THE CONSPIRACY VIRUS

The name Corona is from Latin origin and it means, “crown of laurels”. Coronavirus is thus named because it describes the physical appearance of the virus. In Spanish it means, “halo”.

Coronavirus strains were first discovered in the late 1960’s and most of these have inflicted serious respiratory tract infections. Covid 19 has hit the world unlike anything most of us can remember or have experienced in our lifetime’s. Despite the rapid spread of infection, it is no match for the significant speed and vigour of social media which conveys information, (fact and otherwise), with lightning speed. In addition, anything and everything can be rebranded by opinion. We are left to sift through what is accurate and what is made up. In most instances that is generally straightforward to deduce but a subtle approach which distorts fact can be very convincing. Conspiracy theories flourish in times of rapid social change and massive upheaval.

We now live in a world that can frighten itself with a keyboard.

Before this global outbreak I had been working on a blog about the “science” of conspiracy theories and those who perpetrate them. This of course was going to be linked directly to what I specialise in, gun crime and gun related incidents in history. Probably the most studied has been the assassination of JFK in 1963. More of that later. Back to conspiracy advocates, who are these guys? Well they enter every aspect of our existence and they’re working overtime right now on this new global plight. 

Conspiracy advocates encounter day to day life like the rest of us. They see and experience chance and random occurrences every day. However, they selectivity view some events in life through the other end of binoculars. They see focused reasons for many important events. Unlike the rest of us  there is no chance and random in the life of a Conspiratulist. Inspired by the reasoning of their fellow doubters they are glued to the well worn conspiracy platitudes and slick articulate narratives. The conspiracy theorist is special, and they have special needs. They visibly blossom when seeing the effects of their opinions slowly convincing folk who have never really studied an occurrence. Nothing is what it seems to the Conspiratulist. Interestingly there is often something sinister and highly secret going on within a conspiracy theory; so secret in fact it is impossible to verify. This gives the Conspiratulist’s self-awarded credibility, the permission to mark their own study and homework. Conspiracists prefer faith rather than evidence. Thought and feeling rather than fact. You can’t debate with them, they’re on a rare spectrum. They are the self-appointed “Truth-Tellers”.

As far as they are concerned:-

Nobody landed on the moon. The JFK assassination was an inside job, delicately prosecuted by the anti-state. Princess Diana was murdered in Paris. 911 was an underground establishment plot, sacrificing the innocent for the greater good. Covid 19 was developed in China, released to infect the world whilst China recovers and dominates the global trade markets.

Their inside knowledge is formed around dark reasoning and fused opinions, not establishment facts, (or lies as they would often view them). They hold the key to the SSOT, (single source of truth). Convincing, articulate, seemingly intelligent they force opinion like manipulative evangelist preachers filling the space of empty minds. Some individuals have seen an opportunity to make a healthy living out of it, perhaps the Texas based radio presenter, Alex Jones is one of the loudest and most notorious. Here in the UK we have David Icke, (a gentleman Conspiratulist compared to Alex Jones). Richard D. Hall who runs the website, Richplanet TV is interesting. I make a point of sitting in on one of his presentations every year. He maintains the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, (image below), was faked as was the 2016 stabbing and shooting murder of MP Jo Cox. I find it difficult to sit and listen to this, but I must get a “balanced view”.

Conspiratulist’s might get a broader view of the world and a little more insight into how it works if they were prepared to “get out more”. I have had the opportunity to live a pretty full life. I have seen and experienced great beauty, awful tragedy and bizarre occurrences. I have been involved in situations that perhaps hardened Conspiratulist’s would hope to unravel but never personally experience. Here is a small side story.

On Sunday 14 January 1980 the 22,000-ton Anti-Submarine / Commando Carrier HMS Bulwark was south of Bermuda on the last part of an Atlantic crossing. Her destination was the US Navy port of Mayport near Jacksonville in Florida. Bulwark was going to take part in Exercise Safe Passage with American and other NATO forces and would be returning to the UK in March 1980. The ship’s company were looking forward to being alongside in Mayport with the delights of time ashore and station leave. Sunday was a stand down day for most of the ship. Except for the required duty watch most were relaxing. The sun was shining, the sea state was calm and the carrier was making good passage west. I was a member of the 25 strong Royal Marine assault squadron on board. Most of us crewed the 4 LCVP’s, (Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel), the rest provided an assault supply team. After breakfast on that Sunday the ships Commander, a past Fleet Air Arm Buccaneer pilot made a jovial announcement on the ships tannoy PA system. We were on schedule to arrive at Mayport inside the next 48 hours and interestingly we were about to enter the fabled, “Bermuda Triangle”. This portion of ocean had acquired a reputation for doom and despondency. Despite being a busy area for shipping and overflown by aircraft on a daily basis it had a “history” of strange ship losses and disappearing aircraft. In fact it held no more threat and notoriety than any other portion of ocean but some and predominately those who have never been there like to cling to the legends.

I decided to go up on deck and read in the shelter of a forward gun sponson. There was activity and noise on the flight deck. The drone of rotor blades eventually eased as a Sea King HAS2 anti-submarine helicopter from 814 Naval Air Squadron eventually lifted of the flight deck. XZ572 departed over the starboard side and flew out towards the horizon. Except for the gentle breeze over the deck it was now peaceful again and I got back to my book. Our “Cold War” Russian intelligence gathering vessel or “trawler” continued to accompany us. An hour passed and then suddenly alarms started to sound around the ship. Flight deck crews emerged on the flight deck as the SAR, (Search and Rescue), Sea King was rapidly prepared and crewed for launch. The carrier lurched to starboard and picked up speed. I thought best to go below and find out what was going on. The passageways were suddenly busy.

The RM messdeck was in a heightened state, we were quickly briefed to get the VP’s ready for launch. The Sea King that I had watched depart had reported a critical gearbox hydraulic oil leak and had been forced to ditch some 20 miles away. The SAR helicopter was close to picking up the 4 man crew and the stricken craft was still upright and afloat. The plan was to tow recover it to the side of the ship and crane it on board. The aircraft and equipment on board was a very valuable asset. On arrival an hour or so later the sea state was up a bit. The ship’s RIB was first out with ships divers and flotation gear. We were the duty LCVP crew in Bravo 4 and we were lowered into the Atlantic swell. Another VP accompanied us and the other two vessels remained on the davits on standby. We had to lay off the craft until we were called in. The divers were struggling to attach and inflate the huge yellow flotation bags, the sea state was getting worse. The carrier almost stationary loomed beside us but conscious not to get too close. After another 30 minutes of struggle the Skipper called off the recovery, it was too hazardous, and the helicopter was taking in water and listing. Meanwhile the bloody Russians were getting as close as they dare. The divers withdrew and we waited for the craft to sink. It didn’t take long, it rolled to one side, only the tail rotor remained for a while then it slide below the waves for its last flight to the bottom of the Atlantic.

The priority was now to get back on board. The ship was now underway albeit about 10 knots but the swell was up and the sky darkened. The fast RIB was quickly alongside and craned on board. It looked quite impressive. Our VP’s were much heavier and slower to manoeuver. Bravo 3 went in first; it looked horrendous. The ship was running with the swell but it was still a high sea state. Eventually they were secured fore and aft and amid sheets of spray they were winched up. It was our turn. The ship seemed to be accelerating. Our Coxswain was gunning the throttles to keep up with the ship, spray was coming over the ramp, the flat hull heaving and slamming down on the ocean. As we crept alongside desperately trying to match the speed of the carrier the 2 heavy davit hawsers were swinging above. The winch operator was 40 feet above us. My fellow crewman and I managed to attach the block to the forward fitting after several attempts; a wave hit the craft and bent the attachment. We ignored it and focused on the after fitting. The after block was swinging around striking the armoured cockpit, the Coxswain was swearing at us, we got it on. The winch engaged and we stared to move up. I prayed the forward fitting wouldn’t fracture because if it did the craft would pitch down into the ocean and we would never survive. Safely on board we discovered the engineers were having problems with adjusting propulsion, thus the ships high speed. A sailor had fallen down a ladder and broken his leg. Later that evening the Commander came back on the tannoy with a humorous infusion.

“An eventful day, so much for the Bermuda Triangle. Well done for all your efforts Bulwark, we’re minus an airframe but we’re still on time for Mayport”

Bravo 4 didn’t get a special mention.

On 29 October 1989, Sea King HAS5 XZ582 from 814 NAS embarked in the carrier HMS Invincible was flying a sortie away from the ship near Bermuda when the aircraft suffered a catastrophic gearbox oil leak. The pilot successfully ditched the aircraft. The crew were picked up and the aircraft was lost; history repeated itself. What was the point of my story?

Shit happens and one thing is true, strange things happen at sea. The Bermuda Triangle was nothing to do with those incidents. There were no aliens, weird waves, UFO’s or evidence of the Illuminati. It could have happened anywhere and similar incidents will have occurred.

Thirty-five years after the Kennedy assassination speculation continues about a conspiracy. One such notable location that launched the search for the mysterious additional shooter was the “Grassy Knoll”. This has become a generic term and is now firmly associated with the so-called hidden plots and subterfuge. There was nothing mysterious about the “Grassy Knoll” and there was certainly no shooter on it. Who coined the phrase, “Grassy Knoll?”.

The Kennedy motorcade assembled at Love Field and set off through Dallas. This included a news car and it was the fifth car in the convoy behind President Kennedy. Riding in the right front seat was Malcolm Kilduff, the Presidents acting press secretary. Between the driver and Kilduff sat the senior White House correspondent Merriman Smith of United Press International (UPI). The car’s radio telephone was directly in front of him. In the back seats sat Jack Bell from the Associated Press, Robert Baskin of The Dallas Morning News and Bob Clark of ABC News.

After the shots had been fired and the Presidents car accelerated away, Merriman saw Police Officer Bobby Hargis, immediately stop, jump off his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and race up the nearby hill to a low concrete wall, passing horrified people lying on the ground.

Merriman Smith grabbed the radio telephone and called the Dallas UPI office, which sent out his dispatch at 12:34, just four minutes after the shooting. “Three shots were fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade today in downtown Dallas,” he reported, and news bulletins around the world began with that short statement.

It was 25 minutes later that Merriman Smith reported in the total confusion that had ensued, “Some of the Secret Service agents thought the gunfire was from an automatic weapon fired to the right rear of the president’s car, probably from a grassy knoll to which police rushed.”

No other immediate news reports or witness interviews are known to contain the phrase “grassy knoll” at that time. It was shortly afterwards that investigators became convinced the shots originated from the Texas School Book Depository. The official findings and the only factually proven shooter location was the sixth floor location. Yet it remains a fact that some police officers and spectators immediately ran towards the grassy knoll, whilst others looked towards the Depository building. Amongst the reverberating and echoing gunfire within Dealey Plaza it was no wonder that confusion reigned. When the doubters and conspiracy brigade eventually emerged, they hit on Merriman Smith’s reference and the Grassy Knoll shooter was born.

Conspiracy theories are often todays accepted history. We have the story then we create and print the legend. The Watergate Scandal which began in the early hours of 17 June 1972 gave some credence to the conspiracy theorists because it was real. No wonder the American population were suspicious of what they were told, even by its unethical President at the time. Unfortunately, this incident served as a foundation blueprint for citing corruption and governmental distrust.

Many of those who had accepted the findings of the JFK Warren Commission report 8 years earlier now chose to question it. As a result, Watergate served as a catalyst to question and disbelieve official findings of any nature.

Despite the evidence the JFK assassination has the status of an official and accepted doubt. The conspiracy legend has become a factoid. A lot of references to JFK make this point. The impressive Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart Germany is laid out to inform the visitor about development by the decade. It refers to the assassination as a major incident in the 1960’s. The written tribute to Kennedy mentions his visit to Germany in June 1963. As to his assassination it says,

“To this day the background of this assassination has not been clarified with absolute certainty”.

In 2018 I met by chance a businessman from Berkshire. He appeared to me to be a bright and intelligent man and certainly ran a successful operation. He had lived in Hungerford all his life. When I mentioned my interest and research into the Hungerford Massacre, he immediately set out to add to my knowledge with his personal involvement and inside information.

When Michael Ryan perpetrated his shooting rampage in August 1987 this gentleman was just 10 years old and was on holiday in Spain. When he returned to his local John O’Gaunt school for the next term his new form room was freshly decorated and painted. It was apparently the third-floor room that Ryan had retreated to and had committed suicide in. As a young schoolboy he and his friends were morbidly fascinated about what had happened in their absence.

After a brief discussion and despite his close attachment to Hungerford his detailed knowledge of this dreadful event was very scant. Nevertheless, he informed me for my research purposes that it was well known locally that Michael Ryan didn’t commit suicide as per the official version; he was killed by a member of the SAS. Our conversation concluded there.

The Roswell UFO incident in 1947 was named after the town in New Mexico where witnesses found a military weather balloon crash site. They reported their findings to a military post based in Roswell actually 75 miles away. The incident had occurred on a ranch close to the very small village of Corona. It transpired that the weather balloon was in fact a nuclear test surveillance platform. The military had initially and quite understandably kept that quiet. It was another 30 years before the Conspiracists began their investigations and accused the nearby Nellis Test and Training facility of covering up the presence of UFO’s and Aliens. Area 51 was born. How are the population of Corona feeling now, are they holding their breath in anticipation.

The first conspiracy book about Roswell was The Roswell Incident written by William Moore and Charles Berlitz in 1980. Both these authors had previously written books on the Bermuda Triangle.

Could the sale and consumption of beer be affected by this global pandemic. Anheuser-Busch who manufacture Corona beer suggest the worldwide drop in sales of this product was due to the radical closure of social outlets. Nevertheless online searches for “Beer Virus” and “Beer Coronavirus” supposedly spiked in January. What on earth are we thinking…..

Whatever your poison, stay home and stay safe folks.

 

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