Puppet Masters


Crimea: Putin's Triumph

Nobody expected events to move on with such a breath-taking speed. The Russians took their time; they sat on the fence and watched while the Brown storm-troopers conquered Kiev, and they watched while Mrs Victoria Nuland of the State Department and her pal Yatsenyuk ("Yats") slapped each other's backs and congratulated themselves on their quick victory.

They watched when President Yanukovych escaped to Russia to save his skin. They watched when the Brown bands moved eastwards to threaten the Russian-speaking South East. They patiently listened while Mme Timoshenko, fresh out of jail, swore to void treaties with Russia and to expel the Russian Black Sea Fleet from its main harbour in Sevastopol.

They paid no heed when the new government appointed oligarchs to rule Eastern provinces. Nor did they react when children in Ukrainian schools were ordered to sing "Hang a Russian on a thick branch" and the oligarch-governor's deputy promised to hang dissatisfied Russians of the East as soon as Crimea is pacified. While these fateful events unravelled, Putin kept silence.
Red Flag

Ukrainian activists blocked Ukrainian military from reaching Russian border

© Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko
Tanks drive during a military drill conducted by Ukrainian servicemen near the city of Mykolaiv, also known as Nikolayev, in southern Ukraine, northwest of the Crimean peninsula March 14, 2014.
Dozens of volunteers from the Donbas Region in eastern Ukraine have been setting up checkpoints to prevent Ukrainian military personnel from reaching the Russian border, one of the organizers of the movement told RT.

The unarmed activists are being coordinated by a local group called People's Militia of Donbas and there are currently over 20 posts that have been set up on various roads in the region, the group's Deputy Director Sergey Tsyplakov told RT.

The purpose of the posts is to prevent the Ukrainian military equipment from reaching the eastern border with Russia, averting further escalation of the conflict.

"There are 10 to 30 people at each post and they continuously switch with one another," Tsyplakov said.

The majority of the checkpoints have been set up alongside the police posts and "the road police is helping out." But, in more isolated spots there are more volunteers taking initiative. "People are helping around with tents and firewood," Tsyplakov added.
Wall Street

The Wall Street Guide to feeding on other people's money

© Business Insider
In case you haven't figured it out yet, there is a right way and a wrong way to help yourself to other people's money on Wall Street. The right way propels you into the one percent replete with mansions and yachts, your name memorialized on buildings, a golden parachute, an office and car for life fronted by defrauded shareholders and regular invitations to appear on CNBC and lecture others on how to structure the financial system.

Then there's the wrong way - as Gary Foster found out the hard way in June 2012 when he was sentenced to eight years in the slammer for embezzling more than $22 million from Citigroup and compounding his lack of etiquette in the most unforgiveable fashion - he wired the funds to Citigroup's arch rival, JPMorgan Chase.

Foster broke multiple etiquette rules for stealing money on Wall Street. First, his crime was too simple. He made it just too easy for prosecutors to explain to a jury how he wired funds from various corporate accounts at Citigroup, using fake contract numbers, to his personal accounts at JPMorgan. A man lacking so little criminal creativity is eschewed on Wall Street; he clearly has no future there so he might as well go to jail.

Foster broke another etiquette rule when he had the audacity to buy a luxury home in Tenafly, New Jersey rather than Greenwich, Connecticut. You're just not going to build an adequate Rolodex of connections to get you out of jail in Tenafly.

Western supported banditry: Half of KAMAZ trucks seized by Right Sector militants lost

Rights Sector steal trucks in Ukraine
© Unknown
Ukrainian National Guard to replenish truck fleet with confiscated Russian vehicles
Twenty-two of 43 KAMAZ trucks seized by Right Sector militants were lost in Ukraine's Chernihiv. The producer tried to ship the trucks to Kazakhstan. The lost vehicles were guarded by supporters of Ukrainian ultra-radical nationalist organization, said Oleg Afanasyev, spokesperson for KAMAZ OJSC on Monday.

Ukrainian National Guard to replenish truck fleet with confiscated Russian vehicles "After we filed a complaint against people impeding the trucks to be taken out the country, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies have filed a criminal case under article 'Arbitrary behavior'," the spokesperson said.

He added that on the recent weekend (March 22-23), the shipment of seized trucks was divided into two parts: 21 vehicles were left on a parking guarded by the police, and the rest was transferred for keeping to supporters of the Right Sector. After that, the trucks were lost. Representatives of the carmaker said the vehicles could be taken away from the city.
Arrow Up

EU Parliament member and election observer of the Crimea referendum speaks out: EU and U.S. lies are humongous!

The region of Crimea has voted to join the Russian Federation in a referendum that was branded illegitimate and undemocratic by the West - even before it took place. But, not everybody in Europe agrees and today Sophie talks to someone who witnessed the vote - Austrian member of the EU Parliament Ewald Stadler, a firsthand observer of the Crimea referendum in Yalta.

Post-It Note

Top European press honor awarded to UK Guardian editor for Snowden reporting

© AFP/Ben Stansall
The editor of Britain's Guardian newspaper, Alan Rusbridger
The editor-in-chief of the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom has been honored with a European Press award for leading the team of journalists who published the reports based on the classified National Security Agency files leaked by Edward Snowden.

Judges for the European Press Prize gave Alan Rusbridger "The Special Award," the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, at a London ceremony that attracted journalists, reporters, editors, and news commentators from throughout the world. Editor Wolfgang Buchner from Der Spiegel was also given the award because of the German paper's determination to continue publishing the intelligence revelations.

Along with the Washington Post, the Guardian was the first news outlet to publish and report on the extensive trove of data that Snowden provided to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. The international fallout from the reports was immediate and continues more than nine months after the first documents were published.
Bad Guys

Credit Suisse $US885m bill for mortgages

Swiss bank Credit Suisse agreed Friday to pay $885 million to settle claims that it misled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the sale of mortgage-backed securities.

Credit Suisse will pay about $651 million to Fannie and $234 million to Freddie, the sibling institutions that the US government seized amid the 2008 financial crisis to prevent their collapse
Stock Down

Some debt defaults healthy for China

China's central bank has hinted it is willing to accept some debt defaults in the $1.8 trillion wealth management market, as the world's second-largest economy struggles to curb bad debts that pose a risk to the financial system.

"Under the premise of preventing systematic risks, allowing some default cases to happen naturally in compliance with market forces will... help rectify behaviours of product issuers and investors and benefit the healthy development of the wealth management market," People's Bank of China deputy governor Pan Gongsheng said at a forum in Shanghai.

NSA spies on China telcoms giant Huawei

Huawei 17
© Getty
The US National Security Agency secretly tapped into Huawei's network, accessing its email archive and top company officials' communications, reports claim.
The US National Security Agency has secretly tapped into the networks of Chinese telecom and internet giant Huawei, the New York Times and Der Spiegel have reported on their websites.

The NSA accessed Huawei's email archive, communication between top company officials internal documents, and even the secret source code of individual Huawei products, read the reports, based on documents provided by fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"We currently have good access and so much data that we don't know what to do with it," states one internal document cited by Der Spiegel on Saturday.

Huawei -- founded in 1987 by former People's Liberation Army engineer Ren Zhengfei -- has long been seen by Washington as a potential security Trojan Horse due to perceived close links to the Chinese government, which it denies.

What Malaysia Airlines MH370 hijacking theories can't explain

© Wikimedia Commons
Dawson's Field in 1970
With so few clues in the case of Malaysia Airlines MH370, the theories surrounding the missing plane are taking on a life of their own. One widespread idea is that the plane may have flown to Central Asia somewhere, flying low to avoid the radar of multiple states (or simply exposing their radar systems' weakness). This theory, explained very well by Jeff Wise over at Slate, uses satellite data that appears to indicate that the plane was heading north at 8:10 a.m. Malaysia time March 8, and could probably have ended up in Western China or somewhere nearby.

There's one very obvious reason this idea is enticing: It allows the possibility that the 239 passengers and crew on board the plane could be alive. Few other theories, such as a terrorist attack, a pilot suicide or some kind of mechanical failure with the plane offer much hope there. It also seems to assume that that the plane was hijacked by crew or passengers.

It doesn't explain, however, the one thing that most high-profile hijackings, from the 1970s to the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, have in common: Everyone knew what happened to the plane.