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Religion News Report

March 2, 2001 (Vol. 5, Issue 332) - 3/3

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Rainbow


» Continued from Part 2

=== Satanic and/or Ritual Abuse
33. Police discover more child abuse horror on internet
34. I was wrong about cannibalism, so now I'm eating humble pie
35. A time they'd rather forget
36. Orkney: 10 years after
37. Growing number of victims of an abuse that 'does not exist'

=== Alternative Medicine
38. Public snaps up tickets to Weil meeting on alt medicine

=== Books
39. Self-Help Nation
40. IBM's connection to Nazi Germany: the untold story


=== Satanic and/or Ritual Abuse

33. Police discover more child abuse horror on internet
The Independent (England), Feb. 21, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

[...See follow-up story...]
British detectives are trying to close a website showing pictures of a man eating a dismembered baby.

Scotland Yard is talking with the FBI in the US in an effort to close the website, based in California. The website - which can be viewed without any special security codes - was still accessible yesterday. A second website showing similar scenes of sadistic and ritualistic abuse has been successfully shut.
(...)

The existence of the websites was revealed by two patients at the Clinic for Dissociative Studies in Harley Street, central London. The clinic is run by Valerie Sinason, a psychotherapist who specialises in the treatment of adult survivors of child abuse.

Dr Sinason has attracted controversy in the past over her claims that some children are abused in satanic rituals involving ceremonies and animal or human sacrifice.

Other researchers have disputed her claims. Professor Jean La Fontaine, who carried out a separate study, found no evidence of ritual abuse.

Detective Inspector Clive Driscoll, a specialist in paedophile crimes, said he was working with colleagues in the US to track the origin of the picture of the man eating the baby.
(...)

Mr Driscoll said: ''The pictures are awful. It is your worst nightmare unfolding in front of you. I took them to a very senior forensic pathologist - a man I have a lot of faith in - and he looked me in the eye and said `These are the pictures I hoped I would never see'.

''For me it's a murder scene because I don't know how that child died. That is why I have got massive concern about it and I think something should be done about it.''
[...more...]


34. I was wrong about cannibalism, so now I'm eating humble pie
The Independent (England), Mar. 1, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

Let's not beat about the bush. I've been had. A reporter in search of a story has, not for the first time, fallen foul of an excess of enthusiasm, credulousness, and someone's idea of a good joke.

Last week, a story by me appeared in The Independent, saying that police were trying to close down an internet site that carried pictures of a man eating a dismembered baby.
(...)

It turns out, as several readers have brought to our attention with notable glee, that the pictures on the Californian website show, not human sacrifice, but a Chinese performance artist who has been shocking audiences in the Far East with his images of cannibalism. Distasteful as his pictures will seem to most people, they are not evidence of Satanic abuse.

So here I am eating humble pie. I apologise for misleading readers about the proper context of the pictures (which was unknown to me). But the story behind the story is, I believe, interesting in its own right - for the light that it casts on the controversy about Satanic abuse.

I was contacted a fortnight ago by Valerie Sinason, a child psychotherapist who has, almost single-handedly, kept alive the notion that some children in Britain have been the victims of ritual or Satanic abuse for more than a decade. She has, she says, 51 adult patients who are survivors of child abuse and who, during therapy, have disclosed details suggesting that the abuse had ritual elements.

I was well aware of Ms Sinason's controversial background and have myself been a sceptic about Satanic abuse since the first allegations were made in the late 1980s. I visited Rochdale in 1990, one of the alleged centres of the practice along with Nottingham and Orkney, and concluded in a piece I wrote for the Sunday Correspondent that the most likely explanation for the strange goings-on could be found on the horror shelves of the local video store.

However, I decided to take Ms Sinason's evidence at face value and check it. I accessed the website and there, sure enough, was a man apparently eating a dead baby. I spoke to the police officer she put me in touch with - Detective Inspector Clive Driscoll - and he gave me some bloodcurdling quotes about murder and human sacrifice and said a senior forensic pathologist who had examined the pictures considered the dismembered baby to be real.

There were, admittedly, no candles or crucifixes, and the man was obviously posing, but, on the face of it, cannibalism had been caught on camera.

Once again, however, allegations of ritual abuse have turned out to rest on very little. A year ago, Valerie Sinason appeared on Radio 4's Today programme claiming she had ''clinical evidence'' of babies who had not been registered at birth being involved in ritual abuse. The implication was that the babies had been conceived and raised secretly for use in rituals that sometimes ended in their sacrifice.

Most experts poured scorn on these claims and pointed out they could do serious harm by their very outlandishness - by making the whole of child abuse seem less likely and easier to dismiss. But they gained a measure of credence because Ms Sinason had been commissioned by the Department of Health, together with a colleague Dr Robert Hale, to write a report detailing her findings, which was submitted to the department last July.

I contacted the health department to ask what had happened to Ms Sinason's report and ask for a comment. What I received, by e-mail, was one of the longest and most carefully worded statements I can remember receiving.

The health department said, in summary, that they had received the report by Dr Hale and Ms Sinason, submitted it to peer review and returned it to the authors with reviewers' comments. They had no plans to publish it. They also cited separate research that they had commissioned from Professor Joan La Fontaine of the London School of Economics, who found ''no independent material evidence'' to support allegations of ''Satanic child abuse and devil worship''.

The coup de grace came in the final paragraph: ''In the Government's view, the conclusion of the study they commissioned by Professor La Fontaine ... has not been rendered invalid by Dr Hale and Valerie Sinason's study.''

In other words, the claims about Satanic abuse are a load of tosh. To my knowledge, this is the first official declaration by a government department to this effect.
[...more...]


35. A time they'd rather forget
The Herald (Scotland), Feb. 27, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

(...) The official report into what happened at four houses across the island at 7am on February 27, 1991, is couched in objectivity, but still the emotion fights through. It describes how one of the mothers had got up early to waken her children, give them breakfast, and send them off to school - the everyday routine of homes across the country. But this was no ordinary day. And when the mother heard cars outside she found police and social workers waiting to take away her children.

At first, when she opened the door, her heart sank. That's what the report says, before going on to describe how she shouted and held on to her eldest daughter, how the daughter was in tears, and how the girl, her brother, and sister - all distressed by the early morning call - were led away to the cars that would remove them from their mother's life for the next five weeks.

That report runs to more than 360 pages. It was published at the end of Lord Clyde's seven-month, [pound]6m inquiry into why nine children in all were taken away in what amounts to one of the most spectacularly bungled cases in the history of social work in this country.
(...)

If you remember the TV pictures beamed around the world from Orkney over the weeks that followed the dawn uplift, your overriding impression will be of pure anger. There was powerful footage of social work chiefs enduring siege conditions in their offices, of parents bursting in and raging for the return of their children.

The chiefs bowed to the inevitable five weeks after the children - aged from eight to 15 - were taken from Orkney to what were described as ''places of safety'' on the Scottish mainland. Most were cared for by foster-parents. The oldest of the children spent his time in care at a residential school where two-thirds of his contemporaries were young offenders. As Lord Clyde's report puts it: ''The environment was very different from that in Orkney in which his parents had intended to bring him up. Through his acquaintances . . . (he), as his parents saw it, was exposed to those very influences which they had come to Orkney to escape.''

He and the other children were placed in care because Orkney's social work department believed they were at risk from a paedophile ring that involved their parents and the local Church of Scotland minister. The case collapsed when a sheriff ruled that it was ''fundamentally flawed''. Hours after, that ruling triggered scenes of high drama at Kirkwall Sheriff Court, the children were reunited with their parents during the most emotional of homecomings witnessed by 200 well-wishers at Kirkwall airport.

Today, if the South Ronaldsay affair continues to generate heated debate, it is a debate whose participants are all but limited to the journalists who covered the days and months between February 27, 1991, and October 27, 1992 - the day Lord Clyde published his damning report into how the case had been mishandled.

The top-level social workers who got things so wrong have long gone from Orkney. The islands council has apologised to and provided compensation for the children and their parents. And, a decade on, the parents have put the case behind them. Their children have grown up. And Orkney has tried to forget. This is a forward-thinking community with a pride in a past whose landmarks follow a clear path right back to those roadside standing stones. But the story of those dark days in the early nineties will never feature in an Orcadian's history of these islands.
(...)

How the scandal developed February 27, 1991: Police and social workers stage dawn raids on four families in St Margaret's Hope on South Ronaldsay. Nine children are taken into care.
February 28: public meeting in St Margaret's Hope, attended by the parents, forms the South Ronaldsay Parents' Action Group.
March 4: group calls for a judicial public inquiry.
March 5: children's hearing in Kirkwall agrees the children should remain in care as inquiries continue.
March 6: parents appeal against the hearing's ruling but Sheriff Principal Ronald Ireland refuses the appeal.
April 4: Sheriff David Kelbie ridicules the allegations and claims the children are in more danger from repeated cross-examination ''designed to break them down and admit to having been abused''. Orkney social work department organises a plane and that night the children are reunited with their parents.
April18: Ian Lang, secretary of state, announces a judicial inquiry.
June 12: Lord Hope, Scotland's most senior judge, overrules Sheriff Kelbie, saying he had breached the laws of natural justice.
June 19: Mr Lang announces inquiry remit which would not extend to investigating the abuse allegations.
August 26: Clyde Inquiry opens in Kirkwall.
October 27, 1992: inquiry report finds it difficult to hold that any of the principal parties were free from error but that those principally involved acted in good faith. As regards the families, Lord Clyde says the presumption of innocence has to apply.
[...more...]


36. Orkney: 10 years after
The Sunday Herald (Scotland), Feb. 25, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

(...) It was about this time, on Wednesday February 27, 1991, along this route from Kirkwall, that a convoy of cars swept onto the island, over the Churchill Barriers to four houses where they removed nine children from their families.

That dawn raid on sleeping families signalled the beginning of the South Ronaldsay affair. But that bald term hides the scars that left families traumatised, the islands stigmatised in the eyes of the world, the credibility of social workers and the local council destroyed and triggered a radical change to the law on child protection in Scotland. Some legacy.

South Ronaldsay is where the ''ritual sexual abuse'' theory leapt from the pages of social work journals and entered the popular lexicon of the nation. The grounds for the children to be taken away mentioned ritualistic music, dancing and dress in the context of abuse. There was no reference to satanism but that did not matter. The stories of children previously taken into care, of cloaked figures, of lights at night, of dancing in a circle in a quarry led to the local Church of Scotland minister, Reverend Morris McKenzie, being quizzed by police over ''lewd and libidinous'' behaviour. The elements were enough for the media to label South Ronaldsay ''Devil's Island''.

The bizarre and hurtful affair stemmed as much from an actual case of child abuse in one family on South Ronaldsay as it did from theories of child abuse in America. LA psychiatrist Roland Summit's controversial idea was that organised, ritualistic abuse of children was happening everywhere, unnoticed and unreported. It was out there and all the social workers had to do was go and find it. And they did so with the passion of a zealot rooting out evil.

The idea crossed the Atlantic gaining, professional credibility as it spread like wildfire. What happened on Orkney was not unique. Families all over Europe found themselves in the same allegations of ''ritual child abuse''.

In South Ronaldsay, the children from one allegedly abusive family were subjected to questionable interview techniques by social workers, in so-called new disclosure therapy sessions. This involved repeatedly questioning until they ''admitted'' to what was happening. As the children were led through ''their stories'', accounts were made of how they had been exposed to sexual intercourse between adults and children. For social workers on high alert for ritual abuse of children, the accounts bore all the hallmarks of Summit's theory. They acted decisively.

The culture of professional hysteria that swept children out of their parents' arms during the next five weeks was finally stopped in its tracks by a Scottish sheriff after the nine children were taken into care. Sheriff David Kelbie began a hearing into the proof of the allegations and after two days and, he admitted, two sleepless nights, he announced that the sooner the children were returned to their parents, the better. He went further, deliberately wrecking the case against the parents, some thought, by dismissing the evidence presented.

After the children were returned, the Crown Office announced that none of the parents, nor the Reverend McKenzie, would be charged with any offences. An official inquiry, chaired by Lord Clyde, began in Kirkwall town hall in July 1991 and ran for six months. It concluded with 363 pages that damned every organisation and nearly every senior individual involved for their actions on South Ronaldsay.
(...)

While the islands recovered their reputation, the council's social work department is still battered. ''We will always be vigilant,'' says Cyril Annal, the councillor for South Ronaldsay. ''We will be vigilant against child abuse because it happens all the time, but we will also be on our guard against professional zealots and experts who wind each other up and destroy people who don't agree with them.''

There are, Annal holds, still many so-called child care experts who think that South Ronaldsay was a missed opportunity, who are convinced that ritualistic abuse was uncovered but unproven. There are also social workers in Scotland who have to struggle every day in the shadow of the affair to balance the cases of abuse with the rights of children and the need to respect the family units they live in.
[...more...]


37. Growing number of victims of an abuse that 'does not exist'
The Scotsman (Scotland), Feb. 26, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

What perhaps the Orkney case revealed most clearly was how far adult concerns still dominate controversies and inquiries which are supposedly about the welfare of children.
(...)

Yet despite the Orkney Inquiry's 190 recommendations on future practice, Scotland's entire child protection system, its legal system and a ten-month, GBP 6 million inquiry were all unable to answer one simple question. Were nine children in need of protection, or were they not? That question remains unanswered, the evidence unheard and untested in any court.

As in Cleveland, the government remit set for Lord Clyde's Inquiry was to investigate how officials behaved, not whether child abuse took place. While Clyde made numerous recommendations about interviewing of children, he made no comment on the foster parents' testimony of bizarre, disturbing statements and behaviour by five Orkney youngsters.
(...)

After the collapse of the Rochdale and Orkney child abuse cases, the existence of organised abuse of children by occult groups and was ridiculed and discredited. The ritual abuse 'scare' was blamed on obsessed social workers, feminists and evangelical Christians. In 1994, then health minister Virginia Bottomley said a government- sponsored report exposed the myth of satanic abuse.

But did it? Laurie Matthew, co-ordinator of the Young Women's Centre in Dundee, which works with abused children and teenagers, claims 85 per cent of their phone support time last year was spent with traumatised young people, describing ritual abuse. Matthew states that in the last four months, the YWC has dealt with four children and teenagers who claim statutory agencies have told them or their families: ''Sorry, we're unable to deal with that type of abuse''.

Sergeant Dougie Gray of the Tayside Child Protection Unit, who has worked closely with the YWC, believes ritual abuse exists, and that staff investigating it should have the support of their managements.

Agencies ranging from Say Women, a supported accommodation project for abused women in Glasgow, to the Rape and Abuse Line, a free counselling service in the Highlands, ''categorically'' confirm contact with traumatised ritual abuse survivors, and call for services to help them.

''Loads of people from the statutory agencies are working with RA,'' claims Matthew. ''I want these agencies to acknowledge they are already supporting survivors. Why are they hiding away? If they're afraid, imagine how survivors must feel.
(...)

Some social workers and residential care staff think child victims are being better protected now, through use in court of ''ordinary'' sexual abuse evidence. Others are less certain.
[...more...]


=== Alternative Medicine

38. Public snaps up tickets to Weil meeting on alt medicine
The Tucson Citizen, Feb. 24, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

Proving once again interest in alternative medicine is booming here, every seat for a March 6 town meeting moderated by Dr. Andrew Weil in Tucson is spoken for.

''Andrew Weil is so popular, and it's free,'' said Kate Jensen, a spokeswoman for the University of Arizona Steele Memorial Children's Research Center.

The center is co-sponsoring the event with the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Jensen said 550 people already have reserved seats for the event at the Westward Look Resort and 100 of them will end up watching Weil and the other speakers on a televised live feed in another room.
(...)

Along with Weil's nationally and internationally recognized Program in Integrative Medicine, several UA departments are becoming big players in the area of complementary and alternative medicine.
(...)

Dr. Andrew Weil's University of Arizona program, which includes research, a medical clinic, medical education programs and a two- year postgraduate training fellowship for doctors, is back to full functioning and is recovering from its financial problems, according to its founder.

''Now we'd like to grow,'' he said.

Weil said the program has been reorganized and recently received a federal grant of just under $1 million to develop curriculum for distance education of doctors.

It has been asked to submit a proposal to the Department of Defense for distance training for doctors in the military.

And Weil recently lobbied state legislators to approve $1.1 million in funding for his program.
(...)

Medical educators in other states refer to the ''Arizona model'' of integrative medical training, he said.

It's possible for Arizona to become known as the leader in integrative medicine and to become a destination point for ''health tourism,'' Weil said.
[...more...]


=== Books

39. SELF-HELP NATION The Long Overdue, Entirely Justified, Delightfully Hostile Guide to the Snake-Oil Peddlers Who Are Sapping Our Nation's Soul
International Herald Tribune / New York Times News Service, Mar. 1, 2001
http://www.iht.com/cgi-bin/generic.cgi?template=articleprint.tmplh&ArticleId=12038Off-site Link

The journalist Tom Tiede's new book on the U.S. mania for self-help manuals and ''success coaches'' takes on a topic that seems like a slam-dunk for parody or satire or even indignant analysis, and it somehow manages to deliver a screed that's even more annoying than its subject. Tiede's book turns out to be everything he accuses self-help books of being and worse: It's self-important, sanctimonious and poorly written; it uses random anecdotes to make absurd generalizations, and it devolves into a loony editorial rant about everything from marijuana to U.S. foreign policy in the Balkans.

In ''Self-Help Nation,''Off-site Link Tiede attempts to chronicle the ascendance of the self-help movement. He notes that there is a satellite television station called ''the Success Channel that is given over to 'positive, life-enhancing programming, 24 hours a day.''' He traces the proliferation of self-improvement gurus from Norman Vincent Peale in the 1950s to such current stars as Deepak Chopra and John Bradshaw.
(...)

Tiede points out that such books are written for baby boomers ''with warts,'' that they are concerned ''with improving the lives of the Haves'' while conveniently ignoring those with ''no food,'' ''no medical attention,'' ''no shelters.'' He also points out that the Pollyanna-ish advice dispensed by such self-help mavens flies in the face of the human condition, that solutions do not exist for death or aging or loss.

Such common-sense observations, however, become scarcer and scarcer as the book proceeds, and they are undermined by Tiede's penchant for extrapolating the general from the highly specific.
(...)

In the course of this book, similarly broad - and dubious - pronouncements are delivered on a host of issues that have nothing whatsoever to do with self-help books.
(...)

When Tiede is not issuing complaints, he is either name-dropping (Dr. Spock and Mother Teresa are apparently among the ''tens of thousands of human beings'' he has known) or handing out cutesy-pie advice. ''I urge you to go to the forest for succor instead of the bookshop,'' he writes at the end of the book. ''Stand next to a tall tree. If that doesn't make you feel better, then: kiss someone like you mean it; turn in a crooked cop; join a movement to eliminate first class on air flights; learn to play the guitar.''

No doubt Tiede means, in such passages, to send up fatuous self-help writers, but his sense of humor is so dim and his writing so lame that his book seems more like part of the problem than an antidote.
[...more...]


40. IBM's connection to Nazi Germany: the untold story
Miami Herald, Feb. 26, 2001
http://www.miami.com/Off-site Link

IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful CorporationOff-site Link Edwin Black. Crown Publishers. 520 pages. $27.50

Edwin Black's book came out two weeks ago with no advance publicity. In fact, the book was virtually kept under wraps, with hardly any information offered to booksellers or the media. Nonetheless, as of this writing, it is a best-seller.

The subject matter is explosive: the collaboration between International Business Machines and the government of Adolph Hitler. According to Black, the firm was not merely a passive order-filling vendor, but an eager and proactive partner who enabled and empowered the Nazi Reich with their technology.

Specifically, IBM, (a company founded by a U.S. Census Bureau employee who invented a punch-card machine to automate the counting) devised, sold and supported a system for recording the German population's ethnic make-up. This allowed the extermination of Jews and other so-called non-Aryan religious and cultural groups deemed unacceptable by the Nazis.
(...)

The result is an exhaustively researched, highly detailed look at IBM, its history and business dealings.
(...)

Black's book is, in many ways, like Spielberg's movie, Schindler's List; IBM and the Holocaust is an ugly story, hidden for years, told by a master craftsman in a compelling way. More than just another Holocaust tale, the author paints a remarkable portrait of how a powerful company created enormous opportunities, irrespective of moral concerns and consequences. It's a chilling lesson in politics and business that remains potent relevant, and highly revelatory.
[...more...]