Daily Archives: November 2, 2008

Fascist grandmaster of infamous P2 Masonic Lodge to be interviewed on TV talk show

Gelli said “I will die a fascist” and expressed his admiration for Berlusconi.

P2 has been at the centre of a number of investigations into allegations that it conspired with right-wing extremists and the Mafia to destabilise governments through bombings and violence, often blamed on extreme leftists.

Italian ex-freemason boss to appear on TV show

Welt | Nov 1, 2008

To the outrage of democratic politicians and much of the general public, Licio Gelli, infamous former chief of the Propaganda Due (P2), is set to give his version of events on an Italian TV show tracing Italy’s history from fascism to the 1980’s.

The former head of an outlawed masonic lodge linked to some of Italy’s biggest scandals has sparked an outcry by announcing that he will take part in a television talk show to give his version of events.

Licio Gelli, the 89-year old former grandmaster of the shadowy Propaganda 2 (P2) group, will be the main guest in “Venerabile Italia” (Venerable Italy), a programme on Italy’s history from fascism to the 1980s.

The P2 was founded in 1969 and used to be the country’s most powerful secret organisation with prominent politicians, business leaders and military officers as members.

It has been at the centre of a number of investigations into allegations that it conspired with right-wing extremists and the Mafia to destabilise governments through bombings and violence, often blamed on extreme leftists.

“I find it disconcerting that a character like Licio Gelli could become some sort of TV star,” said Anna Finocchiaro, the head of the opposition Partito Democratico in the Senate.

Conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s allies also balked at the prospect.

Gelli was sentenced to 12 years in jail for fraud in connection with the 1982 collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, whose boss Roberto Calvi — known as “God’s banker” for his ties to the Vatican — was found hanged under Blackfriars Bridge in London.

Gelli was also found guilty of obstructing justice during investigations into one of the darkest episodes in Italy’s recent past, the 1980 explosion of a bomb at the Bologna train station which killed 85 people.

He was extradited back to Italy from France in 1998 after escaping from prison in Switzerland and spending some time on the run in South America.

At a news conference in Florence on Friday, Gelli said “I will die a fascist” and expressed his admiration for Berlusconi.

Osvaldo Napoli, a member of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party said “Gelli’s backing of the government was unsolicited”, calling his return to the scene “alarming”.

Lucia Leonessi, a journalist who has written a biography of Gelli and will host the TV programme, defended her work, saying Gelli had played a significant role in the country’s history.

“He is a prominent figure,” she told Reuters.

The first of the TV show’s nine episodes will air on Monday on Odeon TV, a privately owned network of regional TV stations broadcast across Italy. The network said the series would give historians “food for thought”.

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Operation Gladio

Arms caches were hidden, escape routes prepared, and loyal members recruited: i.e. mainly hardline anticommunists, including many ex-Nazis or former fascists, whether in Italy or in other European countries. In Germany, for example, Gladio had as a central focus the Gehlen Org — also involved in ODESSA “ratlines” — named after Reinhard Gehlen who would become West Germany’s first head of intelligence, while the predominantly Italian P2 masonic lodge was composed of many members of the neofascist Italian Social Movement (MSI), including Licio Gelli. Its clandestine “cells” were to stay behind (hence the name) in enemy controlled territory and to act as resistance movements, conducting sabotage, guerrilla warfare and assassinations.

P2 was outlawed and disbanded in 1981, in the wake of the Banco Ambrosiano scandal, which was linked to the Mafia and to the Vatican Bank. Its Grand Master, Licio Gelli, was involved in most of Italy’s scandals in the last three decades of the 20th century: Banco Ambrosiano’s crash; Tangentopoli, which gave rise to the Mani pulite (“Clean hands”) anticorruption operation in the 1990s; the kidnapping and the murder of Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978 – the head of the secret services at the time, accused of negligence, was a piduista (P2 member). Licio Gelli has often said he was a friend of Argentine President Juan Perón. In any case, some members of Jorge Videla’s junta were discovered to be piduista, such as José López Rega, founder of the infamous anticommunist organization Triple A, Raúl Alberto Lastiri or Emilio Massera. The Vatican Bank was also accused of funneling covert US funds for the Solidarnosc trade union movement in Poland and the Contras in Nicaragua.

Propaganda Due

Propaganda Due or P2 was a Masonic lodge operating under the jurisdiction of the Grand Orient of Italy from 1877 to 1976 (when its charter was withdrawn), and a pseudo-Masonic or “black” or “covert” lodge operating illegally from 1976 to 1981. During the 1980s, when the lodge was headed by Licio Gelli, P2 was implicated in numerous Italian crimes and mysteries, including the nationwide bribe scandal Tangentopoli, the collapse of the Vatican-affiliated Banco Ambrosiano, and the murders of journalist Mino Pecorelli and banker Roberto Calvi. P2 came to light through the investigations into the collapse of Michele Sindona’s financial empire.

P2 was sometimes referred to as a “state within a state” or a “shadow government“. The lodge had among its members prominent journalists, parliamentarians, industrialists, and military leaders — including the then-future Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi; the Savoy pretender to the Italian throne Victor Emmanuel; and the heads of all three Italian intelligence services.

When searching Licio Gelli’s villa, the police found a document called the “Plan for Democratic Rebirth“, which called for a consolidation of the media, suppression of trade unions, and the rewriting of the Italian Constitution.

Licio Gelli

Occupation: Financier, Worshipful Master

Licio Gelli (born in Pistoia, Tuscany, April 21, 1919) is an Italian financier, chiefly known for his role in the Banco Ambrosiano scandal. He was revealed in 1981 as being the Worshipful Master of the clandestine Masonic lodge Propaganda Due (P2).

During the 1930s, Licio Gelli volunteered for the “Black Shirt” expeditionary forces sent by Mussolini to Spain in support to Francisco Franco, and subsequently became a liaison officer between the Italian blackshirt government and the Third Reich, with contacts including Hermann Göring. He participated in the Italian Social Republic with Giorgio Almirante, founder of the neofascist Italian Social Movement (MSI)..

As headmaster of Propaganda Due, Gelli allegedly assumed a major role in Gladio’s “strategy of tension” in Italy, starting with the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing. Gladio was a clandestine “stay-behind” operation sponsored by the CIA and NATO to counter communist influence in Western European countries, which has been involved in terrorist false flags operations in Italy.

Grande Oriente d’Italia

The Grande Oriente d’Italia or Grand Orient of Italy (GOI) is a masonic organization based at Palazzo Giustiniani, Rome. It was founded in 1805.

Past grand masters included Giuseppe Garibaldi, the sculptor Ettore Ferrari, the mayor of Rome Ernesto Nathan and Giuseppe Mazzini.

In 1894 there were moves from some of the lodges in the Grande Oriente to expel former Prime Minister Francesco Crispi for being too friendly towards the Catholic Church.

Freemasonry was suppressed by Mussolini in 1925, being restarted after the Second World War.

In 1972 it was recognized as regular by the United Grand Lodge of England.

Propaganda Due, a pseudo-masonic lodge that was implicated in the murder of Roberto Calvi, was originally chartered by the Grand Orient.

Mexico death industry thrives on drug war killings

Firefighters, wearing chemical protective suits, remove barrels containing cut up bodies in acid in the border city of Tijuana September 30, 2008. Drug cartel hitmen have massacred some 70 people in the past eight days in Tijuana on the U.S.-Mexico border, once a freewheeling city serving Americans tequila, cheap medicines and sex that is being devastated by the war. Picture taken September 30, 2008. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes (MEXICO)

Reuters | Nov 1, 2008

By Lizbeth Diaz Lizbeth Diaz

TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) – Mexico’s drug wars are fueling a boom in the funeral industry near the U.S. border as undertakers capitalize on soaring murder rates and gruesome killings.

As Mexicans gather in cemeteries Sunday to place marigolds, candy skulls and candles on tombs for the Day of the Dead festival, a spike in drug violence means more bodies are bound for funeral parlors.

“We’ve seen a big increase in the number of clients because of the drug war, especially since September. It’s gone from a few (bodies) a week to one or two every day,” said Fernando, a funeral home owner in Tijuana across the border from San Diego, California. He declined to give his last name.

About 4,000 people have been killed in Mexico this year as gangs vie for control of the cocaine trade amid a crackdown that has thousands of army troops battling drug cartels on their home turf.

Drug cartel hit men have killed some 160 people in the past month in Tijuana, once a party town serving Americans tequila and sex that is being devastated by the war.

Gun battles and gangland mutilations are also boosting demand for facial reconstructions. Funeral parlors can charge more than $1,000 to make the dead presentable for their wakes.

And because of the rise in decapitations in the city, undertakers offer to hold the body and wait for the head to be found before proceeding with the funeral.

“No questions asked,” said Fernando, standing by three caskets on display for potential clients.

The trade carries risks, however. A funeral director was shot dead in front of his house in Ciudad Juarez across from El Paso, Texas, in late October and several mortuaries have been sprayed with bullets.

Although the motives for the mortuary killing in Ciudad Juarez were unclear, funeral home owners say they face extortion from drug gangs and have been threatened after organizing funerals for some drug war victims.

Undertakers from central and southern Mexico are opening branches in drug-violence hot spots near the border, and some are offering special deals to attract more clients.

“We’ll do the make-up on the body for free,” said one mortuary employee as he handed out promotional flyers outside a rival funeral home in Tijuana.

Some families want a quick burial for fear of attacks by rival drug gangs. They can pay the minimum of about $1,000 and buy a thin, unvarnished plywood coffin for a spot in a municipal graveyard.

Others want the engraved bronze and gold caskets with silver handles and red satin interiors that cost $25,000.

Some families buy funeral packages that include huge, gaudy flower bouquets, banquets for guests, Mariachi musicians and stone mausoleums in private plots.

Mystery Surrounds Jesuit Priests’ Killing In Moscow

Turkish Weekly | Nov 1, 2008

Did a Russian Catholic priest dine with a dead man — a murdered colleague — shortly before being killed himself? That, of course, is an absurd question. But it’s what Russian investigators have suggested about the men’s grisly murder in Moscow this week, if what the priests’ Jesuit order says about the timing of their deaths is correct.

Two Jesuit priests, Victor Betancourt of Ecuador and Otto Messmer, a Russian who oversaw the Jesuits in Russia, were found bludgeoned to death in their Moscow flat on October 28. In a statement, the Society of Jesus, as the Jesuits are known, said a priest concerned about the men’s absence had found them at home and alerted the police.

Significantly, the Jesuits’ statement said that Betancourt, 42, was killed on October 25 while the 47-year-old Messmer, who had been away in Germany, was killed upon returning to the flat two days later on October 27. When found the following day, Betancourt had been dead for some 72 hours, Messmer for some 24 hours.

Otto Messmer, courtesy of jesuit.czYet in a written statement on October 29, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office does not state that the two priests might have died at different times. The statement only says “experts believe the deaths occurred more than one day previously.”

It then adds, “The investigation is considering all possible versions of what could have happened, including a domestic crime, because the room bore signs of a party.” Separately, in remarks to gazeta.ru, investigator Yury Sukharev said glasses and open bottles of wine and absinthe were found in the flat’s kitchen. Another report in Interfax suggested, without naming its source, that sexual foul play may have had a role.

The statement by Russian investigators also said the victims apparently died of head injuries, and that the apartment’s door was open. It was unclear whether any valuables were missing.

Rocky Relations

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Aleksy II has expressed condolences to Catholics over the murders, as have Russian Muslims. The Vatican has asked for light to be shed on the killings, which Father Igor Kovalevsky, secretary-general of Russia’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference, has called “brutal” and “a grave sin.”

While ties between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox appear to be improving under Pope Benedict XVI, Russian Orthodox officials still regularly accuse Catholics of seeking converts on their territory. Benedict, earlier this month, urged Catholic bishops in former Soviet republics not to aggressively seek converts.

Might the murdered priests have been involved in “aggressive” proselytism?

Maria Cioccoloni, a Jesuit spokeswoman in Rome, says that for seven years Betancourt handled pastoral relations with Russians who were possibly interested in joining the Society of Jesus. It’s unclear what that entailed. “He was doing pastoral work with students and people in the parish, with young people,” Cioccoloni says. Asked if those young people were already Catholics, she says, “[They] don’t have to be [Catholics] — they can also be from other religions.”

Catholic-Orthodox relations have been rocky since the east-west division of Christianity in 1054. John Paul II, the late Polish pope, had sought to improve ties with the church of his country’s giant neighbor, but Russian Orthodox officials never granted his lifelong wish to visit Russia.

In 2004, 300 religious leaders gathered in Russia to pray for strengthening religious tolerance. But tellingly, Catholics were not included among the invited “traditional” religions of Orthodoxy, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism.

Catholics and other non-Orthodox Christian denominations in Russia have also been victims of past violence. A Slovak priest was killed in 2005 in Bryansk, apparently by robbers, while an American Episcopal priest was killed last August in Moscow. The motives were unclear. Non-Orthodox Christian leaders in Russia complain frequently that the authorities and police often act belatedly to their pleas for protection.

Both Betancourt, who also taught at a private Jesuit school in Moscow, and Messmer worked at the St. Louis Catholic Church near the Kremlin. An ethnic German, Messmer was Kazakh-born. His brother, Bishop Nikolaus Messmer, is the Catholic Church’s highest official in Kyrgyzstan.

Vatican wants psychological tests for priest candidates

By PHILIP PULLELA

Reuters | Oct 30, 2008

VATICAN CITY — Candidates for the Catholic priesthood should undergo psychological tests to screen out heterosexuals unable to control their sexual urges and men with strong homosexual tendencies, the Vatican said on Thursday.

In a new document — the second in three years to deal with the effects of a sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Church six years ago — the Vatican said the early detection of “sometimes pathological” psychological defects of men before they become priests would help avoid tragic experiences.

Seminary rectors and other officials should use outside experts if they cannot handle the screening themselves, it said.

“The Church … has a duty of discerning a vocation and the suitability of candidates for the priestly ministry,” said the document from the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education.

“The priestly ministry … requires certain abilities as well as moral and theological virtues, which are supported by a human and psychic — and particularly affective — equilibrium, so as to allow the subject to be adequately predisposed for giving of himself in the celibate life,” it said.

Vatican officials told a news conference the tests would not be obligatory but decided on a case-by-case basis when seminary rectors wanted to be sure a man was qualified for the priesthood.

The testing by a psychologist or psychotherapist should aim to detect “grave immaturity” and imbalances in the candidates’ personality.

“Such areas of immaturity would include strong affective dependencies; notable lack of freedom in relations; excessive rigidity of character; lack of loyalty; uncertain sexual identity; deep-seated homosexual tendencies, etc. If this should be the case, the path of formation will have to be interrupted,” the document said.

The Vatican said it was “not enough to be sure that (a candidate) is capable of abstaining from sexual activity” but seminary rectors also need to “evaluate his sexual orientation”.

At a news conference, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, head of the Vatican department that prepared the document, was asked why a man with deep-seated homosexual tendencies could not become a priest while one with deep-seated heterosexual tendencies could.

He said homosexuality was “a deviation, an irregularity and a wound” that he said did not allow priests to carry out their mission properly.

A sexual abuse scandal that was first uncovered in the United States in 2002 and then spread throughout the world involved mostly abuse of teenage boys by priests.

Gay groups have accused the Church of using homosexuals as scapegoats for the abuse scandals.

The document said men with strong homosexual tendencies should not be admitted to the priesthood but it also made references to the control of heterosexual urges.

Men should be barred from entering the priesthood if psychological testing makes it “evident that the candidate has difficulty living chastity in celibacy: that is, if celibacy for him is lived as a burden so heavy that it compromises his affective and relational equilibrium”.

Rectors could not force candidates to undergo psychological testing, but the main purpose of the document seemed to be to encourage its use to avoid future scandals.

Dublin hit by worst cold snap since 1948

Independent.ie | Nov 1, 2008

By Allison Bray

PEOPLE living in the east shivered through one of the coldest Octobers in 15 years while Dublin broke a 60-year record on Tuesday, recording the coldest day of the month since 1948, Met Eireann announced yesterday.

Across the country, mean temperatures averaged about one degree colder for the entire month although the mercury dramatically plunged this week with unseasonal snowstorms and lashings of sleet and hail in the north and on high ground.

The number of times people woke up to ground frost this month was twice the normal average, with between 12 and 16 ground frosts recorded in some inland areas and severe ground frost in places this past week.

Tuesday’s icy blast, with exceptionally cold Arctic winds blowing off the Irish Sea, smashed a 60-year record when temperatures at Dublin Airport dipped to a bone-chilling -1.3 C.

But everywhere felt the pain, with both day and nighttime temperatures between six and eight degrees below normal.

Above average rainfall also plagued the country for the fifth consecutive month with the Dublin area particularly hard hit, experiencing 80pc of its normal annual rainfall so far this year.

Many weather stations across the country recorded their wettest Octobers since 2000. The western half of the country was more wet than dry all month, recording between 22 and 25 rainy days with more than 1mm of rain compared to the normal range of between 17 and 22 rainy days.

Sunshine

Yet despite the rain, the sun shone more than usual for October, with 20pc more rays recorded and the most amount of sunshine occurring during the first week of the month.

Dublin Airport recorded the most sunshine, racking up 114 hours of sun compared to Malin Head which had only 78 hours of sunshine this month.

And the picture doesn’t look much different heading into November with cold, yet sunny weather set to continue this weekend, according to Met Eireann’s Gerald Fleming.

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