Sep 30, 2012

Wanted Hindu guru escaped to India, officials say

Eric Dexheimer
Austin Statesman

Two days after a 83-year-old wheel-chair bound Indian spiritual guru, a fugitive after being convicted of groping two young girls, may have sneaked clandestinely into India, a US court has been told.US Marshals, still looking for him, suspect that Prakashanand Saraswati, known to his devotees as Swamiji, may have fled America in connivance with his close associates., newly filed court documents say his followers met in a devotee's home a mile up the road in Driftwood to plan how to spirit him out of the country before his sentencing.

Later that night of March 6, 2011, or early the next morning, at least one of them accompanied the guru, who uses a wheelchair, over the Mexican border to Nuevo Laredo, according to the documents. After secretly moving just south of Tijuana in mid-2011, Prakashanand — who'd shaved his long white beard and cut his shoulder-length hair — then used a fake passport to escape to India in November.

The information, as well as other details of how Prakashanand's followers in Texas and across the country clandestinely moved the spiritual leader while evading law enforcement, is included in court documents filed in Hays County. An affidavit in support of a search warrant signed last week by a Hays County judge seeks access to Yahoo email accounts of a preacher and close associate of the guru's who lives in India.

Although many of the assertions in the document came from law enforcement interviews with devotees, much also was obtained from cellphone records and private emails written between Prakashanand's followers.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Marcum, who has been leading the effort to track down the 83-year-old guru known to his followers as Shree Swamiji, confirmed details of the agency's efforts to monitor and track Prakashanand during the past year and a half.

The operation planned and carried out by Prakashanand's followers to keep him hidden from police and move him among the three countries involved his spiritual devotees from Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Texas and Mexico, according to the court filing.

Special Event: Sharing Experiences to Assist Others

Throughout the day there will be specific discussion sessions where there will be opportunity given (if you wish) to share parts of your story, to assist others in similar situations such as former members who are more recently out of their groups, and those with loved ones, such as adult children, siblings or parents, in cults and sects.

These sessions will be led by the key speakers and Rod Dubrow-Marshall, Kathy House, and Cathy Page.

Light finger buffet lunch and refreshments provided

Saturday April 21st 2012: 10:00 – 5:30pm

Mary Candler: Life story of the impact of cult membership on family relationships

Ben Davidson: Life story of growing up in Christian Science with a particular focus on how his mother’s death led to him instigating eventual change in Christian Science nursing homes and schools.

Rod Dubrow-Marshall

Linda Dubrow-Marshall: Enhancing your wellbeing: a way forward

Gillie Jenkinson: Former-members for former-members: a chance to speak out

Kathy House

Cathy Page

Chrsitian Szurko: Supporting families to dialogue with current sect members: restoring relationship with siblings, parents or children in a sect.

Former members and those with loved ones, such as adult children, siblings or parents, in cults and sects (open to everyone).

Baden Powell House: Conference Centre
65-67 Queen's Gate, London

Sep 27, 2012

Indignation Is Not Righteous - CSI

Online Extras
Gary Longsine and Peter Boghossian
September 27, 2012

The Twin Fallacies of Appeal to Righteous Indignation and Appeal to Sanctity.
Appeals to righteous indignation or sanctity—which attempt to shield ideas from contemplation, discussion, investigation, or criticism—are common, impede rational discourse, and should be recognized as logical fallacies.

The following article is scheduled for the January/February 2013 Skeptical Inquirer and is being released pre-publication due to its topical nature.
Riots erupted on the streets in Afghanistan in late February 2012 in response to an apparently accidental burning of a few copies of the Koran. Placed in an incinerator along with other materials confiscated from Taliban prisoners, the singed Koranic remains were discovered later by Afghan workers. Apologies from United States officials were immediately forthcoming. However, rioting continued and reports indicated that at least twenty-nine Afghans and six American soldiers were killed in the violence (Rubin 2012).

For many Muslims, including an influential council of Muslim scholars (Rubin 2012), the apology was greeted with righteous indignation. The response of the rioters was continued (and perhaps even intensified) rage, as demonstrated by the murder of people who had nothing to do with prior events. A second outbreak of such violence in Libya (where the United States ambassador was murdered) and other Muslim countries occurred in September 2012 after a virulent anti-Islamic independent video appeared on the Internet via YouTube.

The problem of righteous indignation is conspicuous in, but not unique to, the Muslim world—it permeates cultures across religious, ethnic, and national boundaries. The destruction of Andres Serrano’s artwork, “Piss Christ,” by Catholic fundamentalist protesters in Avignon, France, is another well-known example.
Profound feelings of insult to a deeply held belief ranks among the most pervasive, powerful, and potentially dangerous failures of human reasoning. This reaction carries with it both practical dangers that threaten harmonious interactions between and among peoples, and also the capacity to insulate not merely a person, but an entire culture, from criticism and self-reflection.
We argue that “Appeal to Righteous Indignation” and the related “Appeal to Sanctity,” warrant recognition as fallacious types of reasoning and should be included in the larger lexicon of fallacies. (See “The Top 20 Logical Fallacies” by Jesse Richardson in the July/August 2012 Skeptical Inquirer for an overview of commonly recognized fallacies.)

Righteous Indignation: A Brief, Incomplete Genealogy
Righteous indignation, perhaps rooted in primitive instincts for social enforcement (Haidt 2001), appears to be an emotional response to perceived injustice (Haidt 2003; Dubreuila 2010; DeScioli and Kurzban 2009). The concept of “the sacred” appears to be more modern (Rossano 2006; Kirkpatrick 1999), but the impulse to sanctity may be rooted in emotions like disgust (as opposed to anger) (Rozin et al. 1999).
Science is only beginning to piece together the potential neurological basis for the impulse behind righteous indignation and its role in human behavior. Scientist and author David Brin, for example, has appealed to the scientific community to study righteous indignation more closely. Brin suggests that dogmatic thinking is driven by the emotional impulse to righteous indignation and the underlying brain biochemistry of behavioral addictive reinforcement (Brin 2011)—such as is involved in gambling (Blaszczynski et al. 1986).

In recent years, related phenomena (e.g., the role of punishment in the evolution of cooperation and the emotional basis of moral judgment) have been subjects of inquiry in anthropology (Sosis and Alcorta 2003), economics (Grant 2008), game theory (Dreber et al. 2008), psychology (Hunter 2005), and evolutionary psychology (Kirkpatrick 1999). Righteous indignation may have evolved to trigger participation in group punishment for non-compliance with group norms, and it may have influenced the evolution of cooperation (Boyd and Richerson 1992; Krebs 2008; Jaffe and Zaballa 2010). There is also a line of research literature suggesting some specific emotional foundations for moral behaviors, with indignation linked to anger, for example (Rozin et al. 1999).
Logical Fallacies: Righteous Indignation and Sanctity
There exists no nonideological reason why any given idea or belief should be placed beyond contemplation, discussion, investigation, or criticism. Two logical fallacies are routinely employed to shield ideas from such inspection. In accordance with the custom of the taxonomy:
Appeal to righteous indignation (argumentum ad probus indignatio); and
Appeal to sanctity (argumentum ad sanctimonia).
An Appeal to Righteous Indignation is a logical fallacy in which a person claims to be offended, insulted, or hurt by criticism of a proposition they hold, or by the advancement of a proposition with which they disagree. The expected consequence of the demonstration of the verbal or physical behavior associated with righteous indignation is that no further discussion or criticism is allowed.

An Appeal to Sanctity is a logical fallacy in which a person attempts to deflect criticism of an idea by claiming that the idea or argument is holy, sacred, sacrosanct, or otherwise privileged and immune from critique.
A few possible rebuttals might be offered. It could be argued that an Appeal to Righteous Indignation is merely an appeal to emotion, which seeks to ignite an emotional response and dampen susceptibility to further reasoned discourse. It could be argued that Appeal to Sanctity is merely an example of circular reasoning. Appeal to Sanctity may be considered a compound fallacy, comprising an appeal to authority and emotion, at least to the extent that the ideas in question are associated with institutionalized dogma. However, Appeal to Righteous Indignation and Appeal to Sanctity have distinguishing traits.

The salient feature of an Appeal to Sanctity is that it is employed as a shield against the critique of an idea or even a wholesale ideological critique. An Appeal to Sanctity is a claim that one must not critique an idea because the idea in question is sacrosanct, holy, or sacred. In other words, an Appeal to Sanctity, reduced to its simplest form, asserts as a moral virtue the claim that an idea is beyond critique. The circular appeal to special privilege frequently carries an implicit and credible threat of violence, for example, the decades-long aftermath of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie for his book Satanic Verses, the Danish cartoon controversy, the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, Christian millennium terrorist plots in Israel, and the bombing campaign dubbed “saffron terrorism” in 2008 in Malegon, India.

An Appeal to Righteous Indignation similarly attempts to place an idea beyond the reach of critique, but it employs a different mechanism. Rather than suggesting that the idea itself is privileged and thus must be immune from criticism, an Appeal to Righteous Indignation implies that a critique of an idea is equivalent to an attack on a person. Intrinsic to an Appeal to Righteous Indignation is the notion that attacks on an idea are morally equivalent to verbal or physical attacks on people, that an attack on an idea justifies a response at least proportionate to an attack on a person. Credible threats of violence often accompany displays of righteous indignation and are sometimes viewed as justified by members of the community. Consider the odd case of a man who burned a VFW flag in a drunken fit. He was taped to a flagpole for several hours the next day by an indignant VFW member, who then spoke about his actions openly to a local television reporter (Gardinier and Martínez 2009), apparently unconcerned about any possible legal repercussions.
Those who engage in these fallacies believe that becoming indignant, or refusing to question a particular belief, are virtues. In other words, one should become indignant, and not becoming indignant indicates a moral flaw in one’s character; one should refuse to question privileged beliefs, and persistence in questioning represents a character defect.
In recent years a growing number of public intellectuals, including Richard Dawkins (Dawkins 1996), Salman Rushdie (Duffy 2004), and Douglas Adams (Adams 1998) have asserted the general fallaciousness of Appeal to Sanctity, but no standard label exists, and no attempt to promote these as a standard part of the taxonomy of fallacies has been advanced.

The Harm
Righteous indignation undermines civil discourse and often corrodes efforts aimed at reasonable compromise. When righteous indignation is invoked, conversation stops and violence may begin. For the indignant party, reason may be suspended. Righteous indignation muddles thinking, elevates emotional reactions to primacy in the discourse, and displaces its alternative: impassioned, reasoned, thoughtful analysis.

Righteous Indignation may be a valid emotional experience and response to injustice. As Greta Christina has observed (Christina 2007) anger can be an important tool for motivating social change. However, its use to shield ideas from criticism impedes rather than advances discourse. Appeal to Righteous Indignation is therefore fallacious in the context of rational discourse.
The continuing demonstrations of the pervasiveness and disturbing nature of Appeals to Sanctimony and Righteous Indignation as primary or even sole arguments, and in an effort to end, rather than further, discussion in Afghanistan and elsewhere, make a compelling case for the urgency of this project. It may seem somewhat overdue to skeptics, atheists, and freethinkers that these classifications are necessary, but the cultural, social, and political world situation give these classifications an added urgency.
Adams, Douglas. 1998. Is there an artificial god? (Impromptu speech at Digital Biota 2, Cambridge, United Kingdom). Online at; accessed February 26, 2012.

Blaszczynski, Alex P., S. Winter, N. McConaghy. 1986. Plasma endorphin levels in pathological gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies 2: 3–14.

Boyd, R., and P.J. Richerson. 1992. Punishment allows the evolution of cooperation (or anything else) in sizable groups. Ethology and Sociobiology 13: 171–195.

Brin, David. 2011. An open letter to researchers of addiction, brain chemistry, and social psychology. Online at; accessed February 22, 2012.

Christina, Greta. 2007. Atheists and anger (blog post). Greta Christina’s Blog (October 15). Online at; accessed February 27, 2012.

Dawkins, Richard. Science, delusion, and the appetite for wonder. 1996. Online at; accessed February 26, 2012.

DeScioli, P., and R. Kurzban. 2009. Mysteries of morality. Cognition 112: 281–299. Online at

Dreber, Anna, David G. Rand, Drew Fudenberg, et al. 2008. Winners don't punish. Nature Publishing Group 452: 348–351.
Dubreuila, Benoît. 2010. Punitive emotions and norm violations. Philosophical Explorations: An International Journal for the Philosophy of Mind and Action 13: 35–50.

Duffy, Jonathan. 2004. The right to be downright offensive. BBC News (December 21). Online at; accessed February 25, 2012.
Gardinier, Bob, and Humberto Martínez. 2009. Suspected flag burner pilloried: Alleged offender hunted down, ridiculed after incident at VFW post. Times Union (September 26). Online at; accessed March 5, 2012.

Grant, Ruth. 2008. Passions and interests revisited: The psychological foundations of economics and politics. Public Choice 137: 451–461.

Haidt, J. 2001. The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review 108: 814–834.
———. 2003. The moral emotions. In R.J. Davidson, K.R. Scherer, and H.H. Goldsmith (Eds.), Handbook of Affective Sciences. Oxford University Press.(pp. 852–870). Online at
Hunter, Richard. 2005. Righteous Indignation: Driving Psychology. Bloomington, IN: Author House.

Jaffe, Klaus, and Luis Zaballa. 2010. Co-Operative punishment cements social cohesion. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 13: 4. Online at; accessed February 23, 2012.
Kirkpatrick, L.A. 1999. Toward an evolutionary psychology of religion and personality. Journal of Personality 67: 921–952.
Krebs, Dennis L. 2008. Morality: An evolutionary account. Perspectives on Psychological Science 3: 149–172.

Rossano, Matt J. 2006. The religious mind and the evolution of religion. Review of General Psychology 10(4): 346–364. Online at

Rozin, Paul, L. Lowery, S. Imada, et al. 1999. The CAD triad hypothesis: A mapping between three moral emotions (contempt, anger, disgust) and three moral codes (community, autonomy, divinity). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 76: 574–586.

Rubin, Alissa J. 2012. Chain of avoidable errors cited in Koran burning. New York Times (March 2). Online at; accessed March 5, 2012.

Sosis, R., and C. Alcorta. 2003. Signaling, solidarity, and the sacred: The evolution of religious behavior. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews 12: 264–274. Online at
Gary Longsine and Peter Boghossian

Gary Longsine is an entrepreneur, information systems consultant, patent holding inventor in network security, and freethinker at large. He can be reached via email:

Dr. Peter Boghossian is a full-time faculty member in Portland State University's Philosophy Department. His publication record and teaching areas are critical thinking and moral reasoning. He can be reached via email:

Sep 26, 2012

Heavenly Mountain Tract To Be Sold

Kellen Moore
The Watauga Democrat
September 26, 2012
A 225-acre tract and three large buildings that were once part of the Transcendental Meditation center at Heavenly Mountain are now up for auction.

The property, owned by the Maharishi University of Enlightenment, will be sold online Oct. 25.

Once used for women’s educational programs in Transcendental Meditation and Vedic sciences, the buildings have sat vacant for several years.

The Maharishi University purchased the properties in May 2011 from Blue Mountain Holdings, a company associated with David and Earl Kaplan, the original developers of Heavenly Mountain, according to land records.

Thomas McMahon, a broker for Sperry Van Ness that is coordinating the auction, said the university did not explain why it was selling the properties now but is working to create a different campus for its programs in New York.

“After they bought them back, I think they had some change of heart,” McMahon said.

Representatives of the Maharishi University of Enlightenment could not be reached by press time Tuesday.

The property includes two dormitory buildings and a dining hall constructed in 1997, perched on a ridge with long-range views between Boone and Triplett.

The largest building includes 112 suites with living areas and kitchenettes, as well as a conference hall and several smaller meeting rooms, McMahon said. The second building is set up more like a hotel, with 98 rooms.

The third structure is a 13,000-square-foot conference hall with kitchen area on the bottom floor and an open dining area with large windows on the second floor, he said.

According to a property condition report provided by the sellers, the buildings are structurally sound with the exception of the main lecture hall, which they said can be strengthened without demolition.

As to be expected with an unoccupied space, there are some areas of mold and disrepair, as well as cosmetic repairs that would be necessary, the report states.

The buildings and the properties on which they sit combined have an appraised tax value of $8,189,100, according to Watauga County tax records.

Part of the acreage also was originally designated for single-family home sites and townhomes, McMahon said.

Bids on the property will start at $3.9 million, and the university does have an undisclosed reserve amount that must be met, McMahon said.

“This was a property that cost over $30 million dollars to build, so the sellers are putting it out there at a very, very attractive price point,” he said.

McMahon said the land originally was for sale on a traditional marketing plan before Sperry Van Ness offered a special auction plan to the owner. He said he already has received interest from multiple states and countries.

“We’re increasing this exposure to the world, instead of just to North Carolina,” McMahon said.

The “East Campus,” as it was once called, is separate from the 381-acre parcel called Forest Summit that was purchased in October 2011 by the Art of Living Foundation. That site is now the home of the International Center for Peace and Well-Being, which offers short-term and residential meditation, yoga and stress management seminars.

A foundation spokesperson could not be reached by press time Tuesday about whether the foundation might be interested in bidding on the new tract.

More information about the auction and the property is available online.

McMahon said even community members with no interest in the property could benefit economically from the sale of the property and possible future redevelopment.

“I really hope the community looks at this as a new beginning and a new opportunity and they would embrace the new ownership that would be coming,” McMahon said.

Sep 20, 2012

Murder of ex-MOVE member remains a mystery

Philadelphia Inquirer
Monica Yant Kinney
September 20, 2012

Last of two parts.

All unsolved murders are inherently mysterious, but that of John Gilbride remains extra-curious, since he was shot dead hours before a court-ordered visit with the son his ex-wife, MOVE matriarch Alberta Africa, vowed not to let him see.

Most custody battles never make headlines. MOVE, the West Philadelphia cult famous for two deadly confrontations with police, spent the weeks before John was killed fortifying its headquarters and lambasting him as a bad dad.

John was 34 when he was gunned down inside his Crown Vic in the parking lot of a Maple Shade apartment complex called Ryan's Run. The killer fired an automatic weapon through the window. Bullets ravaged his head and chest.

Sept. 27 marks the 10-year anniversary of John's violent demise. Investigators have never named a suspect or released ballistics information.

In 2003, Burlington County Prosecutor Robert Bernardi told me MOVE members were interviewed but offered no helpful information.

"There is still this problem with the timing of this homicide given what was pending in the custody dispute," Bernardi said back then. "Is that a coincidence, or is there something more to it?"
I tried for months to get another sit-down with Bernardi and sought the reflections of investigators who have pulled thread anonymously for a decade. He declined all requests and just released a bland written statement:

"Somebody out there has knowledge of what transpired the night John Gilbride was slain. I implore that person to come forward and assist us in bringing his killer to justice."

A father's risk

In 1992, John married Alberta, an ex-con 20 years older. In 1996, the 48-year-old gave birth to Zack. In 1998, John fled MOVE and his marriage, aware of the risk.
"I was told," he said in 1999 divorce papers, "my attitude toward my wife was going to cause a situation that would involve my death."

On Aug. 27, 2002, a domestic dispute between John and Alberta at her home led to John's summoning the Cherry Hill police. On Sept. 9, 2002, the exes aired grievances in Camden County Family Court.
"John was not pushin' because he wanted Zack," Alberta testified. "He was pushin' because he knew that MOVE belief would not allow me to give him Zack."

Her ex-husband, Alberta contended, intended to "drive me and Zackary into a situation where we're confronted with cops and court orders and warrants. And he knows because of 1985, May 13 in 1985, he knows what a situation like that could cause."

(For the uninitiated, she was referencing the armed standoff that led officials to bomb MOVE's West Philadelphia base, killing 11 members and destroying 60 homes.)

John, meanwhile, told the Family Court judge that during the August quarrel, a MOVE supporter named Mario Hardy stepped in to defend Alberta and issued a fresh threat:
"Move and I'll kill you."

A week later, on Sept. 17, 2002, MOVE posted a statement citing "dangerous developments" and urged supporters to do anything "in their power to do to avert this government assault."
Ten days later, John was dead.

Leads or conspiracy theories?

Afterward, MOVE questioned whether John was killed by the government - if he was even dead.
A Philadelphia police liaison to MOVE speculated that John, who traveled and frequented casinos, was slain over a gambling debt.

Another curiosity concerned John's secret, and brief, second marriage to Rosario Bienvenida Arias, a 24-year-old casino dealer from the Dominican Republic.
They wed in Maryland on April 25, 2002, but, according to the annulment John initiated May 19, she used him and then fled the country. The marriage had not been nullified by the time John died, so as his widow, Arias - not Zack - collected death benefits.

Mario Hardy long ago declined to comment on John's charge. MOVE sent an e-mail last week calling my interview request a "new assault."
John's father, Jack Gilbride, says investigators told him they ruled out a mob hit and cleared the mystery wife, but Bernardi will neither confirm nor deny that information.

Ten years of silence

In 2009, America's Most Wanted filmed interviews about John's murder. The episode never aired.
In 2010, Burlington County investigators sought the expertise of the Vidocq Society, acclaimed sleuths known for thawing cold cases. John's family was barred from watching the presentation, and the county forbade Vidocq members from sharing their theories with me.

Law enforcement sources elsewhere puzzle over Bernardi's refusal to engage or publicize the investigation. That silence, they say, is a missed opportunity.

This summer, investigators sought to interview a former MOVE supporter who could be a source of information, but the man skipped the scheduled appointment.

Jack Gilbride perked up at the thought of investigators pursuing new leads, but he remains concerned that hesitation or missteps a decade ago allowed a killer to roam free.

"The first 48 hours are the most important," so why, he asks, did it take detectives "seven weeks to talk to Alberta Africa?"

Gilbride thinks back to his son's warnings. "I believe," he concludes, "that this investigation has been extremely and negatively impacted by MOVE's intimidation."

CultNEWS101 "MOVE" Collection.

Sep 15, 2012

Special Report: Grandmaster of Russia's pyramid cult

Jason Bush
September 15, 2012

Moscow - The pitch from the pyramid scheme sweeping Russia has undeniable appeal: make money and make the world a better place, it says. Like thousands of others, Roman Vorobyev believed the scheme would deliver big returns for him and cascading wealth for others.

So in April Vorobyev ploughed 400,000 roubles ($12,500) of savings into a self-styled 'mutual aid fund,' known as MMM-2011, promoted by Sergei Mavrodi, a guru-like financier, former lawmaker and convicted fraudster.

"I definitely believed that everything was possible," said Vorobyev, a newspaper designer in Irkutsk who invested in the fund despite a remarkable disclosure by Mavrodi - that it was indeed a pyramid scheme. "If we all help each other, more and more people will come and there will be an endless inflow of money," he said.

It hasn't worked out that way. Since parting with his cash, Vorobyev, 45, has failed to reap the double-digit monthly returns that were advertised, and he's lost hope of ever seeing his money again. MMM-2011 has closed and is belatedly being investigated by the police, who say the scheme had no chance of delivering the gains it promised.

In other countries, Mavrodi might become a pariah and such scams would be banned. Not in Russia. Before MMM-2011, Mavrodi was famous as the mastermind of an even bigger Ponzi scheme in the 1990s. And in the past few months he has launched yet another one, MMM-2012, that is luring hordes of investors by touting the prospect of returns ranging from 30 percent to 75 percent a month.

Mavrodi dismisses allegations of any deception or illegality. "People voluntarily enter the system," said the reclusive financier in a video he recorded in response to Reuters' questions. "They are warned of the risks. They are conscious of everything. How can there be fraud here?"

The MMM website proclaims: "This is, in essence, the most sincere and kind system in this thoroughly dishonest, hypocritical and vicious world."

The Mavrodi phenomenon raises questions about the state of financial regulation in Russia - suggesting elements of the "Wild East" still thrive under President Vladimir Putin. Putin's authoritarian rule stands in sharp contrast to the anarchic 1990s, a period of social breakdown, hyperinflation and chaos. Yet the current appeal of pyramid schemes hints at the continuing legal uncertainties in today's Russia.

Pyramids, which rely on new depositors to pay returns to existing ones, are doomed by the laws of arithmetic to collapse in the end. In countries such as Britain and the United States they are seen as fraudulent and perpetrators are prosecuted.

Yet in Russia and other former Soviet countries, they operate largely unhindered - there are no laws specifically banning pyramid schemes, though other laws have sometimes been used to stop them. One of the problems, say victims, is the attitude of the authorities, who often seem reluctant to close the schemes. As recently as March police said they had no reason to investigate MMM-2011, which boasted that it had had more than 35 million participants, in Russia and beyond, with an average deposit of $1,000.

Mavrodi has dropped from public view since the end of MMM-2011 but remains popular, cultivating an image as an anti-establishment visionary. He issues periodic videos via his website to promote pyramid schemes as the path to a post-capitalist future. They appear alongside his poetry and philosophical writings.

"Do you want some greedy banker to buy a third... or whatever it is... limousine? Put your money in MMM and you will help a pensioner, an invalid, a poor person. Those who really need your help!" Mavrodi's website says.

He also appeals to people disoriented by the financial crisis. He told Reuters: "The modern world, the modern financial system, is deeply unjust. The idea that it's better to work, and work more - that isn't true. It's a fairy tale that is drummed into us from childhood."

"I am not interested in money," he said. "My goal is simply to help people - there are no other goals."
"Evil genius"

Given Mavrodi's history with pyramid schemes, his resurrection is remarkable. A graduate of the Soviet Union's elite physics institute, he created his first pyramid in the 1990s. Amid Russia's turbulent transition to capitalism, MMM advertised widely on TV, offering a seemingly effortless path to riches.

Several million people, driven by naivety and euphoria, rushed to be part of the bonanza - only to lose their savings when the edifice came crashing down in 1994. Estimates of the losses range from $110 million, the sum later cited in court by prosecutors, to many billions according to a group representing aggrieved investors.

Despite the collapse, so many people still regarded Mavrodi as their champion that months later he managed to get himself elected to parliament. After a protracted legal battle he was finally convicted of fraud in 2007 and sentenced to jail.

Released almost immediately because he had spent four years in detention awaiting and during trial, he resumed his old ways. Even those who oppose him are in awe of his persuasive powers.

"In my view he is definitely a genius," said Vyacheslav Sklyankin, the founder of an anti-MMM campaign group on Vkontakte, Russia's equivalent of Facebook. "As it's now fashionable to say, he is an evil genius."

These days Mavrodi uses the Internet to reach potential investors. While the first MMM operated through a network of retail branches, his new schemes lack visible corporate structure, formal management, or legal identity - a deliberate move, Mavrodi told Reuters, to complicate attempts by the Russian authorities to stop him.

"There's no firm hierarchy. I give advice to the participants and they follow it. That's how it's organized. Formally there is no relationship, no boss and no workers. In MMM everything is voluntary," Mavrodi said.

In the latest schemes, MMM does not collect all the money in one pot. Instead, deposits and payouts are made mostly between individual members' own bank accounts. Senior figures also extract fees for administrative purposes.

The schemes are promoted through dozens of websites and thousands of videos posted by apparently satisfied MMM depositors on YouTube. MMM's reward structure encourages recruits to spread the word. Bonuses, calculated as a share of new recruits' deposits, are paid to those who attract new members - 20 percent for the first recruit and 10 percent for each subsequent one.

The system creates a hierarchy based on multiples of ten. Thus desyatniks ("tenners" - those in charge of ten investors) are supervised by stoniks ("hundreders") who are in turn supervised by tis??chniks ("thousanders") - right up to millionniks.

"The growth (in members) is simply huge: from a simple worker, and the unemployed, to businessmen with real money," said Andrei Emilianov, a former construction specialist from Moscow, who says he quit his job at a prestigious German company late last year to promote MMM full-time. He has risen to the rank of stotisyachnik (hundred-thousander).

Emilianov, 30, said that when he first heard about the scheme, he was skeptical, but was gradually won over after seeing his investments deliver double-digit monthly returns. So far he has ploughed some 900,000 roubles ($27,900) into MMM-2011 and MMM-2012 and has already earned back several times that amount, he said.

The enthusiasm of converts such as Emilianov doesn't seem dulled by the fact that Mavrodi openly presents his schemes as pyramids.

"It's written on the site that it's a financial pyramid. There are no promises and no obligations. If you don't want to participate you don't have to," Emilianov said.

Mavrodi says the disclaimers are prominent, though others might disagree.

"Everyone is paid everything," says a slogan on Mavrodi's website. "As long as the pyramid still hasn't encompassed the entire world, as long as you have at least one acquaintance or relative not participating in it - sleep easily," the site says. "It means, (we) haven't reached everyone."

Despite the inherent risks, his website claims the high ground: "It's not the System (MMM) that is amoral, but the world around it that is amoral! The System is the sole oasis. A small island. Of goodness and justice. The first green shoots. Of the new! Of the best! Of truth and light! Of freedom!"
Cult-like magnetism

In some ways, Mavrodi's notoriety has proved one of MMM's greatest strengths.

"MMM is a brand that everyone knows. Everyone knows about Mavrodi," said Anton Ryzhikov, a former MMM investor in Kharkov, Ukraine, who rose to be a 'stonik' (hundreder).

One explanation for his popularity lies in the conspiracy-minded attitude that many Russians and Ukrainians have towards the first MMM debacle in the 1990s.

"It wasn't (Mavrodi) who stole the money. It was the police, the state, the tax authorities," said Emilianov, the hundred-thousander, reflecting a common sentiment towards the authorities. "Definitely one respects this person. He says the right things and has shown what he is capable of."

Former depositors say Mavrodi also exerts a kind of spiritual hold over his followers. "MMM is very similar to a cult. You have to clap and shout 'hurray!', 'We Can Do Much.' You can't talk about other structures. You can only write good things on the internet," said Vorobyev, the graphic designer.

And then, of course, there is the desire for a quick buck. "People brought money because the basic human characteristic is greed," said Ryzhikov. "If you hold on for a bit longer you will earn a bit more. People simply couldn't stop themselves."

Ryzhikov, a 22-year-old technical draughtsman, said he borrowed money to invest in the scheme on the advice of a relative, because he needed cash when his employer temporarily slashed his pay during a downturn. He got out in time, but many other hard-up people in Kharkov took out loans to invest in MMM-2011 and lost money.

"I have several people who are paying their child benefits (welfare payments meant to support families) to the bank (to pay off their debts). It's an unacceptable situation," he said.
Too little, too late

Russian officials have banned MMM's billboard advertisements and advised the public not to invest in its schemes. But critics argue the authorities have done too little, too late.

"It's absolutely amazing what Mavrodi continues to do," said Igor Kostikov, a former head of Russia's stock market watchdog, who now heads Finpotrebsoyuz, which lobbies on behalf of financial consumers. He accuses Russia's Federal Service for the Financial Markets (FSFM), the successor to the body he once headed, of failing to act, and says authorities could pursue Mavrodi under laws governing securities and banking.

"The position of the financial regulator is that it's not their piece of bread. The question is: why do they exist?" he said. "The FSFM should be ringing all the bells and not sleeping by the fireplace."

A spokeswoman for the FSFM said the service's responsibilities don't include regulating pyramids. She called Kostikov's criticisms "amateurish."

Andrei Kashevarov, deputy head of Russia's Federal Anti-monopoly Service, which also regulates the advertising market, said there are loopholes that make it difficult to act more decisively against Mavrodi. For example, websites such as MMM's are not categorized in Russian law as advertising, which is regulated, but as information, which is not. But he says, "the legislation is changing and will be made tougher."

Shortly after MMM-2011 folded, Russia's government instructed the finance ministry to draw up legal changes to combat pyramid schemes. Alexei Savatyugin, deputy finance minister, has said organizers of such schemes should face up to ten years in jail and a fine of up to a million roubles.

For now, though, Mavrodi the pyramid grandmaster remains defiant.

"It's impossible to ban it," Mavrodi said. "It's your money... You can burn it. You can throw it away. You can give it to someone else.

"I'm trying to change the world. The old world of course will try to resist."

Sep 14, 2012

'Esoteric healer' Serge Benhayon plans College of Universal Medicine in Goonellabah

Josh Robertson
September 14, 2012

SERGE Benhayon, the former bankrupt tennis coach turned multimillionaire "esoteric healer", plans to open a college where he is chairman for life so his teachings can't be "bastardised".

Mr Benhayon, who has been accused of running a new-age cult that offers "six levels of initiation", has registered his College of Universal Medicine as a tax-exempt charity and is seeking $750,000 in donations.

His supporters include St Andrew's Hospital chest surgeon Samuel Kim, who says therapies including "esoteric breast massage . . . work in great partnership with traditional medicine".

But an academic who researches alternative medicine groups said Universal Medicine's "prophetic aspect and its over-reliance on a personality rather than a transparent set of techniques" were concerning.

University of Queensland Associate Professor of Sociology Alex Broom said a "key attraction" of such groups was their ability to help people make lifestyle changes, such as around diet, which could be beneficial.

"(But) any whole system of healing that is overly personality-driven risks edging towards a kind of totalitarianism," he said.

"For (some), they can be very harmful, unravelling their relationships, costing their savings and ultimately not fulfilling the promise of healing."

Mr Benhayon agreed Universal Medicine was "a good business", with its reincarnation workshops particularly popular.
He conceded the Therapeutic Goods Authority forced it to withdraw unscientific claims about products sold on its website.

When pressed for the health aspect addressed by the "esoteric breast massage" offered at UniMed's Brisbane clinic, Mr Benhayon told The Courier-Mail: "Disconnection to their bodies".

It treated "disconnection to themselves and the fact that a lot of women have complained that for them the breasts were more to breast-feed their babies, more for men to sexualise, but they'd never really endorsed their own bodies as being beautiful", Mr Benhayon said.

Universal Medicine material describes Mr Benhayon doing "EDG readings" of students' advancement on his "path of initiation".

"As usual, Serge's/the hierarchy's predictions will come true," it says.

Cult Counselling Australia director Raphael Aron said his organisation had a researcher working full-time on the group after counselling former clients who were concerned about its influence on their children.

He said Mr Benhayon "seems to be toning down his belief that he is the reincarnation of Leonardo Da Vinci which doesn't wash well with other people".

Mr Benhayon said he was surprised a cult exit group had treated his ex-students.

"I don't know how to brainwash people."

Universal Medicine, which claims about 2000 students worldwide, grossed $36,000 in a single "relationship workshop" last year. But families of followers blame Universal Medicine for the breakdown of 42 marriages from Brisbane to Britain.

The College of Universal Land, to be built on Goonellabah land Mr Benhayon owns, will be non-profit, but its constitution allows directors' companies to sell it services and products.

"The idea of the college is to eventually inherit all that I've got . . . I will hand over all the rights to the books and everything I've done," he said.

Being chairman for life meant he "would be able to retain the integrity of the work so it doesn't get bastardised", he said.

Originally published as 'Cult leader' plans college for 'healing'

Sep 8, 2012

New age 'medicine' of Serge Benhayon leaves trail of broken families

Josh Robertson and Liam Walsh
News Australia
September 8, 2012

An alleged new-age cult, run by a former bankrupt who claims to be Leonardo da Vinci reincarnated, is expanding its multimillion-dollar enterprise with the help of Brisbane's medical mainstream.

Universal Medicine, whose practitioners offer controversial treatments to ward off cancer including "esoteric breast massage", is drawing a growing number of clients to its Brisbane clinic via referrals from eye and lung surgeons, rheumatologists and GPs.

UniMed Brisbane is based in a historic $1.75 million, 10-room former Fairfield homestead from the 1860s, now co-owned by Universal Medicine founder Serge Benhayon.

The one-time tennis coach founded the group, which has 2000 mainly female followers, after emerging from bankruptcy over an unpaid lease on a Sydney tennis centre in 1998.

He now boasts interests in property worth $7.4 million and an enterprise that turns over at least $2 million a year, extending from its NSW base in Goonellabah to north Queensland and Europe.

Mr Benhayon's supporters include Kenmore dentist Rachel Hall, whose "holistic" clinic, dotted with da Vinci illustrations, attracts Universal Medicine followers from as far as the UK and Germany.

Universal Medicine, which teaches followers to avoid the "negative energy" in everything from cheese and alcohol to sleeping late, sells merchandise from books to pillow cases, holds concerts, Vietnam retreats and "relationship workshops" that gross up to $36,000 a session.

But the group has come under fire from family members of devotees, who say Mr Benhayon holds a Svengali-like sway over members' patterns of diet, sleeping, exercise, the music they listen to and sexual behaviour.

They claim Universal Medicine has led to the breakdown of at least 42 relationships.

One man said his wife had spent $50,000 on Universal Medicine in the past three years, another said his wife had spent $40,000 in four years.

A Brisbane father blamed his marriage breakdown on radical changes in his wife's behaviour encouraged by Universal Medicine, and was concerned about its influence on his daughter, 7.

"There is absolutely no question it's a cult," he said.

"She used to come home from the workshops like she was on drugs."

" ... Raphael Aron said the number of marriage breakdowns, if true, was 'probably unique in my experience in relation to the history of organisations, be they cults, sects or sub-sects, in Australia'".

"That's an absolutely devastating figure, catastrophic," Mr Aron said. "We have parents, husbands, coming to us concerned about the wellbeing of their wives, and certainly about the wellbeing of their children."

Mr Aron said CCA had also counselled breakaway UM followers, who were still "battling" to withdraw emotionally from the group.

Mr Benhayon told The Courier-Mail it was absurd to suggest Universal Medicine was a cult and his students were not compelled to do anything. He said the reported 42 marriage breakdowns "if accurate, is terribly disappointing" but Universal Medicine was not to blame.

"I'm not causing the divide, the divide is being caused by the situation (which) as far as I know, factually, has always been there," he said.

Dr Hall said there were "no grounds for saying it's a cult" and that media scrutiny of Mr Benhayon "feels like a witchhunt". She knew of "a few" couples who split after joining the group as lifestyle changes were "very confronting" for some partners.

"But were there cracks in the relationship beforehand?" Dr Hall said. "Maybe the woman decides she's feeling more confident to go... the other rejected party feels hurt and blames (Universal Medicine).

"A lot of them hide behind Serge. They play 'Serge said'. I've known Serge for eight years and he's never said 'stay' or 'leave'."

The beliefs

  • System of 'healing, health and wellbeing' devised by a former tennis coach with no medical qualifications
  • Followers told to avoid dairy food, gluten, caffeine, alcohol, drugs and most modern forms of music, except for Universal Medicine's in-house music as it has 'negative energy'
  • Sleep recommended 9pm to 3am
  • Treatments include 'craniosacral massage', 'esoteric connective tissue therapy', and 'esoteric breast massage'. All lack mainstream medical endorsement
  • After breast massage, clients told to use Universal Medicine cream to deter bad energy, and to not allow their partners to touch them without permission

Sep 7, 2012

Setting the record straight - the truth about UniMed Brisbane

"The following statement is in response to the appallingly inaccurate and misleading article entitled ‘New age ‘medicine’ leaves a trail of broken families’. What follows illustrates the FACTS that were openly and honestly presented and made available to Courier Mail reporter Josh Robertson in an interview with both Penny Scheenhouwer and myself in the week before the article went to print."

Jenny Ellis
Director and Practitioner, Unimed Brisbane

"Both Penny Scheenhouwer and I work full-time from UniMed Brisbane and are fully qualified in our respective fields. We have both always worked independently as self-employed professionals, however shared a common experience that something in our understanding and treatment of disease and illness was missing."

"Over the last 20 years we have both explored a number of modalities, philosophies and approaches to assist our work but didn’t find those missing pieces till coming across the work of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine in 2001."

"Since then it is not just a greater understanding of the underlying factors involved that we have developed, but also a far greater understanding of the role and responsibility we as practitioners play. Not in implementing a wondrous technique, although we have certainly learnt some of those, but in what we present to our clients by the way we choose to live our own lives. Something neither of us had considered to that point."  ... Continue reading.


Sep 5, 2012

Reverend Moon: Cult leader, CIA asset and Bush family friend

Bob Fitrakis
September 5, 2012

The death of Reverend Sun Myung Moon hopefully ends one of the strangest chapters in U.S. security industrial complex history. The self-proclaimed "Messiah" who owned dozens of businesses including Kahr Arms, and who once claimed to have presided over Jesus' wedding posthumously in order to get the Christian savior into heaven, was ultimately a front in the United States for friends in the CIA like George Herbert Walker Bush.

Moon founded the Washington Times newspaper in 1982 and the Washington Post went out of its way to avoid any mention of the "the dark side of the Moon" upon his death Monday, September 3, 2012 at age 92. When George W. Bush faltered in New Hampshire in early 2000, it was Moon's shadowy cultish right-wing network that came to its rescue in South Carolina. Moon's forces helped turn a certain primary defeat into a double-digit victory by spreading Moonies, his zombie-like followers, throughout the state. As the Washington Post reported, "An array of conservative groups have come to reinforce Bush's message with phone banks, radio ads, and mailings of their own."

Meanwhile, Moon's Washington Times ran the headline "Bush scoffs at assertion he moved too far right." The bizarre, almost unbelievable political alliance between the Bush family and Rev. Moon is one of the dirty little secrets of CIA involvement in U.S. domestic politics.

To understand the historical significance of Rev. Moon and his Moonies, one must start with Ryoichi Sasakawa, identified in a 1992 Frontline investigative report as the key money source behind Moon's far-flung world religious/business empire. Sasakawa bragged to Time magazine that he was "the world's richest fascist."

In the 1930s, Sasakawa was one of Japan's leading fascists. He organized a private army of 1500 men equipped with 20 war planes. His followers were Japan's version of Mussolini's Black Shirts. Sasakawa was a key figure in leading Japan into World War II and was an "uncondemned Class-A war criminal." Following WW II, he was captured and imprisoned for war crimes. According to U.S. documents, Sasakawa was suddenly freed with another accused war criminal, Yoshio Kodama, a prominent figure in Japan's organized crime syndicate, the Yakuza. They were freed in 1948, one year after the National Security Act established the CIA as the successor to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). In January 1995, Japan's KYODO News Service uncovered documents establishing that Kodama's release coincided with an agreement he had made with U.S. military intelligence two months earlier to serve as an informant. Declassified documents link Kodama's release to the CIA.
During WW II, Kodama activities, according to the U.S. Army counterintelligence records consisted of "systematically looting China of its raw materials" and dealing in heroin, guns, tungsten, gold, industrial diamonds and radium. Both Sasakawa's and Kodama's CIA ties are a reoccurring theme in their relationship with Rev. Moon.

In 1997, Congressman Donald Fraser launched an investigation into Moon's cult. The 444-page Congressional report alleged Moonie involvement with bribery, bank fraud, illegal kickbacks, and arms sales. The report revealed that Moon's 20,000-member Unification Church was a creation of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA). The Moonies were working with KCIA Director Kim Chong Phil as a political instrument to influence U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. CIA was the agency primarily responsible for founding the KCIA after WW II. The Moon organization has denied any link with the U.S. intelligence agencies or the Korean government.

Moon, who is Korean, and his two fascist Japanese buddies Kodama and Sasakawa, worked together in the early 1960s to form the Asian People's Anti-Communist League with the aid of KCIA agents. The League allegedly used Japanese organized crime money and financial support from Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek. The League concentrated its efforts on uniting fascist and right-wing militarists into an anti-Communist force throughout Asia.

In 1964, League funds established Moon's Freedom Center in the United States. Kodama served as a chief advisor to the Moon's subsidiary Win Over Communism, an organization that served as a conduit to protect Moon's South Korean financial investments. Sasakawa acted as Win Over Communism's Chair.

In 1966, the League merged with another fascist organization, the Anti-Bolshevik Block of Nations. The merger begat the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). Later, in the 1980s, the retired U.S. Major General John Singlaub emerged from the shadows of the League to become caught up in the Iran-Contra scandal. As Chairman of the WACL, Singlaub enlisted soldiers of fortune and other paramilitary groups to support the Contra cause in Nicaragua against the Sandinistas.

Moon's Freedom Center served as the headquarters for the League in the U.S. During the Iran-Contra hearings, the League was described as a "multi-national network of Nazi war criminals, Latin American death squad leaders, North American racists, and anti-Semites and fascist politicians from every continent."

Working with the KCIA, Moon made his first trip to the U.S. in 1965 and shockingly obtained an audience with former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Both "Ike" and former President Harry S. Truman lent their names to letterhead of the Moon-created Korean Cultural Freedom Foundation. In 1969, Moon and Sasakawa jointly formed the Freedom Leadership Foundation, a pro-Vietnam War organization that lobbied the U.S. government.

In the 1970s, Moon earned notoriety in the so-called Koreagate scandal. Female followers of the Unification Church were accused of entertaining and horizontally lobbying U.S. Congressmen while keeping confidential files on those they "lobbied" at a Washington Hilton Hotel suite rented by the Moonies. The U.S. Senate held hearings concerning Moon's "programmatic bribery of U.S. officials, journalists, and others as part of an operation by the KCIA to influence the course of U.S. foreign policy." The Fraser report documented that Moon was "paid by the KCIA to stage demonstrations at the United Nations and run pro-South Korean propaganda campaigns." The Congressional investigator for the Fraser report said, "We determine that their (Moonies') primary interest, at least in the U.S. at that time, was not religion at all but was political, it was an attempt to gain power, influence and authority."

After Ronald Reagan's presidential victory in 1980, Moon's political influence increased dramatically. Vice President George Bush, former CIA director, invited Moon as his guest to the Reagan inauguration. Bush and Moon shared unsavory links to South American underworld figures. In 1980, according to the investigative magazine I.F., the Moon organization collaborated with a right-wing military coup in Bolivia that established the region's first narco-state.
Moon's credentials soared in conservative circles.

In 1982, with the inception of the propaganda tabloid the Washington Times. Vice President Bush immediately saw the value of forging an alliance with the politically powerful Moon organization, an alliance that Moon claims made Bush president. One former-Moonie website claims that during the 1988 Bush-Dukakis battle, Rev. Moon threatened his followers that they would be moved out of the United States if the evil Dukakis won.

Moon himself lacked clean hands. Moon was convicted of income tax evasion in 1982 and spent a year in a U.S. jail. Also in 1982, the Moon organization based at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio helped elect John Kasich, now Ohio's governor, to the U.S. Congress in 12th district. During the Gulf War, the Moonie-sponsored American Freedom Coalition organized "support the troops" rallies throughout the country.

The Frontline documentary identified the Washington Times as the most costly piece in Moon's propaganda arsenal, with losses estimated as high as $800 million. Still, the documentary asserts that his old friend Sasakawa's virtual monopoly over the Japanese speedboat gambling industry allowed money to continuously flow into U.S. coffers.

The Bush-Moonie connection caused considerable controversy in September 1995 when the former President announced he would be spending nearly a week in Japan on behalf of a Moonie front organization, the Women's Federation for World Peace, founded and led by Moon's wife.
Bush downplayed accusations of Moonie brain-washing and coercion. The New York Times noted that Bush's presence "is seen by some as lending the group [Moonies] legitimacy."

Long-time Moonie member S.P. Simmonds wrote an editorial for the Portland Press Herald noting that Bushes "didn't need the reported million dollars paid by Moon and were well aware of the Church's history." Other news sources placed the figure for the former President's presence at $10 million. Bush shared the podium with Moon's wife and addressed a crowd of 50,000 in the Tokyo dome. Bush told the faithful "Reverend and Mrs. Moon are engaged in the most important activities in the world today."

The following year, Moon bankrolled a series of "family values" conferences from Oakland to Washington D.C. The San Francisco Chronicle reported, "In Washington, Moon opened his checkbook to such Republican Party mainstays as former President Gerald Ford and George Bush, GOP presidential candidate Jack Kemp, and Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed."

Purdue University Professor of Sociology Anson Shupe, a long-time Moon-watcher, said, "The man accused of being the biggest brainwasher in America has moved into mainstream Republican Americana."

Moon proclaimed at his family values conferences that he was only one who knew "all the secrets of God." One of them, according to the Chronicle was that "the husband is the owner of his wife's sex organs and vice versa."
"President Ford, President Bush, who attended the inaugural World Convention of the Family Federation for World Peace" and all you distinguished guests are famous, but there's something that you do know now," the Chronicle quoted Moon as saying. "Is there anyone here who dislikes sexual organs? . . . Until now you may not have thought it virtuous to value the sexual organs, but from now, you must value them."

In November 1996, Bush the Elder arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, amid controversy over a newly-created Spanish language Moon weekly newspaper called Tiempos del Mundo. Bush smoothed things over as the principle speaker at the paper's inaugural dinner on November 23rd.

The former president then traveled with Moon to neighboring Uruguay to help him open a Montevideo seminary to train 4200 young Japanese women to spread the word of the Unification Church across Latin America. The young Japanese seminarians were later accused of laundering $80 million through a Uruguayan bank, according to the St. Petersburg Times. The Times also reported that when Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University faced bankruptcy, Moon bailed it out with millions of dollars of loans and grants.

In 1997 the New York Times wrote that Moon "has been reaching out to conservative Christians in this country in the last few years by emphasizing shared goals like support for sexual abstinence outside of marriage and opposition to homosexuality." Moon also appealed to Second Amendment advocates. In March 1999, the Washington Post reported that the cult leader owned the lucrative Kahr Arms company through Saeilo Inc.

It's the shadowy network around the Moonies and the CIA that helped propel both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush into the presidency. Recently the "Messiah's" newspaper has spent most of its time attacking President Obama.
Besides the Washington Times, the Unification Church had business holdings including the United Press International (UPI). Moon was often shown in the mainstream media presiding over mass marriages of his followers. More importantly was his marriage of convenience to the CIA and the Bush family. His corruption of American politics lives on.