speaking for the group got the last word (see photo right).

Lundgren wrote, “As for critics and those who consider the group a cult [the group spokesman]…shrugs them off.”

“They called Jesus a cult leader,” he said.

But the New Testament doesn’t say anything about Jesus beating up or abducting kids, disobeying civil authority and being banned for passing out hate literature.

Note: Apparently Amanda Lundgren isn’t the only lazy reporter at the Colorado Independent. J. Adrian Stanley, another writer for the same publication, in his article “Tribal Conflict” reportsTwelve Tribes, the Christianity-centered community best known locally for running Manitou’s Maté Factor café. Followers dress modestly, live communally and are given traditional names.” Nothing about the group’s horrible history in this piece. Another reporter seemingly too technically challenged to use Google. Or, could it be that the Independent sees itself as so dependent upon local advertising it’s not a real newspaper?

In something of a strange spin about the work against destructive cults and the history of cult deprogramming Carol Giambalvo, a board member of the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) formerly known as the American Family Foundation (AFF), will present a program at an upcoming ICSA conference titled “The Anti Cult Cult.

Giambalvo claims, “A very narrow boundary exists between the desire to help and the desire to control. Sometimes organizations and individuals can blur this boundary with good intentions, exhibiting the same totalistic control and ideology that exists on the other side of the line.”

Ms. Giambalvo was also once a regular contributer and board member of the Cult Awareness Network (CAN).

The coming panel discussion will include an explanation of how “dissent” over deprogramming supposedly led to “the demise of CAN.”

60min002.jpgHowever, according to reliable sources like CBS “60 Minutes,” the Washington Post, National Law Journal and American Lawyer, the “demise of CAN” was due to Scientology sponsored lawsuits.

Is Ms. Giambalvo attempting to construct a revisionist history concerning CAN?

Academic Anson Shupe was paid $500.00 per hour by Scientology lawyer Kendrick Moxon to testify against CAN in court.

“Are you saying the anti-cult movement is a cult?” the lawyer and Scientologist once asked his “expert witness” under direct examination referring to CAN. “It has aspects of it,” answered Shupe, “yes.”

Has Carol Giambalvo gone from CAN board member to actively supporting Anson Shupe’s opinions about a so-called “Anti Cult Cult”?

Cynthia Kisser didn’t see Shupe as either objective or credible, the former executive director of CAN called the college professor a “cult apologist.

Giambalvo will be joined in her planned program by a former cult member who will “discuss her experience of a Ted Patrick Deprogramming (kidnapping), showing the destructiveness of this method and the long term damage suffered as a result.”

It appears that the former cult member and Giambalvo will attempt to posit the theory that this pioneer anti-cult deprogrammer may have done more harm than good through his intervention work.

snapcoverscan03.jpgWill Ted Patrick be cast in the role of an “Anti Cult Cult” leader?

Mr. Patrick is described by authors Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman in their ground breaking book “Snapping” as follows:

“A controversial figure dubbed by the cult world Black Lightning, Patrick was the first to point out publicly what the cults were doing to America’s youth. He investigated the ploys by which many converts were ensnared and delved into the methods many cults used to manipulate the mind…His first-hand experiences with cult techniques and their effects led him to develop an antidote he named ‘deprogramming,’ a remarkably simple and-when properly used-nearly foolproof process for helping cult members regain their freedom of thought.”

Patrick explained cult deprogramming to Conway and Siegelman this way.

“The only thing I do is shoot them challenging questions. I hit them with things that they haven’t been programmed to respond to. I know what the cults do and how they do it, so I shoot them the right questions; and they get frustrated when they can’t answer. They think they have the answer, they’ve been given answers to everything. But I keep them off balance and this forces them to begin questioning, to open their minds. When the mind gets to a certain point, they can see through all the lies that they’ve been programmed to believe. They realize that they’ve been duped and they come out of it. Their minds start working again.”

Patrick summarized, “Deprogramming is like taking a car out of the garage that hasn’t been driven for a year…The battery has gone down, and in order to start it up you’ve got to put jumper cables on it. It will go dead again. So you keep the motor running until it builds up its own power…Once we get the mind working, we keep it working long enough so that the person gets in the habit of thinking and making decisions again.”

The cults hated Patrick and feared deprogramming.

Ted Patrick’s success working with families concerned about loved ones caught within cults begged the question, how could anyone be “deprogrammed” if they weren’t “programmed” in the first place?

The cults avoided answering this question by routinely vilifying Patrick and by trying to turn “deprogramming” into a “dirty word.”

Such an attempt to manipulate and redefine words is what thought reform expert Robert Jay Lifton calls “loaded language,” characterized by the thought-terminating cliché.

Giambalvo wants those attending her presentation to make a “clear distinction…between ‘exit counseling’ and ‘deprogramming.’”

She insists that deprogramming should be specifically and exclusively defined as only involuntary intervention, while Ms. Giambalvo believes efforts that require the voluntary cooperation of cultists should be called “exit counseling.”

Has the Giambalvo redefinition of the word “deprogramming” become thought terminating?

In popular culture deprogramming remains the most readily recognized word used by the general public to describe the process of cult intervention, either voluntary or involuntary.

41gqxty1d1l_aa240_.jpgIn fact, clinical psychologist Margaret Singer, the preeminent cult expert of the 20th Century and a board member of AFF/ICSA until her death, did not concur with Giambalvo’s proposed distinctions. Singer instead defined deprogramming simply as “providing members with information about the cult and showing them how their own decision-making power had been taken away from them” (“Cults in Our Midst” 1995).

But by the time Singer had completed her book, Giambalvo and others were looking for a new definition.

It seems rather than denouncing cult propaganda they had embraced it.

However, this rigid would-be orthodoxy is without historical precedent.

Many deprogrammings were done on a voluntary basis, though more dramatic efforts that included physical restraint captured the public’s imagination, as popularized by Hollywood movies such as “Ticket to Heaven,” and “Split Image.”

At one time there were dozens of cult deprogrammers working full-time across the United States. Today that number has dwindled to perhaps a dozen. Many of those formerly referred to as “deprogrammers,” have chosen more politically correct titles such as “Family Intervention Specialist,” “Cult Information Consultant” and “Cult Intervention Specialist.”

ICSA for its part seems intent upon branding the name “Thought Reform Consultant.”

Giambalvo says that some “professionals” have “crossed boundaries” and that this can be seen by a “potential addiction to ‘being right,’” which might “surface in helping organizations.”

Perhaps this is true, but here is a conundrum.

Whose rigidity about “being right” coupled with a penchant for political correctness just might potentially place them within such a category?

CultNews congratulates “Anonymous,” Scientology’s latest Internet nemesis, with the notable exception of its distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks at Scientology Web sites.

The Anonymous movement managed to turn out the largest protest through picketing ever coordinated against Scientology.

honk-if-you-oppose.jpg

On February 10th thousands of protesters marched lawfully in front of Scientology centers around the world, effectively drawing greater attention to the questionable practices and bad behavior of the controversial group.

But is must be noted that DDOS attacks are not consistent with the precepts of freedom of speech on the Internet.

Scientology’s repeated effort to thwart free speech on the Net has drawn strong criticism.

It seems that Anonymous has apparently decided to drop its DDOS attacks, which is a welcome development.

CultNews has been repeatedly subjected to DDOS attacks over the years by disgruntled cultists and others attempting to crash this Web site in an effort to suppress the free flow of information.

The Internet should remain a pivotal place for the free exchange of ideas.

Scientologists have a right to preach, teach and proselytize. And others have the right to critically respond to Scientology’s efforts, discuss its beliefs and religious practices.

In the United States Constitution the same First Amendment that protects freedom of religion also safeguards free speech.

It is neither “persecution” nor a “hate crime” to examine Scientology’s teachings and scrutinize its behavior. No religious body in America is immune from such examination and accountability, certainly not within a free democratic society.

True believers are typically subject to the same laws as everyone else.

Scientologists may believe whatever they wish, but this doesn’t somehow give them the right to do whatever they want in the name of those beliefs.

The Roman Catholic Church has been held accountable through a series of often contentious and expensive lawsuits regarding the bad behavior of some of its priests. And the church hierarchy has also endured public recrimination for some of its decisions concerning clergy abuse.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Scientists have increasingly found that the courts will not protect a parent’s religious choices, if it includes the medical neglect of minor children.

Scientology sits in the same position, neither immune nor somehow exempted from the same scrutiny through public discourse and examination.

And virtually every time Scientology or Scientologists attempt to bully people and/or make the false argument that they should somehow receive special treatment, it has only served to draw more negative attention to the controversial church and its adherents.

Witness Anonymous as yet another example of such a continuing backlash.

So congratulations Anonymous, keep up the good work, but be consistent with the values you have said Scientology has violated.

Has Barak Obama become a “cult” leader, with a following of brainwashed disciples?

35939984.jpgThis is the recent rhetoric coming from some political pundits shocked by the devotion of the presidential candidate’s supporters.

But the word “cult” has a much more specific and objective meaning, which should not be confused with Obama voters.

Psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton published a paper in 1981 through Harvard University titled “Cult Formation.

This well-known expert on “thought reform” (commonly called “brainwashing”) said, “Cults can be identified by three characteristics:

  1. a charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power;
  2. a process I call coercive persuasion or thought reform;
  3. economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.”

How does Barak Obama measure up as a cult leader given these three criteria?

Well he is charismatic, but when Obama talks about “change” he doesn’t mean that he should be worshiped as an absolute leader like Jim Jones. Instead, he subscribes to democratic principles and not authoritarian rule. He represents a choice through a democratic process.

Rather than coercive persuasion, Obama depends upon his rhetorical skills, advertising and propaganda. There is a distinction between these types of persuasion and thought reform, which depends largely upon control of the environment, information and deception.

Finally, Barak Obama cannot unilaterally exploit Americans like a cult leader through the use of unfettered power, but instead if elected is limited by the US Constitution, the checks and balances of other branches of government, a free press and continuing election cycles.

It might be said that Obama has a “cult following” of ardent fans that cheer him on like a rock star.

However, such fans didn’t make Elvis or Kurt Cobain “cult” leaders, but rather enduring cutural icons.

“Obamamania”?

It might be plausible to compare excited so-called “Obamaphiles” to “Trekkies,” but not to “brainwashed Moonies.

Meanwhile, Noth Korea is a genuine political cult with its “Great Leader” Kim Jong II creating serious concerns around the world.

And there is also the fading personality-driven movement of Fidel Castro that in Cuba, which appears cult-like.

History is strewn with destructive personality-driven dictatorships including Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia and the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran.

But Barack Obama?

Most Americans can recall what a real cult leader is like, someone similar to Charles Manson, David Koresh or Marshall Applewhite.

So as the political rhetoric heats up and each party’s spin machine goes into high gear, perhaps it would be meaningful to remember the facts when using the word “cult.”

It seems some groups called “cults” may not be so mutually exclusive. And at times their members just might help each other out a little bit, at least at fund-raising events.

Apparently this was the case at a Gucci New York charity dinner hosted by Madonna, which benefited a Kabbalah Centre linked charity called “Raising Malawi.

The controversial charity was founded by Michael Berg, co-director of the Kabblah Centre.

Not only did celebrity supporters of the fringe Kabbalah group show up for the event such as Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and potential new recruit Gwyneth Paltrow, but so did some famous Scientologists.

Scientology’s number one persona Tom Cruise showed up with wife Katie Holmes, as did Scientology friend Jennifer Lopez.

s-gucci-gala-large.jpgHave the two purported “cults” made a pact?

Madonna has gone on the record defending Tom Cruise and his Scientology antics. She once said, “If it makes Tom Cruise happy, I don’t care if he prays to turtles. And I don’t think anybody else should.”

Was this Gucci event payback for the former “Material Girl”?

While it seems that these two “new religions” have little in common doctrinally, one supposedly believes in Jewish mysticism while the other has made intergalactic space travel an article of faith, they do seem to share at least two things in common.

Recruiting celebrities and what appears to be an insatiable desire for cash.

Yisrayel Hawkins, also known as “Buffalo Bill” Hawkins, self-styled “prophet,” polygamist and purported cult leader, has been busted for bigamy.

hawkins2.jpegHawkins is now being held by Texas authorities in jail pending bail set at $10 million dollars.

Subsequently, a child labor charge has also been filed against the incarcerated leader.

Hawkins created the so-called “House of Yahweh” (HOY) more than twenty years ago near Abilene, Texas, which he claimed would be the place of safety for humanity when judgment finally fell upon the earth.

However, as the faithful gathered around Abilene, it appeared that Hawkins used his prophecies to fleece his followers.

Many of the cult leader’s devotees lived in broken down trailers and paid Hawkins rent. They bought his teaching tapes, books, tithed generously and often either worked for free or were grossly underpaid.

And while HOY members suffered, some dying in poverty, Hawkins lived in luxury and maintained substantial real estate holdings.

Over the decades HOY has repeatedly been accused of child abuse, sexual exploitation of women and children, medical neglect, family estrangement and “brainwashing.”

CultNews (Rick Ross) hosted a television special late last year titled “Mind Control” for the A & E network that featured hidden camera footage of life inside the secretive HOY compound.

CultNews (Rick Ross) has also testified repeatedly as an expert witness over the years in custody cases regarding HOY, which resulted in the removal of several children from the group.

Last year authorities arrested one of Hawkins’ top followers, Yedidiyah Hawkins, who remains in jail accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl he was preparing to marry.

Many of Yisrayl Hawkins’ followers have changed their last name to Hawkins.

In 2006 Abilene police investigated the death of a 1-month-old boy whose death and burial had not been reported to authorities. The infants’ autopsy revealed that the cause of his death was malnourishment and traumatic asphyxiation.

No charges have been filed concerning the baby’s death.

Another Hawkins follower was convicted of bodily injury for helping perform surgery in 2005 on her neighbor’s 7-year-old daughter who later died. That woman later received probation.

HOY members have also been accused of breaking laws regarding food stamps.

On the network television special “Mind Control” one HOY member admitted that she was not only illegally in the United States on an expired visa living within the group’s compound, but also was working illegally for a dollar an hour at one of Hawkins’ businesses.

But despite this public disclosure authorities have not yet done anything concerning illegal adult workers within HOY.

It seems authorities in Texas have finally decided to crack down on Hawkins and his self-styled spiritual kingdom.

Yisrayl Hawkins has often predicted the end of the world, most recently he claimed in September of 2007 that the end of man’s governments would begin with nuclear war within 13 months.

This became yet another bogus forecast filed away by Hawkins with his other unfulfilled prophecies.

Ironically, it now seems that Hawkins the would-be prophet, couldn’t foresee his own end.

Update: A judge later reduced bail from $10 million to $100,000.00 on February 20th. Hawkins then made bail and was set free pending trial.

Critics of Wikipedia have often questioned the credibility of the on-line encyclopedia as a reliable resource for objective information.

Wikipedia’s disclaimer warns, “Please be advised that nothing found here has necessarily been reviewed by people with the expertise required to provide you with complete, accurate or reliable information.”

Therefore the disclaimer concludes, “Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here.” And this statement does appear in bold black type.

Now it seems Wikipedia participants cannot even rely upon its editors to remain neutral and that some may have come to the on-line encyclopedia with an agenda.

Recently one Wikipedia adminstrator/editor has been outed by The Register regarding his bias and questionable behavior. It seems that this editor has used the Web site to promote his spiritual guru and attack any of his mentor’s critics.

Wikipedia administrator Jossi Fresco is a long-time devotee of the controversial Indian guru Maharaji, once proclaimed by his followers “Lord of the Universe.”

prem_rawat.jpgGuru Maharaji led the group “Divine Light Mission,” which was often referred to as a “cult” by the media.

Maharaji received so much bad press he later changed his name to “Prem Rawat” (see photo left), settled upon the title of “motivational speaker” and now calls his group “Elan Vital.”

Jossi Fresco has worked for Prem Rewat, though he is rather vague about his current job, which seems to include using Wikipedia to promote his guru.

Jossi not only has used his editor’s position to stiffle criticism of Prem Rawat, but has also more generally manipulated Wikipedia entries on the subject of cults and related topics. Jossi’s efforts have at times included the Wikipedia page about me (Rick Ross), creator of CultNews.

But here is the real kicker.

If anyone thinks that Jossi Fresco’s actions at Wikipedia represent a “conflict of interest” what can be done?

Well, complaints would likely go to Wikipedia’sConflict of Interest Noticeboard.

But don’t be shocked if you receive something less than a “fair shake” at this Internet location.

After all, Jossi Fresco created this board.

So it seems there is a “conflict of interest” at the Wikipedia “Conflict of Interest Noticeboard.”

jimmy_wales.jpgReportedly Wikipedia’s “elite” have been informed and are “well aware” regarding the details about Jossi Fresco. And those informed notably includes Wikipedia creator Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales (see photo right).

But nothing has been done about Fresco to date.

Jossi Fresco is a glaring example of why Wikipedia is at times a less than credible Internet resource and per its disclaimer no one should automatically accept “the validity of information found” there.

Mahesh Prasad Varma, better known as “Maharishi Mahesh Yogi,” was born near the Indian town of Jabalpur, into a scribe caste family. He died last night at the age of 91.

At times referred to as a “cult leader,” one BBC website called him a “Rasputinesque” figure.

The Indian guru promoted “Transcendental meditation,” known as TM to its fans and followers. This practice involves reciting a mantra over and over again to still the mind.

However, TM critics saw the technique as little more than self-hypnosis or trance induction.

Classes to learn TM don’t come cheap. The current list price is $2,500 for a five-day session.06maharishi6001.jpg

Mahrishi launched his public career as the “Beatles guru.” In 1968 the British group journeyed to his Himalayan ashram to study.

But it wasn’t long before the popular band dumped their would-be teacher.

John Lennon felt that Maharishi’s claim to celibacy was a lie. Lennon said in interviews that the Beatles song “Sexy Sadie,” which includes the lyrics “Sexy Sadie, what have you done, you made a fool of everyone” was originally called “Maharishi.”

This year on January 11th the guru announced his retirement, but apparently he was already quite ill and died in less than a month.

Maharishi and his followers often made ridiculous claims regarding the power of TM, such as a mass meditation session of 7,000 followers somehow being linked to the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the Cold War.

Maharishi’s mantra almost always included money.

The TM Web site states, “When the group cannot be maintained financially, new tensions arise in the world.” Such statements almost seem like spiritual blackmail.

Perhaps Maharishi will be most remembered for his shrewd business sense. He leaves behind the legacy of a multi-billion dollar spiritual empire.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported that TM has been marketed “with all the zeal of a multinational corporation — which is, effectively, what it became.”

In 1990 Maharishi moved to the Netherlands where he turned a historic former Catholic retreat into his home. The guru created considerable controversy when he attempted to demolish the landmark to suit his own taste.

One of Maharishi’s last fund raising pitches took place in 2002. The guru claimed he wanted to combat world terrorism and war through meditation.

The price tag this time was $1 billion dollars to train 40,000 TMers.

In the United States alone TM accumulated assets of about $300 million, including Maharishi University in Iowa.

Many of the guru’s remaining devotees live in Maharishi Vedic City, which is located a few miles from Fairfield, Iowa.

Maharishi may have been one of world’s most successful “cult leaders.”

That is, if measured by money, rather than mantras.