Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Vatican, the P2 Lodge & the Mafia











Banco Ambrosiano was an Italian bank which collapsed in 1982. At the center of the bank's failure was its chairman, Roberto Calvi and his membership in the illegal masonic lodge Propaganda Due. Vatican Bank was Banco Ambrosiano's main shareholder, and the death of Pope John Paul I in 1978 is rumored to be linked to the Ambrosiano scandal, giving one of the subplots of The Godfather Part III. Vatican Bank was also accused of funneling covert United States funds to Solidarity and the Contras through Banco Ambrosiano.

The body of a top Italian banker has been found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London.
Known as God's banker for his links with the Vatican, 62-year-old Roberto Calvi was the chairman of Banco Ambrosiano in Milan and a central figure in a complex web of international fraud and intrigue.

He had been missing for the last nine days before his body was discovered by a passer-by hanging from scaffolding on a riverside walk under the bridge.

Police are treating the death as suicide.

Mr Calvi became chairman of Banco Ambrosiano, now Italy's largest private bank, in 1975 and built up a vast financial empire.

In 1978, a report by the Bank of Italy on Ambrosiano concluded that several billion lire had been illegally exported.

In May 1981, Mr Calvi was arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to four years' imprisonment, but released pending an appeal. During his short spell in jail he attempted suicide.

Mr Calvi was due to appear in an Italian court next week to appeal against this conviction.

Later this month he was to be tried for alleged fraud involving property deals with Sicilian banker Michele Sindona, who is himself serving 25 years in America over the collapse of the Franklin National Bank in New York in 1974.

The Vatican is directly linked to Mr Calvi by Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, the Pope's bodyguard, a governor of the Vatican and head of the Vatican bank which has a shareholding in Ambrosiana.

Now Ambrosiano is on the verge of collapse amid press reports that investigators found a £400m "hole" in its accounts. Last week the bank's executive board decided to strip Mr Calvi of his authority.

The Italian Treasury dissolved the bank's administration and the Bank of Italy is now a temporary commissioner.

Mr Calvi fled to Venice nine days ago after shaving his mustache to avoid being recognized.

From there it seems he hired a private plane to take him to London.

The day before he was found dead, his secretary committed suicide in Milan by jumping off the fourth floor of the bank's headquarters.

Teresa Corrocher, aged 55, left an angry suicide note condemning her boss for the damage she said he had done to Ambrosiano and its employees.

It was later revealed that Roberto Calvi was found with five bricks in his pockets and had in his possession about $14,000 in three different currencies.
On 23 July an inquest jury returned a verdict of suicide. This was overturned in 1983 when a second inquest delivered an open verdict on the death.

In October 2002 forensic experts appointed by Italian judges concluded that the banker had been murdered.

They said his neck showed no evidence of the injuries usually associated with death by hanging and his hands had never touched the stones found in the pockets of his clothes. American Archbishop Paul Marcinkus was sought for questioning but was granted immunity as a Vatican employee. He retired in 1990 and died in 2006.

In October 2005 five people went on trial in Rome. They were Sardinian financier Flavio Carboni, his former girlfriend Manuela Kleinszig, Roman entrepreneur Ernesto Diotallevi, Calvi's former bodyguard, Silvano Vittor and convicted Cosa Nostra treasurer Pippo Calo.

Prosecutors said the Mafia had killed Calvi for stealing from them and from Italian financier Lucio Gelli, who was the head of the shadowy P2 masonic organization.

Propaganda, black public relations & mind control report

A series covering propaganda; the history of propaganda, the origin of word propaganda, what propaganda is, how it used and how to recognize it, how propaganda relates to truth.




Memorial program focuses on gay Holocaust victims

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Geoffrey Giles began his dissection of the Nazi mind with a message not conventionally tied to the genocide of six million Jews.

“Adolf Hitler was not particularly anti-Semitic,” he told the audience of about 350.

Instead of focusing solely on the Jewish demographic, the program remembered victims from the gay community Sunday night at the B'nai Israel Jewish Center.

This year's Holocaust memorial examined the persecution and violence targeted against German homosexuals by the Nazi regime.

Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah, is a reminder for everyone across the nation to remember and learn about the horrors of the Holocaust.

“The Holocaust is something that really concerns us all in terms of the relative ease with which hate groups can really gain support and how easily that can spiral out of control,” Giles said.

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Deutsche Bank settles spy affair lawsuit

Deutsche Bank AG has agreed to pay about five million euros ($6.7 million) to settle a wrongful-dismissal lawsuit brought by the former head of investor relations it accused last year of helping to spearhead a spying operation against a shareholder and others, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Deutsche Bank confirmed that it had settled the case involving the former executive, Wolfram Schmitt, as well as a related lawsuit brought by its former head of security, Rafael Schenz. The two have declined to comment on the bank's allegations against them.

A spokesman for the bank declined to discuss the terms of the settlements. The two men had sued Deutsche Bank in a Frankfurt labor court, arguing that they had been unfairly dismissed for their alleged role in the bank's spying activities.

Deutsche Bank said last year that it had hired detectives on four occasions to investigate and gather information on several individuals, including a shareholder and a journalist, among others.

The incident that received the most attention involved Michael Bohndorf, a gadfly shareholder who had sued Deutsche Bank a number of times on corporate-governance grounds.

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When science imposes on morality

From The amazing brain by Richard Gray:

Most of us tend not to contemplate the stuff sitting between our ears. But each of us is carrying around one of the most amazing objects ever created – and one that governs almost everything about how and why we think, feel, act and believe.

For example, we think of our ability to distinguish between right and wrong as a fundamental part of what makes us human, giving us a grasp of morality and philosophy. But yesterday, researchers revealed in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they had essentially been able to switch off their subjects' moral compasses, by applying powerful magnets to a small region of the brain just behind the right ear.

Volunteers subjected to magnetic pulses to the right temporo-parietal junction, an area that is highly active when we think about the thoughts and beliefs of others, were more likely to make morally dubious decisions.


From Moral confusion in the name of “science” by Sam Harris:




Most educated, secular people (and this includes most scientists, academics, and journalists) seem to believe that there is no such thing as moral truth—only moral preference, moral opinion, and emotional reactions that we mistake for genuine knowledge of right and wrong, or good and evil. While I make the case for a universal conception of morality in much greater depth in my forthcoming book, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values , I’d like to address the most common criticisms I’ve received thus far in response to my remarks at TED.

Some of my critics got off the train before it even left the station, by defining “science” in exceedingly narrow terms. Many think that science is synonymous with mathematical modeling, or with immediate access to experimental data. However, this is to mistake science for a few of its tools. Science simply represents our best effort to understand what is going on in this universe, and the boundary between it and the rest of rational thought cannot always be drawn. There are many tools one must get in hand to think scientifically—ideas about cause and effect, respect for evidence and logical coherence, a dash of curiosity and intellectual honesty, the inclination to make falsifiable predictions, etc.—and many come long before one starts worrying about mathematical models or specific data.

There is also much confusion about what it means to speak with scientific “objectivity.” As the philosopher John Searle once pointed out, there are two very different senses of the terms “objective” and “subjective.” The first relates to how we know (i.e. epistemology), the second to what there is to know (i.e. ontology). When we say that we are reasoning or speaking “objectively,” we mean that we are free of obvious bias, open to counter-arguments, cognizant of the relevant facts, etc. There is no impediment to our doing this with regard to subjective (i.e. first-person) facts. It is, for instance, true to say that I am experiencing tinnitus (ringing in my ears) at this moment. This is a subjective fact about me. I am not lying about it. I have been to an otologist and had the associated hearing loss in the upper frequencies in my right ear confirmed. There is simply no question that I can speak about my tinnitus in the spirit of scientific objectivity. And, no doubt, this experience must have some objective (third-person) correlates, like damage to my cochlea. Many people seem to think that because moral facts relate entirely to our experience (and are, therefore, ontologically “subjective”), all talk of morality must be “subjective” in the epistemological sense (i.e. biased, merely personal, etc.). This is simply untrue.

Many of my critics also fail to distinguish between there being no answers in practice and no answers in principle to certain questions about the nature of reality. Only the latter questions are “unscientific,” and there are countless facts to be known in principle that we will never know in practice. Exactly how many birds are in flight over the surface of the earth at this instant? What is their combined weight in grams? We cannot possibly answer such questions, but they have simple, numerical answers. Does our inability to gather the relevant data oblige us to respect all opinions equally? For instance, how seriously should we take the claim that there are exactly 23,000 birds in flight at this moment, and, as they are all hummingbirds weighing exactly 2 grams, their total weight is 46,000 grams? It should be obvious that this is a ridiculous assertion. We can, therefore, decisively reject answers to questions that we cannot possibly answer in practice. This is a perfectly reasonable, scientific, and often necessary thing to do. And yet, many scientists will say that moral truths do not exist, simply because certain facts about human experience cannot be readily known, or may never be known. As I hope to show, this blind spot has created tremendous confusion about the relationship between human knowledge and human values.

When I speak of there being right and wrong answers to questions of morality, I am saying that there are facts about human and animal wellbeing that we can, in principle, know—simply because wellbeing (and states of consciousness altogether) must lawfully relate to states of the brain and to states of the world.

Beware scientism’s onward march!

By Lionel Milgrom PhD

Introducing some concepts 

First it is necessary to make a clear distinction between science and scientism. The former might be defined as a continuing effort to increase human knowledge and understanding through observation (with the important proviso that in spite of its more outlandish proposals, post-modernism still serves to warn that objectivity in observation is always conditioned by expectations and past experiences; regardless of the 'rigour' of the science). Scientism, on the other hand, [1] is the totally unscientific belief that:-

·      Only scientific knowledge is real knowledge:

·      There is no rational, objective form of inquiry that is not a branch of science:

·      Science is the absolute and only justifiable access to truth.

Significantly, no sign of post-modernism's warning being heeded here. Indeed, supporters of scientism (which has its roots in materialistic logical positivism [2] and naïve inductivism [3] - both of which are seriously limited interpretations of science) [4] see it as their bounden duty to do away with most, if not all, metaphysical, mythological, philosophical, sociological (in any non-reductive sense), and religious claims to knowledge, as their truths cannot be apprehended by the scientific method. And precisely because scientism's supporters are so jealous of what they believe is their monopoly on truth (especially as exemplified by the science of the day: science too has its fashions), they represent a form of dogmatic intolerance bordering on fundamentalism; even fascism. As neurophysiologist and Nobel Laureate Sir John Eccles once so eloquently put it, “Arrogance is one of the worst diseases of scientists and it gives rise to statements of authority and finality which are expressed usually in fields that are completely beyond the scientific competence of the dogmatist. It is important to realise that dogmatism has now become a disease of scientists rather than of theologians."We shall soon see how ominously prescient were these words.

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Homeopathy: what does the "best" evidence tell us?

The debate about the value of homeopathy — a therapeutic method that often uses highly diluted preparations of substances whose effects when administered to healthy subjects correspond to the manifestation of the disorder in the unwell patient1 — is as old as homeopathy itself. In recent decades, about 150 controlled clinical trials of homeopathy have been published. The results were neither all negative nor all positive. In such situations, some commentators resort to “cherry picking” — choosing those findings that fit their own preconceptions. The problem of selective citation is most effectively overcome by evaluating all reliable evidence, an aim best met by systematic reviews.

Even at the level of systematic reviews, the evidence on homeopathy is not entirely uniform. For instance, a Lancet review of 1997 concluded that “the clinical effects of homeopathy are not completely due to placebo”,2 while another systematic review, published in the same journal in 2005, concluded that “the clinical effects of homeopathy are placebo effects”.3 In 2002, I conducted a systematic review of 17 systematic reviews and concluded that “the best clinical evidence for homeopathy available to date does not warrant positive recommendations of its use in clinical practice”.4

Homeopaths have argued that systematic reviews that fail to generate positive conclusions about homeopathy are biased.5 It is therefore necessary to seek out those systematic reviews of research into homeopathy that are least likely to be biased. Several authors have demonstrated that Cochrane reviews tend to be superior to other reviews; they are more rigorous, more transparent, less biased and more up to date.6 In a word, they might be considered the “best”. Therefore, the aim of this article is to summarise and appraise the findings from Cochrane reviews of studies of homeopathy.

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Children use space to think about time

To probe the relationship between space  and time in the developing mind, Daniel Casasanto of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and colleagues at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Stanford University showed children movies of two snails racing along parallel paths for different distances or durations. The children judged either the spatial or temporal aspect of each race, reporting which animal went for a longer distance or a longer time.

When asked to judge distance, children had no trouble ignoring time. But when asked to judge time, they had difficulty ignoring the spatial dimension of the event. Snails that moved a longer distance were mistakenly judged to have traveled for a longer time. Children use physical distance to measure of the passage of time.

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Google and Facebook raise new issues for therapists and their clients

... Across the country, therapists are facing similar situations and conflicted feelings. When Huremovic, director of psychosomatic medicine services at Nassau University Medical Center in New York, recounted his vignette last year at an American Psychiatric Association meeting and asked whether others would have read the suicidal man's blog, his audience responded with resounding calls -- of both "yes!" and "no!" One thing was clear: How and when a therapist should use the Internet -- and even whether he or she should -- are questions subject to vigorous debate.

"We are just beginning to understand what ethical issues the Internet is raising," says Stephen Behnke, ethics director for the American Psychological Association. "To write rules that allow our field to grow and develop and yet prevent [patient] harm at the same time: That's the challenge."

In fact, the tremendous availability online of personal information threatens to alter what has been an almost sacred relationship between therapist and patient. Traditionally, therapists obtained information about a patient through face-to-face dialogue. If outside information was needed, the therapist would obtain the patient's consent to speak with family members or a previous mental-health practitioner. At the same time, patients traditionally knew little about their therapists outside the consulting room. Now, with the click of a mouse, tech-savvy therapists and patients are challenging the old rules and raising serious questions about how much each should know about the other and where lines should be drawn.

Among the questions under debate:

Should a therapist review the Web site of a patient or conduct an online search without that patient's consent?

Is it appropriate for a therapist to put personal details about himself on a blog or Web site or to join Facebook or other social networks?

What are the risks of having patients and therapists interact online?

Neither the American Psychiatric Association nor the American Psychological Association has rules specifically governing therapists' online behavior, but ethics advisers with the psychiatric association maintain that online searches are not wrong -- as long as they're done in the patient's interest and not out of therapist curiosity. ...

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Whistleblowing journalist treated as "fugitive felon" by Israel's Mossad intel agents

An Israeli journalist who went into hiding after writing a series of reports showing lawbreaking approved by Israeli army commanders faces a lengthy jail term for espionage if caught, as Israeli security services warned at the weekend they would "remove the gloves" to track him down.

The Shin Bet, Israel's secret police, said it was treating Uri Blau, a reporter with the liberal Haaretz daily newspaper who has gone underground in London, as a "fugitive felon" and that a warrant for his arrest had been issued.

Options being considered are an extradition request to the British authorities or, if that fails, a secret operation by Mossad, Israel's spy agency, to smuggle him back, according to Maariv, a right-wing newspaper.

It was revealed yesterday that Mr Blau's informant, Anat Kamm, 23, a former conscript soldier who copied hundreds of classified documents during her military service, had confessed shortly after her arrest in December to doing so to expose "war crimes".

The Shin Bet claims that Mr Blau is holding hundreds of classified documents, including some reported to relate to Operation Cast Lead, Israel's attack on Gaza in winter 2008 in which the army is widely believed to have violated the rules of war.

Other documents, the basis of a Haaretz investigation published in 2008, concern a meeting between the head of the army, Gabi Ashkenazi, and the Shin Bet in which it was agreed to ignore a court ruling and continue carrying out executions of Palestinian leaders in the occupied territories.

Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet, who has said his organisation was previously "too sensitive with the investigation", is now demanding that Mr Blau reveal his entire document archive and take a lie-detector test on his return to identify his sources, according to Haaretz. The newspaper and its lawyers have recommended that he remain in hiding to protect his informants.

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Israel's censorship scandal

Judith Miller reports for The Daily Beast:

A 23-year-old journalist is under arrest for exposing a secret Israeli assassination plot, and another has fled to London, afraid for his life. Judith Miller talks to insiders who have been gagged by the government about the scandal rocking Tel Aviv, and Israel's slide toward Iranian-style censorship.

You've probably never heard of Anat Kamm. Few people have. But for nearly four months, the 23-year-old Israeli journalist has been under house arrest in Tel Aviv for allegedly stealing and leaking secret Israeli defense ministry documents to a journalist from Ha'aretz, one of Israel's leading dailies.

Kamm would love to tell her side of the story, her friends and associates tell me. So would her lawyers. So, too, would Dov Alfon, the chief editor of Ha'aretz, a liberal paper, and Uri Blau, the reporter to whom Kamm allegedly leaked the documents she was said to have copied while she was completing her military service.

But they cannot talk or write about the espionage case. In an extremely rare action, an Israeli court has ordered the Israeli media not to publish or broadcast a word about Kamm, the allegations against her, or the investigation that has led Blau, the Ha'aretz reporter involved, to flee to London. For almost four months, Blau has been in self-imposed exile there to avoid answering questions about how and from whom he obtained the confidential defense department documents that are said to have resulted in a spate of stories alleging personal and institutional misconduct on the part of the Israeli Defense Forces, the hallowed IDF, and some of its senior officials.

In a nation that prides itself on its vibrant discourse and a free press, this is stunning, depressing news.

What is being called the “Anat Kamm affair” has produced its own anomaly: Since details about the inquiry have begun spilling out into the non-Israeli press, Israelis can only gossip about what the non-Israeli media are reporting. Violating such gag orders in Israel can result in severe financial penalties for Israeli newspapers and magazines and jail for editors and other media executives. At least one publication was temporarily closed several years ago for disregarding a similar court order.

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