Daily Archives: April 25, 2008

The Order of the Alchemists: The Knights of Malta and Cagliostro

Coming Soon…

The Order of the Alchemists: The Knights of Malta and Cagliostro

Discover occult and sinister forces at play

…with Philip Gardiner

The Order of the Alchemists, the Knights of Malta and Cagliostro

Count Cagliostro 1743-1795

Almost everybody is now aware of the infamous history of the Knights Templar. But not everybody realizes that there was another Order from the same time and with the same roots. This Order still exists today and has incredible power.

This film & audio book reveals the true history of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and in so doing, we discover occult and sinister forces at play.

Interview with Philip Gardiner

Manuel Pinto de Fonseca, the 68th Grandmaster of The Sovereign Military and HospitallerOrder of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta. 1741 – 1773

From the days of heroic battles against Ottoman forces, to the alchemical world of the Grand Master himself, this film explores some very difficult questions:

Who are these Knights?
What was their role?
Who gave them authority?

The story of the Knights of Malta is filled with mystery, intrigue and excitement. Come with us on a journey into the heart of battle.

Featuring cutting-edge computer generated reconstructions and exclusive footage filmed in the Order’s Sacra Infirmeria, Church’s, Cathedral’s, Castle’s and grand buildings throughout Europe.

From Gardiner’s World


Freemasonry in Malta

Many knights of the Order of St. John and some of the Maltese nobility were freemasons. In 1756, the Grand Master of the Order was a freemason named E. Pinto de Fonseca. De Rohan, who was Grandmaster of the Order of St. John between 1775 and 1797, is reported also to have been a freemason, and is said to have helped the spread of freemasonry in Malta and to have been heavily censured by the Roman Catholic Church in Rome. The first Masonic lodges operated in Malta under French warrants generally obtained from Marseilles, but under the guidance of Count von Kollowrat, the Scotch Lodge of St. John of Marseilles petitioned the Grand Lodge of the Moderns in England to obtain an English warrant on the 30th June, 1788. This lodge noted in its petition that the most important members of the Order of St. John ranked amongst its membership. The lodge obtained an English warrant as the Lodge of St. John of Secrecy and Harmony.

Knights of Malta


Benigni pleads for Knights of Malta to invade and re-conquer Italy


The actor mersmerised the guests at the historic Jesuits Church.

Benigni smiled, as he started answering Maltese journalists’ questions. He then explained a medieval-style fantastical plan to march into Italy with an international army, to ‘re-conquer’ the country from Berlusconi’s rule. His ‘plan’ included gathering Maltese Knights, and historic warriors from other European cultures, and to ask Maltese Prime Minister Dr Gonzi for weapons and money. Ironically, both the Maltese President and the Prime Minister stand on the same side of the political spectrum as Berlusconi!

Save me from Berlusconi, Benigni asks Fenech Adami

Malta Star | Apr 22, 2008

In a packed church in Valletta, an Italian man kneeled before Maltese President Dr Edward Fenech Adami, begging him to help him as he does not want to return to Italy under the new Prime Minister Berlusconi.

Had the man not been Roberto Benigni, the Italian Oscar-winning director and actor, such a move would have sparked a major diplomatic incident. But for the Italian legendary artist of ‘La Vita e’ Bella’ fame, every word becomes a work of art. The actor mersmerised the guests at the historic Jesuits Church, as he delivered his acceptance speech on receiving an honoris causa doctorate degree from the University of Malta.

Benigni, who soared to international fame with his cinematic masterpiece ‘La Vita e’ Bella’ (1997), is in Malta on a three day visit, and will be delighting Malta with a ‘Serata Dantesca’, a public recital of Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia, on Wednesday at 1830hrs on campus. Inside the university theatre, only students and the university’s academic staff will be allowed, but outside the hall, at the university’s main quadrangle, the public will be able to follow Benigni’s performance through a live transmission on a maxi screen.

On Wednesday, Benigni will be sharing the stage with Professor Robert Hollander, who published over 12 books on Dante. The Professor was also entrusted with a new translation of Paradiso, published in 2007.

A plan to re-conquer Italy!

Earlier in the day, Benigni thrilled Maltese journalists with a breathtaking press conference, describing Malta as a “vecchia appena nata” and letting loose his imagination describing a fantastical plot on how to gather an army to re-conquer Italy.

Last week’s general elections are still fresh in Benigni’s mind. In the run up to the polls he openly supported the Partito Democratico (PD) of Walter Veltroni, the main contender of the newly elected Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. “I am not here to seek political asylum,” Benigni smiled, as he started answering Maltese journalists’ questions. He then explained a medieval-style fantastical plan to march into Italy with an international army, to ‘re-conquer’ the country from Berlusconi’s rule. His ‘plan’ included gathering Maltese knights, and historic warriors from other European cultures, and to ask Maltese Prime Minister Dr Gonzi for weapons and money.

Ironically, both the Maltese President and the Prime Minister stand on the same side of the political spectrum as Berlusconi!
“Vecchia appena nata”

Malta is like “una vecchia appena nata” [an old newborn], said Benigni, hailing the country’s rich history intertwined with its vibrant culture. This is his first time on the island, but he was impressed, he told journalists. “When I was told I will be receiving a degree from Malta, I was so happy I jumped on the table and did cartwheels on the lawn.” He even toyed with the possibility of using Malta for one of his films. “I am currently looking for a story for my next film… maybe it will include Malta.”

When a journalist asked him if he ever has moments of sadness and tears, he smiled, asked her name, and wittily commented, “What a beautiful name, it almost brings tears to my eyes.” He admitted that many comedians are said to have a very melancholic private life. He recalled an actor telling him he dreaded going to dinner with Charles Chaplain as he was so sad! “I tried to be sad in order to be like the great comedians, but I never managed,” he quipped.

He described life as a journey of constant change, where everyone follows a path, a dream, “and the desire to desire life.”

Dante is ahead of us…

In recent months, Benigni’s popularity in Italy escalated with the television programme ‘Tutto Dante’ on RAI, the Italian national broadcaster. The programmes reached unexpected popularity levels, with viewership exceeding 12 million. The climax of the events is when Benigni superbly recites whole ‘cantos’ of Dante’s Divina Commedia by heart.

Commenting on this achievement, Benigni refused to admit that he is doing any effort to spread literature among the people. “I do not want to acculturate the people. I go before the people to do what I love doing, just like a child who discovers something beautiful and wants to tell everyone about it. Wherever I went, I went to learn more on Dante’s words from those I meet. I keep learning everyday.”

“The love for Dante’s works is like a fire that keeps me warm… we do not have to look back to understand Dante’s works… he is ahead of us… the first and greatest modern poets… a visionary… when you read Dante you get the urge to make love to the book.” Benigni explains that Dante’s ‘La Commedia’ is like an encyclopedia, almost like the Internet, as it deals with everything, with every aspect of life.”

Asked on the possibility of making a film out of the Divina Commedia, Benigni said it is almost impossible. Even Federico Fellini wished to do a film on Dante’s work, Benigni said as he recalled his friendship with the renowned film director. But they both agreed that the Commedia is perfect in its own right, and when a creation is perfect it is difficult to successfully translate it into another medium. “It is like trying to speak in rhyme.”

Benigni has been studying the Divina Commedia, and its interpretation, for years. His first recital was in 1990 at the University of Siena. During the last years he started the recitals in Italian squares, reviving the forgotten Tuscan tradition of reciting literature by heart in public. Even illiterate farmers used to perform some of the Commedia’s ‘canti’.

But Benigni goes a step further. Before the recitals, he starts off with commentaries linking Dante’s works to contemporary themes. “He managed to give the Commedia modern relevance, and he did it in an extraordinary way,” explained Professor Dominic Fenech, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and Dr Gloria Lauri Lucente, the Deputy Dean of the same faculty, when announcing Benigni’s visit to Malta, a few weeks ago. Dr Lauri Lucente and Professor Fenech organised Benigni’s visit to Malta on behalf of the university’s Faculty of Arts.

IRS prosecutors warn tax protesters, “Do not dare to challenge the Government”

Prosecutors make an example of Snipes as a warning to tax protesters

Judge sentences Snipes to 3 years for tax convictions

Yahoo | April 24, 2008

Prosecutors said Snipes’ case was important to send a message to would-be tax protesters not to test the government.

Wesley Snipes was sentenced to three years in prison on tax charges Thursday, a victory for prosecutors who sought to make an example of the action star by aggressively pursuing the maximum penalty.

Snipes’ lawyers had spent much of the day in court offering dozens of letters from family members, friends even fellow actors Woody Harrelson and Denzel Washington attesting to the good character of the “Blade” star and asking for leniency. They argued he should get only probation because his three convictions were all misdemeanors and the actor had no previous criminal record.

But U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges said Snipes exhibited a “history of contempt over a period of time” for U.S. tax laws, and granted prosecutors the three year sentence they requested one year for each of Snipes’ convictions of willfully failing to file a tax return.

“In my mind these are serious crimes, albeit misdemeanors,” Hodges said.

Snipes apologized while reading from a written statement for his “costly mistakes,” but never mentioned the word taxes.

“I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance,” Snipes said.

Snipes said his wealth and celebrity attracted “wolves and jackals like flies are attracted to meat.” He called himself “well-intentioned, but miseducated.”

Snipes was the highest-profile criminal tax target in years, and prosecutors called for a heavy sentence to deter others from trying to obstruct the IRS. The government alleged Snipes made at least $13.8 million for the years in question and owed $2.7 million in back taxes.

Snipes was acquitted in February of five additional charges, including felony tax fraud and conspiracy. Snipes’ co-defendants, Douglas P. Rosile and Eddie Ray Kahn, were convicted on both those counts. Kahn, who refused to defend himself in court, was sentenced to 10 years, while Rosile received 54 months. Both will serve three years of supervised release. Snipes will serve one year of supervised release.

Snipes and Rosile remain free and will be notified when they are to surrender to authorities.

Kahn was the founder of American Rights Litigators, and a successor group, Guiding Light of God Ministries, that purported to help members legally avoid paying taxes. Rosile, a former accountant who lost his licenses in Ohio and Florida, prepared Snipes’ paperwork.

Snipes maintained in a years-long battle with the IRS he did not have to pay taxes, using fringe arguments common to “tax protesters” who say the government has no legal right to collect. After joining Kahn’s group, the government said Snipes instructed his employees to stop paying their own taxes and sought $11 million in 1996 and 1997 taxes he legally paid.

Prosecutors sought to justify the maximum sentence by raising those and other details from the IRS investigation, as well as a tax loss even for years in which Snipes was acquitted of failing to file a return. Such “relevant conduct” is allowed by law for a judge’s consideration at sentencing.

Criminal tax prosecutions are relatively rare usually the cases are handled in civil court, where the government has a lower burden of proof. Prosecutors said Snipes’ case was important to send a message to would-be tax protesters not to test the government.

DARPA implementing Arthur C. Clarke’s molten-metal space weapon

clarke stiletto

Science fiction inspires DARPA weapon

New Scientist | Apr 24, 2008

The late Arthur C Clarke is famous for having popularised the geostationary communications satellite in 1945. Now the Pentagon’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working to turn one of his more dangerous ideas into reality.

Clarke’s 1955 novel Earthlight climaxes in battle between a lunar fortress and three attacking spacecraft. At the height of the battle the defending commander unleashes “The Stiletto”, which resembles “a solid bar of light” and pierces one spacecraft “as an entomologist pierces a butterfly with a pin.”

Clarke’s Stiletto is actually: “a jet of molten metal, hurled through space at several hundred kilometres per second by the most powerful electro-magnets ever built.”

Now DARPA are working on a weapon called MAHEM – Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition – that uses the same principle as Clarke’s fictional device.

Using magnetic fields it will propel either a narrow jet of molten metal or a chunk of molten metal that morphs into an aerodynamic slug during flight. Unlike Clarke’s Stiletto, they will come from a device that generates a powerful electromagnetic field from an explosion, not giant capacitors.

The concept resembles existing weapons which use an explosive charge to squirt out a jet of high-velocity molten metal on impact. Known as High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT), this type of round has been widely used since the WWII bazooka.

Like HEAT devices, MAHEM is currently envisaged as something delivered by a warhead rather than a cannon: “MAHEM could be packaged into a missile, projectile or other platform and delivered close to target for final engagement and kill,” says DARPA.

MAHEM would apparently be useful against tanks and other missiles. And who knows, it might even work against spaceships. Notch up another one to Clarke – but here’s hoping his next idea to see reality is less hazardous to health.

Food rationing hits America

“Them belly full but we hungry,” sang Bob Marley, adding, “A hungry mob is an angry mob.”

New Scientist | Apr 24, 2008

The world is about to discover that the slum survivor from Kingston, Jamaica knew what he was talking about. Food prices worldwide have nearly doubled, and wheat prices have trebled in the past few years.

But the increase has accelerated in the past few months, and consumers have noticed. Last week food riots brought down the Haitian government; there have been demonstrations in more than a dozen countries; and in the US, rice and flour are being rationed.

The US? The world’s biggest grain exporter, whose patriotic songs speak fondly, and accurately, of amber waves of grain?

Yep. The whole thing is the result of rising demand, due to rising population and prosperity ??? and yes, to the US plan to limit greenhouse emissions, and benefit its corn farmers, by turning food into gasoline, although that is, so far, a small part of the problem. And behind it all is the rising price of oil, essential to growing, processing and shipping food.

Food is traded globally, so a rise in prices anywhere means rises everywhere. The US government says food prices rose 5% during all of 2007 ??? but by March this year they’d already risen another 5.3%, with grain-based food rising fastest. And yes, that includes beer.
Ah, I see some of you are now paying attention.

But why should this lead to rationing in the US? Surely Americans are not about to run out of food?

Maybe not everyone. But price rises will hit the urban poor ??? and the US, with a more limited social safety net than many other rich countries, has plenty of those. People who spend a substantial percentage of their income on food, in the US as anywhere else, will feel the pinch. Many report eating more frugally, and resorting to food banks.

But rationing? First, small grocers only budget for buying the amount of wholesale food they normally sell. If prices rise fast they may not be able to adapt their cashflow quickly enough; they will have to buy less and may run out of stock.

But second, consumers who have seen prices rise rapidly are stocking up before they rise further. That is apparently the basis for reports that US food stores, including some owned by Walmart, the world???s biggest food retailer, are limiting the number of large sacks of flour or rice customers can buy. Presumably this is to avoid shelves emptying, not because they don’t expect to be able, eventually, to buy enough for everyone.

But that prospect is not certain. There is a finite supply of basic foodstuffs, and increasing demand, the reason for the price rise, means that when one country ups its bid to buy more, someone else will go without. Unless, that is, food production can be ramped up in a hurry. We’re working on a report that will look at the prospects for that.

Meanwhile, you tell us what’s been happening where you live. We’ve heard reports that food shoplifting is up in neighborhoods where hard-up college students live. Is this true? Are food prices up? Have you had to cut back on meat, or, heaven forbid, beer? Have there been protests? Let us know.


Revolution, flashmobs, and brain chips. A grim vision of the future

‘Planetary sunshade’ could strip ozone layer by 76%

New Scientist | Apr 24, 2008

By Catherine Brahic

Planetary engineering projects to cool the planet could backfire quite spectacularly: a new model shows that a “sulphate sunshade” would punch huge holes through the ozone layer above the Arctic.

To make matters worse, it would also delay the full recovery of the Antarctic ozone hole by up to 70 years.

Pumping tiny sulphate particles into the atmosphere to create a sunshield that would keep the planet cool was first suggested as a solution to global warming by Edward Teller, a physicist was best known for his involvement in the development of the hydrogen bomb.

Simone Tilmes of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, US, used computer models to see how a sulphate sunshade would affect the ozone layer, which protects us from harmful UV rays. She says it could have “a drastic impact”.

Tilmes modelled two different scenarios: one in which “large” particles measuring 0.43 microns in diameter are used, and one where the particles are two-and-a-half times smaller.

Cooling effect

Sulphate particles catalyse the breakdown of ozone molecules by chlorine atoms. Western economies have almost entirely stopped using chlorine-based coolants called CFCs, thanks to the Montreal Protocol. However, such substances are increasingly being used in Asia and the atmosphere is still full of CFCs emitted during the 20th century.

In January 2008, researchers described how much of each type of sulphate particle would need to be injected into the stratosphere in order to compensate for a doubling in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2007GL032179). Tilmes used these volumes in her computer models.

She found that injections of small particles over the next 20 years could thin the wintertime ozone layer over the Arctic by between 22 and 76%. Large particles, which would have less of a cooling effect, according to previous research, would still reduce Arctic ozone by 15 to 50% during the winter.

In the Antarctic, the injections would delay the recovery of the existing ozone hole by 30 to 70 years.

Cancer increase

A thinner ozone layer – popularly known as an ozone “hole” – lets more UV rays through, which can cause an increase in the incidence of various cancers. According to NASA, a 1% decrease in the ozone layer can cause an estimated 2% increase in UV-B irradiation, leading to a 4% increase in basal carcinomas – the most common form of skin cancer.

In 2007, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in the US found that if a sulphate sunshield were deployed and then removed – for instance because of a change in governments – the effects of global warming after the removal would be far worse than before the sunshield.

Caldeira has also found that a sunshade could cause severe drought.

Department of Defense Invests $250 Million in Regrowing Body Parts

Gizmodo | Apr 23, 2008

The military is serious about regrowing body parts. So serious that the Department of Defense just announced the creation of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, or AFIRM. The goal of AFIRM? To “use a patient’s natural cellular structure to reconstruct new skin, muscles and tendons, and even ears, noses and fingers.” Sounds pretty great to us.

It’s great because the researchers at the Department of Defense and DARPA are the researchers who brought us stuff like, oh, the internet and GPS. If there’s anyone we want researching groundbreaking advances like this, it’s them. The government is tossing them $250 million for the first five years of the project, with NIH and three universities on board.

And while the tech is obviously intended for use on injured soldiers first and foremost, any discoveries made will head to regular hospitals post haste. And you know what that means: you can play with more dangerous fireworks, as if you blow off any of your fingers you’ll soon be able to just regrow them. Three cheers for the careless future!