Saturday, November 27, 2004


Here in the land of plenty, food is a daily obsession. Every waking hour we are surrounded by dueling social forces compelling us to maintain a desirable, athletic physique, and, at the same time, eat heartily lest we take for granted the benefits of living in the richest country in the world.

Yet in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, the right to stay thin is a highly contentious issue according to a recent article in the Khaleej Times.

In an inversion of contemporary American values, Fatima, a ten-year-old resident of Noukachott, risks being branded an outcast for she is defying centuries of tradition by resisting the age old custom of "gavage" or force-feeding.

The fattening up of would-be-brides is rooted in the enduring belief among Mauritania's dominant White Moor Arab Population that a woman's portly appearance "symbolizes high social stature."

To ensure that girls have achieved this physical ideal, the Times reports that "psychological pressure" and in some instances, "physical force" is used in the gavage ritual. In a collective effort to secure a wealthy son-in-law, families often set aside significant quantities of food (usually milk) lest their daughters be shunned by would-be suitors.

When these measures fail, families turn to women like Fatematou, who runs a "fat farm" in Atar, a wind-swept city located in the Northern Sahara. "I make them eat lots of dates, lots and lots of couscous and other fattening food," she tells the BBC's Pascale Harter.

While the pre-teen rebel seems an unlikely freedom fighter, Fatima is openly revolting against the pre-nuptial procedure. "They’re turning me into a machine being prepared for sale. I want to stay thin and light. My four sisters can hardly walk from their weight,” she remarks.

Fearing long-term health effects for Mauritania's women, a UN-sponsored ministry for women and children was formed to combat the custom. Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of current brides admit to having been force-fed.

However, Sociologist Mohammed al-Amin weld Mohammed believes that the nation's obsession with obese women isn't merely rooted in economic considerations as it is also "considered beautiful."

Force feeding isn't limited to Mauritania. On the African continent where food is often scarce, this particular fetish has no lack of historical precedent. Indeed, in Alan Morehead's White Nile, the renowned historian discusses the "provincal court" of Rumanika, a 19th century tribal chieftain who ruled over a vast territory in what is now modern day Uganda:

"He [Rumanika] kept an extraordinary harem of wives who were so fat, they could not stand upright, and instead grovelled like seals about the floors of their huts. Their diet was an uninterrupted flow of milk that was sucked from a gourd through a straw, and if the young girls resisted this treatment they were force-fed like the pate de foie gras ducks of Strasbourg: a man stood over them with a whip."

However, Conspiracy researcher Tim O'Neill believes that this ancient fetish dates back to our primitive ancestors. In a provocative essay appearing in Adam Parfrey's incomparable Apocalypse Culture anthology, he argues that the erotic properties of corpulent women "emerges out of a kind of folk-wisdom that stretches back to the Paleolithic era."

There is evidence for his assertion. Archeologists conducting research on the island of Malta have discovered ruins indicating the former presence of a Neolithic fertility cult whose adherents "associated obesity with fertility."

While little is known about this unknown tribe, its existence is evidenced by ornate temples occupied by statues depicting profoundly obese women. One might easily speculate that this age-old fertility cult lives on today in the minds of Mauritania's menfolk.

Should the industrialized world fall victim to disaster, famine, and food shortages, one wonders if this unique archetype will be reawakened in the western imagination.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


I just finished a new piece for


"...These aren't the ruminations of a crew of stoners swapping conspiracy theories over bong hits in the back of a van, but the opinion of a nationally recognized organization of experts in such diverse fields as science, law, ethics, and medicine. While it is hoped that the Center's learned observations will engender greater public debate about the vaccines, this authoritative document is also invaluable as it explores the underlying motivations behind this backdoor attempt by government officials to claim ownership to our minds..."

To read entire article click here.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

RECOVERY IN RUSSIA: Inside a Detox Gulag

Welcome readers and thanks to Preston for the link.


Victoria Malakhova could care less whether you "work your steps," find your inner-child, or connect with some unnamed "higher power." Instead, the iron-fisted director of the most brutal drug treatment center in Russia is interested in only one thing: results.

"Isolation, bread and water, that's all one needs to deal with withdrawal," she informs a western journalist.

Welcome to City Without Drugs (CWD) and the sadistic world of Recovery---Russian style.

Situated in the industrial city of Yekaterinburg, some 900 miles east of Moscow, the mere mention of this notorious facility sends shudders down the spines of Moscow's needle-scarred street urchins.

"On the first day we beat them with belts until their buttocks turn blue," Igor Varov, a co-founder of the renowned facility informs Mark Franchetti of London's Sunday Times.

The controversial practice usually involves some 300 lashes. "Every week we have to buy a new belt because they go too soft, but we have been impressed with the quality of Gucci belts," Varov explains.

However, CWD officials aren't merely punishing their unfortunate charges for losing the battle with addiction, they strongly believe that drug use can be cured with a strong dose of old-fashioned Slavic cruelty.

"Drug addicts are animals who have lost all sense of values," Varov asserts. "This way, the next time they think about getting a fix they remember the pain of the thrashing rather than the rush of the drugs. It's very effective. You cannot solve this with mild manners - you need tough measures."

After a rigorous beating, the recovering junkies are then handcuffed to a bed where they undergo the agonies of withdrawal while living on a strict diet of bread and water.

Those who make it through this harrowing ordeal and are considered drug-free graduate to performing harsh physical labor and other errands in a starkly ascetic environment. Any backsliding by these newly-liberated addicts invites violent reprisals.

The questionable cure at Yekaterinburg typically lasts 12 months and many parents pay over $1,000 to CWD to get their children off of drugs---an exorbitant fee in Russia.

Founded in 1999 to counteract an epidemic of addiction among Russian youth, the center is an outgrowth of a concerted vigilante effort by powerful (and allegedly mob-connected) local businessmen to stem the drug trade. Suspected dealers have been threatened, and in some instances assaulted by local anti-drug zealots.

CWD also acts as an informal intelligence-gathering arm of the state with a sophisticated pager network fielding thousands of tips alleging illict drug activity.

However, these dedicated drug warriors aren't interested in confining their activities to Yekaterinburg.

"With a typical lack of modesty, the fund's founders say their approach should serve as a model not only for Russia but for the West, too," reports the Holland Sentinel.

This sounds highly unlikely here in the states where 12-step methods are considered the "cornerstone" of addiction treatment. Indeed, since the inception of Alcoholics Anonymous over six decades ago, recovery has become a publicly accepted ritual rooted in the belief that substance abuse is caused by a medically-recognized "disease" as opposed to a mere lack of willpower.

Then again, studies indicate that 12-step methods are questionable at best and many qualified experts are openly challenging the once sacrosanct "disease" theory. Should this growing dissent become the accepted wisdom, this may create a vast therapeutic void that will unleash a whole new approach to treating drug addiction.

It is worth noting that Alcoholics Anonymous emerged in a similar environment. Medical efforts to treat alcoholism were sharply curtailed after anti-drinking advocates decided that state-enforced prohibition was the only available method to stem excessive drinking.

When this "noble experiment" failed, AA stepped into the breach.

Let's hope the control freaks at NIDA aren't in contact with the Russians.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

BOLSHEVISM UNBOUND: The New (Erotic) Face of Communism

To be a Bolshevik in the halcyon days of the Comintern was akin to belonging to the largest street gang in the world. It was a ruthless demimonde where murder was used as a mild reprimand and 20 million deaths a mere statistic. Despite this squalid atmosphere of political gangsterism and rampant corruption, there was no shortage of "useful idiots" willing to believe in the so-called Soviet "experiment."

Obviously much has changed.

Today Russo-Communism and its many variants are viewed as a mordibund ideology that will perhaps best be remembered for facilitating the greatest organized organized slaughter of humans in recent history.

But why all this talk about corpses? Can't people understand that communism is just plain sexy?

This highly effective recruiting strategy is being deployed by Russia's National Bolshevik Party in the hopes of winning new adherents.

Apparently the days have long since passed when a few evil geeks could generate enthusiasm among Russia's disaffected youth.

With bedroom eyes, lustful gazes, and intense revolutionary stares, a flock of new model appar[chicks] are featured on the group's web page to entice the eyes of wavering Trotskyites and other prospective party members.

"We need guys, who have tied their life with the Party, only in her see [sic] theirs destiny, believe in [the]Party, like in God and only during their sleep allow dreams about our steel [sic]dictator ship, but at day work for the party with severe or merry faces," reads a proclamation urging the Party's need for [sic] "45 Gebbels and Dzerzhinskiys."

According to the NBP Manifesto, the embattled political group which fuses Communist ideology with Nazi-era blood and soil mysticism seeks to generate what the organization calls "life expanse"--- defined as "territory, language, education, natural resources, transport passages, non-killed ecology, workplaces, social and economic niches, attractive and healthy women etc."

Will the party succeed in its quest to place a permanent roadblock on Russia's road to freedom?

Only time will tell. In the meantime, the NBP's tattooed "combat girlfriends" will continue their quixotic quest to turn back the clock and return to Russia's dark and frightening past.

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