Daily Archives: April 27, 2008

Masonic Influence in the EU

masonic EU

Top Left: António Reis Grandmaster of Grand Orient Lusitano (Portugal), top right: Yvette Nicolas Great Teacher of Women’s Grand Lodge of France, bottom left: José Manuel Barroso President of the European Commission, bottom right: Jean-Michel Quillardet, Grand Master of the Grand Orient of France.

Red Ice | Apr 26, 2008

The French Federation of Le Droit Humain represented by its president, Michel Payen, met on April 8, 2008 with the president of the European Commission, José-Manuel Barroso, […] This meeting constitutes a major event regarding the place of Freemasonry in the construction of Europe; this place was underscored not only by the interest and attentiveness that President Barroso showed to the delegation and the time he accorded them, but also by the commitments he made to the values espoused by liberal and adogmatic Freemasonry, its positions and its opinions on subjects of concern. It was the first time that Freemasonry, as such, was able to express itself to such a high level European institution.

The delegation received assurances from President Barroso of his attachment to the spirit of “laïcité” and to the principle of separation of religion from the State. The delegation stressed the importance of the Enlightenment in the history of Europe, a dimension to be taken into account at least equally with its religious roots, and certainly more closely tied to the roots of antiquity.

Finally, a principle of communication between the liberal and adogmatic Masonic Orders and the services of the European Commission, to be used whenever needed, was decided upon. Thus the French Federation of Le Droit Humain will propose, in the near future, a recommendation concerning the principle of emancipation that ought to form the basis of all European education systems, in direct relation to a recognition of the contribution of the Enlightenment to the common culture of the peoples that compose Europe, and in accordance with the principles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Ed Comment: Because of curiosity I traced the original document/press release from Droit-Humain (found here, pdf), and translated it using Google Translate.

I found it interesting that the above article excluded the information about what organizations had put together the meeting… namely “Women’s Grand Lodge of France”, “the Grand Orient of Portugal” (Grande Oriente Lusitano) and “the Grand Orient of France”. See below for full text.

The French Federation of Human Rights represented by its President, Mr Michel Payen, was received on April 8, 2008 by the President of the European Commission, Mr Jose-Manuel Barroso, in a delegation composed of the Women’s Grand Lodge of France, the Grand Orient of Portugal and Grand Orient of France who had taken the initiative of this rendezvous in agreement with other obédiences adogmatiques at the meeting of the Grand Masters and Presidents of January 2008.

This meeting is a major event about the role of Masonry in construction
of Europe, this place has been highlighted not only by the interest and listening real as President Barroso has shown the delegation and the time he spent but also by the commitments made in terms of attention to the values defended by Freemasonry liberal and adogmatique, its position and his opinion on major issues that concern them. That is the first time that Freemasonry has been able to speak es quality at such a high-level forums European.

The delegation was assured of the commitment of President Barroso to freedom of conscience, the spirit of secularism and the principle of separation of religion from the state. The delegation pointed out the importance of the Enlightenment in Europe’s history, size to be has at least as far as the religious roots and certainly more in line with its roots antiques.

Finally, the principle was incorporated in a communication of orders and Obediences liberal and Masonic adogmatiques with the Commission as necessary. Also, the French Federation of Human Rights will Does in the near future a proposal recommendation on the principle of emancipation which should underlie all education systems in Europe, directly related to the recognition of the contribution of Enlightenment in the common culture of the people who compose it and in accordance with the principles of the Charter Fundamental Rights.

Accordingly, the Freemasons of the French Federation of Human Rights are invited to discuss widely on issues concerning Europe and to raise their opinions for a original expression, strong and nourished can we characterize in the European debate.

Blackwater moves California base amid intense opposition

Blackwater revives mission

UNION-TRIBUNE | Apr 23, 2008

Security contractor plans training center

By Anne Krueger

Although Blackwater Worldwide has given up its plans to build a training center in East County, the government contractor is still seeking a presence in San Diego County.

The North Carolina company is planning to open an indoor training center in Otay Mesa to train Navy personnel after abandoning its controversial proposal to build a larger facility on a ranch in Potrero.

Brian Bonfiglio, a Blackwater vice president, said the facility will operate out of a 61,600-square-foot building in a business park on Siempre Viva Road, just south of Brown Field. Bonfiglio expects it will cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to get the building ready for training, which could begin by summer.

“This is a cost-efficient means in which we can support the Navy,” Bonfiglio said of the facility, which is a little larger than a football field.

Bonfiglio said Blackwater officials began searching for sites early this year, at the same time the company was pursuing plans to build a training center in Potrero, a rural community about 40 miles east of San Diego.

Blackwater’s plans there sparked intense opposition from those who said the facility would bring noise and traffic to the quiet community. Opponents also objected to the role of Blackwater’s security guards in Iraq, pointing to a Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad in which Blackwater employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians.

On March 7, Blackwater dropped plans to build on the 824-acre Potrero site after noise tests showed gunfire shots exceeded county standards.

Opponents were quick to speak out yesterday against Blackwater’s latest plans.

Jeanette Hartman, chairwoman of the Sierra Club’s land use committee, said she is opposed to any new Blackwater facility.

“We don’t need to go any further into training for violence in this country. We need more training for peace,” Hartman said. “I’ll be happy when they open a peace center.”

Raymond Lutz, an El Cajon-area resident who maintains an anti-Blackwater Web site, said he has concerns about the new Otay Mesa facility, including whether it has the proper permits. But Lutz said the indoor site is better than the Potrero proposal.

“We’re not ruining a pristine valley,” Lutz said. “If you had to site it somewhere, this is a better location.”

The building is at the end of a complex of warehouse structures and is owned by the Los Angeles company Hometex, which will lease it to Blackwater. Bonfiglio gave a reporter a tour of the still largely vacant interior yesterday.

Already in place was a ship simulator – a miniature version of a Navy ship – that Bonfiglio said will be used to train sailors for crisis situations at sea. An enclosed shooting range, with bafflers to cut down on noise, is being built.

Navy personnel will be trained in two classrooms holding up to 24 students each. Bonfiglio said the training at the Otay Mesa site will be on a much smaller scale than the Potrero proposal, where up to 300 students a day were planned.

Although the facility has a shooting range, it will emphasize training Navy personnel to be better prepared for terrorist attacks, Bonfiglio said.

“This training isn’t about guns,” he said. “It’s about prevention.”

Kelly Broughton, director of the city of San Diego’s Development Services Department, said a permit for the Otay Mesa site was requested in February by Raven Development Group. Bonfiglio said the company is responsible for developing Blackwater’s training centers and ranges across the country.

The permit was granted March 19. Broughton said the building was already permitted for use as a vocational trade school, and Blackwater’s training center would be allowed under that category.

“As long as it was an educational facility, if they’re training future police or security guards, that would be considered a vocational trade,” Broughton said.

Bonfiglio said Blackwater has had a contract to train Navy personnel since 2002 through a subcontractor, American Shooting Center in Kearny Mesa. The training will be transferred to the Otay Mesa site once Navy inspectors give their approval to the new facility, he said.

Bonfiglio said Blackwater hasn’t determined whether American Shooting Center would assist with training in Otay Mesa.

“We want to improve on the curriculum. We want to improve on the teaching,” Bonfiglio said. “We want to improve on the facilities.”

Bonfiglio said other agencies may use the facilities occasionally if it doesn’t interfere with the Navy’s training. He emphasized that no independent contractors working for Blackwater would be trained there.

Marc Halcon, owner of American Shooting Center, said he wasn’t aware of Blackwater’s plans.

“I’m surprised,” Halcon said. “I was under the impression that they had pulled out of San Diego. They never indicated to me that they were going to do this.”

‘Miracle’ Wrinkle Cream’s key ingredient: circumcised baby foreskin

Blacklisted News | Apr 25, 2008

Barbara Blair says this new gel she’s been using makes her face look a lot younger than the Retin-A and vitamin C creams she’s been using.

“It’s really tightened my skin. Firmed it. The little lines are much better. The texture is very appreciably different.”

What Blair probably doesn’t know is that a key ingredient in the cream is the foreskin of a circumcised baby.

The skin that would otherwise be tossed away. It was first made into a product that helped burn victims heal. Now it’s in this antiwrinkle gel, called TNS Recovery Complex.

Betsy Rubenstone is the aesthetician in the plastic surgery department at the University of Pennsylvania and she swears by this stuff.

She knows why the foreskin is used.

“It’s filled with everything we begin to lose as we age,” Rubenstone says. “And that includes growth factors, amino acids, proteins, collage, elastin and holyuronic acid.”

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital dermatologist Paul Bujanauskas says while TNS might have merit, he would not prescribe it for his patients because no scientific research proving its value has been published in medical journals.

The cost of one bottle of TNS is about $130. And that will last you about a month and a half. How does it smell? Well that’s another downside. Just ask anybody who uses it.

“It’s disgusting. It’s got a sour smell to it that makes you want to gag,” says Blair. “But you get used to it.”

. . .

Related (spoof)

foreskincream

Oprah Winfrey’s Foreskin Face Cream

. . .

Western multinationals market latest crowd-control and public surveillance gear to Chinese police

chinese-APC

An armored personnel carrier was on display at the police equipment trade show in Beijing.

With the slogan “dress to kill” on their black T-shirts, top executives from Magnum of Britain showed off their latest police boots.

NY Times | Apr 26, 2008

At Trade Show, China’s Police Shop for the West’s Latest

By KEITH BRADSHER

BEIJING — For the Chinese police agency boss who thought he had everything, the police equipment trade show here was a chance to scrutinize the latest offerings from manufacturers around the world for secretly copying computer hard drives, suppressing riots or collecting video surveillance of public streets.

China’s crackdown in Tibet after violent protests there has set off strong criticism from human rights groups and confrontations in several countries between police officers and demonstrators during the Olympic torch relay. But here in China, the world’s fastest-growing market for security and crime-control equipment, it is business as usual between Western multinationals and Chinese police agencies.

At the recent China International Exhibition on Police Equipment here, sponsored by the Ministry of Public Security, DuPont had a large exhibit promoting Kevlar bulletproof fabric for riot police use. Motorola was selling police radio systems as well as wireless systems for transmitting vast quantities of video surveillance data.

And with the slogan “dress to kill” on their black T-shirts, top executives from Magnum of Britain showed off their latest police boots. “Chinese police deserve the best — Magnum protects the protectors,” said Paul Brooks, the company’s president, in a speech to police officials.

The most intriguing device offered at the show to senior Chinese security agency officials was the Image Masster RoadMasster, a powerful computer system that swiftly copies computer hard drives without leaving any trace and comes concealed in its own color-coordinated briefcase.

Gonen Ravid, the chief executive of the device’s manufacturer, Intelligent Computer Solutions in Chatsworth, Calif., said that the company sells exactly the same equipment in the same briefcases to the Pentagon for use in Iraq, and to the Central Intelligence Agency and other Western intelligence agencies for use around the world.

No company in China makes similar equipment, he said. “The U.S.,” he said, “is still leading with this.”

Full Story

Veterans Affairs official denies cover-up of high suicide rates

Associated Press | Apr 26, 2008

By PAUL ELIAS

SAN FRANCISCO – A top-ranking official at the Department of Veterans Affairs defends the agency’s treatment of disabled veterans and denies the agency has tried to cover up the number of veterans committing suicide.

Dr. Michael Kussman, a department undersecretary for health, testified during a trial in San Francisco federal court that will determine whether the VA is shirking its duty to provide adequate mental health care and other medical services to millions of veterans.

The two veterans groups suing the VA want U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Conti to order the agency to dramatically improve how fast it processes applications and how it delivers mental health care, especially when it comes to preventing suicides and treating post-traumatic stress disorder.

The groups contend that veteran suicides are rising at alarming rates in large part because of VA failures. In court, plaintiffs’ lawyer Arturo Gonzalez clashed Thursday with Kussman over how to compile and report the suicide rates.

For instance, VA Secretary James Peake told Congress in a Feb. 5 letter that 144 combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed suicide between October 2001 and December 2005.

But Gonzalez produced internal VA e-mails that contended that 18 veterans a day were committing suicide. Kussman countered that the figure, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, included all 26 million veterans in the country, including aging Vietnam veterans who are reporting an increased number of health problems.

Kussman said Thursday that suicide prevention was a VA priority and that the agency instituted new measures in the past 18 months, including training its workers to identify suicidal patients and establishing a 24-hour suicide hot line for veterans.

Court documents given to the judge by Gonzalez showed that 2,508 veterans called the hot line in March, the busiest month so far.

“People are using it,” Kussman said. “It’s a good thing.”

Gonzalez also asked Kussman to explain several e-mail chains among agency officials that discussed an unwillingness to share suicide statistics with CBS News, which was preparing a story on the subject.

“I don’t want to give CBS any more numbers on veterans suicides or attempts than they already have — it will only lead to more questions,” wrote Everett A. Chasen, chief communications officer in a March 10 e-mail to several VA officials.

On Monday, the first day of trial, an e-mail message written in December by Dr. Ira Katz, the agency’s mental health director, was given as evidence. It alerted Kussman and others that 12,000 veterans under VA care were attempting suicide a year.

“Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?” the e-mail asks.

Katz also reported that of the average of 18 military veterans who kill themselves each day, four to five of them are under VA care when it happens.

Three Democratic senators, including Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, called for Katz’s dismissal this week.

“I disagree with the premise that there was some effort to cover something up,” Kussman testified Thursday. “We don’t obfuscate.”

Instead, Kussman said, there’s concern about how suicide rates are compiled among the nation’s 26 million veterans.

“It’s been hard to track exactly,” said Kussman, who noted that only 5.7 million veterans are under VA care.

The trial is scheduled to last another week; there was no testimony Friday. The judge is hearing the case without a jury.

Greenpeace Founder: No Proof of Human Caused Global Warming

Idaho Statesman | Apr 24, 2008

Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore says there is no proof global warming is caused by humans, but it is likely enough that the world should turn to nuclear power – a concept tied closely to the underground nuclear testing his former environmental group formed to oppose.

The chemistry of the atmosphere is changing, and there is a high-enough risk that “true believers” like Al Gore are right that world economies need to wean themselves off fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gases, he said.

“It’s like buying fire insurance,” Moore said. “We all own fire insurance even though there is a low risk we are going to get into an accident.”

The only viable solution is to build hundreds of nuclear power plants over the next century, Moore told the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. There isn’t enough potential for wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal or other renewable energy sources, he said.

With development of coal-fired electric generation stopped cold over greenhouse gases, the only alternative to nuclear power for producing continuous energy at the levels needed is natural gas. But climate change isn’t the only reason to move away from fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels also are a major health threat. “Coal causes the worst health impacts of anything we are doing today,” Moore said.

Plus, uranium can be found within the United States and also comes in large quantities from Canada and Australia. Nuclear Power reduces the reliance on supplies in dangerous places including the Middle East, he said.

Moore spoke at the chamber breakfast after an appearance in Idaho Falls Tuesday night that attracted 300 people. He also spoke to the Idaho Environmental Forum in Boise, all sponsored by the Partnership for Science and Technology.

He represents the Clean Air and Safe Energy Coalition, a nuclear energy-backed group promoting reactors for electric energy generation. He began his career as a leader of Greenpeace fighting nuclear testing and working to save whales.

In recent years, he has taken on causes unpopular with his former group, like old-growth logging, keeping polyvinyl chlorides and now nuclear energy.

He says his change of heart comes from his background in science and a different approach to sustainability.

He sees a need for maintaining technologies that are not harmful while fixing or replacing those that are harmful.

“We don’t believe we have been making too much electricity,” he said. “We believe we’ve been making energy with the wrong technologies.”

His critics, like Andrea Shipley, executive director of the Snake River Alliance, say he has simply sold out.

“The only reason Patrick Moore is backing something as unsafe and risky as nuclear power is he is being paid by the nuclear industry to do so,” Shipley said.

German Artist Looks for Volunteer to Die as Work of Art

Fox | Apr 24, 2008

The prizewinning artist Gregor Schneider, enfant terrible of the German cultural scene, is looking for a volunteer who is willing to die for his — that is, Schneider’s — art.

He wants someone whose dying hours will be spent in an art gallery with the public admiring the way the light plays on the flesh of a person gasping for the last breath.

Politicians and curators are in a state of uproar about Schneider’s plans. The 39-year-old artist has been concerned with death for much of his career. He gained critical acclaim for a sculpture, “Hannelore Reuen,” of a dead woman. He has been hatching his current idea since 1996, and now has a sympathetic pathologist and art collector to help to find a candidate who wants to become a work of art in the final days of his or her life.

“The dying person would determine everything in advance, he would be the absolute center of attention,” Schneider said. “Everything will be done in consultation with the relatives, and the public will watch the death in an appropriately private atmosphere.”

Death is commonly seen as the last taboo, but artists have been trying hard to demystify it. Gunther von Hagens, nicknamed Doctor Death, has been traveling the world with an exhibition of plastinated corpses, showing genuine human bodies in living poses, playing chess or on horseback. The Wellcome Collection in London has an exhibition of portraits of people pictured before and after death by two German photographers.

The Schneider project, however, seems to have gone too far. It is being compared with watching executions in the United States. The influential gallery owner Beatrix Kalwa spoke for many German curators who rule out the idea of giving space to Schneider’s artistic endeavor.

“Existential matters like death, birth or the act of reproduction do not belong in a museum,” she said. “There is a fundamental difference between portraying these acts in an art form, and showing them in actuality.”

The head of the German hospice foundation that provides care for the terminally ill, Eugen Brysch, said: “This is pure voyeurism and makes a mockery of those who are dying.” But Schneider, who feigned his own death as part of an exhibition in Germany in 2000, argues that death is already undignified and that his aim is to restore its grace.