Society's Child


Is 'Thomas Quick', the drug-induced alter-ego of Sweden's 'worst ever serial killer', actually an innocent scapegoat?

© Andy Hall for the Observer
Sture Bergwall, formerly known as Thomas Quick, at Säter hospital for the criminally insane, outside Stockholm.
It reads like a real-life Scandinavian crime novel. In the 1990s, Thomas Quick confessed to more than 30 murders, making him Sweden's most notorious serial killer. Then, he changed his name and revealed his confessions were all faked

Sture Bergwall resides in a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane three hours' drive north of Stockholm. A high wire fence circles the building. CCTV cameras track the movements of the outside world. The narrow windows - some of them barred - are smudged with dirt and thick with double-glazed glass. In order to visit, you must enter through a succession of automatically locking doors and walk through an airport-style security gate. You must leave your mobile phone in a specially provided locker and hand over your passport in return for an ID tag and a panic alarm. Two members of staff, wearing plastic clogs that squeak across the linoleum, escort you through the corridors.

In the visitors' room, Bergwall sits straight-backed on a small red chair, dim light glinting off rectangular-framed spectacles, his feet planted slightly apart in grey socks and Velcro-strapped sandals. He has been a patient in Säter hospital since 1991 and although he is 62, the flesh on his hands is still pink and unworn, the result, one imagines, of a lack of exposure to sunlight. His hair - what is left of it - is white.

Are Greek police 'colluding' with far-right Golden Dawn?

Greece's far-right party, Golden Dawn, won 18 parliamentary seats in the June election with a campaign openly hostile to illegal immigrants - and there are now allegations that some Greek police are supporting the party.

Last week Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panagiotaros led a demonstration that closed down a performance of the Terence McNally play, Corpus Christi.

As police stood by, apparently oblivious, Mr Panagiotaros was filmed shouting racist and homophobic insults at the director of the play, and the actors cowering inside the Chyterio Theatre.

Newsnight's Paul Mason reports from Athens.
Heart - Black

Tea-party repugnican believes pregnant women don't die, says there should be no abortion exceptions

Tea party-backed Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) suggested on Thursday that exceptions to abortion bans were not necessary to protect the mother's health because science had advanced to the point that pregnant women can't die.

In their final debate before the November election, Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth noted that Walsh did not support "exceptions for rape, incest or life of the mother" and he "would let a woman die rather than give a doctor the option to save her life."

Comment: The ignorance of these psychopaths is truly stunning!
Maternal mortality shames superpower U.S.
U.S. maternal death rate higher than Europe's
Rape victims are More - not less - likely to get pregnant

Eye 1

Backtracking TSA Removes X-Ray Naked Body Scanners From Major Airports

X-ray body scanners
© Michael Nagle/Getty Images
The Transportation Security Administration has been removing its X-ray body scanners from LAX, O'Hare and JFK, and putting them in less-busy airports.
The Transportation Security Administration has been quietly removing its X-ray body scanners from major airports over the last few weeks and replacing them with machines that radiation experts believe are safer.

The TSA says it made the decision not because of safety concerns but to speed up checkpoints at busier airports. It means, though, that far fewer passengers will be exposed to radiation because the X-ray scanners are being moved to smaller airports.

The backscatters, as the X-ray scanners are known, were swapped out at Boston Logan International Airport in early October. Similar replacements have occurred at Los Angeles International Airport, Chicago O'Hare, Orlando and John F. Kennedy in New York, the TSA confirmed Thursday.

Beware the Mormon in the grass

Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith
Lessons from the Early History of the Church of Latter Day Saints

In the beginning, as we know, was the Word of one Joseph Smith Jr., founder of the Mormon Church, finder of the so-called Golden Plates from which he was able to translate the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith today in Mormon theology is considered "the prophet, priest and king." When Mitt Romney avows "My faith is the faith of my fathers - I will be true to them," the father he invokes is Smith.

This should be highly troubling. In the few authoritative biographies of the prophet Smith - the ones not censored by the Mormon establishment - he comes off both as a good-natured grifter and a venomous sociopath. Kay Burningham, ex-Mormon and author of An American Fraud: One Lawyer's Case against Mormonism, writes that Mormonism "was founded on deception, and continues to build upon that deception." Its founders - Joseph Smith and family - "were opportunists, driven to create an organization where they could acquire the social status and financial resources that they lacked." Historian and ex-Mormon Will Bagley, author of many books of Mormon history, says Mormonism can be interpreted critically as "a religious Ponzi scheme and swindle."

The swindle starts in 1829, after Joe Smith claims to "find" the Golden Plates buried in a mound in upstate New York. According to Smith, the story on the plates had been carved in 421 A.D. by a lost tribe of white people living among Native Americans. Smith was mighty pleased: He had found God's word, and he would bring the good news to the world. Smith, a semi-literate farm boy schooled in the soaring language of the Bible, had of course invented the Book of Mormon out of his perfervid imagination.

This was no small achievement. He was a smart guy - like most grifters. And he had a family schooling in the art of cheating the gullible: His father, Joseph Sr., had been repeatedly charged with currency counterfeiting in Vermont in the 1820s.

Files shed light on 5 of Sacramento's Boy Scout abuse cases

Files on five of the 13 Sacramento-area Boy Scout leaders suspected of child abuse became available today and indicate that each of them had been investigated by law enforcement.

The files are part of a trove of secret information released Thursday by the Boy Scouts of America, which had kept information for decades on leaders suspected of inappropriate behavior with youngsters.

The files, released after a court battle, were compiled and released by Portland attorney Kelly Clark on his website,

Demand for the files was so great Thursday that the site had crashed, but the files unavailable then are now accessible.

The files related to Sacramento-area cases include:

Queens man with no criminal history put on "No-Fly List" by Homeland Security - stranded in Austria for over 2 weeks

Samir Suljovic

A 26-year-old Queens man was returning home from a trip to Austria when he was stopped at the airport and told by airline agents that the Department of Homeland Security had prohibited his travel.

For more than two weeks, Samir Suljovic, of Oakland Gardens, has been stranded in Austria, where he was on vacation visiting friends and family.

The Council on American Islamic Relations has stepped in, demanding answers, but so far they say the American Embassy, customs and homeland security have not provided any explanation for why Suljovic, who has no criminal history, can't fly.

"This is outrageous," said Numeer Awad, of the council. "They basically ignored his calls for a reason why this is happening."
Eggs Fried

Romney caught out when debate moderator challenges Libya comments with the facts

GOP hopeful Mitt Romney found himself backtracking during the second presidential debate after moderator Candy Crowley challenged his assertion that President Barack Obama had not referred to recent attacks on Americans in Libya as terrorism.

"The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror and I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime," Obama explained following Romney's suggestion that the president had been more concerned with fundraising than national security after the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

"I think it's interesting that the president just said something, which is on the day after the attack he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror," Romney replied. "Is that what you're saying? I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror."

"Get the transcript," Obama insisted.

"He did, in fact, sir," Crowley pointed out to Romney.

"Perversion files" show local authorities helped cover up Boy Scout pedophiles

© Greg Wahl-Stephens / AP Photo
In a Tuesday, Oct., 16, 2012 photo, Portland attorney Kelly Clark examines some of the 14,500 pages of previously confidential documents created by the Boy Scouts of America concerning child sexual abuse within the organization, in preparation for releasing the documents Thursday, Oct. 18, as he stands in his office in Portland, Ore. The Boy Scouts of America fought to keep those files confidential.
Portland, Oregan -- Again and again, decade after decade, an array of authorities - police chiefs, prosecutors, pastors and local Boy Scout leaders among them - quietly shielded scoutmasters and others accused of molesting children, a newly opened trove of confidential papers shows.

At the time, those authorities justified their actions as necessary to protect the good name and good works of Scouting, a pillar of 20th century America. But as detailed in 14,500 pages of secret "perversion files" released Thursday by order of the Oregon Supreme Court, their maneuvers allowed sexual predators to go free while victims suffered in silence.

The files are a window on a much larger collection of documents the Boy Scouts of America began collecting soon after their founding in 1910. The files, kept at Boy Scout headquarters in Texas, consist of memos from local and national Scout executives, handwritten letters from victims and their parents and newspaper clippings about legal cases. The files contain details about proven molesters, but also unsubstantiated allegations.

The allegations stretch across the country and to military bases overseas, from a small town in the Adirondacks to downtown Los Angeles.

At the news conference Thursday, Portland attorney Kelly Clark blasted the Boy Scouts for their continuing legal battles to try to keep the full trove of files secret.

U.S. judges rule Fort Hood suspect must shave beard

Nidal Hasan
© Agence France-Presse/Bell County Sheriff's Department
A clean-shaven Nidal Hasan in 2010
Washington - A panel of US Army judges ruled Thursday that a soldier accused of the Fort Hood massacre must appear in court clean-shaven, upholding a trial judge's earlier order.

Major Nidal Hasan, charged with the November 2009 shooting spree that left 13 dead at the Texas military base, had argued that he had a right to keep his beard as an expression of his Islamic faith, but the US Army Criminal Court of Appeals sided with the judge overseeing his court-martial.

The court concluded that the trial judge, Colonel Gregory Gross, was correct in finding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act "does not provide Hasan the right to wear a beard while in uniform during his upcoming court martial," according to a US Army statement.

The judges agreed that "Hasan did not prove his beard was an expression of a sincerely held religious belief," it said.

"Additionally, the court went on to say that even if Hasan did wear the beard for a sincere religious reason, compelling government interests also justified (judge) Gross's order requiring Hasan to comply with Army grooming standards," it said.