Daily Archives: March 22, 2011

In ‘Mozart Conspiracy’, composer was murdered by the Freemasons

‘The Mozart Conspiracy’ hits thrilling, suspenseful notes

USA TODAY | Mar 21, 2011

By Carol Memmott

Freemasons, the secret society that has inspired numerous novelists including Dan Brown and Brad Meltzer, take center stage in The Mozart Conspiracy, an internationally acclaimed novel — author Scott Mariani lives in Wales — that’s finally storming America’s shores.

Meet British Special Air Service officer Ben Hope. He’s about to get caught up in a centuries-old conspiracy that will have him matching wits and trading gunfire with an ancient society that may have been responsible for the murder of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The “official” cause of Mozart’s death was determined to be acute rheumatic fever, but modern hypotheses include the possibility he was poisoned. That theory was at the center of the play and movie Amadeus and blames a rival composer. But it’s another theory — that Mozart was murdered by the Freemasons as punishment for his weaving Freemason secrets into his opera The Magic Flute— that Mariani explores.

Yes, it’s formulaic, taking its cues from the Bourne movies and the James Bond franchise. Hope is a stoic loner (think Matt Damon as Jason Bourne or Daniel Craig’s interpretation of James Bond) who gets dragged into the novel’s thriller-esque plot when he comes to the aid of a beautiful woman whose brother may have been murdered because he discovered who killed Mozart. Still, it’s a rollickingly good way to pass some time in an easy chair.

Photos Stoke Tension Over Afghan Civilian Deaths

A picture published by Der Spiegel shows Spc. Jeremy Morlock, left, posing next to a dead Afghan. A second photograph shows Pfc. Andrew Holmes with the same corpse. Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

NY Times | Mar 21, 2011


KABUL, Afghanistan — The release of explicit photographs of American soldiers apparently engaged in atrocities against Afghan civilians threatens to ignite tensions between the Afghan and American governments and provide fodder for the Taliban’s efforts to persuade Afghans that the foreign troops fighting here are a malevolent force.

NATO officials and Western diplomats here have been steeling themselves for the release, worried that it will further undermine relations with President Hamid Karzai at a sensitive time when there have been several recent episodes of civilian casualties.

Despite an overall decline in civilian casualties caused by NATO forces, the episodes have tarnished the coalition campaign and put Mr. Karzai in the awkward position of having to explain why the country’s allies are killing unarmed children and women.


US apologises for ‘repugnant’ actions of soldiers in Afghanistan

Three photographs, published in the German magazine Der Spiegel, show members of the self-designated “Kill Team” comprising United States Army soldiers who are accused of making a sport of killing innocent Afghans as they show off one of their victims in a kind of trophy photo; one of the photos shows two Afghan civilians who appear to be dead.

Der Spiegel, which published the photographs in its March 20 print edition, blurred the victims’ faces so that their expressions could not be seen. While that makes the photographs somewhat less inflammatory than they might otherwise be, it does not conceal the faces of the soldiers, who look disconcertingly satisfied as they kneel next to an Afghan civilian who appears to be dead.

Five of the soldiers accused of being involved in the killings, who were from the Fifth Stryker Brigade, Second Infantry Division, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, are now facing court-martial proceedings for the deaths of three unarmed Afghan civilians. Seven other members of the unit are accused of lesser crimes.

The men are accused of faking combat situations to justify killing randomly chosen Afghans with grenades and guns. The case came to light after one of the soldiers informed military investigators; he was then beaten severely by other members of the unit for betraying them, according to the charges against the soldiers, and had to be hospitalized.

The killings occurred last year in Maiwand District in Kandahar Province.

The pictures bring to mind those of the torture and humiliation of Iraqis at the hands of American troops at the Abu Ghraib prison, which came to light in spring 2004. There was little reaction on Monday because it was Nowruz, the Persian New Year, and many Afghan families go out for picnics. So even those few with Internet access were less likely to see the pictures.

The Afghan government had no comment about the photos on Monday, nor did the American Embassy, which referred all questions to the military.

The military and diplomats are hoping to mute public anger by emphasizing that the soldiers were being brought to justice. The Army described the actions as “repugnant.”

“The actions portrayed in these photographs remain under investigation and are now the subject of ongoing U.S. court-martial proceedings,” an Army statement said.

“The United States Army is committed to adherence to the law of war and the humane and respectful treatment of combatants, noncombatants and the dead,” it added. “When allegations of wrongdoing by soldiers surface to include the inappropriate treatment of the dead, they are fully investigated. Soldiers who commit offenses will be held accountable as appropriate.”

One of the pictures published by Der Spiegel shows a soldier, Specialist Jeremy N. Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska, posing, a grin on his face, next to a dead Afghan who is mostly undressed, his body streaked with blood, as the soldier is lifting the man’s head as if to show him off like a trophy. Specialist Morlock has been charged with murder.

A second, similar, photograph shows another soldier, Pfc. Andrew H. Holmes of Boise, Idaho, who has also been charged with murder, kneeling next to the same corpse.

A third photograph shows two Afghan civilians who appear to be dead and whose bodies have been arranged leaning against a post.

The photos had been described to reporters by defense lawyers for some of the soldiers, but their release had been prohibited by a military judge. It was not clear how Der Spiegel obtained the images.

US Army says sorry for Afghan corpse photos

Grisly: One of the Spiegel photos showing a US soldier posing with a dead Afghan man (body edited out) (Der Speigel)

ABC/AFP | Mar 21, 2011

By Sally Sara

The US Army has apologised after the release of photos showing grinning American soldiers posing with the bodies of civilians killed in Afghanistan.

The US military has issued a statement expressing its regret after the release of photographs showing US troops grinning next to the bodies of Afghan civilians.

The pictures were published by German magazine Der Spiegel.

Two photos, which Spiegel said US authorities had sought to keep secret, appear to show two members of a unit that allegedly killed Afghan civilians for sport.

In one, a purported soldier, cigarette in hand, holds up the head of a blood-spattered man who is apparently dead. In a second, another purported soldier is grinning widely while also holding up the same man.

A third photo shows two bodies propped up against a post. Again the people in the picture appear to be dead.

The Army statement says the actions seen in the pictures are “repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States army”.

The photographs show several US soldiers, including Specialist Jeremy Morlock, who has pleaded guilty to murdering three Afghan civilians.

The pictures are being used as evidence in Morlock’s court martial.

Radioactive food fears grow in Japan

Food contaminated: People queue for food at a supermarket in Ishinomaki (AFP: Mike Clarke)

abc.net.au | Mar 21, 2011

By Hayden Cooper and wires

Japan is continuing to deal with a nuclear emergency as fears of food contamination grow and high levels of radioactive substances are found in seawater near the crippled Fukushima plant.

The news comes amid another setback in efforts to cool the earthquake-crippled nuclear plant, with officials spotting grey smoke coming from the roof of the No. 3 reactor.

Some workers were temporarily evacuated from the nuclear plant, 250km north-east of Tokyo, but there are reports smoke can no longer be seen rising from that reactor.

The World Health Organisation says the detection of radiation in food is a more serious problem than first expected and food contamination is not a localised problem.

Four prefectures have been singled out, but it says there is no evidence of contaminated food from Fukushima reaching other countries.


Radiation poisoning of food supply in Japan ‘is a lot more serious’

Shipments of spinach and similar vegetables will be banned and exports of milk from Fukushima prefecture will also be curtailed.

Speaking through a translator, chief government spokesman Yukio Edano maintained there was no health threat.

“For a precautionary measure we are taking these actions. Please don’t panic,” he said.

Tap water with increased radiation levels has also been detected in some towns, which WHO says is a serious concern.

Meanwhile, abnormally high levels of radioactive substances have been detected in seawater near the Fukushima plant.

The substances were sampled about 100 metres south of the facility, a Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) official said, stressing it was not a threat to human health.

“Normally, such radioactive substances are not detected in the area,” said Naoki Tsunoda, adding that the company will continue monitoring at the same point and in other areas.

TEPCO says the level of iodine-131 is 126.7 times higher and caesium-134 is 24.8 times higher than government-set standards.

The company has confirmed power cables have been connected to all six nuclear reactors at the stricken power plant.

A 9.0-magnitude quake and ensuing tsunami on March 11 devastated Japan’s north-eastern Pacific coast, knocking out the plant’s cooling systems and leaving it on the brink of a catastrophic meltdown.

Helicopters and fire trucks have been deployed to pour water over heating fuel rods at the plant since Thursday.

Japan faces its 9/11

A woman kneels by the body of her mother, after Japanese firemen discovered the dead woman inside the ruins of her home in Onagawa Photo: AP

Following the earthquake and tsunami, disease and epidemic are now the big worries in Japan

Telegraph | Mar 20, 2011

By Patrick Sawer

Doctors fear that thousands of survivors of the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami could now fall victim to disease and epidemics.

Children and the elderly living in the stricken zone are most at risk from outbreaks of flu and other ailments, they warned.

The emergency services are struggling to obtain medicines and basic supplies for the thousands of displaced people whose homes have been destroyed. The situation is being aggravated by cold temperatures.

Captain Kazuhiro Fujino, of the Maritime Self-Defence Force, said: “There is no medicine – nothing. My biggest fear is a flu epidemic, as there would be little we could do to stop it. It would take many more lives.”

The warning came as abnormal levels of radiation were found in milk and spinach as far as 65 miles from the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The discovery was quickly followed by an announcement that traces of radioactive iodine were found in tap water in Tokyo and several prefectures near the power plant, although the levels were well below the legal limit.

The food scares came as engineers battling to prevent a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant damaged by the 33ft tsunami, which followed the 9.0 magnitude quake on March 11, succeeded in restoring power to some of the plant’s six reactors.

A mile-long power cable was connected in a desperate attempt to restart water pumps that would cool overheating nuclear fuel rods and prevent a deadly radiation leak. But the electricity was not expected to be turned on until safety checks had been completed today.

Experts said restarting the cooling system would be a “significant” step towards averting a meltdown.

Firefighters spent yesterday pumping tons of water directly from the Pacific into the cooling pool for used fuel rods at the plant’s Unit 3, one of the most critical areas of the Fukushima complex. The rods are at risk of burning up and releasing radioactive material.

The Sunday Telegraph can also reveal that the company that runs the plant should have known it was vulnerable to a tsunami. The Tokyo Electric Power Company had carried out an extensive underwater survey in July 2007, after a 6.6 earthquake led to a leak of radioactive water from another of its plants.

Meanwhile, police confirmed that 7,320 people are dead with 11,370 officially listed as missing following the disaster.

Japanese begin grim task of burying hundreds of earthquake victims in mass graves

Grim: Volunteers prepare a large grave for one of Japan’s first mass burials to take place in Higashimatsushima tomorrow

Daily Mail | Mar 21, 2011

As a country they pride themselves on dignity and honour, on saving face and showing respect.

But there will be few of those attributes on display tomorrow morning when Japan lines mass graves with hundreds of its dead – victims of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.

The first of the haunting pictures emerged today, with still-grieving volunteers digging a macabre pit in Higashimatsushima to bury their their dead.

The long trench containing crude pieces of ply-wood in place to separate the coffins looked more like the foundations of a building site than a final resting place.

But hundreds of Japanese people killed by the tsunami will be finally laid to rest in one of the country’s first mass burials since the life-shattering earthquake struck on March 11.

Their bodies had been simply scooped up from the streets by workers sifting through the wreckage of the city in Miyagi, one of the worst hit areas of Japan’s northeast coast.

Similar heart-breaking scenes will take place around the country after the death toll from the disaster hit 18,000 with many more still missing.

The funerals come as Japan continued to battle radiation leaks at the stricken Fukushiman nuclear plant which suffered a number of explosions and fires at its reactors.

In a nightmare scenario facing the Japanese people, health experts warned that the amount of radiation in food contaminated by the explosion was worse then previously thought forcing

As the country still struggled to come to terms with the disaster, the painful task of burying the bodies that have been recovered from the tsunami continued.

A once popular ten-pin bowling alley that would have echoed to the sound of laughter and falling skittles as Japanese families enjoyed a favourite weekend pastime was used as a make-shift morgue.

An eerie silence descended on the Airport Bowl, in the tsunami coast city of Sendai, broken only by muffled sobbing and sporadic wails of despair.

As the body count soared (on Saturday, 2,000 more were recovered from the mud and rubble in this district alone) those crematoriums still left standing were unable to cope.

With typical Japanese practicality, therefore, the vast bowling alley, which was only slightly damaged by the earthquake, has been converted into a mortuary.

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