Puppet Masters
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USA

Need more sanctions: US targets scores of Russian, Chinese, Syrian firms over Iran

© Jim Bourg / Reuters
The US is set to impose sanctions on a number of Russian, Chinese, Syrian, Turkish, Sudanese and Iranian companies, thought to be involved in activities which, according to Washington, go against its Nonproliferation Act in regards to Iran and Syria.

According to the list, due to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday and currently available on its website, such prominent Russian companies as Instrument Design Bureau (KBP), Rosoboronexport (ROE) and Russian Aircraft Corporation (RAC) MiG fall under the punitive measures, just to name a few.

The US has imposed a number of sanctions on Russia since August 2014 over the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimean reunification, accusing Moscow of being a protagonist and participant in the ongoing hostilities.

Comment: The US is just isolating itself from up and coming markets by being a bully instead of being competitive.


Star of David

Netanyahu wants to resume 'direct' talks with Palestinians 'immediately'

© Ronen Zvulun / Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has voiced his willingness to continue the negotiations with Palestine "without preconditions." Meanwhile, Israel filed a complaint with the UN against the Palestinian flag flying at the General Assembly.

"I have no precondition to reach negotiations, I'm willing to drive to Ramallah or anyplace else now in order to run direct negotiations," Netanyahu said.

The PM is equally determined to proceed to the two-state solution and is all in favor of a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside Israel, according to the statement.

It comes just as Israel has protested against the Palestinian Authority's bid to fly its flag at UN headquarters. The Israeli authorities called the bid "another cynical misuse of the UN by the Palestinian Authority."

Comment: So why the sudden rush by Netanyahu to negotiate with the Palestinians?


Briefcase

Secret US drone operation stalking Islamic State in Syria

Image
© Effrain Lopez / Reuters
A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator.
In order to track and lethally target high-level members of the Islamic State in Syria, the US has initiated a secret drone operation that involves the CIA and American Special Forces, the Washington Post reported.

Additionally, the campaign is being run separately from America's overall mission against the terrorist group, with the newspaper citing increasing concern over the fact that some 2,500 airstrikes have been unable to significantly pushback the militant organization.

Already, the mission has conducted several recent strikes, according to the newspaper, which cited unnamed officials as its source. The most recent strike involved the targeted killing of a British-born, 21-year-old hacker named Junaid Hussain, who was believed to have been leading the Islamic State's cyber division.

In reference to Hussain, a US official told the Post that "these people are being identified and targeted through a separate effort."

Comment: This secret drone program seems more to observe and keep the Islamic State in step with "the plan" so they remember who created and funded them.

West doesn't want to end Syrian crisis: Just to exploit the atrocities


Stock Down

Potential for an economic collapse in October

There's no question that the world economy has been shaky at best since the crash of 2008.

Yet, politicians, central banks, et al., have, since then, regularly announced that "things are picking up." One year, we hear an announcement of "green shoots." The next year, we hear an announcement of "shovel-ready jobs."

And yet, year after year, we witness the continued economic slump. Few dare call it a depression, but, if a depression can be defined as "a period of time in which most people's standard of living drops significantly," a depression it is.

Dollars

Civil forfeiture cash cow: Federal prosecutors fighting to keep cash from person never charged with a crime

Image
© Reuters
Federal prosecutors are battling in court to keep $167,000 in cash seized in a 2013 traffic stop, despite the motorist never being charged in the incident and the Obama administration clamped down this spring on such asset seizures and forfeitures.

The case -- which highlights the ongoing concerns about the government unjustly seizing money and property -- began when a Nevada state trooper pulled over the motorist on a cross-country trip to California.

The trooper stopped Hawaii resident Straughn Gorman's motor-home in January 2013 for allegedly going too slow along Interstate 80.

According to court documents, Gorman was allowed to proceed without a citation despite the trooper suspecting he was hiding cash.

The trooper said he couldn't inspect the vehicle because he would have needed a canine unit and for the dog to detect drugs, which would have created enough probable cause to get a search warrant.

Comment: It seems pretty obvious in this case. The government wants to retain the ability to take anyone's money if they so decide. They aren't interested in guilt or innocence. It's hard to see a difference between what they are doing and what a criminal racket does. See also:


Bomb

Saakashvili warns Odessa may soon break away from Ukraine

© Sputnik/ Nikolay Lazarenko
Mikheil Saakashvili warned that the Donbass scenario is possible for Odessa due to the social and political instability in the Ukrainian Bessarabia Region.

Odessa may withdraw from Ukraine since it has enough reasons for such a decision, Odessa Governor Mikheil Saakashvili said.

The governor believes that the region may see a repeat of the Donbass scenario. The assumption was made by Saakashvili after having examined the instability in the Ukrainian Bessarabia.

"The Bessarabia Region is instable. Speculations on the dangerous political and social situation are possible there. What happened in Donbass is being repeated there. The Ukrainian government is poorly presented, with practically no support from Ukrainian media," the governor said.

In 2014, Saakashvili predicted Crimea's withdrawal from Ukraine and made an announcement on the issue.

Comment: Was this Saakashvili's mission in Odessa? This will certainly complicate things and broaden the conflict in war torn Ukraine.


USA

Sheep led to the slaughter: The muzzling of free speech in America

"If the freedom of speech be taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."— George Washington
© Rutherford Org
Sheep Led to the Slaughter.
The architects of the American police state must think we're idiots.

With every passing day, we're being moved further down the road towards a totalitarian society characterized by government censorship, violence, corruption, hypocrisy and intolerance, all packaged for our supposed benefit in the Orwellian doublespeak of national security, tolerance and so-called "government speech."

Long gone are the days when advocates of free speech could prevail in a case such as Tinker v. Des Moines. Indeed, it's been 50 years since 13-year-old Mary Beth Tinker was suspended for wearing a black armband to school in protest of the Vietnam War. In taking up her case, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."

Were Tinker to make its way through the courts today, it would have to overcome the many hurdles being placed in the path of those attempting to voice sentiments that may be construed as unpopular, offensive, conspiratorial, violent, threatening or anti-government.

Consider, if you will, that the U.S. Supreme Court, historically a champion of the First Amendment, has declared that citizens can exercise their right to free speech everywhere it's lawful—online, in social media, on a public sidewalk, etc.—as long as they don't do so in front of the Court itself.

What is the rationale for upholding this ban on expressive activity on the Supreme Court plaza?

"Allowing demonstrations directed at the Court, on the Court's own front terrace, would tend to yield the...impression...of a Court engaged with — and potentially vulnerable to — outside entreaties by the public."

Translation: The appellate court that issued that particular ruling in Hodge v. Talkin actually wants us to believe that the Court is so impressionable that the justices could be swayed by the sight of a single man, civil rights activist Harold Hodge, standing alone and silent in the snow in a 20,000 square-foot space in front of the Supreme Court building wearing a small sign protesting the toll the police state is taking on the lives of black and Hispanic Americans.

My friends, we're being played for fools.

The Supreme Court is not going to be swayed by you or me or Harold Hodge.

War Whore

Tax dollars at work: Pentagon shrugs off $25 billion discrepancy in costs of new bomber

Image
© AFP
Very little is known about the US Air Force's new long-range strike bomber (LRSB) - including, apparently, the cost. Facing questions over a $25 billion discrepancy in development costs, the Pentagon blamed "human error" and shrugged it off as a "mistake."

The LRSB project is intended to replace the aging and expensive US bomber fleet by the mid-2020s, at the cost of $500 million per plane. Two aerospace conglomerates, Northrop Grumman and Boeing-Lockheed Martin, are bidding for the contract.

Last year, the Air Force told Congress that the 10-year cost of developing the bomber, between 2015 and 2024, would be $33.1 billion. This year, however, the estimate for 2016-2026 rose to $58.2 billion. The 76 percent increase prompted Representative Jackie Speier (D-California), ranking minority member on the House Armed Services oversight and investigations subcommittee, to ask about the $25 billion gap.

"This sudden 76 percent increase in estimated cost is alarming, because it raises questions about the management of a crucial program that lacks transparency, on which we cannot afford serious cost overruns, development errors, and reduced production numbers that would deprive the United States of one of its core military capabilities," wrote Speier.

Light Saber

Russia and China agree on joint funding for high-speed rail line from Moscow to Kazan

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© Alexei Danichev / RIA Novosti
Russia expects the new route to be open in 2020, becoming a role model of Russian-Chinese transport and infrastructure cooperation, said Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"We have already agreed on the parameters of joint funding for the construction of a high-speed route between Moscow and Kazan, and the amount of investment to be provided by our Chinese partners and us will exceed 1 trillion rubles," he said in an interview to TASS and Xinhua on Tuesday.

The 770 km track will stretch through seven regions of Russia. It will have 15 stops, including Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod, Cheboksary and Kazan. The journey from Moscow to Kazan, currently a 12-hour trip, is to be reduced to 3.5 hours.


Megaphone

Russian military source dismisses reports in Western media of Russian combat aircraft sent to Syria

Image
© Alaa Al-Faqir / Reuters
Syria, democratized by Amerika
No Russian jets were deployed to Syria in order to launch attacks against Islamic State militants (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) and Syrian rebels, a military source told RT, dismissing reports in Israeli media.

"There has been no redeployment of Russian combat aircraft to the Syrian Arab Republic," the source told RT on Tuesday. "The Russian Air Force is at its permanent bases and carrying out normal troop training and combat duty."

On Monday, the Israeli news site Ynet News cited Western diplomats as saying that a Russian "expeditionary force" has arrived in Syria to set up camp at a government airbase near Damascus in order to lead an offensive against IS militants and rebel-aligned targets.

The report added that "thousands of Russian military personnel are set to touch down in Syria, including advisers, instructors, logistics personnel, technical personnel, members of the aerial protection division, and pilots who will operate the aircraft."

Comment: Here's the Ynet report by Fishman.

See also: Russian boots on the ground in Syria? Middle East mayhem intensifies