What Happened To Kendrick Johnson?

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Rewind: A look back at stories that the public may have forgotten about

Kendrick Johnson was a 17 year old high school student at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia. It was more than three years ago on January 11, 2013 when Kendrick was found dead inside of a rolled up gym mat. He was found in an upside-down position (headfirst in the gym mat), and with blood in the vicinity. After a four month long investigation by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office it was revealed that the death was an accident. An autopsy performed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations identified that Kendrick had died from positional asphyxia.

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However, many theories and potential inconsistencies within the case have pointed at a conclusion that could be anything but an accident. Kendrick’s parents, Jackie and Kenneth Johnson, have long maintained that Kendrick was killed.

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The high school (from this point on will be referred to as LHS) was composed of two gymnasiums. A ‘new’ gym and an ‘old’ gym. The older gymnasium was used as a storage facility. It was used to store old gym mats (vertically) and it was also a place for students to store their belongings. The mats (standing) were about 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Many students would use these vertical gym mats as storage lockers instead of paying for the school lockers.

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Official reports say that Kendrick, who was trying to retrieve a pair of shoes that he shared with a friend, got stuck in the gym mat and died of asphyxiation. This official response was regarded as the cause of death. Kendrick simply went in headfirst to retrieve the shoes and then got stuck. This was the cause of his shoe falling off his body as well as the blood pooling to his head (warning: pictures are graphic!) It wasn’t until more than a day later, after his mother had reported him missing, did a group of girls find Kendrick’s body.

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Two autopsies were performed with the first one stating that there was no indication of foul play and that Kendrick had died from asphyxiation whereas the second autopsy (which was conducted under the pressure of the Johnson family) revealed a death that was caused by ‘blunt force.’ (This was due to a cut on the neck of Kendrick’s body.)

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The Johnson’s then alleged that the Bell brothers (who also went to LHS) were responsible for the death of their son. The Johnson family filed a 100 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit in 2015 where they named Brian and Branden Bell as well as their former FBI agent father, Rick Bell in the suit. The Johnson family then later named another additional 39 suspects into the case.

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Later, all those individuals would ask a judge to have the Johnson family pay for their attorney fees and court related costs after the case was dropped. The case was repackaged and is in court once again.

It was reported that a year before Kendrick’s death the two students, Brian and Kendrick, got into a physical altercation while on a bus ride back from a lost football game. It was then later alleged that the two boys reconciled and then even volunteered to work together on a project.

Alibis from the Bell brothers show that they were not present during the time of Kendrick’s death. Later video footage that was released from the school show Kendrick walking into the gym by himself and then leaving. (The footage does appear to be altered and edited.)

Nonetheless, it was in February of 2015 when FSU decided to rescind their football scholarship to Brian Bell after repeated requests from Johnsons’ supporters. (Brian later went to Akron, Ohio for school.)

An investigation by the Department of Justice in October of 2013 confirmed the County Sheriff’s original conclusion: that Kendrick died from positional asphyxia and that his death was just a freak accident.

Despite the inconsistencies in both the Johnson’s testimonies as well as in the video footage one must wonder where the truthful middle ground lies. Are the grieving parents simply unable to come to terms with a freak accident or is there a vast conspiracy behind the scenes that involves federal agents, local enforcement and also educational institutions?

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What Happened To Kenneka Jenkins?

Rewind: A look back at stories that the public may have forgotten about

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Kenneka Jenkins was found dead in a Chicago hotel freezer more than a month ago and as of today (October 25) there is still so much mystery, controversy and anger surrounding this young girl’s death. The 19 year old was found dead inside of a walk-in freezer more than 24 hours after she was reported missing.

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There has only been more controversies surrounding this case since the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare hotel refused to look through surveillance footage when Tereasa Martin, Kenneka’s mother, told hotel staff that her daughter was last seen on the ninth floor of their hotel. And then things were further complicated when social media footage showed Kenneka on a live stream with some of her friends and theories began circulating of a potential set up. Detectives then later determined that the hotel room was rented by a man and a woman with a fraudulent credit card.

The Rosemont detectives have stated that those individuals are affiliated with a gang and that the party on the ninth floor had multiple gang members present. There were allegedly more than 30 people present at the hotel.

Recently, surveillance footage from the Chicago hotel shows Kenneka stumbling along the hallways and in the kitchen but there is no footage of the exact moment that Kenneka walks into the industrial-size freezer. Furthermore, the motion activated camera in the kitchen does not show her walking into the freezer.

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An autopsy revealed that Kenneka had a blood alcohol limit of 112 mg/dL (0.08 mg/dL is the legal limit) which is about 50 per cent higher than the legal limit. A drug known as Topiramate was also found in her system. It was reported that the dosage was in the ‘therapeutic’ range. Her family says that she was not prescribed to this drug.

The autopsy stated that the death was an accident and that Jenkins died of hypothermia. The autopsy speculates that the alcohol as well as the drugs in her system only sped up the onset of hypothermia.

The medical examiner’s note revealed that the walk in freezer was capable of reaching temperatures as low as 8 degrees Celsius. On police dispatch tapes, an officer could be heard saying that Jenkins’ body was ‘frozen solid.’

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The autopsy report stated that Kenneka suffered a type of lesion, mucosal erosions, that is indicative of hypothermia. Furthermore, there was an abrasion on her right ankle and her brain was also swollen, which the autopsy states does not reveal a specific cause of death.

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The Rosemont Police Department formally closed the case saying that there is no indication of foul play and has recently released crime scene photos showing how Kenneka was found.

According to NBC New York, the photographs show Kenneka’s body in a corner by the entrance of the door. Her head is tucked away in a corner and with one shoe off. She was found wearing the same jeans and jean jacket that she had on during the livestream as well as on surveillance camera. According to a police report, the shirt under her jacket was ‘pulled up exposing her breasts.’

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In a four page press release, the Rosemont Police Chief, Donald Stephens III, said: ‘At this time, the Rosemont Public Safety Department has closed the death investigation of Kenneka Jenkins and has classified this incident as an accidental death. There is no evidence that indicates any other conclusion.’

The Jenkins family is rightfully angry and state that these photos raise more questions than answers. Their lawyer, Larry Rogers Jr. said in a statement: ‘Frankly, [the] photos depicting how [Jenkins] was found raise more questions about what happened to [her] than they answer. The pictures are graphic and disturbing images and inexplicably show portions of [her] body exposed.’

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Kenneka’s mother, Theresa Martin, is rightfully angered at this conclusion and is upset at the hotel worker’s lack of urgency. Furthermore, the Jenkins family has not been given the full surveillance footage and has only seen ‘snippets.’ Tereasa has doubts about the validity of the police’s conclusion on her daughter’s death and says that if Kenneka was drunk she wouldn’t have been able to open the freezer doors.

‘Those were double steel doors, she didn’t just pop them open.’

As theories and controversies populate social media, one must wonder why there has been such a significant lack of transparency in a case of an ‘accidental death.’

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Labels And How They Affect Us

Have you ever noticed that things become more ‘serious’ or ‘real’ when a label is slapped on it? Now why is that? This may be obvious in terms of a relationship: two people can be ‘talking’ but when they decide to slap the label of a ‘relationship’ or ‘boyfriend-girlfriend’ on it then all of a sudden it becomes more ‘real’ or more ‘serious.’

But meanwhile, nothing really changes besides the acknowledgement from both parties that this label is slathered on them now. They still go on doing the same things; watching movies, sharing dinners, etc.

Let’s take this a step further: you can exhibit all the characteristics of this one type of person, but until that label is given to you, it seems somehow less real, less important or just not true.

I can be lifting weights everyday, tracking my macros every meal, and getting sufficient rest for the pat 5, 6 or even 10 years. It’s pretty obvious that this person is living the bodybuilding lifestyle, I can even introduce myself to others as a bodybuilder but somehow, things become more genuine when a bodybuilding judge or a commentator labels you as a ‘bodybuilder.’

Does putting a label on things or people truly make it more ‘real’ or is this just a facet of human psychology? Or does the process of ‘labeling’ by an authoritative figure actually make things more real?

What about on an individual basis? When you graduate from school and finally become that doctor or engineer or journalist, you can then truthfully label yourself as that occupation.

But the whole time before that authoritative figure (the Dean, or principal, etc.) gives you that stamp of approval you’ve already been doing those journalistic or engineering things. So does the label really change anything or is it just a placebo effect? Almost undoubtedly, this ‘label’ makes you more of a ‘real’ journalist even though you’ve been doing ‘real journalistic things’ for the past four years in school.

From people to people, the ‘labeling’ dilemma still exists. If two people are screaming at each other, and a bystander comes in and says ‘why are you guys arguing?’ All of a sudden the argument becomes more ‘real’ since it has just been labelled an argument.

And then there are the negative labels. Those who are labelled a pedophile, a rapist or a sex offender are immediately considered to be the scum of the earth. This is not an attempt to condone those heinous acts, rather it shows how hard it is for someone to remove that label even when it is proven that they are not what they are accused of.

So is ‘labeling’ just an aspect of the human mind that reinforces what we believe or is there some sort of weird truth and reality in having someone (preferably an authoritative figure) confirm our perceptions of ourselves?

Let me know down below!

It Is Not Racism That Divides Us

Society as well as mainstream media has constantly shown us that the only divide between our Western civilization is this ‘racial divide.’ But is that really true or is there something deeper brewing in the depths?

Now obviously racism exists and people get favours or lose out on opportunities based on colour but is skin colour truly the root of all our problems?

I argue that it is not skin colour, or religion or sexuality that divides us, rather it is our incomes.

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Look at the neighbourhood you live in. Is there an area where only the ‘posh’ live in? Where every house has a three car garage and an orange Porsche sitting on the driveway?

Now go a little further down the block and you might reach the high middle-income families where there might be homes that can fit four or five people comfortably.

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But on the other side of that same town, there lies government housing. Run down houses with rickety garages and kids on bikes everywhere. Streetlights that flicker on and off and potholes that have long been neglected by city officials.

And that’s the society we live in. We are literally physically separated from those who make less than us yet we buy into the belief that it is race, or religion or sexuality that divides us.

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Would we be more willing to help those in need if those who are in need lived next to us? Or would we be repulsed by neighbors who are ‘less than us?’

Now, take a look at the schools around you, or the amusement parks, or the sports that are played. The rich and wealthy play a different game than us. They go to private schools, they get the fast lane at Wonderland, they play golf at the biggest, most expensive golf courses. We are divided into separate groups based on our finances.

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This problem is then further exacerbated when we, as a group, buy into this social and financial hierarchy. The wealthy are perched at the top, the rich just one rung below them, and the high income families another level lower and so on and so forth.

We look up to those with material possessions and commas in their bank accounts, whereas we frown upon those who are ‘lazy’ or ‘not motivated.’

We hold those with money and worldly possessions in higher regard than those that might make less. We are separated by classism and not by racism or sexism or any other factor.

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One can argue that this is simply capitalism. In a society based on money and the ‘free market’ anyone can simply become wealthy. But capitalism wasn’t built so that everyone can be wealthy. The game has been skewed so that the rich stay rich. Loopholes are created not for small, family owned businesses, rather they are DESIGNED for the wealthy corporations.

So what if urban environments weren’t designed in such a way? What if the richest person lived next to the poorest person? What if everyone’s neighbor wasn’t of the same financial status as them? Would we still turn a blind eye to those less fortunate than us when they are literally next to us?

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On such a small scale (our respective neighborhoods or towns), we can see that we are divided by money so that we don’t see those less fortunate than us. So that we can say ‘I don’t see it, so I don’t have to do anything about it.’

But if we worked together as the masses that we are then we can surely create some sort of change. There should be no reason that someone should have eight mansions when people are dying from a lack of clean water. There should be no reason for people to hoard trillions of dollars when a third of that can end world poverty.

If on such a small scale we are divided by class, then upon a larger, international scale how prevalent and systemic is classism?

Is Piracy Good Or Bad?

If I write this blog or if I were to create a piece of art, I most certainly want credit for what I have created (and what is rightfully mine.) Let’s say someone were to copy and paste my work onto their own blog and then claim that as their own, in which case I can then rightfully say that that is considered stealing, and plagiarism. But stealing or theft means that something is taken away, so essentially one person’s gain HAS to be another person’s loss.

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So if this anonymous blogger were to take my work and then ‘repost’ it as his or her own, would it really be considered stealing? I mean, at the end of the day, I still have my original copy so what was the ‘real loss’?

Would it then be considered stealing if his/her following was much bigger than mine and was able to create revenue off of ‘my’ article?

This has always been the question with piracy. Is it right? Is it wrong? Is it stealing? Is it moral?

Here, I will try to present both sides of this complicated situation without instilling too many of my own subjective biases.

First, let’s start with copyright. Copyright was and is a man made construct that was designed to protect an artist’s work. Now just because something is a social construct doesn’t necessarily make it wrong or immoral but it does show that it was invented at a certain point in time (and wasn’t always around or is ‘natural.’

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Did Leonardo da Vinci have copyright for his work during his time? What about Einstein? Did he prevent people from accessing his theory of relativity without first paying him a small fee or acknowledging his greatness?

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Is not the point of art to be spread around the world and to inspire and incite some new thought so that further art (and science, literature, geography, etc.) can be created?

Many advocates of piracy argue that it is a ‘victimless crime’ since nothing is truly lost. If I download an mp3 file from the internet, the original file is still there so there is no real ‘loss.’ It’s not actually theft if I take something and the thing I take is still there.

BUT, if I take something away from you and it removes the potential of me buying that, then one could argue that there is some sort of loss. My act of downloading an mp3 file (or a movie, or TV show, etc.) removes the possibility of me purchasing that file, thus there is a loss in potential revenue.

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So from both fronts we can see justifiable points that point to piracy being good or bad. If one were to argue that art is meant to be shared and viewed free of charge then that would inevitably lead to the definition of art. What is considered art and what is not considered art?

What can of art can be ‘stolen’ or ‘copied’ and what kind of art prohibits these actions?

Could playing a sport be an art? What about MMA? What about diagnosing psychological diseases?

Why is it okay for me to copy Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook or Mighty Mouse’s (Demetrious Johnson) fighting style but not okay for me to ‘copy’ Tee Grizzley’s song?

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In either of these situations, I can either capitalize on those moves and make a living with it, or I can simply enjoy it whenever I want. But why is one okay and the other considered illegal?

What are your thoughts on piracy and what do you think we as a society should do with it? Should we allow it to freely happen or should we implement stricter controls?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Freedom Or Simulated Freedom?

What would you rather have: total, unregulated freedom or simulated freedom?

I imagine total freedom as one that our ancestors had. Not simply three generations down when our grandparents immigrated here from the ‘motherland.’ But as far back as hunter-gatherers.

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During those times there was no such thing as a Supreme Court, copyright and trademark or any sort of entity that performed policing duties. There were tribes and that was about it.

I regard this as utter and total freedom simply because you could do whatever you want. There wasn’t a state bearing down on you imposing their will. You could rape, pillage, murder, steal, or do anything you pleased and it didn’t necessarily entail a punishment.

There isn’t an army or a military going after a serial killer. There wouldn’t be border officials chasing a Neanderthal off a specific patch of land.

That’s why and how people such as Genghis Khan and Vlad the Impaler were able to roam free because they were the biggest and baddest army out there and no one could touch them.

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In today’s society, there is a set of arbitrary rules that we HAVE to abide by. The state stipulates where you can go and where you can’t. They decide what pieces of paper you need and where they are allowed. They decide what you can own and what you can’t own. And even if you owned something that doesn’t stop the state from charging you a fee for owning it (property tax.).

Even some of the freedoms that we think we have (such as the freedom of speech) are merely an illusion. Are we truly free when we can’t make our own decisions in fear of consequences? Are we truly free when we are told what and when to think?

Now in this total and unregulated freedom, it doesn’t mean that you can just senselessly commit crimes at will. The way of the world still works, if you do stupid things Darwinism will still kick into effect. You have the free will to walk into the middle of the Savannah, but that doesn’t mean the wildebeests back then can’t also exercise their free will to eat the shit out of you.

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You can use your free will to maliciously steal, harm, murder or rape someone, but that doesn’t mean the opposing (stronger more fearsome) family or tribes won’t take retribution on you. So as much as there is free will, there is still a sense of justice or a set of vague but general moral guidelines.

Rather than having just one vigilante, the society as a whole acts as a vigilante.

If a malicious act is performed, then the society as a group will turn on that individual or group of people who committed that malicious act. If a punishment needs to be exacted on the offender(s), then the society as a whole might ‘turn a blind eye’ on the punishment and let those who committed the revenge roam freely even though they know full well who it was.

This sounds a lot like anarchy but I would like to think that this is a controlled sort of an anarchy. It isn’t the wild jungles where we live as savages but a world where we are more connected to the real.

In one of Tupac’s interview, he stated that it was time to bring communities back together. To host block parties again and to give back to the community. To invest in ‘the younger g’s’ so that they can get an education and come back to build something for the community.

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And that’s what we truly need, to govern ourselves and to look out for the betterment of our community and groups as opposed to our individual selves.

However the current society that we live in is just too tempting. Who wants to hunt with bow and arrows and live in teepees when we have king size beds and the internet?

And from a practical standpoint, we don’t need to be worried about opposing tribes when we have the military in place to protect us.

But this places an awful lot of power and responsibility on a specific group of people who MIGHT abuse their power.

So what do you think? Do you think the development of technology is to blame for us straying from our natural roots or is this simply the product of human greed wanting more and more?

And finally, what would you prefer? Would you want to live in the wild wild west of this anarchist world or would you prefer the comfort of a developed country?

 

 

 

How To Become A Modern Hero

Ever since storytelling became a thing (or maybe even before that if cave paintings are considered a form of storytelling) mankind has been obsessed with the idea of heroes. A hero is a person ‘who is admired or idealized for courage and/or outstanding achievements.’

Whether it was during the hunter-gatherer times or more in modern times, humans have always idolized a person and held that person in high regards. The man who could hunt the most meat or bring home the biggest prey would usually be heroic. The person who brings the most money to the household (aka a breadwinner) will be the ‘leader.’

But short of finding the cure to cancer or ending all prospects of nuclear war, it is almost impossible to become a hero in the eyes of everyone.

So what is it that we have to do in order to be held in high regard? Or to be someone that people ‘look up to’?

Recently, an idea surfaced in my head with the help of a recent Joe Rogan podcast where he interviewed (even though Joe doesn’t consider what he does a conventional interview) Jordan Peterson.

Jordan is a clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. He earned his degree at McGill University.

In the interview, he expanded on his idea of heroism (whether male or female) as someone who exhibits truth. Someone who is genuine, authentic and honest. Initially, this sounded extremely counterintuitive. In a day and age where everyone and everything is vicious and where children are taught that it’s a ‘dog eat dog’ world, how can revealing my true intentions and my ‘hidden agenda’ be in any way beneficial?

I had always thought that life was supposed to be maneuvered like a game of chess. Where your intentions are always hidden and the last thing you want is to be predictable and have your opponent know your next move.

So then I gave it some thought. From a very selfish, subjective and miniscule standpoint, who do I look up to and who do I consider an idol? Well, I care about Walter Cronkite, and Eisenhower and Serena Shim, and all those other people that I have wrote about in my blog.

I care and look up to these people because they were real. They didn’t do their jobs because of money or fame or status, they performed their duties because of passion. They were honest and truthful. Walter Cronkite because he disseminated true, objective and useful news. Eisenhower because he foresaw the growth of the military-industrial complex and warned the American people. And Serena Shim because she risked her life to reveal the dangers that are unjustified in Turkey.

So what about past a personal and subjective level? Let’s look at a smaller section. The YouTube fitness industry. Who does that audience look up to? Well, it is commonly known that the lineups for Rich Piana’s booth at fitness conventions is usually the longest. But why?

Not because he’s the biggest (Phil Heath, Kai Greene, etc. all outweigh and out-mass him), not because he’s the most aesthetic, not even because he’s the strongest. But because he’s honest. He openly talks about his steroid use in an industry that is filled with these fake or ‘half-natties.’

So this has led me to surmise that being at the top of your individual field (whatever it is) should be led by the belief and philosophy that we remain honest and truthful.

But being upfront and genuine with our intents, this doesn’t so much lead to upper echelon’s approval, rather it leads to the support of the masses. Once you have a following or a mass of people that genuinely support you, you will be damn near unbeatable.

But someone will only care to follow you and spend time with you so long as they believe that you are anything but ‘shady’ or ‘a snake.’

 

How Mainstream Media Handles Situations That Involve ‘Lone Bombers’

In a time where senseless acts of terrorism are splashed across front pages and news outlets on a far too common basis, how can informed citizens like us be sure what mainstream media is reporting is the whole story?

People globally were both shocked and stunned over the events that occurred at the Manchester Arena, on May 22. While media outlets and citizens alike seem to be sure of suicide bomber, Salman Abedi’s sole involvement, how can we truly and confidently be sure that Abedi was working alone?

It was at an Ariana Grande concert when ISIS sympathiser, Salman Abedi, detonated a sophisticated homemade bomb that killed 22 people and injured hundreds more. This attack sparked widespread chaos and a country-wide manhunt.

Firstly, it is important for me to illustrate that this is by no means any sort of condonement for the heinous acts that Abedi conducted. Rather it is an alternative look at how mainstream media (MSM) reacts and responds to these terrorist acts.  

Sidenote: informed citizens are people that don’t take issues at face value. They conduct their own research to form their own opinions. As the great comedian, George Carlin once said: ‘they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want a well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking.’

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Now I am not saying that mainstream media is regularly reporting propaganda to misinform the population, however in more recent times, there has been some steady and solid evidence that mainstream media has its own agenda and hidden ambitions behind the scenes. [5]

I think what is so peculiar about the Manchester Bombing lies in several key points:

  1. Eyewitnesses originally heard two explosions [1]
  2. Some outlets state that it was a suicide bomber whilst others believe that it could be a remote-controlled detonation [2]
  3. Allegedly,a prominent ‘bomb-maker’ was living on the same street as the Abedi family in the early 2000’s [3]

So onto point number 1: original newscasts and radio sound bites revealed that two explosions went off at the Manchester Arena. Later this was reduced to one explosion that was triggered by Salman.

According to a Bloomberg article: ‘police in Manchester say a lone bomber with an improvised device died in the attack. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility and that several bombs were involved.’ [4]

So there is a contradictory of events between what eyewitnesses heard and saw and the resulting news articles that were publicized. While ISIS purports that more than one ‘bomb’ or ‘explosion’ went off, official reports that came out later state there was only one detonation.

This does not necessarily deduce into some false flag conspiracy instead it could simply be deduced to echoes bouncing off the arena or just people in a state of chaos not remembering things correctly.

Secondly, Salman is largely regarded as the sole person responsible for these gruesome murders, however, investigators found a circuit board with a detonator switch which would allow an accomplice to set off the bomb(s) if Salman were to change his mind.

‘STARTLING new evidence suggests suicide bomber Salman Abedi had an accomplice lurking nearby to trigger the bomb if he bottled out at the last minute.’

‘Experts reported to have examined the detonator switch found near Abedi’s body revealed it contained special circuitry which suggests the nail-packed explosive could be operated remotely.’ – The Sun [2]

And lastly, it is alleged and reported by many news outlets that a prominent bombmaker associated with al-Qaeda lived on the ‘same street as the bomber in Manchester around the year 2000.’ [3]

According to London publication, Standard, it was revealed that ‘detectives are believed to be investigating possible links between Abedi and al-Qaeda bombmaker Abd al-Basset Azzouz, who lived on the same street as the bomber in Manchester around the year 2000.’

This points to a severe lack of foresight since officials not only let a ‘prominent bombmaker’ into the country but they also let him instill ideas and possibly assist in the creation of the ‘rucksack bomb.’

According to The Standard: ‘the development will raise further questions for the security services as to how the 22-year-old bomber was allowed to slip through the net and travel with ease around Europe without apparently being on a terror watchlist.’

Furthermore, a less noticeable point is the international anger that has ensued since US officials have leaked information to the New York Times in regards to the Manchester bombing investigation. [6]

Officials are unhappy since the leak could have grave implications on their investigation in terms of ‘scope, frequency and potential damage.’

Rather than hiding ‘sensitive information’ from neighboring countries, I think that it is not only essential to share information with other nations but it is also necessary to get the citizens involved. This is so that eyewitnesses can come forth about their version of events and for people who used to live with Abedi or go to school with him to come forth with any information that they might glean important.

An interesting tidbit to keep in mind would be the correlation between search engines and MSM. A simple search of any topic will result in some pretty identical articles albeit with different logos (New York Times, NBC, etc.) Therefore, we should keep in mind that just because we read 5 or 6 different versions of the SAME article does not mean that we have performed sufficient research. Sometimes all it takes is the use of a different word in conjunction with your topic in a search engine to reveal some drastically different results.

[1] https://www.liveleak.com/view?i=8c9_1495495355

[2] https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3645891/manchester-another-bomber-nerve-failed/

[3]http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/salman-abedi-had-help-constructing-bomb-but-may-have-made-it-himself-a3548396.html

[4]https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-23/urgent-the-latest-22-dead-in-blast-at-ariana-grande-concert

[5]http://www.globalresearch.ca/mainstream-media-fake-news-through-lying-by-omission/5582944

[6]https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/25/uk-police-stop-passing-information-to-us-over-leaks-of-key-evidence

2 Sides Of The Same Coin: Materialism And Meditation

The growth of technology is paradoxically intertwined with the increasing awareness of mental clarity and ‘stillness’ as shown in activities such as meditation.

As technology continues to grow and machinery becomes ever more advanced (ala Crispr, and Artificial Intelligence) so is the rise of life coaches, meditation techniques and Yoga classes.

As we come closer and closer to merging with technology, we are also becoming more interested and intertwined with achieving a ‘clear and peaceful’ state of mind.

It is kind of paradoxical to think (and see) the exponential growth of technology and the increasing amount of people who strive for ‘mental gainz.’ It’s like we are all chasing for the newest cell phone and the most advanced drones all the while trying to reach enlightenment.

It is without a doubt that meditation can relieve stress and physically alter parts of your brain. [1] In an article done by the Washington Post, it was revealed that yoga (and meditation) can increase the amount of gray matter in certain parts of the brain. These areas of the brain corresponded to the control of senses, memory and decision making.

But despite the increasing popularity in books, apps, articles, and videos in regards to how to practice meditation there still seems to be a lack of ‘enlightened’ people out in public.

Is this because we are practicing meditation the wrong way or simply because the characteristics of materialism are just too tempting?

Or maybe, most people AREN’T practicing meditation, and they are merely pretending to be ‘enlightened’ or ‘#woke’ for social media.

But a look around the (western) world will reveal that those who do have all these possessions and material goods are not truly happy or sufficiently fulfilled.

Time and time again we see celebrities (whom we believe to be truly happy since they have all the material goods one could want: money, sex and fame) end their lives despite the high regard that we hold them in. (I argue that fame is a material, tangible good since fame can be measured by things such as Grammy awards, Instagram followers, or movie appearances.)

This is pretty indicative that material possessions don’t make us happy (yes, they can buy you lots of cool stuff) but why is it that so many of us refuse to give our brains 10 to 15 minutes a day to wind down (not counting sleep.) Or why is it that more people are interested in the newest iPhone as opposed to the newest techniques in thoughtfulness?

Meditation can be anything. It doesn’t necessarily have to be reduced to sitting on an uncomfortable cushion with your arms crossed and eyes closed. It can simply be performing a task that helps you relieve stress and ‘wind down.’

In a recent podcast on the Joe Rogan Experience, Tom Papa and the great Joe Rogan himself had a brief conversation in regards to meditation.

Tom Papa regarded his love of bread making as a sort of meditation. The act of making bread was something that he thoroughly enjoyed and considered relaxing. On the other hand, Joe believed that kickboxing could be a type of ‘moving meditation’ since it requires your utmost attention to be present (who likes being kicked in the face?)

And that’s exactly what meditation is. Being present. It’s not so much focusing on a breath, or reciting a mantra. It is the ability to stay present and NOT multitask. Too often do we have too many tabs open, too many goals in mind and too many thoughts running through our head. Meditation can simply be doing a task that forces you to do that one task only.

Who knows, maybe the combination of technology and biology in the future will inevitably lead to a simulated mind that can achieve perpetual ‘stillness’ and ‘present-ness’ while remaining efficient in society.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/05/26/harvard-neuroscientist-meditation-not-only-reduces-stress-it-literally-changes-your-brain/?utm_term=.b419fcc2d771

 

Early Resolution (On Traffic Tickets) Is A Thing Of The Past

Approximately 5 years ago (in 2012) a new procedure was implemented in the Ontario Highway Traffic Court known as ‘Early Resolution.’ On the backside of most tickets, people were offered 3 choices. One to plead guilty and pay the fine, one to go to court and a third to meet with the prosecutor for an early resolution. [1]

The last option is what many Ontarians would choose since it saves them time from going to court, (usually) reduces the fine, and eliminates or reduces the amount of demerit points. It allows residents to meet with prosecutors in order to reach an agreement (although the prosecutors are the ones who stipulate the regulations and boundaries of said agreement) and if they happen to disagree on the terms of the agreement then the resident can always take the option to go to court.

So it is quite disheartening to know that there will no longer be any more ‘Early Resolutions.’ Without so much as a notice, an article or any sort of media coverage, early resolution has completely been banished.

No longer will this option be available to drivers thus leaving Ontarians to either plead guilty or go directly to court. (Talk about choices.)

toronto-parking-ticket-back

So what is this new option? You can meet the Justice of the Peace (who is a Judicial Officer that acts to ‘keep the peace’ [2]) that same day to pay the fine or to  discuss about additional options. (They may or may not reduce the fine/demerit points.)

But it was a shock to be informed that there is no set schedule that designates when the JP would come in. According to the staff at the provincial offenses office, they are unsure of when the JP would be coming in and the ‘best’ thing to do would be to call the office on a daily basis and come in whenever the JP is in…

So not only is the previously favored option reduced to nothing, but the very person that was supposed to supplant the Early Resolutions Officer can come and go as they please (as if a government appointed position was akin to that of a self employed businessperson…)

So if you’re wondering, yes, there is a perfectly good chance that you can go into the provincial offenses office, attempt to set up an appointment with the Early Resolutions Officer just to find out that they no longer exist. And then when you go to ask for the Justice of the Peace there is a good chance that you will be informed that they don’t work that day and no one is sure when they will be in next.

poaticket_380

This is all in addition to the fact that these offices don’t open on weekends, certainly don’t open on holidays, and close right as the clock strikes 5pm.

What is just as aggravating as this sudden change of jurisdiction is the complete lack of publicity. Nothing can be found online or on the city website and certainly nothing was promoted on media to notify residents. The only way an Ontarian would have known of this sudden and abrupt change would have been to go directly to the courthouse.

It is laughable that the most popular option was removed in order to ‘streamline the process.’ Funny how of all the options that the government decides to remove, they choose to ‘streamline’ the one option that most Canadians like to use.

In a time and place where government offices and salaries are paid by taxpayers, at least give us a heads up before you blatantly and retroactively change the rules of the game.

[1] http://carl-wais.com/blog/?p=62

[2] https://www.google.ca/search?q=justive+of+teh+peace&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=L4cpWZrrJYjojwTAiKboCg