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This post continues a series about Percy Dearmer‘s 1912 volume, Everyman’s History of the Prayer Book, published by Mowbray.

These are the previous posts in the series:

Percy Dearmer on the Anglican Thirty-nine Articles of Religion

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer – part 1

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer – part 2

In Chapter 4 of his book, Dearmer discusses the development of service books for public worship.

There is a lot of material to cover, so today’s post will look at what he wrote about the earliest Christian worship, from the time of the Apostles to the 2nd century AD. Emphases mine below.

The earliest Church services were:

unfixed in character … and largely extemporary.

Once services became more fixed, they were written down. That said, there were no prayer books like the ones we have today. What was written were likely to be short formularies, which were important to say or to pray during worship. Unfortunately, only a few have survived:

None of the very earliest books (so far as we yet know) have survived; for one thing, as must always be remembered, the last great Persecution of the Christians by the Emperor Diocletian (303) included a systematic destruction of Christian literature ; but an early book by Serapion, Bishop of Thmuis, in Egypt … of about the year 350, was discovered at Mount Athos in 1894, and it is quite possible that scholars may discover something yet earlier. Little service books, or liturgical notes, may have been written in the md [first?] century, or even in the time of the Apostles; for it is probable that there were some fixed formulas in the earliest services, and sentences which look like quotations of these exist in the Epistle of St. Clement (c. A.D. 96), and in the 2nd century Didachè.

I wrote about the Didache in 2009. It included more on Christian practice for non-Jewish peoples who were converting. For example, abortion was unknown in Jewish society at that time but was common among the ancient Greeks. Abortion was not part of Scripture because it was unknown to the Jews. The Didache covers social practices that were not part of Scripture but practised by non-Jewish converts.

It is possible that some books of the New Testament, outside of the Gospels, contain verses that were part of the earliest public worship:

A baptismal creed is given in Acts viii. 37, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”: it is only in some of the texts, and may also belong to the 2nd century. Many scholars think that some verses from St. Paul are really liturgical formulas, e.g. “Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Eph. v. 14); and “He who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Tim. iii. 16), which latter looks very like a quotation from what came to be called the Anaphora or Canon of the Eucharist, and may have been part of the words which St. Paul used himself when he celebrated, just as “The grace of our Lord,” in 2 Cor. xiii. 14, was perhaps a form of blessing which he was in the habit of using.

Verses from the Book of Revelation were used in early Christian hymns:

The reader will find it interesting to look these out for himself— Rev. iv. 8-11, v. 9, 10, 12, 13, vii. 12, xi. 17, xii. 10-12, xv. 3-4, xix. 1, 6-7, 2 Tim. ii. 11 – 13; and, besides Eph. v. 4, perhaps i. 3 – 14, and the prayer in Acts iv. 24-30.

Below is Revelation 4:8-11. I’ve highlighted the relevant verses, which are part of a hymn sung today — although it is much more recent than the early Church — Holy, Holy, Holy, which dates from 1826:

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”

The Gospels had their part to play in providing content for canticles, which are generally sung, and the Gloria:

There are also the great Canticles given us by St. Luke in the first two chapters of his Gospel— Magnificat, Benedictus, Gloria in Excelsis, and Nunc Dimittis

Anglicans still use canticles in traditional services, such as Morning Prayer.

Next time: how worship developed in the Apostolic Age

The three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Acts 7:30-34

30 “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look. 33 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’

————————————————————————————————————-

My previous post, published before Holy Week, continued an exposition of Stephen’s self-defence in the form of an apologetic, possibly the first Christian one, to the temple court.

Stephen, one of the first deacons who was also divinely given the gift of ‘doing great wonders and signs among the people’ (Acts 6:8). He also spoke openly about Jesus in Solomon’s Portico (Porch) at the temple. For this, he was arrested on charges of blasphemy: blaspheming God, Moses, the law and the temple. Acts 7 contains his address and the council’s action against him.

Stephen first got the council’s attention by saying he had revered the same traditions as they and respected the history of the people of Israel. He related the story of Abraham, then of Joseph.

At that point, he accomplished two objectives: holding his audience’s attention and defending himself against the charge of blaspheming God.

As Stephen related his scriptural knowledge of the early patriarchs, he also indicted his audience for rejecting Jesus. His reason for mentioning Joseph was to get them to realise that Joseph’s brothers treated him the same way the Jews treated Jesus.

Stephen went on to discuss Moses scripturally, to show that he had not blasphemed him. He began with Moses’s childhood, then his early adulthood, which included self-exile to Midian.

Today’s verses are a continuation of the discourse.

Although we all know the story of Moses and the burning bush, there is a lot to look at here.

These verses tie in with Exodus 3, which tells us that when this took place, Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro. Moses’s wife’s name was Zipporah.

One day, 40 years after Moses left Egypt, he was in the wilderness of Mount Sinai — the same as Horeb, the mountain of God (Exodus 3:1). John MacArthur says the two names are used interchangeably.

An angel appeared to Moses in a burning bush (verse 30). Although it does not happen frequently, spontaneous combustion has been known to occur in that part of the world. Some modernist theologians think that the bush self-combusted, however, Matthew Henry tells us (emphases mine):

the bush, in which this fire was, though combustible matter, was not consumed

Henry explains that the bush was a symbol not only of the state of God’s children at the time and a revelation of God’s presence — what MacArthur says is the Shekinah Glory — but also a foretelling of the Messiah:

it represented the state of Israel in Egypt (where, though they were in the fire of affliction, yet they were not consumed), so perhaps it may be looked upon as a type of Christ’s incarnation, and the union between the divine and human nature: God, manifested in the flesh, was as the flame of fire manifested in the bush.

Moses was amazed at the sight and approached the bush (verse 31).

Incidentally, John MacArthur says that the Greek word for ‘sight’ is oramah. The Greek word pan means ‘all’. This is the etymology of the word ‘panorama’.

When the Lord God announced Himself, Moses looked away (verse 32). His awestruck state moved from wonder at a natural phenomenon to the fear of God.

Henry says the fire was the Son of God:

He trembled, and durst not behold, durst not look stedfastly upon it; for he was soon aware that it was not a fiery meteor, but the angel of the Lord; and no other than the Angel of the covenant, the Son of God himself. This set him a trembling.

MacArthur explains why God introduced Himself as He did:

God was establishing the covenant again. God said, “I promised Abraham, ‘I’ll bring you into the land and it’ll be yours.’ I repeated it to Isaac. I repeated it to Jacob.'” God is coming back to Moses as the covenant God, you see? He’s coming back to Moses with the promise of the fulfillment of the covenant that He made that they would go into the land.

Henry gives the same explanation but goes further, emphasising the words ‘I am the God’, which means that after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob departed this mortal coil, they were only physically dead. Their souls are still alive. Henry explains that Jesus said the same in Matthew 22:31-22, about which I wrote in 2016:

For if the death of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, cannot break the covenant-relation between God and them (as by this it appears it cannot), then nothing else can: and then he will be a God, (1.) To their souls, which are now separated from their bodies. Our Saviour by this proves the future state, Matthew 22:31,32. Abraham is dead, and yet God is still his God, therefore Abraham is still alive. God never did that for him in this world which would answer the true intent and full extent of that promise, that he would be the God of Abraham; and therefore it must be done for him in the other world … (2.) To their seed. God, in declaring himself thus the God of their fathers, intimated his kindness to their seed, that they should be beloved for the fathers’ sakes, Romans 11:28,De+7:8.

Henry points out that the Apostles and, here, Stephen, the Hellenist (Greek) Jew who converted, was actually showing respect for Moses and understood the love of God — much more than his Jewish audience:

Now this is that life and immortality which are brought to light by the gospel, for the full conviction of the Sadducees, who denied it. Those therefore who stood up in defence of the gospel, and endeavoured to propagate it, were so far from blaspheming Moses that they did the greatest honour imaginable to Moses, and that glorious discovery which God made of himself to him at the bush Now the preachers of the gospel preached up this covenant, the promise made of God unto the fathers; unto which promise those of the twelve tribes that did continue serving God hoped to come, Acts 26:6,7. And shall they, under colour of supporting the holy place and the law, oppose the covenant which was made with Abraham and his seed, his spiritual seed, before the law was given, and long before the holy place was built? Since God’s glory must be for ever advanced, and our glorying for ever silenced, God will have our salvation to be by promise, and not by the law; the Jews therefore who persecuted the Christians, under pretence that they blasphemed the law, did themselves blaspheme the promise, and forsook all their own mercies that were contained in it.

The Lord told Moses to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground (verse 33). Henry tells us that this was because Moses was about to deliver his people from captivity, therefore, fulfilling the Covenant that God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob:

When God had declared himself the God of Abraham he proceeded, 1. To order Moses into a reverent posture: “Put off thy shoes from thy feet. Enter not upon sacred things with low, and cold, and common thoughts. Keep thy foot, Ecclesiastes 5:1. Be not hasty and rash in thy approaches to God; tread softly.” 2. To order Moses into a very eminent service. When he is ready to receive commands, he shall have commission. He is commissioned to demand leave from Pharaoh for Israel to go out of his land, and to enforce that demand, Acts 7:34.

The Lord gave Moses his divine commission (verse 34). The Lord saw the suffering of His people. He heard their cries for freedom. He descended to Moses that they might be delivered. And Moses would fulfil that plan.

Henry tells us that this holds true today for the Church:

Observe, (1.) The notice God took both of their sufferings and of their sense of their sufferings: I have seen, I have seen their affliction, and have heard their groaning. God has a compassionate regard to the troubles of his church, and the groans of his persecuted people; and their deliverance takes rise from his pity.

Henry reminds us that Christ delivered us, bringing us to salvation:

(2.) The determination he fixed to redeem them by the hand of Moses: I am come down to deliver them. It should seem, though God is present in all places, yet he uses that expression here of coming down to deliver them because that deliverance was typical of what Christ did, when, for us men, and for our salvation, he came down from heaven; he that ascended first descended.

Furthermore, God’s plans are sovereign. They will succeed:

Moses is the man that must be employed: Come, and I will send thee into Egypt: and, if God send him, he will own him and give him success.

What an encouraging thought to ponder during the week ahead. God does not ignore our plights. God is fully aware of what we are going through.

With regard to Stephen, as Matthew Henry’s commentary states, he understood the role of Jesus as Messiah. Stephen explained that to his audience in light of Scripture and with reverence. The men in the temple court accused him of multiple counts of blasphemy. Yet Stephen was not the blasphemer. They were.

Stephen had not finished his discourse. There is more to his apologetic which my next two posts on consecutive Sundays will discuss in more detail.

Next time — Acts 7:35-43

The claims by Big Media and the Left about Russian hacking refuse to die.

Many centrists and conservatives are wondering why the Democrats — so close to Russia in spirit — are driving this narrative.

The Millennium Report had a good explanation on March 18, 2017. I am not a regular reader of this site and some of what is in ‘What’s really behind all the fake anti-Russia hysteria?’ is too conspiracy-driven for me, but the article makes some excellent points.

A summary with excerpts follows. The subheads and emphases in purple are mine.

AAA below refers to the ‘Anglo-American Axis’.

The Deep State fears peace with Russia

The article opens with an Executive Summary which says, in part:

The Deep State now fears a “partnership for peace” between the United States and Russia more than anything else.  It used to fear the natural alliance between Russia and Germany, since the Anglo-American domination of the world would be genuinely threatened by such a powerful geopolitical relationship.  The two World Wars were engineered to pit Russia against Germany in order to preclude such a bloc from forming. The same Neocon cabal has been very busy setting up Europe for yet a third world war by manipulating Merkel’s government against Putin’s Kremlin. The immigrant crisis that began with the wars in the Middle East and North Africa was literally manufactured to destabilize Europe as a precursor to World War III.

However, in the wake of the Trump presidency, Deep State now has a much bigger ‘problem’—the very real prospect of a United States-Russian Federation entente.  For this reason, the C.I.A. and MSM (mainstream media) have been beating the war drums like never before.  Russia has, overnight, become the whipping boy for everything wrong with the Democratic Party as well as the scapegoat for every major intel security lapse in the USA.  The U.S. Intelligence Community will continue to fabricate patently false stories about the Trump Administration with respect to Russia as pre-emptive strikes to make any meaningful dialogue politically precarious.  At the request of the C.I.A., the MSM will also continue to publish fake news and naked propaganda about the same in order to greatly inflame anti-Russian sentiment.

With the rise of populist and nationalist movements around the world, the New World Order is under threat as it has never been before:

After the controlled demolition of the global economic and financial system, the cabal considers war — World War III — as their only real option (just as they created the Great Depression to set the stage for World War II).  Inciting extreme Russophobia has always been their means to starting the real big wars. WW3 will be no different, unless Trump and Putin meet in broad daylight and declare Deep State the archenemy of We the People everywhere.  

The article states that the CIA is orchestrating the campaign on behalf of the globalists.

The NWO likes a perpetual war economy and in the 20th century engineered both world wars.

Why the NWO is upset with Putin

The NWO is upset with Vladimir Putin because:

he left the neoliberal reservation and started taking back what was stolen from Russia.  He also began the process of national social transformation by gradually bringing Russia back to its conservative roots.  

Then there’s the Middle East:

If there’s one transgression that the Neocon cabal will never forgive, or forget, it is Russia’s unanticipated entry into the Syrian theater of war.  This sole act of defiance by President Putin showed the whole world that the combined US and NATO war machine wasn’t nearly as invincible as it appeared to be.  Putin’s generals ran roughshod over the CIA-trained ISIS terrorists and Al-Nusra Front mercenaries.[2]  Actually, they first ensured their military success by totally controlling the airspace above ISIL raining bombs and missiles on their most strategic strongholds and supply lines.

In so doing, the entire NWO agenda has been significantly curtailed.  No other individual can be given so much credit as Putin for throwing a wrench in the Zio-Anglo-American juggernaut.  The cabal has gotten so desperate that they have been using Saudi Arabia to carry out all sorts of military operations (e.g. Yemen), as well as terrorist attacks whenever and wherever they are needed.

Therefore:

With this understanding of Putin’s role in the prevention of a totalitarian One World Government via the ever-unfolding NWO agenda, it should be clear why the cabal forever crucifies him in the press.  Truly, Vladimir Putin is a personification of everything the New World Order is working hard to destroy.  He is, at once, a nationalist president and a genuine peacemaker, a spiritually advanced leader and a world-class statesman, a master chessman and rugged individualist.  In short, Vlad scares the heck out of the Neocon cabal.

Why Trump is hated

The NWO hates President Donald Trump because:

Were President Trump to take his intentions one step further, a Russo-American accord would guarantee that the New World Order agenda would effectively be terminated.

Given the multi-century crime spree committed by those at the very peak of the pinnacle of  the World Shadow Government, they understand that they would eventually be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  The world’s premier law enforcement agencies possess untold volumes hard evidence of crimes against humanity in the form of countless war crimes, several premeditated genocides and numerous acts of state-sponsored terrorism.

The members of the cabal, both covert decision-makers at the top and overt collaborators in the middle, know that they are all facing unprecedented existential threats.  And, that they must use every ruse and stratagem to nullify those threats.  Therefore, they simply fall back on what they have always done best and assert that “The Russians are coming!”  After all, the Russian Red Scare has worked like a charm for many decades, so why should it fail now?

However, what the cabal has quite deceitfully failed to tell the people is that it is they who represent the real Red Scare of the 3rd millennium.  Their One World Government is nothing but a supranational and tyrannical ruling body that is answerable to no one save its hidden masters. Their furtive plans are all carried out to turn the whole world into a monolithic, communist superstate. Their future unelected totalitarian government is closely modeled after the European Union’s, which has proven to be the bane of existence for countries and citizens all over the Continent. EU Exposé: A Planned Totalitarian Superstate to Destroy Europe

Because Trump cuts a similar profile to his Russian counterpart, he has been hoisted even higher in the public square and made the victim of nonstop ridicule and unwarranted persecution.

Deep State is now clearly on the defensive as it takes every offensive measure it can think of to neutralize both Putin and Trump. By fabricating one accusation after another against Trump, they hope to keep him in the state of constant agitation.

The article says that Trump and his team will suffer a figurative PTSD. I sincerely doubt that. Trump knows what has been going on. He never lived in isolation from powerful people, whether they were businessmen or politicians.

This next excerpt is particularly crucial:

With the planned election of warmonger Hillary Clinton, the cabal had hoped to finally push the world into a WW3 scenario.*  It really does appear that they never counted on Donald J. Trump showing up and being ready for active duty—as Commander-in-Chief.

*Key Point: It’s an historical fact that Democratic Administrations have been used to start and prosecute the World Wars as well as most of the regional wars since 1900.[3]

The hacking narrative

The article states that there are several levels to the Russian hacking story. Some operate on a Deep State level but there is also a political level to it:

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman was John Podesta.  Both Clinton and Podesta have gone down in U.S. presidential election history as the two of the biggest losers of all time.  Bear in mind that this was Clinton’s second humiliating loss after being blindsided by Barack Obama in 2008. Not only did these two very bad losers need a very good excuse for all the livid donors, they were also desperate for a story that would pacify their ultra-sensitive and still-crying liberal base.

It says that the Pizzagate story wound Podesta up. His name surfaces whenever the topic is written or talked about:

This is when the anti-Russian campaign was really racheted up because the very future of the Democratic Party was hanging in the balance as was his political fate

Most expediently, the concocted “Russian hacking” narrative by Podesta perfectly plays into the Neocon machination to provoke Russia into a regional war (e.g. Ukraine) on the way to triggering a full-scale WW3.  The war propaganda also feeds into their desire for massive war profiteering in the form of gun running, human trafficking, drug smuggling, artifact black marketing, oil theft and other illicit enterprises which are easily covered up in the fog of war.

The article points out that neither Clinton nor Podesta blame themselves for their loss.

Clinton also projected — and the Democrats continue to project — her own ties with Russia onto Trump.

During the campaign Clinton made many smears against Trump by saying he has ties to Russia, so the Democrats feel free to continue the narrative now that he is president:

When such bad actors enter politics, their incorrigible criminal behavior mixes with those of similar ilk, and then all hell can break loose as it is across America today. This link explains the surreptitious process of ponerization in much greater detail: PONERIZATION: How the American Republic was taken over by political cliques of criminally insane psychopaths

What must be done

Trump and Putin must meet in person as soon as possible to fend off the Deep State and the globalist agenda:

Remember, Deep State knows that it will  be like the Titanic colliding with the iceberg should Trump and Putin cooperate to expose the real “Beast” that has terrorized the planet for so long.  And Deep State will be the Titanic.

there is no reason why Putin and Trump cannot bring the world together under one big tent marked by mutual respect and good will. Since both are professed Christians, there is plenty of common religious ground upon which to convene their historic peacemaking venture.

My thoughts

I agree and pray for that outcome.

Having read the article, it explains why:

  • Hillary cried uncontrollably for nearly an hour on election night;
  • Anyone in a prominent position, whether business, politics or media, loathes Trump;
  • Anything related to Pizzagate — a broad set of human trafficking/child exploitation crimes — is shut down or ridiculed;
  • The Left are paying useful idiots (in the truest sense of the term) to create chaos all over the United States;
  • Why the West is in complete disorder: the head globalists want it that way so they can control us.

The unravelling of the Deep State/NWO plan will not be pleasant.

It is worth recalling what the late David Rockefeller, who died in March 2017 at the age of 101, said 26 years ago:

https://anarchist335.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/david-rockefeller-1991-nwo-speach-to-msm.jpg?w=481&h=316

We are beginning to see what real evil looks like — and how embedded Big Media are in rolling out the NWO narratives.

This is more than a socio-political situation. It is also a spiritual one.

Millions of Fox News viewers were delighted when Judge Andrew Napolitano returned to the network on Thursday, March 30, 2017.

Napolitano has great insight into the inner workings of Washington, DC, particularly with regard to recent claims of surveillance of President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

On March 13, he said:

Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn’t use the NSA. He didn’t use the CIA. He didn’t use the FBI, and he didn’t use Department of Justice. He used GCHQ. What the heck is GCHQ? That’s the initials for the British spying agency. They have 24/7 access to the NSA database. So by simply having two people go to them saying, ‘President Obama needs transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump, conversations involving president-elect Trump,’ he’s able to get it, and there’s no American fingerprints on this.

The Conservative Treehouse goes into the timeline thought to be behind the judge’s allegation.

On March 17, Media Matters, founded by the highly powerful Democrat operative David Brock, currently recovering from a heart attack, accused the judge of obtaining his ‘conspiracy theory’ from ‘Russian media’.

Napolitano repeated the claim on his Fox News show Napolitano’s Chambers, after which, many in the media thought the network fired him:

That story began with the Los Angeles Times on March 20:

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano is being kept off the air indefinitely amid the controversy over his unverified claims that British intelligence wiretapped Trump Tower at the behest of former President Obama.

Fox News did not respond to inquiries about Napolitano’s status Monday. Napolitano was conspicuously missing from the network’s coverage of the confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch — an event in which he typically would have played a significant role. He has not been on the air since Thursday.

People familiar with the situation who could speak only on the condition of anonymity said Napolitano is not expected to be on Fox News Channel any time in the near future. Napolitano was not available for comment.

A Twitter user picked up more detail about Napolitano’s allegations:

Note that the penultimate paragraph begins (emphases mine):

I hope the investigation of Trump’s allegation discover and reveal the truth — whatever it is.

And, in the first video above, he did say that we do not know for sure.

However, did Fox News actually suspend him? Roger Stone, a longtime friend of Trump, thought they did and said on his April 19 segment on the Alex Jones Show that the network should pay him for the week or so when he was off the air and issue him a formal apology.

Others ask if Fox News gave him a few days off when the issue got heated enough.

Or did Napolitano enjoy a scheduled holiday on his farm in New Jersey? The farm produces maple syrup. Tapping season closes between the end of March through the beginning of April.

Whatever happened, on Wednesday, March 29, Napolitano returned to the network, still standing by his controversial story. PJ Media reported the judge told host Bill Hemmer:

“And the American public needs to know more about this rather than less because a lot of the government surveillance authority will expire in the fall and there will be a great debate about how much authority we want the government to have to surveil us, and the more the American public knows about this the more informed their and the Congress’ decision will be.”

Napolitano later said that “a lot more is going to come” on the issue.

The_Donald has more on the judge’s comments (start halfway down the page).

More posts on surveillance will follow.

In the meantime, you can read Napolitano’s views on Hillary Clinton’s emails (2016), who hacked them (2016) and the timing of these intermittent email drops by the FBI (January 2017).

The case continues.

A few weeks ago, President Donald Trump and Julian Assange connected on Twitter.

Throwing out a question, as he does, Trump received the following reply from Assange shortly afterwards.

The exchange took place on Monday, April 3, 2017. It concerns whether Hillary Clinton received a set of debate questions during the Democratic primary season from DNC operative Donna Brazile, who also worked for CNN at the time:

At that time, I thought that was excellent, hoping there will be more of those exchanges in future.

Since then, things have changed. CIA director Mike Pompeo strongly criticised WikiLeaks. President Donald Trump — who owes his victory in large part to WikiLeaks — followed suit.

On April 17, Roger Stone, a longtime friend of Trump and, briefly, his first presidential campaign manager, wrote (emphases mine):

Sadly, Donald Trump’s appointee of Director of Central Intelligence has clearly been conned by the Neo Con careerists at the CIA. Former Congressman Mike Pompeo was appointed at the behest of Vice President Pence who was friendly with Pompeo in the House. While Mr. Pompeo is a Harvard lawyer, his training at West Point was in mechanical engineering. Although he served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence at no time has he expressed any concern about the CIA’s sorry track record of insisting that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that prisoners of war are not being tortured at Abu Ghraib prison, that the United States was farming terrorists out to 3rd party countries which utilized torture in a practice called rendition, that our mission in Benghazi was attacked by a mob whipped into a frenzy by an anti-Islamic video shown in Turkey, as well as the Intelligence agencies role in the collection of metadata on millions of Americans in violation of the US Constitution.

President Donald Trump said on Oct, 10, 2016 “I love Wikileaks” and Pompeo who previously had praised the whistleblowing operation now called Wikileaks “a non-state hostile Intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia”.  Mr. Pompeo must be pressed to immediately release any evidence he has that proves these statements. If he cannot do so ,the President should discharge him.

Julian Assange issued the following statement:

 

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C9aDKGhUIAAXxHX.jpg:small

 

Stone had more in his post:

After some soul searching I have elected to support the President’s limited incursion into Syria because of the strong geo-political message it sends the North Koreans, Iranians and Chinese. It also underlined the foolish of the entire “Russians helped Trump” narrative.

Acting on faulty intelligence endorsed by Director Pompeo, the President has now violated international law, the UN Charter and the War Powers Agreement with Congress. While he has won praise from hawks on both sides of the aisle, who have denounced him in the past, and has been lauded by the mainstream media, which holds him in contempt. A further expansion of the war in Syria would mean violation of end of the non-interventionism, the very concept that won Donald Trump the presidency. It would be the functional end of “Trumpism”.

The competence of Wikileaks, which has yet to release even one inauthentic email, compares very favorably with the performance of the CIA, which neither anticipated the collapse of the Soviet Union or the “terrorist attack” of 9/11. But not only is the public shortchanged by an agency that all-too-often misses either the boat or gets things wrong, its operations around the world have gone far beyond the scope of its charter. The agency is out of control.( See “The CIA’s Record of Duplicity” on the StoneCold Truth.com ) …

Assange is a hero who has rendered valuable service to the American people. Mr. Pompeo has demonstrated that he is far too gullible to serve as the CIA Director and will pretty much swallow anything that the spooks in Langley dish out to him despite the obvious lack of any hard evidence whatsoever. Clearly Mr. Pompeo should resign.

The folks at The_Donald, where a forensic examination of every Podesta WikiLeaks dump can be found, are equally disappointed in Pompeo. They think Trump should ask him to resign.

Trump won over a lot of twenty- and thirty-somethings who read The_Donald and their WikiLeaks analyses. Many of these people were Obama voters or Bernie supporters. Trump should be offering Assange residence in the United States — with no charges against him.

No, Assange isn’t perfect. Nor is Trump. Nor is Pompeo (obviously). However, let’s give credit where credit is due.

If Pompeo doesn’t like WikiLeaks’ Vault 7 releases over the past few weeks, he shouldn’t blame the messenger. He needs to look inside his own agency. They’re the ones who made that software available to all and sundry, for nefarious means.

Now Attorney General Jeff Sessions is getting in on the act.

I was disappointed to see the following in Trump’s interview with the AP of April 23:

AP: If I could fit a couple of more topics. Jeff Sessions, your attorney general, is taking a tougher line suddenly on Julian Assange, saying that arresting him is a priority. You were supportive of what WikiLeaks was doing during the campaign with the release of the Clinton emails. Do you think that arresting Assange is a priority for the United States?

TRUMP: When Wikileaks came out … never heard of Wikileaks, never heard of it. When Wikileaks came out, all I was just saying is, “Well, look at all this information here, this is pretty good stuff”

AP: Can I just ask you, though — do you believe it is a priority for the United States, or it should be a priority, to arrest Julian Assange?

TRUMP: I am not involved in that decision, but if Jeff Sessions wants to do it, it’s OK with me. I didn’t know about that decision, but if they want to do it, it’s OK with me.

I do not think that Trump has the full information on all of this.

I do hope that someone fills him in. Steve Bannon must surely know. So must others within close proximity to the Oval Office.

Yesterday’s post on narcotics addicts in the Bakken oil fields region — North Dakota and Montana — where MS-13 has a foothold, shows just how difficult kicking the drug habit is.

On March 21, 2017, Cleveland’s News 5 had an article about the money Big Pharma is making off drugs that admittedly save people from an overdose — a good thing — but also influences Ohio’s politicians.

‘Pharma company linked to Ohio senator benefits from opioid addiction and treatment’ says it all and is accompanied by a video of News 5 of their broadcast. This is one of the worst articles I’ve ever seen with regard to incomplete sentences and punctuation. (I’ve made the corrections that I could below, but stopped. Otherwise I would have to rewrite it.) However, the content is excellent. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

CLEVELAND – We’ve seen the videos of countless Northeast Ohioans revived with Naloxone[, t]he drug fighting an epidemic fueled in part by the billion dollar pharmaceutical industry.

But our News 5 investigation found at least one those big pharmaceutical companies is making money off the overdoses too

But where did this nightmare begin? “The way we got here frankly is prescription drugs and people getting addicted to opioids,” said Ohio Senator Rob Portman in a phone interview with News 5. To combat this epidemic, emergency crews have their own drug of choice, Naloxone

See how Big Pharma, big money and the senator are connected. Furthermore, this has helped Big Pharma nationwide. Naloxone, or Narcan is:

A drug so effective, Senator Portman ensured every first responder in the U.S. [c]arried it, expanding access through the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) he co-authored. “Because they are saving lives every day,” said Portman.

An antidote to a deadly epidemic experts say was fueled by pharmaceutical companies, the same companies, that have donated heavily to Ohio lawmakers, including Senator Portman.

Interesting, to say the least.

Portman denied being influenced by donations and said that he receives a lot of them from various industry sectors. However:

According to the Associated Press, Portman was a top recipient collecting over $200,000 in six years. One of those companies Pfizer Inc. [a]lso contributed to his most recent campaign.

Portman told News 5 he doesn’t even know what type of drugs Pfizer makes. Really?

News 5 went on to state:

besides the opioid painkillers Pfizer is most notable for, it has also recently begun producing Naloxone by acquiring the leading seller of the reversal drug.

Portman insisted he knew nothing about that and acts in the interest of his constituents.

News 5 named other politicians who have received Big Pharma donations:

From 2006 to 2015 the Pain Care Forum, a coalition of pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists, poured $3.5 million dollars into Ohio political coffers. According to the Associated Press, a huge chunk, $875,000[,] went to then House Speaker John Boehner, below him Representative Pat Tiberi received $300,000, while Congresswoman Marcia Fudge collected $78,000.

Okay, we knew this was going on. However, it’s good to see actual figures.

But don’t think for a moment that anyone in power — whether captains of industry or politicians — is interested in seeing a drop in drug addicts.

Drugs fuel the mighty money machine in more ways than one.

As President Trump says, ‘Follow the money’.

Last week, I posted two lengthy articles on MS-13: one looking at the present day and another at the gang’s history.

Two other articles about them intrigued me, summarised below. Emphases mine.

Ingenious Honduran structure

I mentioned on Friday that MS-13 became established in Honduras when illegals who were part of the gang in the United States were deported during the 1990s — the Clinton years.

The Honduran MS-13 structure has become highly sophisticated since then. In May 2016, InSight Crime published an article, ‘Is Honduras’ MS13 a Drug Trafficking Organization? An Obscure Fugitive May Have the Answer’.

The ‘obscure fugitive’ is one David Elías Campbell, who is also known as ‘Viejo’ or ‘Viejo Dan,’ and, by a leader of MS-13 in San Pedro Sula, as ‘Tío Sam’.

San Pedro Sula is the second largest city in Honduras. The MS-13 operation there is quickly integrating itself into society.

In 2013, using gang money from extortion, drug dealing and hired assassinations, Campbell started a trucking company, Delca, which has a fleet of heavy goods vehicles equipped to haul fertiliser, large shipments of which could hide drugs.

Campbell has made trips to the United States, Panama and Colombia. When Honduran police arrested him as part of their Project Avalanche, he managed to escape:

Their allies included former and current high-level members of the policeCampbell escaped, reportedly with the help of a police commander, who goes by the alias “Monga.”

MS-13 also bankrolls local politicians with the hope of seeing them get elected at national level:

The MS13 also sought political cover and a means to assert influence over the national government. The group allegedly financed the campaign of Jorge Neftalí Romero Mejía, the mayor of Talanga, a municipality near the capital, La Tribuna reported. Investigators told InSight Crime the gang’s long-term plan was to see their mayor take a seat in congress.

MS-13 donates to the city:

The relationship continued after the elections. Authorities played for InSight Crime telephone intercepts of conversations between Porky [Alexander Mendoza, a top MS13 leader in San Pedro Sula] and the mayor discussing, among other things, a tractor the MS13 was giving to the municipality.

MS-13 also owns a hospital!

They have become financially sophisticated at money laundering and diversion:

the MS13 created a more sophisticated financial wing, Honduras authorities say, included a gang member with a Master’s in finance. They managed a large list of employees, and even paid out Christmas bonuses to members and collaborators such as the police. They bought properties, moved into new residences and became leaders in the transport industry, paying more money to their drivers than rival companies, the Honduras investigators said.

“They had the best drivers,” one investigator told InSight Crime.

The Honduran MS-13 works closely with the one in El Salvador, including with any leaders currently in jail.

Gang leaders have made it tricky for investigators to unravel who is in charge of the Honduran operation. Alexander ‘Porky’ Mendoza directed authorities to Campbell, but other investigators say there is no proof Campbell is an MS-13 member. (He became involved with them during his youth as a small time drug dealer.) Furthermore, telephone intercepts reveal that Porky is the real leader.

It is possible that MS-13 operates a type of honorary membership system, because the gang in El Salvador designated three new members in 2015 who are clearly too old to go through the rigours of what the normal MS-13 members have to in order to be initiated: murder and the 13-second beatdown, which I mentioned on Friday.

Whatever the story is with Campbell, he is well placed to take the Honduran MS-13 into:

the world of transnational criminal organizations … His movements, supposed efforts to contact large-scale wholesalers in Colombia, and his trucking company suggest that he has the infrastructure and wherewithal that has been missing in the gangs to make this leap.

Imagine. MS-13 could be transporting drugs and other items all over North and South America.

MS-13 in North Dakota

In 2015, the Los Angeles Times published an article — ‘Drug explosion follows oil boom on North Dakota Indian reservation’ — concerning the tribes that comprise MHA Nation: the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara.

MHA Nation is a huge reservation that is three times the size of Los Angeles. Because it has traditionally been a low crime area, it had only 20 law enforcement officials and a handful of investigators. There are approximately 4,000 Native Americans living there, but with the oil boom, thousands of outsiders, too.

The Bakken Oil Fields have brought prosperity not only to North Dakota but especially to MHA Nation. Individuals and families receive royalty cheques that oil companies pay them for use of the land they have inherited. The royalty amounts vary, but can be as much as tens of thousands of dollars a month, the LA Times says. Unfortunately, enough younger tribal members are using the money to buy meth and other drugs, making narcotics a lucrative operation.

Authorities found heroin on the reservation for the first time in 2012. In 2013, MHA Nation flew in Guatemalan gang experts who taught them how to identify members of MS-13! This is incredible not only for the reservation but also the quiet, rural, truly Midwestern state of North Dakota:

One of the experts, Francisco Foppa, said he noticed MS-13 tattoos on people in a Wal-Mart in Minot and the 4 Bears Casino and Lodge at the MHA Nation’s capital in New Town. “It was alarming to see people with those tattoos on the reservation,” he said.

Authorities have not arrested any MS-13 kingpins, but the gang’s presence is palpable and many speak about it in whispers.

MS-13 is strong enough and scary enough that I question whether I should speak out at all,” said a former tribal leader who requested anonymity out of fear of reprisal. “They’re vicious. Just like any ripe feeding ground, they have competition, but obviously they are the big bad wolf. They are the ones that are the most terrifying.”

The rot spread to Montana, North Dakota’s neighbour. Residents in Roosevelt County had just passed a bond enabling the increase of jail space.

An FBI initiative, Operation Winter’s End, resulted in arrests and indictments in 2013. It established that the drug dealers had ties to Mexican gangs. Still, the problem persists.

On March 5, 2015, the FBI opened its fifth agency in the state:

Special Agent in Charge Thornton states, “The office in Williston is a welcomed addition to our presence in North Dakota. The opening of this office is in response to the unprecedented growth in population and economic activity associated with the oil exploration and production in the Bakken region and the corresponding increase in criminal activity. The FBI will be in a better position to effectively address these issues in this region of North Dakota through this new office. We look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts with our local law enforcement partners in the region through this permanent presence.”

I knew North Dakota well at one time, and all of this is just unthinkable. I am not alone. The LA Times reports:

Mary Eleanor Fox, a 66-year-old silver-haired matriarch of a large family, said she never thought she’d see the day most of her grandchildren would be addicted to the sort of drugs she’d once only heard about “in the big cities.”

Sadly, some babies are born addicts. Mrs Fox’s family has experienced the tragic phenomenon:

Her daughter, Jackie Powell, a robust 47-year-old with a quick smile, was forced to quit her job and become a full-time mom to her two grandsons — ages 1 and 2 — who were born addicted to methamphetamine.

Their father, Powell’s son Mason Fox, struggles with his meth addiction. Their mothers grapple with the same. Amelia Reed, mother to the youngest, first tried meth nearly five years ago and says she’s addicted to “the devil’s drug.”

“Now my first son was born with it,” Reed said. “I was pregnant and selfish and wouldn’t stop doing it.”

Reed receives oil royalty money from land she inherited on the reservation, and says the monthly checks made it easy for her to drop at least $400 a month for her habit.

An article dated March 25, 2016 from the Montana paper, Havre Daily News, ‘Mexican drug cartels hit north-central Montana’, says:

International crime cartels are selling hard drugs along the Hi-Line and the FBI has confirmed the Mexican border is the most “prevalent route” by which drugs are arriving in the U.S. and, consequently, into Montana.

An agent with the Tri-Agency Safe Trails Task Force, who prefers not to be identified by name, said cartel members have been selling methamphetamine, heroin and opioid pills along the Hi-Line since before the Bakken oil boom started in 2007. But the flood of people and high oil wages opened the floodgates of drugs and outside dealers. The drugs have spilled out of the Bakken, down the Hi-Line and into Hill County.

A local, who has spent time around drug dealers and who asked not be identified, talked about a methamphetamine dealer in Havre.

The Havre dealer met regularly in eastern Montana with a cartel member to buy meth that would be sold along the Hi-Line, the person said. The out-of-town gang member who was selling meth to the local dealer, according to the testimony, was short in stature, spoke “little English” and had a tattoo of the number 13 on his face

One possibility is the gang MS-13

But there are other Sureños gangs that sport the number 13 in homage to the Mexican Mafia, La Eme (The M):

Another possibility for which cartel the out-of-town drug dealer belonged to is the South Side Sureños …

Whichever cartel the drug dealer was from, he wanted to make sure the Havre dealer and their partner was trustworthy. He made a reference to decapitation if they weren’t, the person said.

This is a huge problem for what was a law-abiding region of the United States:

The Montana National Guard Counterdrug Program will receive a 60 percent funding hike, according to a press release issued last week by Sen. Jon Tester’s office.

The increase is partly in response to pressure from Tester to National Guard Bureau Chief General Frank Grass to help fight “organized and transnational drug trafficking and smuggling” in the Bakken region.

By the time Tester had written Grass about allocating money to fight the increased crime in the region — Tester tells Grass that “arrests in all crime categories in Bakken counties increased by 80 percent”— he had long known how dire the situation in Montana is.

Montana authorities have identified the big players there as being from the Sinaloa Cartel. That said, overall:

A local Task Force agent confirmed that cartel members have gone beyond the Bakken and landed in Hill County. He added that they are anything but inconspicuous.

“They come to this area and they’re a big fish in a little pond and they stick out,” he said.

He said cartel members “target” the Indian reservations.

“I don’t know why that is,but it may have something to do with the drug transportation pipeline,” the agent said. “One of our main pipelines here is the Yakima. We just had a big case that we took down and one of those guys was part of the cartel. He was an illegal immigrant” …

The folks who want to do harm to this country will go to the weakest link in the chain, and if the weakest link in the chain is north of Havre or north of Plentywood or north of Bismarck, North Dakota, or wherever, that’s where they will go,” Tester said.

Senator Tester thought that border security was essential to put a stop to this:

Tester said Tuesday during an interview at Fort Belknap Indian Reservation that he knows how important border security is. That’s why he’s against reducing border patrol agents by 300 as President Obama’s 2017 budget would do

“All I know is that if they’re replacing people with technology on homeland security, we need to see that plan. … I’m not opposed to having the best technology on the northern border if it saves money. In fact, I encourage them to do that. But that’s not the story I heard. The story I heard is they are reducing the people and the equipment isn’t anything more than what they would do under normal budget circumstances,” Tester said.

Tester’s office said the senator “would like to see increased security along the southern border,” adding that that is the reason he voted for the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that provided for increased border security. The bill made it past the Senate but was never taken up in the House of Representatives, the statement said.

If President Donald Trump had explained his rationale for ‘the wall’ using these types of examples during his 2016 campaign, more people would have got on board with it. That was the one sticking point I had with it.

Having done my reading for these posts, I now think it’s a good idea.

Trump is now explaining it better:

However, ports will also have to be better secured, as a result.

When it comes to gangs: where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Tomorrow: Big Pharma makes big money from illicit drug addiction

jesus-christ-the-king-blogsigncomIn 2012, I posted a series of excerpts from articles on Resurrection theology from James A Fowler’s Christ In You Ministries site, which had several excellent and uplifiting sermons about the meaning of Easter.

Revd Fowler, a pastor of the Neighborhood Church in Fallbrook, California, has also had a teaching ministry in several countries around the world. The articles cited below can be found on Christ In You’s Miscellaneous Articles.

His articles remind us of the importance of the Resurrection, not only on Easter, but the whole year through. I hope you will enjoy his perspective as much as I did. I have also included a Lutheran point of view which is similar to Fowler’s:

Remembering the reality of the risen Christ

Are we bypassing the risen Christ?

A call for Resurrection theology

Christianity IS the Risen Christ

Unlocking the meaning of the Gospel

The extension of the risen Christ

A Lutheran application of Resurrection theology

By the way, Eastertide ends on Ascension Day. We have four more Sundays during which to contemplate our Lord’s Resurrection and make that joy a part of our daily lives.

Sunday, April 23, 2017 is the Second Sunday of Easter.

The Gospel reading for this day is John 20:19-31, the story of Thomas the Apostle, depicted below in a painting by Caravaggio called The Incredulity of St Thomas.

The Bible never states that Thomas actually touched Christ’s wounds.  Nonetheless, it is a dramatic illustration of this encounter and poses an interesting thought: what if?

It is interesting that Caravaggio depicts Christ guiding Thomas’s forefinger into his wound. One can imagine Him saying quietly, ‘Go on, Thomas. Feel the spot where they pierced me. See for yourself.’ It’s a form of rebuke: ‘You stayed away for a week, doubting. Now you’ll find out.’

The links below provide more information about this Gospel reading:

Doubting Thomas — John 20:19-31

Doubting Thomas: When seeing is believing

This particular Sunday was known as Quasimodo Sunday for centuries. Today, it is called Low Sunday or, in the case of the Catholic Church, Divine Mercy Sunday.

Quasimodo Sunday was of particular importance to those who had been baptised the week before, on Easter Day.

Find out more below:

Quasimodo Sunday — seriously

It is sad that so many denominational Christians — including clergy — know so little Church history. The more we know, the deeper the meaning. It can be compared to family history. Aren’t our families even more important to us once we have more background on our relatives and ancestors? So it should be with our church family.

Forbidden Bible Verses returns next week.

I had never heard of MS-13 until last year.

Since then, I run across a mention of them nearly every week without even trying.

My post yesterday dealt with the latest strategy to fight this alarming and deadly gang.

MS-13 have had an incredible and terrifying expansion in the United States. I recently saw a History Documentary Channel film on them and would like to share it with you along with a bit of California gang history.

For my European readers, this gang might appear to be an American and Central American phenomenon, however, primary school children in North Brabant, The Netherlands, are beginning to copy MS-13’s violent behaviour (see here and here).

California gang organisation

In California, gangs operate on a North-South divide. The boundaries are marked by the towns of Delano and Bakersfield.

Gangs from the North are called Norteños: Northerners. They affiliate with the larger criminal organisation Nuestra Familia, which formed in 1968 in the Soledad Correctional Facility, located in Monterrey County. Their main income comes from drugs: cocaine, heroin, cannabis and methamphetamine. Nuestra Familia’s Wikipedia entry points out:

While members of the Norteños gang is considered to be affiliated with Nuestra Familia, being a member of Nuestra Familia itself does not signify association as a Norteño.

The number of the Norteños is 14. N is the 14th letter of the alphabet and is the first letter in Nuestra Familia. They write the number 14 as XIV or X4. They tattoo themselves with four dots. Their colours are red and black.

Sureños — Southerners, also SUR (Southern United Raza) — are gangs that operate from the southern part of the state, although some have a presence in northern California. They affiliate with the organisation Mexican Mafia, created in 1957 at what was then the Deuel Vocational Institution (now an adult prison) in Tracy. It has no original connection with Mexico, but rather Hispanic youth gangs in Los Angeles. Mexican Mafia has no connection with the New Mexican Mafia.

The number of the Sureños is 13. M is the 13th letter of the alphabet and the first letter in Mexican Mafia, also known as La Eme: The M. They write the number 13 as itself but also as XIII, X3, uno tres, trece. They tattoo themselves with three dots. Their colours are blue and grey.

In addition to drug trafficking, Sureños are also very violent. They kidnap, murder, assault and engage in human trafficking.

MS-13 is a Sureño gang.

The rift between the northern and southern gangs took place in 1968:

While La Eme had initially been created to protect Mexicans in prison, there was a perceived level of abuse by members of La Eme towards the imprisoned Latinos from rural farming areas of Northern California.[10] The spark that led to the ongoing war between Norteños and members of the Mexican Mafia involved a situation in which a La Eme allegedly stole a pair of shoes from a Northerner. This event put into motion the longest-running gang war in the state of California and the founding of Nuestra Familia.[10]

MS-13: from LA street punks to big players

Wikipedia states that the etymology of the name MS is in dispute. The gang’s full name is Mara Salvatrucha:

There is some dispute about the etymology of the name. Some sources state the gang is named for La Mara, a street gang in San Salvador, and the Salvatrucha guerrillas who fought in the Salvadoran Civil War.[8] Additionally, the word mara means gang in Caliche slang (es) and is taken from marabunta, the name of a fierce type of ant. “Salvatrucha” may be a combination of the words Salvadoran and trucha, a Caliche word for being alert. The term, “Salvatruchas” has been explained as a reference to Salvadorian peasants trained to become guerrilla fighters, referred to as “Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front.”[9]

InSight Crime has a good translation of a history of MS-13 which appeared in Spanish on the El Faro site. Insight Crime’s Geoffrey Ramsey explains more before going into Sanz and Martinez’s history from El Faro. Emphases mine below:

While the MS-13 is more commonly associated with menacing tattoos and violent initiation ceremonies, El Faro’s two-part investigation (See Part I and Part II, in their original Spanish) into the gang’s history shows that this was not always the case. When starting out at the bottom of the food chain in Los Angeles’ gang underworld, the Mara found itself attacked from all sides. The authors, Jose Luis Sanz and Carlos Martinez, claim that the gang’s fearsome reputation had to be earned, and was the result of persecution from white and Mexican gangs in the city …

The transition into one of the most ruthless transnational criminal gangs was not an easy one. The Mara Salvatrucha, like other street gangs, emerged from humble beginnings. While most analysts believe that the gang got its start in Los Angeles-area prisons in the 1990s, its roots date back farther than that, to a small group of teenagers in the Salvadoran community in the 1970s:

In the late ‘70s in LA, the Mara Salvatrucha was just a bunch of ragged teenagers, mostly heavy metal fans. They called themselves “stoners” in reference to rock and the influence of the Rolling Stones, as did other youth gangs — like the Mid City Stoners and The Hole Stoners — who listened to rock and smoked marijuana on street corners and parks in their neighborhoods.

No member of the Mara Salvatrucha Stoners was over 18 years. Most had come to the United States recently, with his parents fleeing poverty in El Salvador. They were the most recent batch of migrants to arrive and none could say that their “territory” was entirely theirs, with no blacks, Mexicans or Koreans.

Still, speaking within the Mara Salvatrucha of stoners is to invoke the pure, the original, the real thing. In the Mara, which maintains a blurred memory preserved by oral traditions, they say that none of these early pioneers are alive, but gangsters who cooly claim to have joined in those early days are aware of the prestige this gives them. Invoking the blurred past is a hallmark of the constant war for respect being waged in the gang.

The LAPD has records of the Mara Salvatrucha Stoners dating back to 1975. Researchers like Tom Ward, of the University of California, have documented the foundation of small cliques or core stoners of the MS in 1978.

It is uncertain when it first began, but some veteran Salvatruchos from LA in the late ‘70s claim that a dozen stoners began meeting regularly at the Seven Eleven that still exists at the intersection of Westmoreland Avenue and James M. Wood Street. There, at that Seven Eleven, is probably where the first clique of the Mara Salvatrucha began. There are still, in Los Angeles and El Salvador, gang members who belong to it.

The Salvatruchos felt tough. Their tight jeans torn at the knees, black shirts with album covers of ACDC, Led Zeppelin or Kiss, and long hair all shouted defiance. They were involved in fights with similar groups, stole car cassette players and became infamous in schools like Berendo Middle School, four blocks from the intersection of Normandie Avenue and Pico Boulevard. Some even boasted of being satanic while singing Hell Bent for Leather, by Judas Priest. But they hardly had any ambition beyond going to the next concert and feeling powerful by raising their fists into the air and raising two fingers, simulating a pair of horns. For the moment.

Sanz and Martinez explain MS-13’s evolution from petty crime into extreme violence as the gang expanded in Los Angeles. Prison served as an enabler, with members getting acquainted with each other and trading information:

Salvadorans formed their own gang to stand up to pressure from other Latinos, finding themselves looked at in disgust by Mexicans and their descendants. It is not easy being the new kid on the block and expecting others to invite you to play with them. Even if the game consists of waging war …

By 1985 most of the MS cliques had moved past their stoner identity and in the following years took up small-scale drug trafficking, or extorted money from corner drug dealers in their areas.

Controlling the street made no sense if you could not get financial benefit from it. They competed with other gangs in order to win in all categories: presence, control, violence … money. [MS-13 affiliated woman] La Chele remembers how the homies came out of jail talking in new terms about the arts of intimidation and power, learned from long cell conversations. She, herself near the end of a brief stay in a prison, found herself bringing order to her clique, which was losing money because it only taxed local drug dealers once a week.

“The homie who was in charge of extortions asked me, ‘How do you think you can improve our method, coming out of jail?’ And I said, “Simon, you got to charge rent every day, plus the corner dealers can see that red truck of yours from a mile away. When they see it they hide and that’s why you don’t·manage to get anything.”

It took a long time for MS to earn enough street cred so that they could get a powerful ally in the gang world. Sanz and Martinez tell us:

The number 13 is actually a name that indicates homage to a criminal force majeure, the Lords, the Mexican Mafia, which reigns in Southern California. The Mara Salvatrucha would take several years to build that friendship and that number.

MS-13 now an international menace

This brings us to the 45-minute film from History Documentary Channel, MS-13: World’s Most Dangerous Gang. It was made in 2016. Some dates differ to what Sanz and Martinez above documented, e.g. when the gang was founded. A summary of the film follows:

Wally

The documentary features the story of Wally, a student at Hollywood High and an Iranian immigrant, having a snack in a neighbourhood restaurant with a friend. On December 17, 2002, an MS-13 girl approached Wally and asked him where he was from, meaning what gang was he with. A few minutes later, a group of male gang members and the girl surrounded him, brutally beating him up. They fled. Bleeding, Wally got up off the floor. He thought that was the end of the incident. Suddenly, a gang member walked back in with a gun and shot him at point blank range.

The senseless attack occurred because the girl and the male gang members were angry when Wally said he was from Iran. He had no gang connection. But Wally protested his innocence in vain.

Wally survived the beating and the shooting, but was now a quadriplegic, in a wheelchair and on a ventilator 24/7. Fortunately, he was able to testify in court against his attackers. He died four months later.

Marvin ‘Spy’ Guerra was among the defendants in court. He had joined MS-13 in October 2002. Guerra was the guy who went back to the restaurant to shoot Wally. He did that to make a name for himself.

Guerra aimed the gun close to Wally’s face. Wally’s only option in a split second reaction was to put his hand in front of his face. The bullet went through Wally’s hand and into his neck. Guerra had crippled Wally for life.

Guerra received a life sentence. He is eligible for parole in 15 years, therefore, soon.

Honduras

Another senseless attack — a massacre — took place in San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in Honduras. On December 23, 2004, MS-13 members there opened fire on a bus full of families at 6:30 p.m. Women, children and the elderly died in a bloodbath. A Honduran law enforcement official said it was like ‘something out of a Hollywood movie’, so horrific it didn’t seem possible in real life.

The massacre was organised and executed by a Los Angeles MS-13 member.

Two cars blocked the bus, one from the front and the other at the back. MS-13 members first killed the bus driver. They then sprayed the bus with bullets. That wasn’t enough. The gang members then went inside the bus to make sure everyone was dead. The law enforcement official said:

It was like a war zone, because the weapons were war weapons — M16s, AK-47s.

Twenty-eight people died, six of whom were children.

Fortunately, Honduran police were able to capture all but one of the killers — the mastermind behind the attack, from Los Angeles. His name is Eber Anibal Rivera-Paz, known as El Coche, or The Tapeworm. He was part of an MS-13 clique the Normandie Locos, referencing Normandie Avenue in Los Angeles.

The Tapeworm had been deported in the 1990s back to Honduras, where he started an MS-13 clique which he headed. He ordered the bus massacre in order to get back at police who were cracking down on the gang.

He made his way back to the United States but was quickly sent back to Honduras by airport immigration. Somehow, Honduran officials were unable to identify him upon his return. Furthermore, someone should have been waiting for him at the airport. When he saw no one was there, he continued on his way.

The Tapeworm has not been seen since. He could be in Honduras. He could be in the United States. He could be anywhere.

Ex-members’ stories

Since the 1980s, MS-13 has been growing at a ‘phenomenal rate’, with a presence in 41 or 42 states today as well as in Latin America.

In its infancy, MS-13’s original members had not belonged to gangs in El Salvador. They only formed a gang once they met in Los Angeles near Lafayette Park.

By 1979, approximately 700,000 Salvadorians fled the guerilla war in their own country for the safety of the United States. They settled near MacArthur Park in Los Angeles. One law enforcement official interviewed said that more than 95% of these immigrants wanted to work hard and build a new future for themselves. However, some young Salvadorians felt the tension on the streets near the park, which a Mexican gang, 18th Street, controlled. Salvadorians were not welcome.

Julio Cabrera, a former MS-13 member, said that when he joined in 1987 as Flipper, MS-13 and some of the other gangs got along and partied together. That changed in short order once MS-13 got involved in drug dealing and violence. Eventually, MS-13 began infringing on 18th Street’s territory.

In 1990, a fight broke out at a neighbourhood party and an 18th Street member shot an MS-13 member. Some say the shooting started a fierce war between the two gangs. Gunfights took place nightly.

By then, Salvadorians who had fought in their civil war began arriving in Los Angeles. Some joined MS-13. They were tough. They had military training. A law enforcement official says that they had seen and engaged in so much ruthless and extreme violence — e.g. cutting people’s arms off with a machete, setting people alight — that it was routine.

When Charlie ‘Angel’ Vasquez’s family arrived in Los Angeles in 1979, he was eight years old. He joined the Parkview Locos, a clique of MS-13 and got two tattoos, one on each arm. One says Mara 13 and the other 213, the city’s telephone area code. He said he was an ‘adrenaline junkie’ at the time and found the gang violence ‘exciting’.

He met the aforementioned Julio Cabrera, who helped initiate him into MS-13. The initiation rite consists of getting brutally beaten up by other gang members for 13 seconds. Vasquez says that if a member is enjoying watching someone getting beaten up, he’ll count to 13 more slowly.

Such violence and notoriety, Vasquez says, attracted hundreds of new recruits around the city. Not only was MS-13 shooting people without a second thought, they also had a reputation for rape. Vasquez said that he disapproved of rape, but a lot of his fellow ‘homies’ didn’t mind.

MS-13 also had a well known reputation for murder, which Vasquez also participated in. In 1991, he got into a heated argument with a rival black gang member. The black punched him then ran off. Charlie caught up with him. Out of his box on drink and cocaine, Charlie couldn’t stop punching his rival. When he stood back, he saw his clothes were covered in blood. His rival died.

Police arrested Vasquez at the scene. Vasquez felt no remorse for what he had done. In fact, he said that he felt proud, especially because his victim was black:

Hispanic gang members are racist.

Whilst in Los Angeles County Jail, he contemplated his next victims (‘Chinese? Cops?’) and his next crime:

You can’t help but think of evil things to do.

Meanwhile, the war with 18th Street was escalating. Drive-by shootings were commonplace, and innocent people were getting shot, sometimes fatally.

Enter the Mexican Mafia, which decided to stop the carnage. It was bad for their business. People stopped hanging out on street corners waiting for their drugs.

The truce took place at Elysian Park. The LAPD filmed it. The Mexican Mafia divided the area around MacArthur Park between the two gangs.

That was when Mara Salvatrucha added 13 to its name. That numerical addition increased their prestige. Soon they branched outside of Los Angeles. New territory was easy to find.

Rapid expansion

By the early 1990s, police forces noticed that MS-13 random violence was taking place far away from Los Angeles.

As the LAPD began cracking down on the gang, members moved elsewhere in the US. This gave them the opportunity to lie low from the police as well as operate in a new environment.

A law enforcement official said that it is easy for the gang to blend in to new surroundings. MS-13 members work by day, often in the building trade or menial labour, so appear to be straight arrows to employers. They enjoy working hard and will move anywhere there is job growth and steady employment.

BUTwell meaning parents also move their MS-13 teenage children to other parts of the country in the belief that they will quit the gang. Joker, who was a member of the Parkview Locos (affiliated with MS-13), said that his mother told him they were going to move to Virginia, where she had family. After six months, Joker picked up where he left off when he happened to meet other LA members there. He wasted no time in setting up a new branch of MS-13 in Fairfax County, Virginia. He began recruiting in middle schools and high schools.

Joker was not alone. This happened all over the United States. By the end of the 1990s, there were 10,000 MS-13 members across the nation.

In Dallas in 2001, the body of a young man was found in the woods. He had been shot execution style — and sodomised.

In Virginia in 2003, hikers found the body of a pregnant teenager along the banks of the Shenandoah River. She had been stabbed 16 times, her head nearly severed.

My post from yesterday has more recent cases.

Illegal immigrants

The Clinton administration instituted new laws to crack down on illegal immigration in the 1990s, closely tied to gang violence.

The aforementioned Tapeworm — who ended up in Honduras — was one of the members deported.

Hundreds of other MS-13 members were deported back to their Latin American countries of origin. They quickly established and led MS-13 branches. They were big fish in a little pond.

However, there was a more pragmatic reason. They returned with no money and no job, just the clothes on their back. Many had no family, so crime and violence were the only options they knew and the ones that came easiest.

El Salvador

Around this time, MS-13 took root in El Salvador.

The aforementioned Julio Cabrera was sent back to El Salvador. The kids on the street thought he was a Hollywood movie star. He started several cliques in the MS-13 style. He had no end of recruits. The gang culture grew quickly.

Charlie Vasquez, who was doing time for beating a black gang member to death, was offered a plea bargain and was deported to his native El Salvador. Unlike a number of his fellow members, he took the opportunity to turn his life around south of the border.

Central America became a gangster’s paradise

The teenage recruits that deported MS-13 members cultivated were eager to get the full gang experience.

American culture is a big deal there, and anyone from Los Angeles earns instant respect and adoration.

Police forces in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala were overwhelmed by a sudden crime epidemic, which included families being terrorised, sometimes massacred. Victims were afraid to notify the police, and there were cases where police were afraid to confront the gang members or investigate those crimes.

California law

In 2004, laws began changing in California, making it easier not only for people to speak up but also for police to arrest gang members, even for loitering.

However, MS-13 lives on: where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Law enforcement

Since 2006, the FBI has developed a good working relationship with law enforcement in Central American countries.

Conclusion

Jail and prison have served to further MS-13’s reach.

One prison in San Salvador is comprised of MS-13 members only. The inmates hide their telephones and can easily communicate with MS-13 members in the United States. Heinous crimes have been engineered and committed.

The same thing happens from US prisons to Central American MS-13 cliques.

Human trafficking, drugs and money laundering are highly likely to be international operations.

Fortunately, as some MS-13 members get older, they leave. They find jobs and raise families. Some become willing informants, a great asset to the authorities. They get their tattoos removed. Some help young teens avoid gang life. Others turn towards the Church. One former MS-13 member has become a pastor.

MS-13 is an international scourge. Let us hope that the US Attorney General and law enforcement agencies both in the US and Central America can eradicate it.

Coming up on Monday: MS-13’s surprising new market

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