Daily Archives: November 25, 2008

Royal cops set up controversial Masonic lodge at Buckingham Palace


A Royal Mason: The Duke of Kent is the organisation’s Grand Master

Masons in the palace

Secret society defies royal aides to set up lodge

News of the World | Nov 23, 2008

By Douglas Wight

ROYAL flunkeys have defied their bosses and set up a freemasons’ lodge at Buckingham Palace.

The branch of the controversial secret society was officially consecrated this week.

It has male Palace servants and royal protection squad cops as members.

But the move will infuriate officials and senior royals, who blocked plans for a group called The Royal Household Lodge when it was first proposed earlier this year.

So the defiant masons simply changed the name to Mulberry Lodge — a reference to King James I who grew silkworms in a royal palace mulberry garden in the 17th-century.


A royal source revealed: “They won’t be meeting on royal property because all masons have to meet in a masonic hall. But the lodge will be open to male members of the royal household — not just Buckingham Palace, but every royal residence from Balmoral to Windsor and the Tower of London.”

“It’s all being driven by cops in the Metropolitan Police royal protection squad.

“The lodge has a cop as the grand master and another as the secretary.”

Although the Queen’s cousin the Duke of Kent is head of English freemasonry as its Grand Master, Palace officials had hoped plans for the lodge would be dropped. They felt a society whose members indulge in bizarre rituals was out of place.

And it is the last thing the Palace needs at a time when it is trying to be seen as more modern and open.

The Masons have long been accused of being of being a secret society that indulges in bizarre initiation ceremonies and traditions.

They acknowledge each other through peculiar handshakes and wear aprons at meetings.

And they have been accused of furthering each other’s interests through the sect.

The founding of the lodge has alarmed some royal staff who fear they will be overlooked for promotions if they don’t join.

Women staff are said to be angry because although there are freemasonry organisations for women, this branch is a men-only institution that will not admit them.

German intelligence officers detained in terror attack on EU office in Kosovo


Soldiers stand guard in front of the EU office in Pristina after an explosion ripped through the building. AFP

A judge in Kosovo has ordered three Germans suspected of throwing explosives at the EU office in Pristina to be held for 30 days. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, the men are intelligence officers. Now politicians in Berlin are looking for answers.

SPY SCANDAL: German Intelligence Officers Detained in Kosovo

Der Spiegel | Nov 24, 2008

Tensions are mounting between Berlin and Pristina following the arrest of three German intelligence agents on terrorism charges in Kosovo.

The three men were arrested last Wednesday on suspicion of throwing explosives at the office of the EU Special Representative Peter Feith on Nov. 14. The men who, according to SPIEGEL information, are members Germany’s foreign intelligence agency the Bundesnachtrichtendienst (BND) deny involvement in the blast and claim they were only examining the scene. The explosion shattered windows in the building but no one was hurt.

On Saturday a Pristina district court judge ordered that the men be detained for 30 days on terrorism charges that could carry sentences of up to 20 years. Court documents seen by the Associated Press show that the prosecutor, Feti Tunuzliu, alleges that the suspects had intended to disrupt the EU’s efforts to deploy its new police mission in Kosovo.

The German Foreign Ministry has confirmed that three German citizens have been arrested in Kosovo but declined to make any other comments due to the ongoing investigation. According to SPIEGEL sources, the BND agents had not been officially registered with the Kosovo authorities and, therefore, do not have diplomatic immunity.

The German public broadcaster ARD reports on Monday that the BND is to meet with members of parliament on Thursday to discuss the arrests. Either the BND President Ernst Uhrlau or one of his deputies is to report to the intelligence oversight committee, the Parliamentary Control Panel (PKG).

Thomas Oppermann, chairman of the PKG and a member of the Social Democrats, has said he could not imagine how the German agents could be involved in an attack on EU offices. “That seems to have been plucked out of the air,” he told ARD on Monday. Max Stadler, who represents the opposition FDP on the panel, told the Berliner Zeitung that he wanted the government and the BND to say if the men were indeed intelligence officers.

On Monday Germany’s Bild newspaper reports that sources close to the intelligence community say that the BND has ruled out the involvement of any of its employees in the attack on the EU office. The sources told the paper they believe it is much more likely to have been extremists in Kosovo who oppose the involvement of foreign organizations in their country. The arrest of the Germans is, they conclude, the result of a power struggle within the Kosovo leadership, with the anti-European faction having prevailed over those who wanted to see the three men released.

The diplomatic spat has come amid rising tensions over the EU police mission in Kosovo, where UN peacekeepers have been deployed since the 1999 NATO bombing campaign put an end to a brutal Serbian crackdown on Kosovo Albanian separatists. The UN mission, UNMIK, is now downsizing and the 2,000 strong EU mission, known as EULEX, is to take over law enforcement.

However, Serbia, which has not recognized Kosovo, has won concessions on the EU deployment and the current plan proposes leaving the UN to patrol the ethnic Serb enclaves within Kosovo. This in turn has been rejected by Pristina which suspects the split of the police missions could lead to a de-facto partition of the fledgling state which declared independence in February.



Three Germans detained related to attack on EU office in Kosovo

The detainment of the men may distract from Kosovars who do not want a UN peacekeeping mission replaced, a security expert says.

The blast and subsequent arrests come amid a dispute over a plan to deploy an EU police and justice mission to replace UN peacekeepers.

Paulson Was Behind Bailout Martial Law Threat


Inhofe says Treasury Secretary made dire warnings in conference call on September 19th

Prison Planet | Nov 20, 2008

By Paul Joseph Watson

Senator James Inhofe has revealed that Henry Paulson was behind the threats of martial law and a new great depression prior to the passage of the bailout bill, having made such warnings during a conference call on September 19th, around two weeks before the legislation was eventually approved by both the Senate and Congress.

As we reported at the time, on October 2, Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman gave a stunning speech on the House floor during which he decried the fact that, “Many of us were told in private conversations that if we voted against this bill on Monday that the sky would fall, the market would drop two or three thousand points the first day, another couple of thousand the second day, and a few members were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no.”

A few days before, Rep. Michael Burgess also told the House, “Mr. Speaker I understand we are under Martial Law as declared by the speaker last night,” referring to a temporary suspension of the rules and procedures of Congress by its leaders so that a bill can be passed quickly.

But the origin of the most dire warnings about physical martial law in America, to which Sherman was likely referring, has now been exposed.

Speaking on Tulsa Oklahoma’s 1170 KFAQ, when asked who was behind threats of martial law and civil unrest if the bailout bill failed, Senator James Inhofe named Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as the source.

“Somebody in D.C. was feeding you guys quite a story prior to the bailout, a story that if we didn’t do this we were going to see something on the scale of the depression, there were people talking about martial law being instituted, civil unrest….who was feeding you guys this stuff?,” asked host Pat Campbell.

“That’s Henry Paulson,” responded Inhofe, “We had a conference call early on, it was on a Friday I think – a week and half before the vote on Oct. 1. So it would have been the middle … what was it – the 19th of September, we had a conference call. In this conference call – and I guess there’s no reason for me not to repeat what he said, but he said – he painted this picture you just described. He said, ‘This is serious. This is the most serious thing that we faced.’”

Inhofe said that Paulson told members of Congress the crisis would be “far worse than the great depression” if Congress didn’t authorize the bill to buy out toxic debt, a proposal “which he abandoned the day after he got the money,” added Inhofe.

Inhofe is referring to the controversy last week when it emerged that the bailout money was not going to buy up toxic debt but instead Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, had pulled a bait and switch and ordered the money be injected directly into banks.

Senator Inhofe has slammed the secrecy surrounding the destination of the bailout money, saying that Hank Paulson could have given it to his friends and that the “blank check” must be cancelled now.

Inhofe is now trying to rally support for a freeze on what’s left of the initial $350 billion of bailout money with his “roll back the bailout” proposal, which will also require an affirmative vote on the part of Congress to approve Treasury’s plan for the remaining $350 billion.

Obama building a monster new ‘New Deal’


“I want YOU to become a slave to Big Government.”

Barack Obama’s two-year stimulus plan aims to create or protect 2.5 million jobs.

ABC Australia | Nov 24, 2008

By Mark Simkin

As US president-elect Barack Obama prepares to unveil his economic team, it is becoming clear that their economic stimulus plan will be bigger than anything he promised on the campaign trail.

His team will be responsible for pulling the world’s biggest economy out of its tailspin.

And they will certainly have a lot of money to play with; the president-elect wants Congress to pass a massive economic stimulus package.

It has been called the new “new deal” – a reference to Franklin D Roosevelt’s massive stimulus plan during the Great Depression.

Mr Obama’s version is an attempt to avoid a depression and it is much bigger and costlier than anything the Democrat promised previously.

“We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernising schools that are failing our children and building wind farms and solar panels, fuel efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that could free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead,” he said.

Mr Obama says the two-year stimulus plan aims to create or protect 2.5 million jobs.

“January 20th is our chance to begin anew with a new direction, new ideas and new reforms that will create jobs and fuel long term economic growth,” he said.

What’s the price tag? According to one senior Democrat, Chuck Schumer, the stimulus package could end up costing as much as the Bush administration’s massive bank bailout.

“I believe we need a pretty big package here,” he said.

“From my view, it has to be between $US500 billion and $US700 billion and that is because our economy is in serious, serious trouble.

“We are on the edge of deflation. Once you get into deflation, you almost never get out.”

Chuck Schumer and other Congressional Democrats are already working with transition officials.

One of Mr Obama’s top advisers, David Axelrod, wants them to get a bill through Congress before the president-elect takes office.

“We don’t have time to waste here,” he said.

“The projections are that things may get worse before they get better and we want to hit the ground running on January 20th.”

Tomorrow, Mr Obama will unveil the economic team that will implement any stimulus plan.

A former treasury secretary, Larry Summers, will be the White House economic adviser while the New York Federal Reserve’s Timothy Geithner will become the new Treasury Secretary.

Rumours about the appointment sent stocks soaring at the end of last week and even Republicans such as Mitch Romney are applauding.

“Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers I know quite well and frankly I am encouraged by their participation in the new economic team. I think a good team is being assembled,” said Mr Romney.

Some Republicans could be less enthusiastic about Barack Obama’s likely choice for Secretary of State: Hillary Clinton.

Even some Democrats could be disappointed. The former First Lady repeatedly criticised her rival’s grasp of foreign policy during the primaries, but Mr Axelrod defends the pick.

“Hillary Clinton is a demonstrably able, tough, brilliant person,” he said.

“The one thing about Barack Obama is that he invites strong personalities around him. He enjoys that input, that give and take.”

Mr Obama will probably wait at least a week before officially unveiling his diplomatic and national security teams. In these uncertain times, the economy comes first.

Robot actors to make stage debut in Japanese play


A humanoid robot Wakamaru (L), produced by Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, and named Momoko in the performance and actress Minako Inoue (R) take part in a drama for the world’s first robot and human experimental theatre, written and directed by Japanese playwright Oriza Hirata, at Japan’s Osaka University in Osaka, western Japan on November 25, 2008. The 20-minute performance was put on display for the media ahead of a possible run for the public next year. AFP/Getty

Seattle Times | Nov 24, 2008

By The Yomiuri Shimbun

OSAKA, Japan — Robotic technology will enter unfamiliar territory Tuesday when two humanoid robots make their stage acting debut alongside human performers in a play at Osaka University.

The robots are a part of a new production penned by renowned playwright Oriza Hirata called “Hataraku Watashi” (“I, Worker”), which focuses on a couple who live in the near future. The couple owns two housekeeping robots, one of which suddenly loses its motivation to work.

In the 20-minute play, Hirata, also a professor at the university, raises questions about the relationship between humanity and technology.

Hirata; Hiroshi Ishiguro, a professor specializing in robot technology at the university’s graduate school; and others began the project in July in an attempt to introduce cutting edge robotics to the arts.

The robots featured in the play are called Wakamaru and are 3.3-feet tall and weigh 66 pounds. The Wakamaru model was originally designed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. for customer service use.

The project team took two months to write detailed control software that enables the robots to move and deliver lines with nuance.

Members of Seinendan, a theater company led by Hirata, began rehearsing with their robot cast mates this month.

The producers hope to develop the play into a full-scale production for the public in 2010 if the debut is successful.

To some psychiatric patients, life seems like TV

Truman Show Syndrome

This undated movie advertisement provided by Paramount Pictures shows actor Jim Carrey starring as Truman Burbank in the 1998 movie ‘The Truman Show,’ in which Carrey’s character discovers every moment of his life has been broadcast. Now doctors have given the name ‘Truman syndrome,’ to a delusion afflicting patients who believe they are living their lives in reality TV shows. (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, File)

A few take pride in their imagined celebrity, but many are deeply upset at what feels like an Orwellian invasion of privacy.

Associated Press | Nov 24, 2008

By Jennifer Peltz

NEW YORK – One man showed up at a federal building, asking for release from the reality show he was sure was being made of his life.

Another was convinced his every move was secretly being filmed for a TV contest. A third believed everything — the news, his psychiatrists, the drugs they prescribed — was part of a phony, stage-set world with him as the involuntary star, like the 1998 movie “The Truman Show.”

Researchers have begun documenting what they dub the “Truman syndrome,” a delusion afflicting people who are convinced that their lives are secretly playing out on a reality TV show. Scientists say the disorder underscores the influence pop culture can have on mental conditions.

“The question is really: Is this just a new twist on an old paranoid or grandiose delusion … or is there sort of a perfect storm of the culture we’re in, in which fame holds such high value?” said Dr. Joel Gold, a psychiatrist affiliated with New York’s Bellevue Hospital.

Within a two-year period, Gold said he encountered five patients with delusions related to reality TV. Several of them specifically mentioned “The Truman Show.”

Gold and his brother, a psychologist, started presenting their observations at medical schools in 2006. After word spread beyond medical circles this summer, they learned of about 50 more people with similar symptoms. The brothers are now working on a scholarly paper.

Meanwhile, researchers in London described a “Truman syndrome” patient in the British Journal of Psychiatry in August. The 26-year-old postman “had a sense the world was slightly unreal, as if he was the eponymous hero in the film,” the researchers wrote.

The Oscar-nominated movie stars Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank. He leads a merrily uneventful life until he realizes his friends and family are actors, his seaside town is a TV soundstage and every moment of his life has been broadcast.

His struggle to sort out reality and illusion is heartwarming, but researchers say it’s often horrifying for “Truman syndrome” patients.

A few take pride in their imagined celebrity, but many are deeply upset at what feels like an Orwellian invasion of privacy. The man profiled in the British journal was diagnosed with schizophrenia and is unable to work. One of Gold’s patients planned to commit suicide if he couldn’t leave his supposed reality show.

Delusions can be a symptom of various psychiatric illnesses, as well as neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Some drugs also can make people delusional.

It’s not unusual for psychiatrists to see delusional patients who believe their relatives have been replaced by impostors or who think figures in their lives are taking on multiple disguises.

But “Truman” delusions are more sweeping, involving not just some associates but society at large, Gold said.

Delusions tend to be classified by broad categories, such as the belief that one is being persecuted, but research has shown culture and technology can also affect them. Several recent studies have chronicled delusions entwined with the Internet such as a patient in Austria who believed she had become a walking webcam.

Reality television may help such patients convince themselves their experiences are plausible, according to the Austrian woman’s psychiatrists, writing in the journal Psychopathology in 2004.

Ian Gold, a philosophy and psychology professor at McGill University in Montreal who has researched the matter with his brother, suggests reality TV and the Web, with their ability to make strangers into intimates, may compound psychological pressure on people who have underlying problems dealing with others.

That’s not to say reality shows make healthy people delusional, “but, at the very least, it seems possible to me that people who would become ill are becoming ill quicker or in a different way,” Ian Gold said.

Other researchers aren’t convinced, but still find the “Truman syndrome” an interesting example of the connection between culture and mental health.

Vaughan Bell, a psychologist who has researched Internet-related delusions, said one of his own former patients believed he was in the virtual-reality universe portrayed in the 1999 blockbuster “The Matrix.”

“I don’t think that popular culture causes delusions,” said Bell, who is affiliated with King’s College London and the Universidad de Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia. “But I do think that it is only possible to fully understand delusions and psychosis in light of our wider culture.”

Taxpayer Bailout Cost Now Exceeds $7.7 Trillion

Newsmax | Nov 24, 2008

By Gene J. Koprowski

Critics are raising concerns about the “transparency” of the federal bailout now that the Federal Reserve has promised to lend banks a total of more than $7.7 trillion, an unprecedented intervention in the financial system not seen since the 1930s.

The rising total increases the systemic risk faced by the U.S. taxpayer, experts say.

The biggest risk comes from rescuing firms that are seen as “too big to fail,” William Poole, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis, told Bloomberg News. “No question there is some credit risk there,” Poole said.

The government has publicly promised $2.8 trillion, including the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), which was approved by the Congress on Oct. 3.

But the Federal Reserve began to purchase $2.4 billion in commercial paper, or short-term notes, which companies rely on to pay bills, on Oct. 27. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) then promised $1.4 trillion to guarantee interbank loans on Oct. 14.

Earlier this year, the government promised $29 billion for the takeover of Bear Stearns by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and $122.8 billion for insurance giant, American International Group (AIG).

Just this week, Citigroup obtained $306 billion in government guarantees to buy bad mortgages and other so-called “toxic assets.” Then the Treasury Department said it is infusing $20 billion into Citibank, as a result of its stock falling 60 percent last week.

There are also other financial risks that need to be considered.

“The thing that people don’t understand is it’s not how likely that the exposure becomes a reality, but what if it does,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, told Bloomberg.

“There’s no transparency to it, so who’s to say they’re right?”

The funds that are being pledged are truly eye-popping, now approximately $24,000 for every person in the country. That is “nine times what the United States has spent so far on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

By contrast, the bailout of the savings and loans in the 1990s cost $209.5 billion. The U.S. bailout of Chrysler Corp. in 1979 cost $4.2 billion.

The bailouts are expected to continue to grow in scope during the next presidency.

During his radio address on Saturday, President-elect Barack Obama said that his economic stimulus plan “will be a two-year, nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy.”

Some are urging restraint and caution, however. Former Treasury Secretary James Baker, appearing on Meet the Press, said the economy was facing difficulties in the early 1980s, but, with President Reagan as a free market advocate, he recommended that the car companies and banks downsize, and reposition themselves, to compete, globally.

“I had a lot of car companies banging on my desk as Treasury Secretary,” said Baker.