Category Archives: Illuminati Elites

Thailand using royal law to suppress dissent


Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej lays a kind of wood flower to be placed on the site of cremation during the Symbolic royal cremation for his late sister Princess Galyani Vadhana at the Royal Crematorium in Bangkok on November 15, 2008. Tens of thousands of Thais gathered in old Bangkok on Saturday for the cremation of Princess Galyani Vadhana, who died of cancer in January. In the central ceremony of the 6-day, $9 million funerary rites that provided a rare glimpse of the pageantry of the House of Chakri, the king lit symbolic candles in front of his sister’s sandal-wood casket at an ornate Buddhist pavilion.

AFP | Nov 19, 2008

BANGKOK (AFP) — Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has accused the Thai government of using strict laws protecting the monarchy from insults to suppress dissenting voices on the Internet.

Thailand’s communications minister last month said the government was considering spending millions of dollars on a firewall to block websites it deemed insulting to the deeply-revered royal family.

“As King Bhumibol Adulyadej is very popular, being over-protective of his image is one of the ways the government is using to win over those calling for its (the government’s) overthrow,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“The Thai government’s desire to control online content is indicative of the difficulties it is encountering in recovering some support,” the Paris-based group said in the statement released late Tuesday.

Thailand’s communications minister Mun Patanotai said Wednesday that his ministry had already closed down “a considerable number of websites” and vowed to boost the crackdown.

“We will intensify measures to allow any telecommunications official to shut down websites immediately if they think it’s insulting the monarchy. They don’t have to wait for official confirmation,” Mun told reporters.

He said, however, that the software needed to block the websites would cost three million baht (about 86,000 dollars), significantly less than the 14 million dollars initially slated.

The royal family’s role in politics has been a touchy subject in recent months as street protests by an anti-government group claiming loyalty to the monarchy drag on. The king has not commented on the recent turmoil.

The army chief and premier have recently accused unnamed groups of defaming the royals, a grave crime in Thailand that carries a maximum jail sentence of 15 years, but which media groups say is often used as a political tool.

Thailand made headlines around the world last year when it blocked the popular video-sharing website YouTube after clips started appearing mocking the deeply-revered King Bhumibol.

This and similar moves to implement tougher laws controlling cyberspace prompted press watchdogs to warn of increasing censorship after the coup that overthrew prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006.

Thaksin’s allies returned to government in December 2007, prompting his detractors to take to the streets in May this year.

Both pro- and anti-government sides have accused each other of slighting the royals and earlier this month Sulak Sivaraksa, a well-known academic and critic of Thaksin, was arrested on suspicion of insulting the monarchy.

Queen Elizabeth inducts Shimon Peres into the Order of St Michael and St George


LONDON – NOVEMBER 20: In this handout image provided by the GPO (Government Press Office), Israeli President Shimon Peres wears the honourary Knight Commander’s Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG), presented to him by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on November 20, 2008 in London, England.

Peres praises Britain as democratic role model after being knighted

UK protestors call Peres ‘war criminal’

President joins ranks of distinguished world leaders in receiving honorary knighthood from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, urges Prince Charles to aid efforts to secure Red Cross visit for Shalit

YNET | Nov 20, 2008

by Hagit Klaiman

LONDON – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II bestowed an honorary knighthood on Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday. Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was escorted into Buckingham Palace by the Queen’s Guard and the Household Cavalry.

The Queen stepped towards Peres and shook his hand before appointing him Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) – the United Kingdom’s sixth highest honor. As Peres is not a subject of the Commonwealth, he did not kneel upon receiving the honor and may not employ the title ‘sir.’
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth receives Israel’s President Shimon Peres, and presents him with the order of St Michael and St George, at Buckingham Palace, in central London November 20, 2008.

After the ceremony the Queen met Peres in private. The president briefed the monarch on the current security situation in Israel, with the Queen taking a particular in interest in Sderot and the Gaza-vicinity communities.

The Queen also shared details of the planned London economic conference, which is set to take place after US President-elect Barack Obama takes office.

Peres used the opportunity to praise the cooperation between Britain and Israel, saying: “You learned from the bible, and we learned from your democracy. There is in our hearts a little criticism of Britain, but a great deal of regard towards English democracy.”

‘Democracy? It’s so tiring!”

The president even earned a laugh from the Queen by quoting the words of the late PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, in saying: “Democracy, my God, who invented it? It is so difficult, so tiring!”

Peres then added: “We were not born to lord over others, or to occupy. One of the greatest triumphs of the 20th century was the liberation of women from servitude to men. To my Arab friends I say as well that the occupation of men must end so as to allow progress and development.”

The president did not go empty handed, and one of the presents he brought the Queen is a letter written by her father, King George VI, in which he recognized the newly-founded State of Israel.

“I believe that the British leadership is very amiable towards Israel,” said Peres with the culmination of the ceremony, adding that he sees the honor bestowed upon him as a testament to the friendship between the two countries.

“The knighthood was a public declaration of support. This is the first time an Israeli figure has been knighted, it was without a doubt a gesture of friendship.”

Peres urges Charles on Shalit

Later in the evening Peres met with Prince Charles. The two discussed the matter of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and Peres urged his host to help secure a visit with Shalit by Red Cross representatives.

Britain’s Prince Charles (L) receives Israel’s President Shimon Peres with a firm Masonic grip at Clarence House in London November 20, 2008.

Since being abducted into Gaza by Palestinian gunmen in June 2006, Shalit has received no visitors and no one has verified his health of conditions of imprisonment.

“I know you have warm ties with many leaders in the Middle East,” Peres told the prince, and urged him to help the Red Cross visit take place.

The two also discussed the current situation in Israel, the ongoing peace process with the Palestinian Authority, the Iranian nuclear threat and cooperation on various environmental projects Prince Charles is promoting.

Retired banker proclaimed a Knight of St John in the name of the Queen


Former president and CEO of the Dime Bank of New Jersey, Thomas H. Van Arsdale. Photo By Mike Spencer

To this day, the reigining British monarch serves as “sovereign head” of the Knights of St. John. The queen’s cousin, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, serves as “grand prior,” or chief executive.

Wilmington retiree proclaimed a knight | Nov 17, 2008

By Ben Steelman

He doesn’t have a suit of armor, he doesn’t carry a sword, and you don’t have to call him “Sir.” Nevertheless, Thomas H. Van Arsdale of Wilmington is a real, live, honest-to-goodness knight – and he has the medal and parchment to prove it.

Retired banker Thomas H. Van Arsdale of Wilmington is a newly minted knight of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. The ancient order is a modern-day charity, and the knighthood is an honor for community work.

Van Arsdale became an official knight of grace in the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in an investiture ceremony Nov. 8 at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Since Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain is the “sovereign head” of the order, Van Arsdale’s new title officially was published in The London Gazette, the British court’s official journal of record. He received his knighthood in Her Majesty’s name from the head of the order’s priory, or chapter, for the United States.

“Well, my wife calls me a knight-mare,” Van Arsdale joked.

Founded more than 900 years ago (with a few breaks since), the Knights of St. John, also known as the Knights Hospitallers, guarded pilgrims and fought in the Crusades.

Modern Hospitallers normally don’t ride horses, but they still perform good deeds, usually in the form of charity. Membership, which is by invitation only, often recognizes community service.

In that respect, Van Arsdale – “Call me Tom,” he usually says – can be said to have earned his spurs.

The retired banker, who moved to Wilmington with his wife Susette in 1999, has been chairman of the trustees of the Cameron Art Museum, a trustee of Cape Fear Academy, treasurer of the St. James Parish Foundation, and a director of the Community Foundation of Southeastern North Carolina. He also mentors students at the University of North Carolina Wilmington through the Senior Business Network at UNCW’s Cameron School of Business.

Van Arsdale, a former president and CEO of the Dime Bank of New Jersey, was living in Pennsylvania when he found out about the order from a friend and from one of the Episcopal priests at St. Thomas Church in New York. Both men were members, and they proposed him for membership.

Over the years, Van Arsdale rose through the lower grades of the chivalric organization, serving successively as an esquire, a serving brother, an officer and a commander.

He said he had no idea he was going to be promoted until he received a heavily embossed formal letter from the priory this summer.

The modern-day order traces its roots back to warrior-monks who guarded Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land and maintained a hospice, or hospital, for them in Jerusalem. The order was officially recognized by Pope Paschal II in 1113. The black-robed order was a rival to the Knights Templar. (In formal ceremonies, Van Arsdale and other knights still wear a black mantle, or cloak, bearing the white, eight-pointed star that is their emblem.)

Although the order had been suppressed in England by King Henry VIII, some visionaries began attempting to revive it in Great Britain as early as the 1830s. Queen Victoria granted a charter to its British Grand Priory in 1887.

To this day, the reigining British monarch serves as “sovereign head” of the Knights of St. John. The queen’s cousin, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, serves as “grand prior,” or chief executive.

In the modern world, the order functions mainly as a charity. In Great Britain and the Commonwealth, it is the parent body of the St. John Ambulance service, “which is kind of like a rescue squad or the Red Cross,” Van Arsdale said. One St. John’s ambulance unit from Hong Kong helped provide first aid and medical assistance at the Beijing Olympics.

In line with its heritage, the order also sponsors an eye hospital in Jerusalem, as well as clinics and medical centers for the poor in the West Bank and Gaza.

“Twenty percent of the people in that area have some kind of vision problem, glaucoma or blindness or whatever,” Van Arsdale said, “so it’s very much needed.”

Worldwide, the order has about 25,000 members. Its American branch, which was promoted to a priory in 1996, is a major fund-raising organization with about 1,100 members.

The Knights of St. John are considered a royal order of chivalry but are not a British state institution like the Order of the Garter. Members are not entitled to carry the title “Sir” – although they are eligible for a coat of arms – and while American members show respect to the British crown, they do not pledge allegiance.

The order is close to the Church of England and the American Protestant Episcopal Church, but membership is ecumenical and even non-Christians are admitted.

One of Van Arsdale’s biggest thrills was attending a 900th anniversary celebration by the order in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London: “You could see all these knights from all over the world,” he said, “in all their different robes.”

These days, even ladies can be knights – or “dames.”

Susette Van Arsdale is an officer in the order, and she and her husband are among the relatively few husband-and-wife members.

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What is Devilish About Freemasonry?


Newswatch | Nov 17, 2008

by Mike Akpan


Who’s Who in Freemasonry the world over

Chika Ifejika, provincial grand secretary of Freemasonry in Nigeria, speaks to Mike Akpan, contributing editor, on Freemasonry, how it came to Nigeria, what people think of it and other issues.


Newswatch: As the provincial grand secretary of Freemasonry in Nigeria, how would you define Freemasonry?

Ifejika: I am sure you have heard or read about definitions. In a very simplistic way, everybody else has always defined, Freemasonry. It is a system of morality defined and explained through allegories by both words and signs.

Newswatch: But the way the outside world perceives Freemasonry is that it is satanic. How do you react to this perception?

Ifejika: It is unfortunate. It may be it is fair for you to ask: why the word, ‘mason’? And why the word, ‘free’? The word mason is the word you know of – those who mould and build with blocks and bricks; those who build houses, churches, cathedrals. That is the earliest real formation that can be discerned from the Order.

So when we say Freemasonry, it is based on building of morality in the society using allegories. We use the symbols, the instruments, the working tools of ordinary field masons to impart moral lessons. You will find out that we are forever using signs. For example, this sign here on the page of this book called the Craft; you see it contains the signs we use when we hold our meetings. This is the compass; this is the square (what the operatives call square).

What has it got to do with us? The square says anywhere you measure with it, what it will give you is angle ninety, you measure from the top, you get angle ninety, you measure from the South, Nrth, East or West, you get angle ninety. So it is perfect. So, it is a lesson by saying you are to behave to be in such a moral rectitude that you have to be led on what you work on. The plumbline, that is what the operative mason uses in making sure that the wall is perpendicular and not curved or bent of titled because, like we say in speculative masonry moral lesson, if your character were to be before a character builder and it is titled in one way or the other and not standing upright, you are to fall sooner or later into disrepute. So Freemasonry is out there to help a bad man to become good and a goodman to become even better. That is Freemasonry. It is not a religion and has nothing to do with the devil because it does not admit agnostics or non-believers in God. One clear element you must have to become a Freemason is to believe in God – the one and only supreme and all powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing God. It doesn’t say you are a free thinker. Rather, Freemasonry encourages you to practice your own religion perfectly well, to obey the tenets of your own Holy Book – the Koran for Muslims, the Bible for Christians the Torah for the Jews and what have you. There is no holy book that we know of that can say to the people, kill, go and kill. So, such is the tenet of the fellowship.

Newswatch: What is the origin of Freemasonry?

Ifejika: I think I have answered this question partly that the well-known line became clearer through operative masons –builders and hence we the speculative builders of morals are expected to see that morality assumes a proper guide in our lives, in our society, in our government. We now use the instrument, the implements, the working tools of the operative masons to impart moral information, knowledge to ourselves and our brothers by living the examples we preach.

Newswatch: The origin of Freemasonry, according to some Freemasonry publications I have read, is shrouded in myths, legends and almost impenetrable obscurity. Some Masonic historians trace the origin to the days of Adam, Cain, Solomon and Hiram Abiff, the super-talented master mason. Can you, in the interest of our readers, be more definitive on the origin of Freemasonry?

Ifejika: You know even in history, you can never have the same relay of the Second World War told in the same manner by two different authors. It will always differ depending on whose side the historians are and how he has reported it. That is why I have left alone all those records far past gone where records could be scarce but from the days of operative masons, building of cathedrals, high rise buildings and so on and so forth, they became selective of who would be their members. Naturally, such selectness or selectivity would bring jealousy because I am saying that you are not worthy to be in our midst.

Newswatch: So how did Freemasonry come into Nigeria?

Ifejika: It was brought into Nigeria by representatives of the king or the queen depending on what time. In the early life of Nigeria as a colony, the British king sent to our shores, people to represent him in administering us, in ruling their empire. We called them DOS (district officers). Before we started getting governors in the country, we had secretaries, provincial secretaries, district officers and so on and so forth, their assistants and all that. As far back as 1717, there was already a Grand Lodge of England, 1725, a Grand Lodge of Ireland and about 1735 or so, a Grand Lodge of Scotland, the three known constitutions in Freemasonry. These are the English Constitution, the Irish Constitution and the Scottish Constitution. But basically, the three constitutions are the same. So when the DOs and other colonial officers came, they came with the Bible, they came with education, and with them came rulership. They also came with all sorts of tools in leadership. And they carried double into the society in order to build morals which they had known. They themselves became gradually selective in making Nigerians to become members like the late Chief Isaac Mbanefo, the father of Chief Frank Mbanefo, the architect father of Chief Arthur Mbanefo, the accountant and the late Nigerian permanent representative at the United Nations in New York. His father joined the Craft at the age of 23 because he was working in the UAC (United Africa Company) with the whites and they found that there was in him something that should make him one of them and they took him on. At the age of 23, he became a mason. So that was how it came into Nigeria.

Newswatch: How do you recruit your members in Nigeria?

Ifejika: From time immemorial, Freemasonry did not or has not been soliciting for membership. Exemplary lives of masons outside attract other people to want to belong to the Craft. People see masons outside, they see the way they behave, they see the way masons react to issues and they want to also belong and they begin to ask what does it take to belong to this society that makes all of you to behave like this? Or those of you I have seen, you are well-mannered, you are well-behaved or you are all this and that and I can assure you, trust Nigerians, some will also say you are all well-to-do. There must be a god in your society that gives you wealth. But doesn’t one good deserve another? If you are good in your job, if you’re working well, won’t you be promoted? Surely, you will be promoted. If you are not good in your job believing you will get promotion because you are the son of an Alake, you will not get anywhere because that does not do the job. So people come into Freemasonry on their freewill and accord. So, they are first of all made masons in their own hearts. They are the ones who decided that they want to become Masons. We do interview them to find out if they are the miss-road people, those often referred to as ‘money-miss-road’ who may think that there is power behind Freemasonry. Yes, there may be power but it is for the individual to discover and develop. Is there power in the church? Yes, there is power but not everybody who goes to church possesses the same level of power as the next person. Isn’t it? It is through your dedication, what you read, what you practice, what you do, what you emulate that helps you to develop.

Newswatch: What is the strength of your membership in Nigeria?

Ifejika: It is less than ten thousand and yet people are worrying about them. It means there is something interesting and peculiar about the movement and the people in it. It is who they are and what they represent that is the issue. The fact that they want to get accepted or invited, the fact that they want to come into it, means they will be welcomed. Even these days, many are leaving for the churches. We wouldn’t know why. We don’t want to ask them. Others are there. But the churches are built by Masons. How? Holy Trinity, Ebute-Ero, was established and built by Masons. Until a few years ago, the Masonic inscription of the compass and the square was there and said “This church was built by Freemasons of Nigeria. The Masons also built the Cenotaph. So what is devilish about it? And if we must go further, who and who are really the members? In any case, go through the ladder of the reverend gentlemen in the church, they were all Masons – all the Ogunbiyis, who eventually founded the Reformed Ogboni Confraternity. Let me tell you that the first bishop of West Africa and the first bishop of Lagos, Leslie Gordon Vining, was a Mason. When they went to a conference in Sierra Leone, the bishop told those who went with him, “Let them raise the issue and I can assure you that if they raise the issue of our Freemasonry, the archbishop of Canterbury would not find it funny or take it lightly . Bishop A.W. Howells (father) and A.W. Howells (son) were Masons. Freemasonry and religious relationship is more of a meeting point than the parting of ways. Archbishop Howells had a church erected in his name off Western Avenue here in Lagos and the Cathedral there. Archbishop Vinnning, were they really bad and they built churches in their names? Then something has gone wrong somewhere with the Anglican constitution. I can tell you that there were many reverend gentlemen of the Anglican Church in Nigeria who were Masons. The list is very long. How suddenly it happened that Freemasonry is now an evil? Freemasonry is now an evil in the society? The builders of their churches, the builders of their faith on whose backs they want to ride to Heaven were devilish and this was found out only after they had gone but they erected edifices in their honour? There is hypocrisy there which means somebody is not telling the truth, the whole truth. The Alakijas, the judges we had both white and Nigerians were Freemasons.

Newswatch: The general feeling of people out there is that Freemasonry is a secret society. Is it a secret society and if so how secret is it?

Ifejika: Secret to the extent that we don’t need to tell you what we’re doing at our meetings. Must you know? Even in your clan or compound (for those who would prefer to us the word for a compact unit) you don’t tell the next compound what you are doing when you hold your meetings or what you are going to decide on. When the last (current) Pope was installed, were the Catholics laity really there? Was any Reverend Father there? The least people who were there were cardinals and they were not there all the time. Okogie (Anthony Cardinal Okogie) went there, finished his part and came back even before the man was installed. Did they tell us what they were doing inside there even before the Pope was installed? We only saw an installed bishop (Pope). Even when the ordinary priest is installed (ordained) a reverend gentleman, do you know what happened before the day you saw him lying down and kissing the altar? No, he had gone through the grill. Were you there? All the oaths he took, were you there? Just three weeks ago (October 3,) our people serving in the Presidency were made to swear to an oath of secrecy. And the newspapers were yelling: Are we organising another cult? What is this? But it had served a purpose there.

Newswatch: It is believed that Freemasons are under an obligation to protect their fellow members even in criminal cases once they identify themselves through a Masonic sign. How would you react to this belief?

Ifejika: It is a big lie because nobody has ever quoted this. At one time it was assumed that the Metropolitan police of London were favouring members who were Freemasons. An inquiry was conducted but it was nowhere there. I want you to listen to this. On that crucial date, October 14, 1996, Mr. Tony Blair, leader of the Labour Party, in opposition, proclaimed in a speech made in South Africa that what is urgently needed now is the promotion of a new social morality.

What was he talking about? A social morality! Tony Blair!

Newswatch: Is he a Freemason?

Ifejika: Probably he is. I wouldn’t know every member. Probably, he is not but as you know, up to 25 American presidents were Freemasons before their departure to the Grand Lodge above.

Newswatch: What is the difference between Freemasonry and secret Cult?

Ifejika: Secret cults will normally hold their meetings in secret and nobody would know but in Freemasonry, our addresses and places of meetings are known like you have come to this place (Provincial Grand Lodge Office) even though you’ve not come here before. But now, you know it. The address and name are there for anybody to see and identify. Our books are sold where you can get them and when you come to buy; you will not be asked whether you are a member. Nobody will ask you to give a sign. The book sellers are not even members some of the time or most of the time. So you can go and buy the books and read and discern what you can from them. Would that be secret? What then is secret? People know the time we meet; we advertise it on the internet. Who then is deceiving who? Freemasonry is not a secret society whereas a secret society would not want you to know when members meet and where they meet.

Newswatch: Why are Nigerian Freemasons shy to be identified publicly?

Ifejika: Not all are shy. As you can see, I am not shy to be identified. So there is no point generalising. In every society, in every gathering, in every class, some people are looking for those who will be in the front and they will bring up the rear; they will never want to lead or shoulder themselves. It is also possible that some of us still have a conflict of: Do you want to argue with the church and go away or you want to remain in the church and still remain a Freemason? So they don’t tell the church that they are Freemasons because they feel that everybody will detest them.

Newswatch: At what point did the church find Freemasonry evil?

Ifejika: When it pleased them in one of their synods.

Newswatch: I know that in the Catholic church Pope Clement XIIproscribed Freemasonry as far back as 1738. When did it happen here?

Ifejika: As far as I know, the action has no basis because former archbishops of Canterbury were Freemasons. The current archbishop is also a Freemason. He is also the head of the Scotland Constitution. So what are we talking about here. It is all hypocritical.

Newswatch: So how conducive is the Nigerian environment for the practice of Freemasonry?

Ifejika: Very very conducive. Please don’t forget that Freemasonry is not a religion but it helps you and encourages you to practise your religion better. For example, if you are a Christian, Freemasonry tells you to study your Bible assiduously. It says read your Bible without questioning the word of God because the knowledge is bottomless and above you.

Newswatch: How true is the assertion that Freemasons rules the World?

Ifejika: You have already said it. I told you there was a time when the Nigerian society was ruled by Freemasons. Go through the list I have given to you and tell me who is not there. Where would you go to? The civil servants, the judges, politicians, lawyers, the clergymen, the professionals – they were there.

Newswatch: What is the situation today?

Ifejika: It is not so anymore.

Newswatch: Why?

Ifejika: The corps of the makers and shakers of Freemasonry had gone. Probably, the up-comers are not appreciating in full as yet what it is. But the fight from the churches has also affected it. People confuse and even compare Freemasonry with religion; But Freemasonry is not a religion because it does not administer sacraments. It doesn’t promise members Heaven by saying if you do this or that, you will get there. Freemasonry urges members to obey the moral laws because you will be judged by the same immutable laws that everybody else will be judged. God created everybody equal whether you agree with this position or not, it is there.

Newswatch: I have gone through some of the Freemasonry publications and found out that the Craft has a special regard for Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist, what is the relationship between Freemasonry and the Saints? In America, Freemasons even celebrate the birthday of Saint John the Baptist.

Ifejika: Good. Countries have what is called patron Saints. In Ireland, it is Saint Patrick and we the Irish Masons, Irish Constitution, will not hold any meeting on St. Patrick’s feast day because our own constitution came from the Irish. In Scotland, the patron Saint is Saint Andrew. On the Saint’s birthday, Freemasons under the Scottish Constitution join the happy celebration. The Saints’ feast day celebration has nothing to do with Freemasonry. It has to do with the country of origin. In fact, by yesterday October 1) my Reverend Father asked us at early morning Mass who is the patron Saint of Nigeria? Many could not answer the question. He told us that the patron Saint of Nigeria is Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. He said that is the situation in spite of the fact that Nigeria is a multi-religious country.

Newswatch: Now, what is the future of Freemasonry?

Ifejika: There is a deliberate effort now to build the (craft on a very sound basis re-echoing the same ethos which the past masters who ruled this country and who also brought Freemasonry into Nigeria and who sustained this country, were able to keep up with it till their departure to the Grand Lodge above. In no distant time, you will hear about the formation of a Grand Lodge of Nigeria because many countries are having their Grand Lodges. The battle to create one had been on for the past 20 years but the issue was settled last August. We can’t have a Nigerian Grand Lodge and be going down. In fact, Freemasons are now ready to talk as I am talking to you now. But before, Freemasons could not be bothered by how the public perceived them or what is said about the Order. We just kept quiet. But now we should talk.

Newswatch: In 2004, a high court judge in South Africa was quoted in a Freemasonry newsletter as referring to Freemasonry as a hand maiden of the church. What do you think he meant?

Ifejika: What else could he mean? If in Nigeria we were able, in our own lifetime, to see archbishop of West Africa, Archbishop Vinning as a Freemason, to see Archbishop of West Africa, both of them Freemasons, and they were both in the church, so how will you see it or what do you want to say? In the same manner, I told you how elsewhere, in Scotland, for instance, how St. Mary’s Church, in Haddington was being used for Freemasonry initiation. So there is more of a relationship in the societal norm and lessons to be learnt from the church and Freemasonry. Freemasonry per se is not a religion just as I said about the knighthood but that they are interwoven.

Cambridge Mass to honor Freemason Prince Hall, founder of the African Lodge, with a monument


Prince Hall (c.1735 – December 4, 1807) is considered the founder of “Black Freemasonry” in the United States, known today as Prince Hall Freemasonry.

Boston Globe | Nov 16, 2008

By Michael Kenney

Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons has been known to buttonhole people to ask what they know about Prince Hall.

And when the Institute for Very Small Things, a group of local geographic activists, was collecting suggestions for renaming the city’s streets several years ago, Simmons offered “Prince Hall Boulevard” for Massachusetts Avenue.

Now, Simmons has secured approval for a monument to the Revolutionary-era African-American leader on Cambridge Common.

An announcement of the winning design is expected within the next two months.

Hall was probably born in 1738, enslaved by William Hall, a Boston leather merchant, and freed in 1770.

“There is a legend,” said Simmons, “that he spoke with Washington on Cambridge Common,” where George Washington had taken command of the Continental Army in the summer of 1775. And during that meeting, Hall is believed to have urged Washington to recruit African-Americans into the gathering army.

He may have fought at Bunker Hill, and it is known that he made five leather drumheads for the Boston Regiment of Artillery in 1777.


Prince Hall’s grave in Copp’s Hill Cemetery in Boston.

After the Revolution, he became a leader in Boston’s black community, with a school for black children operated out of his house on Beacon Hill, and founded the Masonic lodge that bears his name.

But it is the meeting with Washington that resonated with Simmons, and, she said, “I wanted to place the monument in a place where Hall had a historical context.”

And as an African-American mayor, Simmons said, “it’s exciting to be working on this.”

As now planned, the monument would stand on the cobblestone-paved circle where there is already a “tombstone-style” monument to Washington and three cannons of the Revolutionary War period.

Nearby are the Civil War monument, with its standing figure of Lincoln by Augustus Saint-Gaudens; a monument to Thaddeus Kosciusko, a Polish nobleman who fought in the Revolution; and a monument commemorating the Irish famine.

The proposal for a Prince Hall monument on the site has received approval from the City Council and the city’s Historical Commission.

Simmons said preliminary proposals for the design are being considered. Once a winner is chosen, there will be a capital campaign to raise up to $100,000 for the monument’s final design, creation, and installation. Simmons said the goal is to have the monument in place by this time next year.

Hall spoke often in Methodist churches and at public meetings in the area around Boston and Cambridge, and Simmons said the records of those speeches left her deeply struck by his call “to extend the hand of fellowship.”

That sentiment, she said, would be a striking one to be depicted on the proposed monument by an outstretched arm.

How the Freemasons Rule the World


Nelson Mandela shares a Masonic handshake with South African Communist Party leader Oliver Tambo.

Newswatch | Nov 17, 2008

by Mike Akpan

The Society is not so visible in most countries where it exists but its members are men of immense influence and wealth

Freemasons rule the world. This  assertion appears controversial but the facts are revealed in a recent book on Freemasons written by H. Paul Jeffers. In the book titled: Freemasons: Inside the World’s Oldest Secret Society, Jeffers states that most of the Freemasons who are the movers and shakers in various fields of  endeavour, live in the United States of America, USA, the world’s  only surviving super power.

In his extensive research on the more than 400 year-old secret craft, Jeffers has found out that out of the 5.9 million estimated population of Freemasons worldwide, 4.1 millions live in the USA and Canada. Of the remaining 1.1 million Freemasons outside the two North American countries, 550,000 live in England and Wales; 400,000 live  in Scotland, while 375, 000 are in Australia. India, Japan, Formosa, Africa and Israel account for 288,000 while Ireland has 47,000 Freemasons. Europe has 80,000 Freemasons while Latin America and the Philippines accommodate 50,000 and 10,000 Freemasons respectively.

In the book, Jeffers refers to the United States as a Masonic project. His findings revealed that many of the founding fathers of the country were high degree masons. For instance, of the 56 persons who signed the Declaration of Independence document in 1778, 15 of them or 27 percent were Masons. Among them were Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Joseph Hewes, William Hooper, Robert Treat Payne, Richard Stockton, George Walton and William Whipple. Others were Elbridge Gerry, Lyman Hall, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Nelson Jr. John Renn, George Read and Roger Sherman.

Jeffers has also found out that 28 of the 40 signers of the USA constitution were high degree Masons. They included Franklin, George Washington, Gunning Bedord, Jr. John Blair, David Brearly, Jacob Broom, Daniel Carrol, John Dickinson and Rufus King. The rest were Alexander Hamilton, Abraham, Baldwin, William Blount, Nicholas Gilman, James Madison, Roger Sherman, George Read and Robert Morris. Jonathan Dayton, James McHenry and William Patterson who were also signers of the constitution, became Freemasons later.

From his extensive research, Jeffers has come to the conclusion that Freemasonry was at the heart of the American Revolution. More than 50 percent of the generals who fought and won the war of American independence from Britain were Freemasons. That explains why Freemasonry has continued to have an overwhelming influence in the government and politics of the country ever since. He gave instances.

The national anthem of the USA has a Masonic input because Francis Scott Key, the man who wrote it, was a high degree mason. Noted Jeffers: “Freemasonry has become the cornerstone of the United States government. Masonic link evidences abound despite disputations by some historians. Masonic signs and symbols are everywhere in government. For example, the Great Seal of the United States and the street plan as well as designs of federal government buildings in Washington DC were laid out on the basis of Masonic beliefs. The symbol of an inverted triangle or pyramid can be seen in the street plan and the sites are connected to famous Freemasons such as Marquis de Lafayette, after whom a park opposite the north side of the White House is named. The Washington Monument and the Pentagon building were designed by Masons to conform to a Pentagram which is an occult symbol.”

That was not all. Continued Jeffers: “The US one dollar note contains Masonic symbols. The Great Seal pictured on the back of the dollar bill has an eagle with 32 feathers (the degrees in Scottish Rite Freemasonry.) The eagle is also the symbol of St. John  the Evangelist, the great patron of Freemasonry. The arrows in its left talon refer to Israel’s King David (father of Solomon). The olive branch in the eagle’s right talon is associated with Solomon. The 13 stars above the eagle’s head represent Jacob, his 12 sons, and the tribes of Israel. Thirteen stars, in a double triangle form are symbolic of the delivery of the children of Israel from their oppressors and their attainment of a glorious freedom. The Latin “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of Many, One) indicates the Masonic fraternity.”

According to Jeffers, those who find Freemasonry on the mighty dollar also note that the largest symbol on the buck is the portrait of George Washington, a Mason. Cited as evidence of Freemasonry on the greenback is an unfinished pyramid. At the top, inside a radiant triangle is the all-seeing eye” representing  “the Grand Architect of the Universe,” who is omniscient and watching the United States. “The Latin Motto: ‘Novus Ordo Seclorum’ (New Order of the Ages) inscribed beneath the pyramid in the Great Seal of America is suspected to be synonymous with a “new world order,” the author explained.

Jeffers also explained: “The statue of Liberty is a Masonic goddess from top to bottom. The statue is said to have been conceived by Freemasons and built by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi; a French Freemason, who had already made a statue of de Lafayette for the city of New York, for the occasion of the centenary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and installed by Freemasons in a Freemasonry ceremony.”

In view of the overwhelming influence of Freemasonry in the American society, it is no surprise that Freemasons have dominated politics in the US. Out of the 43 presidents that have ruled America from 1789 to date, 25 of them were Freemasons. Among them was George Washington, who was installed the first president of the country  in 1789. He was initiated in November 1752 into Frederickburg Lodge N0.4, Fredereickburg, Virginia. He is the first and only Freemason to serve simultaneously as a lodge master and president.

Other presidents who were known Freemasons were James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howart Taft, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Gerald R. Ford, Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan. (See Table A for details). Freemasonry has also produced people who served as vice-presidents, secretaries of state, chief justices and justices of the Supreme Courts at the centre and in the states. (See Table B & C for details).

The security agencies were not left out. Very many Freemasons have occupied the top hierarchies at various times. Jeffers found out in the course of his research, that all the security agencies have Freemasonry lodges in-house. The legislatures at the federal and state levels have also felt the strong influence of Freemasonry over the years. So also are the executive arms of government in the states.

This is how Jeffers put it. “The involvement of Freemasons in the government of the Republic of Texas is found in the fact that all of its presidents were Masons, as were all its vice-presidents. The lowest percentage of Masons who had held executive positions in any of the four administrations was 85 percent. In the last administration that carried Texas into the Union, all those in executive positions in the government of the republic were Masons.”

Outside government, Freemasonry also pervades the professions, arts and culture of the people. Garry A. Henningsen, past grand master and secretary, New York State Grand Lodge of Masons chose to say it this way: “Human imagination has always thrived in Freemasonry. We have enticed to our fraternity, artists, poets, warriors, inventors, manufacturers, explorers, pioneers, lawyers, government leaders, business tycoons, clergymen, astronauts, scientists and gentle-everyday family men made better because of their association with and love of our beloved Craft. It has been so from the very beginning,” (See Tables below).

Henningsen is right. Freemasonry has attracted to its fold, eminent personalities such as Bill Gates, a philanthropist and chairman of Microsoft who is reputed to be the third richest man in the world, Henry Ford, a pioneer automobile manufacturer, and astronauts who have become famous as a result of their space missions. Among such great names are Edgar D. Mitchell, the sixth person to walk on the Moon surface, John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, Leroy Gordon Cooper, the astronaut who made record breaking flights in Mercury 7, Mission in 1963 and in Gemini 5, in 1965. Virgil Grisson, a Mason astronaut, undertook the first manned maneuver in space in 1965 while James Benson Irwing along with three others, piloted the Lunar module “Falcon” on Apollo 15 Mission in 1971 and spent nearly 67 hours on the Moon surface.

In Africa, the Craft has, as its members, such eminent sons as John Kuffuor, president of Ghana, Jerry J. Rawlings, his predecessor, Omar Hadj Bongo, president of Gabon, and Paul Biya, president of Cameroon. Others are Blaise Campaore, president of Burkina Faso, Idris Deby, president of Chad, Mamadou Tanja, president of Niger, Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of Congo Brazaville, his predecessor, Pascal Lissouba and Robert Guei, a general and late head of state of Ivory Coast.

In South Africa where the country’s parliament is said to be located on a Freemasonry land, Nelson Mandela, the former president is on record as a member. The record shows that  he was initiated into black obedience of American Freemasonry called Prince Hall. Kofi Annan, immediate past secretary general of the United Nations, is a prominent Freemason. In Nigeria, Freemasons were in the drivers’ seats in the public and private sectors of the economy from the colonial era up to the late seventies when the Yakubu Gowon military government promulgated a decree which classified Freemasonry as one of the banned secret societies. Its members in the public services were ordered to renounce their membership or resign. Newswatch investigation has revealed that Gowon was bowing to pressures mounted on his government by Islamic leaders, the Baptist and Catholic Churches that were not comfortable with the activities of Freemasons in their fold.

Adewale Thompson, a high degree Mason and a high court judge in Oyo State, captured the under current that prompted the decree in his recent book titled: “Masonic Experience.” “Somehow some new converts into christianity aided and abetted by some organisations of questionable motives began an orchestrated persecution of  Freemasons which they included  in their definition of “ Secret societies.”

The movement against the group began in Nigeria in the 1970s: “Sometimes in or about 1974, there was hue and cry in the press by some elements against ‘secret societies.’ It later dawned on us that the campaign was fomented by the church and the mosque using the government as agents. Government departments sent circulars to public officers to denounce membership of ‘Secret societies or be sacked. The church called on communities to swear to affidavits that they were not members of secret societies otherwise they could not hold offices in the church. Those who refused to sign were removed from office. The move to ex-communicate members of secret societies was shelved because of the negative turmoil that it could generate.”

Not all the Christian churches accepted the definition of Freemasonry as a secret society. This is how Thompson reported it: “During this period, the Right Reverend F.O. Segun, Anglican bishop of Lagos, stood up in Lagos diocese to address his flock. He told them that he was not a Freemason, but that in Freetown he had lived in the home of Freemasons whom he knew to be the best exponents of christian virtues. He then warned that those priests who must have come from the hinterlands and have not had the exposure of travelling out to meet ‘men of the world’ should exercise restraint in denouncing Freemasons, whom he knew in Freetown and in the Lagos diocese to be great supporters of the church in every respect or face the penalty of being unfrocked.”

Notwithstanding the negative campaign, Freemasonry still had in its fold many eminent Nigerians including great legal minds such as Udo Udoma, Emmanuel Araka, C. O. Madarikan, C. D. Onyeama, Adebayo Desalu, D.O. Coker, M. O. Oyemade, J. D. Daniel, all justices, and O.C.J. Okocha, a senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN. There are also many traditional rulers who still retain their memberships of the Craft. Among them are Solomon Akenzua Π, Oba of Benin, Alfred Nnameka Achebe, Obi of Onitsha, Okunade Sijuade, Ooni of Ife and Ogbuefi Alex Nwokedi a traditional ruler, (See Table F.).

Lamented Thompson: “Time was when the Nigerian society was ruled by Masonic principles of friendship, charity and integrity. Those were better days.” Chukka Ifejika, a retired banker and current provincial grand secretary of Freemasonry in Nigeria, Scottish Constitution, agrees. Ifejika recalled with nostalgia that Nigeria was a better place when its civil servants, judges, lawyers, captains of commence and industry, politicians, clergymen and professionals imbibed the Masonic spirit of love, truth and integrity. “There was a time the Nigerian society was ruled by Freemasons,” he added.

Although Freemasonic influence seems to be waning in the Nigerian society, the situation is different in other parts of the world. In Senegal, for instance, Freemasons are found in the seat of power despite the fact that majority of the population adhere to the Muslim faith. In Britain, Freemasonry has a strong influence on the monarchy. The current Duke of Edinburgh is a high degree Mason. Duke Michael of Kent is the traditional Grand Master of the Great United Lodge of England and a representative of the royal family. Both the House of Lords and the House of Commons have sizeable percentages of their members as Freemasons. The executive arm of government and the security agencies including the Scotland Yard Police have good numbers of Freemasons in its fold. Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, is a high degree Freemason.  So also were his predecessors. In Canada, Latin America and many European countries, the influence of Freemasonry is said to be very strong in those countries.

“Freemasonry has produced an astonishing number of significant individuals throughout the history of Europe in all fields of human endeavour namely kings, presidents and politicians, tycoons  of industries, doctors, journalists, writers, composers, educators, generals, scientists, philosophers, astronauts and other cultural, social and civic leaders,” said Jeffers

Opponents of Freemasonry are equally many and powerful. Several documents have been published to discredit it. Some of the documents describe the Brotherhood as “the single largest vehicle for the perpetuation of the Luciferic consciousness on Earth. In their joint publications titled: The Brotherhood and the Manipulation of Society, Ivan Frazer and Mark Beeston write: “The basic recruitment of members to further the elite’s plan is through the secret society network of Freemasonry… the latest incarnation of the Christian/military order known as Knights Templars who gained staggering riches and a wealth of esoteric knowledge during the Crusades, in which the ‘righteous’ christians were dispatched to the Holy Land with a free reign to slaughter the Jews and Moslems in a series of campaigns between the 11th and 13th centuries.”

Certain practices in Freemasonry have been used as justification by christians for their anti-Masonic posture. Jeffers stated that christian leaders attacked Freemasonry for promoting devil worship, leading religious men away from the right way to find God, or being inconsistent with the religious beliefs of certain denominations.

Gary Maxey, founder and provost, West African Theological Seminary, Lagos, agrees. “Freemasonry shares a lot of tenets that are contrary to most of our christian beliefs. In essence, Freemasonry is not orthodox christianity and is not recognised as belonging to mainstream Christianity,” he told Newswatch, adding: “apart from being more secretive in its practices, the Order focuses on cosmic energy, circle of the Moon and soul which are contrary to christian beliefs.

Echoing the same viewpoint, Gabriel Osu, a monsignor and director of social communications, Catholic archdiocese of Lagos, said: “Freemasonry has come to be identified as a place of reunion for individuals of radical anti-Catholic and atheistic spirit with doctrines and principles diametrically opposed to Catholicism and to any structure degrees society supportive of the church, natural laws and morality.”

Another allegation which critics level against Freemasonry is that progress beyond the first three degrees by members is at the pleasure of the elites who also impose stiff penalty on any member who divulges the secrets of the Order.

Asserted the authors of the Brotherhood and Manipulation of Society: “While the vast majority of the members are on the first three rungs of the 33 – level hierarchy and have no idea of the hidden agenda, they take a  pledge of allegiance “ to the society above all else.” Most initiates are willing to do this because of the temptation of power, wealth and knowledge which (are) hard to refuse, that it is hinted that there are penalties to pay for betraying the society and revealing its secrets and that it is impossible to achieve high levels of initiation within Freemasonry unless one is handpicked by those of higher degrees.”

They concluded: “At the apex of the pyramid of the Brotherhood,” these “select few” who know “the full agenda have become known as the illuminati (Latin for illuminated ones). All powerful, they “occupy all top level members of the police and military forces around the world. They are found in every area of society at all levels, but at the top, in the highest social and monetary bracket, the Brotherhood prevails….The Brotherhood owns the law, they own the military, they own the oil companies, pharmaceutical companies and just about everything which provides for the status quo.” Associated with this belief is the suspicion that Freemasons have a secret plan to control the world through the political and economic domination of the USA.

Full Article

Freemasons of African Grand Lodge face milestone


Leslie Lewis, grand master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Grove Hall, speaks with Elsie Scott during a Halloween party last month. (Evan Richman/Globe Staff)

Many seek return to service roots

Boston Globe | Nov 16, 2008

By Meghan Irons

Their portraits hang on the Prince Hall Grand Lodge’s Wall of Honor. Distinguished gentlemen, many of them in dark suits and in top hats, they are past grand masters of the country’s first African Grand Lodge, which celebrates its bicentennial next weekend.

The lodge’s history goes even deeper than these men and the past two centuries, though, to a former slave turned activist named Prince Hall, who wanted to join the white Freemasons but was rejected because of his skin color.

In 1775, Hall gathered together a group of 14 men, and they became the country’s first black Freemasons, following the fraternity’s core tenets – good character among men, sound ethical values, and brotherly love. The group thrived, and 33 years later blossomed into a grand lodge. Some of its early members were buried in Prince Hall Cemetery near Broadway in East Arlington. Two centuries later, the grand lodge supports 25 sublodges throughout Massachusetts as well as in Maine, New Hampshire, the Netherlands, and Trinidad and Tobago. There are 47 Prince Hall grand lodges nationwide and more than 300,000 members globally.

Yet even as it hails a milestone, the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts is at a crossroads. Membership is dropping, its rank and file fraternity is aging – the bulk of its 1,500 members range from 55 to 80 – and younger members are pressing the older ones to return to their community service roots: activism, charity work, and volunteer service.

“Masons do a lot of good things for the community,” said Leslie A. Lewis, the 66th grand master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and regional director for security for the Massachusetts Trial Courts.

Hall, who lived briefly in Medford and is buried on Copp’s Hill in the North End, left a powerful legacy. He rallied blacks to create the first black school in Boston, fought for the rights of former slaves in Massachusetts, and petitioned to permit blacks to enlist in the Army. Some of the lodge’s younger members cite his deeds when they envision the lodge’s future.

“We are a group of younger men who are trying to get back to what Prince Hall started,” said Gary Goorahlal, 39, a businessman who heads Widow Son Lodge No. 28.

Lewis recognizes the challenges. He says the grand lodge has addressed critical issues in the community over the years by awarding thousands of dollars in scholarships, opening its building site for community events, and giving out turkeys and Christmas gifts. Plans for a mentoring program are in the works.

Prince Charles wants to ‘speak out’ as king


Prince Charles at 60: many believe that Britain needs an ‘active’ sovereign for the 21st century Photo: EPA

The Prince of Wales wants the traditional role of the monarch changed to allow him to speak out on the issues of the day when he becomes king, according to his biographer.

Telegraph | Nov 16, 2008

By Nick Allen

The Prince will break with the tradition which has seen monarchs, including the Queen, remain publicly silent on matters of national and international importance.

His friend and biographer Jonathan Dimbleby said: “There are now discreet moves afoot to redefine the future role of the sovereign so that it would allow King Charles III to speak out on matters of national and international importance in ways that at the moment would be unthinkable.”

The Queen has always ensured that her personal views are only voiced in private to the prime minister of the day and the privy council.

Mr Dimbleby said: “To breach this convention, however cautiously, would represent a seismic shift in the role of the sovereign. He told The Sunday Times it “has the potential to be constitutionally and politically explosive.”

The Prince’s official spokesman denied any knowledge of discussions about his role as king.

But Mr Dimbleby has been close to the Prince since writing his authorised biography, in which the Prince chose to reveal his adulterous relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, now his wife.

He said that, as King Charles III, the Prince would nt be as outspoken as he is now on subjects like climate change.

But he will speak “for the nation and to the nation” in a similar way to the Irish and German presidents.

Mr Dimbleby said: “Those who believe that Britain needs an ‘active’ sovereign for the 21st century claim that it would be a waste of his experience and accumulated wisdom for it to be straitjacketed within the confines of an annual Christmas message, or his weekly audience with the prime minister.

“Believing that he has his finger on the popular pulse, they think that he would be uniquely placed to offer reassurance and hope to the British people.”

Royal Garters, Thistles, Maltese Crosses and Golden Fleeces come out of the closet


Amassed over decades by Italian financier Antonio Benedetto Spada (pictured), now in his 70s, some 600 rare bejewelled insignia once strung around the necks of royalty, knights, and other VIPs, go on show at Paris’ prestigious Legion of Honour museum from November 19. Here Spada looks over a uniform worn by the Knights of Malta. (AFP/File/Jacques Demarthon)

Outing of ‘born collector’s’ rare Garters, Thistles, Fleeces and more

AFP | Nov 15, 2008

PARIS (AFP) — Garters, Thistles, Golden Fleeces and even the Thai Order of the White Elephant: priceless orders amassed by the world’s probably biggest such private collector come out of the closet at a Paris museum this week.

Amassed over decades by Italian financier Antonio Benedetto Spada, now in his 70s, some 600 rare bejewelled insignia once strung around the necks of royalty, knights, and other VIPs, go on show at Paris’ prestigious Legion of Honour museum from November 19.

Spada, who describes himself as “a born collector”, began hoarding old books and prints at only 16 before progressing to silverware, antique clocks, stamps and art, until he stumbled and stopped on his first handcrafted order, or decoration, at the Paris flea-market in the 1960s.

Though not a particularly ancient piece — a plaque from a Spanish military order under 20th century King Alfonso XIII — “it was of exceptional beauty and quality, I studied it, and then began my collection,” he told AFP.

A wealthy man able to feed his passion, Spada in the next two decades went on to collect 2,000 pieces in his 15th-century Avogadro-Spada castle in Brescia, Italy.

But in 1984, “six men armed with pistols and baseball bats kidnapped my entire collection. They demanded ransom for its return but then got scared and melted it down for the mere value of the jewels and gold. It was a drop in the ocean compared to the historical value,” he said.

Among pieces lost for ever to history were a 19th century medal from the kings of Savoy, and Napoleon’s Golden Fleece, he said.

“But the next day I began collecting again,” he said in an interview. “I have around 3,000 pieces now.”

“I don’t collect military medals — only decorations and orders of chivalry,” he stressed.

Modern decorations find their origins in medieval orders of chivalry, which by the Renaissance had often been acquired by European monarchs who added a few extra of their own. Current high honours such as the Order of the Golden Fleece, England’s Order of the Garter, Denmark’s Order of the Elephant or Scotland’s Order of the Thistle date back to the Middle Ages or before.

Such orders, said Spada, are fascinating not only because of their extraordinary quality of craftsmanship and use of precious stones but because each one has a particular history.

“While orders of chivalry have strict rules, a king may award a bigger one encrusted with a diamond to a general who won a decisive battle, or decide to make one in gold rather than in silver,” he said.

“There are 1,000 variations on a single theme. That is what I find amusing. I have always sought uncommon pieces.”

Precious metal-worked decorations first surfaced around the 18th century in Europe, Spada said, as up until then knights from the Order of Malta for example sewed white cloth crosses on their robes.

A world expert on the matter with several reference works under his wing, Spada said France’s Legion of Honour Museum, “one of the few specialist museums”, appeared to be exactly the right place to show his collection for the first time.

Among treasures on show are a papal Golden Rose offered in 1881 to Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil, for abolishing slavery, as well as some 30 Golden Fleeces, the order founded in 1430 by Duke Philip III of Burgundy to celebrate his marriage to Portuguese princess Isabel of Aviz.

But pieces from Japan, India, Thailand and elsewhere are also on show.

“I feel I don’t own these pieces but am only their guardian,” said Spada, who is mulling their fate once he passes away.



Collar of the Royal Order of the Two Sicilies

National Museum of the Legion of Honor – Paris

Obama told to expect “spectacular” attack during transition


U.S. President George W. Bush greets U.S. President-elect Barack Obama as he arrives at the White House in Washington, DC, November 10, 2008.

Barack Obama is warned to beware of a ‘huge threat’ from al-Qaeda

The Times | Nov 15, 2008

Security officials fear a ‘spectacular’ during the transition period

By Tom Baldwin and Michael Evan

Barack Obama is being given ominous advice from leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to brace himself for an early assault from terrorists.

General Michael Hayden, director of the CIA, this week acknowledged that there were dangers during a presidential transition when new officials were coming in and getting accustomed to the challenges. But he added that no “real or artificial spike” in intercepted transmissions from terror suspects had been detected.

President Bush has repeatedly described the acute vulnerability of the US during a transition. The Bush Administration has been defined largely by the 9/11 attacks, which came within a year of his taking office.

His aides have pointed to al-Qaeda’s first assault on the World Trade Centre, which occurred little more than a month after Bill Clinton became President in 1993. There was an alleged attempt to bomb Glasgow airport in Gordon Brown’s first days in Downing Street and a London nightclub attack was narrowly thwarted.

Lord West of Spithead, the Home Office Security Minister, spoke recently of a “huge threat”, saying: “There is another great plot building up again and we are monitoring this.”

Intelligence chiefs on both sides of the Atlantic have indicated that such warnings refer more to a general sense of foreboding than fear of an imminent or specific plan.

Referring to the attacks in 1993 and 2001, General Hayden told a Washington think-tank on Thursday night: “For some people two data points create a trend line. For others, there may be more hesitation to call it that.” He said that the chief danger comes from remote areas in Pakistan that border Afghanistan.

“Today virtually every major terrorist threat that my agency is aware of has threads back to the tribal areas. Whether it’s command and control, training, direction, money, capabilities, there is a connection to the Fata [Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas].”

General Hayden said that al-Qaeda remained a “determined, adaptive enemy” operating “from its safe haven in Pakistan”. He added: “If there is a major attack on this country it will bear the fingerprints of al-Qaeda.”

He said that the border region remained the base of al-Qaeda’s leadership, which had developed a more durable structure and a deep reserve of skilled operatives. “AlQaeda, operating from its safe haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas, remains the most clear and present danger to the safety of the United States,” General Hayden said.

The hunt for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden “is very much at the top of CIA’s priority list,” he added. “Because of his iconic stature, his death or capture clearly would have a significant impact on the confidence of his followers.”

The CIA chief also suggested that the terror group was seeking to recruit Western-looking operatives who would not cause attention if they were standing in airport screening queues.

Hours after he spoke, a suspected US missile attack killed 12 people in Pakistan, including five foreigners. Such strikes are hugely controversial, with Islamabad claiming that they fuel anti-American extremist groups. But Mr Obama has been clear that he wants to pursue al-Qaeda aggressively across the Afghan border.

In Britain, security officials say that there is genuine concern that alQaeda will attempt a “spectacular” in the transition period, but suggest that it may be aimed more at Mr Bush than Mr Obama.

“As far as we know there is nothing from the intelligence world to indicate that anything has changed dramatically in recent months to put us on alert for an attack at the moment,” a source said. The present threat level is “severe”, which is the second-highest alert status. But a senior counterterrorism official suggested last month that this should be regarded as “the severe end of severe”. This would point to Britain facing a terrorist threat nearly as high as the period in the summer of 2005 when terrorists killed 52 people on London’s transport network on July 7 and attempted a similar attack on July 21.

Britain and the US are sharing all intelligence on suspected terrorist activity because of the high risk of a plot involving transatlantic flights. Al-Qaeda is understood still to be obsessed with mounting an attack using passenger airliners. There have also been warnings of al-Qaeda interest in developing a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) device. The US has anti-CBRN units on constant patrol in main cities.

Al-Qaeda is known to be experimenting with biological agents, particularly anthrax, which they acquire from dead animals and then create cultures. The key man involved in these experiments is Abou Kabbah al-Masri, who was engaged in the biological trials including tests on rabbits that were uncovered in Afghanistan when the Taleban were overrun after the US invasion in 2001.

James Lewis, a security expert with the Centre of Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that al-Qaeda may wish to provoke a reaction from the next US Administration designed to show the rest of the world that “America is still the evil crusader”.

Last month Joe Biden, the Vice-President-elect, told campaign donors: “Watch, we’re going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle [of Mr Obama].”

Mr Lewis said that many Muslims were intrigued by Mr Obama’s arrival in the White House and “there may be political downsides” in attacking America too early. “It is hard to fathom the level of sophistication of their operatives and whether the chatter we intercept is dissent or intent. If they are gong to do something, they may wait until after the inauguration.

“At present there are policemen standing on policemen at possible targets. That won’t be the case three months into the new administration.”

The arms race

1945 US drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

1953 Russia tests its first atomic bomb

1962 US discovers Soviet Union building a nuclear missile base in Cuba. After seven days of intense talks a naval quarantine is placed around Cuba and is only removed once President Khrushchev agrees to dismantle the base

1983 President Reagan launches the Strategic Defensive Initiative – Star Wars. This would allow the US to detect a nuclear weapon being launched and, by using laser technology, give it time to launch its own weapon to destroy the enemy missile

1986 President Gorbachev proposes a 50 per cent reduction in the nuclear arsenals of both sides. The discussions finally dissolve with no agreement reached

2008 US strikes deal with Poland and Czech Republic on Missile Defence Shield. Russia retaliates on day that Barack Obama is elected US President by threatening to station missiles in Kaliningrad, near its border with Poland