For instance, one story doing the rounds is that the 5.8 quake of 23 August 2011 (I was in Long Island at the time and it was mildly interesting) was caused by a nuclear explosion. For some, this segues into talk of a vast secret network of underground tunnels, stolen nuclear weapons and some kind of underground battle. Illuminati, aliens, the lot.
Worse, the excitable conspiracy theorists appear to be doctoring the data. See the alleged seismograph readout in the link above, which looks most odd because (unlike with normal earthquakes) there seem to be no p-wave tremors before the major shaking; then see the actual readouts from the Seismological Observatory at Virgina Tech. To save you the bother, here they are:
What are the nutters thinking when they do this? Are they like those mediaeval monks at St Denis, Naples and elsewhere, who created and manipulated effigies so that they appeared to speak to the faithful? Believers themselves (we must hope they were not simply cynical), they considered it their duty to perpetrate pious fraud in order to foster the faith in others. Is that what we have here, now?
Yet it seems there are more mundane, yet real, threats we should guard against. For example, according to this article (htp: Robert Wenzel) it seems that the United States government is choosing where to hold a trial for Julian Assange, according to vested local interests that may influence the kind of jury he will face. If true, this makes a mockery of justice - and my reading of John Grisham's fiction suggests that such manouevres are quite believable, perhaps common.
Meanwhile, Americans are thrown into a panic by the Islamic bogeyman, who in the worst atrocity on US soil ten years ago claimed under 3,000 lives. Every life counts, and we have New York fire and police in our extended family, so I don't for a moment undervalue the horror of what was done that day. Yet look at the year 2000 for comparison: the 9/11 toll is less than deaths ascribed to asbestos (3,750), medication errors (7,391), chewing tobacco and snuff (7,430), alcohol (85,000), infections acquired in hospitals and long-term care facilities (90,000), medical errors (98,000), adult obesity (111,909) and active smoking (389,290). Should the Patriot Act include provisions for hunting down and destroying brewers, tobacco companies, insulating firms, doctors, nurses and the makers of Twinkies?
The real threat to America is its own government, which uses fright tactics to cause its citizens to abandon their Constitutional safeguards against tyranny. The battle may be lost here in Britain, where our unwritten constitution has been so easily and quickly subverted; but I would urge my American friends to go back to those yellowing documents stored in Washington DC, so that "government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." If you do not throw down your coat and stand to fight here and now, then where and when?