Puppet Masters
Map


Gold Seal

One of a kind: Uruguay's President Jose Mujica steps down

Jose Mujica
© Reuters/Andres Stapff
Jose Mujica.
Uruguay's president, Jose "Pepe" Mujica, a former guerrilla who lives on a farm and gives most of his salary to charity, is stepping down after five years in office, ending his term as one of the world's most popular leaders ever.

Mujica, 79, is leaving office with a 65 percent approval rating. He is constitutionally prohibited from serving consecutive terms.

"I became president filled with idealism, but then reality hit," Mujica said in an interview with a local newspaper earlier this week, according to AFP.

Some call him "the world's poorest president." Others the "president every other country would like to have." But Mujica says "there's still so much to do" and hopes that the next government, led by Tabare Vazquez (who was elected president for a second time last November) will be "better than mine and will have greater success."

Comment: This is sad news but understandable according to Uruguay's laws and age. Hopefully the much more elegant Tabare Vazquez will continue and improve Mujica's successes.

Cowboy Hat

Cuba and the US: What is the future?

Cuban Revolution

The victory of the Cuban revolution over the forces of U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista meant that January 1, 1959 marked the first time in 467 years that Cubans were not subjected to serfdom and exploitation by a foreign power. Spain was the first country to exercise dominion over Cuba beginning in 1510, up until the Spanish-American War of 1898. During this period, Spain engaged in the exploitation of Cuban natural resources and subjected the native population to forced labour. The Spaniards essentially distributed the "land and indigenous labourers" amongst themselves1. Both African slaves, which were originally introduced to the island by the Spanish, and the native population were forced to endure "harsh working conditions suffered under colonists"2.


The Spanish-American War, which culminated with the expulsion of Spain in 1898, did not bring emancipation to the Cubans that had been fighting for their independence. Instead, this victory only substituted one oppressor for another, as the U.S. transformed Cuba into a neo-colony. From that point forward, the U.S exercised imperial power over the island, exploiting its resources, and dictating Cuba's domestic and foreign policies. During this time, the Cuban economy was highly dependent on the U.S., as "74% of Cuba's exports were destined for the US, while 73% of its imports came from the US...the all-important Cuban US sugar export market and price were controlled in Washington" (Ritter, 2010, p. 3). In fact, "[b]y the 1950s, the U.S. controlled 80 percent of Cuban utilities, 90 percent of Cuban mines, close to 100 percent of the country's oil refineries, 90 percent of its cattle ranches, and 40 percent of the sugar industry"3. Havana also became a popular tourist destination where foreigners, particularly Americans, could indulge in gambling and prostitution.

Comment: The Cuban people and government will have to be very cautious about how they will open up their country to the US - it's literally letting the fox into the henhouse.

The motivations of the US to open negotiations with Cuba are certainly not of a benevolent nature - it never has been and never will be!

Magnify

Hearing Out Russia's Patriotic Bloggers on Nemtsov's Murder

A little more than a day after the killing of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, very little is known about the reasons for his murder. Online and in the news, in Russia and across the world, most liberal voices have one way or another blamed the Kremlin for Nemtsov's homicide.

The two most popular theories to emerge seem to be that Russia's authorities either sanctioned the assassination outright, or they cultivated an "atmosphere of hatred" (with demonstrations and news propaganda) that led inevitably to someone killing a high-profile critic of the government. As with the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, many are holding Vladimir Putin personally responsible for the murder.
nemtzov murder
nemtzov murder
With these narratives now dominating much of the commentary about Nemtsov's tragic death, RuNet Echo reached out to three "patriotic" Russian bloggers known for their criticisms of the liberal opposition, asking them to respond to accusations that the Kremlin is somehow culpable for the murder. These individuals' views are significant in a country where an overwhelming majority of the people do not identify with the liberal opposition. As it grows increasingly popular outside Russia to dismiss Russians' political attitudes as "Kremlin brainwashing," it becomes more important than ever to stop and listen.
USA

Did the U.S. murder Boris Nemtsov?

nemtsov
Headlines around the world have carried some variation of the story: the murder of Boris Nemtsov. Each of these includes some retelling of the pertinent facts: what, who, where, how ... but the real question is 'why'. The answer to this question, or rather, what the west insists is the answer, will tell us a lot about the US's plans to escalate the tensions in Russia over Ukraine, and beyond.

It would be foolish to set aside any hypothesis about this being motivated by people close to him, in the realm of business, politics, or romance. In anything related to business dealings, we might recall that any number of people probably want him dead after his criminality and corruption while serving as director of the now liquidated Neftyanoi Bank, and as chairman of its parent company Neftyanoi Concern.

Much controversy surrounded this back in 2006. Of course in the realm of romantic problems, we have significantly those surrounding the woman he was last seen with. This woman, Anna Duritskaya, was also present during the shooting. Rumors are floating around that this could do with her recent abortion and surrounding points of melodrama.

An obvious link in general with this case is to the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine, but in one variation, this killing may have been motivated by an internal dispute between those pro-US factions there: Nemtsov was connected with the US backed Orange Revolution and Victor Yuschenko, was appointed as an economic advisor then, but left under suspicious circumstances and more enemies than friends.

Among any of these could very well be the motive of the killer or those behind him, but the timing of this shooting and other pertinent facts should lead us to consider that this was politically motivated.
Ambulance

Insignificant 'Putin critic' gunned down by someone who hates Putin


Boris Nemtsov entering the US embassy in 2012
Boris Nemtsov was shot in the back last night as he walked with his Ukrainian girlfriend near the Kremlin in Moscow. Nemtsov ran unsuccessfully for office in 1989 before eventually being elected to Russia's parliament in 1990. As deputy minister for economic reform under Yeltsin, he failed to actually deliver economic reform amid the August 1998 economic crisis and it cost him his job.

In 1999 he founded the Union of Right Forces (SPS), along with fellow liberals Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar. The SPS was directly sponsored by the US government (via USAID) in 2002, after which it became openly critical of Russia's new President Putin (surprise!). This fact alone establishes Nemtsov and SPS as agents of Western efforts to destabilize Russia and therefore not representative of any significant section of the Russian people. Indeed, in the 2003 election, the SPS failed to reach even the 5% threshold needed to enter parliament.

Realising real politics wasn't for him, Nemtsov decided to try his hand at legalized money laundering banking, joining Neftyanoi Bank which, with Nemtsov as director, was investigated and shut down in 2005 for money laundering and fraud.

In 2004 he joined the Ukrainian government of Mister-US-backed-Orange-Revolution Victor Yushenko, as an 'economic adviser'. He was kicked out of the job in 2006 because of complaints from cabinet members that he was criticizing their decisions.
Cloud Lightning

Netanyahu's Congress speech scuttles bipartisan unity on support for Israel

Israeli PM is accused of 'conspiring' with Republicans to condemn Obama's policy on Iranian nuclear talks

Netanyahu
© www.telegraph.co.uk
"One of the most obnoxious individuals you're going to come into...just a liar and a cheat. He could open his mouth and you could have no confidence that anything that came out of it was the truth." -Former Clinton WH Spokesman Joe Lockhart
A set piece of the annual gathering of one of the most powerful political lobbies in Washington is the "roll call" of support in Congress for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac). Members of Congress are invited to stand one by one to be acknowledged for their support for Israel, or for Aipac's hawkish brand of it. It typically takes half an hour as the names of around two-thirds of representatives and senators are called. It is intended to demonstrate that on one issue at least, the Jewish state, there are no partisan differences. It is also a reminder of the lock Aipac has long had on Congress with a menacing suggestion of the political risks of going against the lobby group.

But as Aipac's convention opens, the carefully forged image of Democrats and Republicans at one on Israel has been battered by the furious reaction to Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's planned address to Congress on Tuesday, when he is expected to accuse Barack Obama of endangering the very existence of the Jewish state in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme.

Nearly 30 members have said they will not attend Netanyahu's speech in protest at the extraordinary spectacle of Republicans inviting a foreign leader to Washington to denounce the president. They have described Netanyahu's decision to speak as "sabotage" and "extremely dangerous".

The dispute has also divided some of America's most prominent Jewish organisations, with accusations flying of betrayal. But through it all Aipac has been all but silent as it struggles with the implications of the breach in the bipartisan wall as members of Congress with strong records of support for Israel challenge Netanyahu.

Comment: Looks like there are at least a few fractures in the looking glass. It remains to be seen what the rhetoric and implications of Bibi's speech will bring. Is there a dim glimmer of encouragement that something in Washington will shift? Netanyahu has always managed to irritate, infuriate, abhor his allies and associates and still remain standing - - bringing others to their knees while tightening the noose and furthering, carte blanche, the Israeli agenda. He is a place-holder by coercion, hubris, fear-mongering and a $3B+/year price tag.

Vader

The insolvability of the US-Russia stand-off: The psychopath's problem with Russian facts

anti-putin propaganda
© Metro (UK)
What passes for 'objective information' in the Western media
In case you haven't noticed, a war has been raging all around you for the past 12 months. Not a 'hot' war, but a massive propaganda war of the kind that usually precedes such military action.

The US' full-spectrum disinformation offensive against Russia began in earnest back in 2006 with the death by polonium poisoning of anti-Putin campaigner Alexander Litvinenko. Despite the fact that, before Litvinenko, the only murderers with previous form for death-by-polonium were those responsible for the murder of Yasser Arafat, the Western media immediately and persistently pointed to Putin as the culprit in Litvinenko's murder.

Earlier this year a UK government inquiry into his death began and the same allegations, based on the "everyone knows Putin's a thug" school of a priori, evidence-bereft, legal argumentation were made. One small piece of information revealed by the inquiry that completely undermined the claim that Putin had anything to do with the death of Litvinenko was, however, studiously ignored by the Western media.

According to the British government's story, the arch 'anti-Putin crusader' was dispatched by two FSB agents who administered the radioactive poison to him by offering him the rest of the pot of tea (about half a cup) they had ordered in a London hotel. The problem with this claim is that Litvinenko himself spontaneously arranged the meeting with the two men just a few hours before he met them. So to believe that the two agents killed their former compatriot, we have to assume that they somehow suspected that Litvinenko was going to ask them for a meet-up and had been carrying around a stash of Polonium for just such an occasion. In addition, one of the agents introduced his 8 year old son to Litvinenko, even telling him to shake his hand, after Litvinenko had drunk some of the supposedly radioactive tea. Litvinenko's wife, Marina, told the inquiry that at the time of his death Litvinenko was working for MI6.

Putin's somewhat famous speech at the 2007 Munich Security Conference is presented as the moment when Russia publicly and unilaterally 'broke' with the West. But Putin's comments in Munich were made on the back of several years of US and British government covert and overt attempts to destabilize the Russian government and force it to accept the reality that the anglo-American empire rules supreme. Rather than bow to this pressure, Putin chose to administer a dose of truth and reality to the warmongers:
"The history of humanity certainly has gone through unipolar periods and seen aspirations to world supremacy. And what hasn't happened in world history? What is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making.

It is a world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious, not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.

And this certainly has nothing in common with democracy. Because, as you know, democracy is the power of the majority in light of the interests and opinions of the minority.

Incidentally, Russia - we - are constantly being taught about democracy. But for some reason those who teach us do not want to learn themselves. Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force - military force - in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state's legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?"
Clock

It's time for 'Mistress Europe' to show America the door

merkel obama
© bosnapress.co
It's an age-old, tragic relationship. The mistress and her gadfly, selfish male-benefactor, who is really not a benefactor, but instead is more like her jealous, despotic jailer. Oh yeah, sure, he festoons her with cute presents now and again, chocolates, stockings, perfumes and the like. He also professes ardent devotion and vows to protect her. In return she gratifies his basic needs. But when it gets down to it, the mistress is dispensable, a plaything that is brutally discarded when he is done.

That pretty much sums up the relationship between the United States and Europe. Macho Washington is always reassuring the Europeans of his undying love and chivalrous defence from all sorts of supposed enemies. But it's a pathetic relationship, fundamentally, of unequals. Europe is expected to link arms and parade for the master on occasion. But if she so much as attempts to assert her rights, she is slapped down with boorish contempt. "Hey, babe, shut your mouth and fix me another drink."

In 1949, among the ashes of the Second World War, the US set up the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Despite its grandiloquent, chivalrous public profession of "alliance" the real purpose of NATO was to "keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down". Those are the unguarded words of the first NATO secretary-general, Lord Ismay.
Pistol

Gorbachev: Nemtsov's murder was an attempt to destabilize Russia

Gorbechev
© Sputnik/Grigoriy Sysoev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Soviet ex-President Mikhail Gorbachev sees the assassination of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov as an attempt to destabilize Russia. He also warns against calls to give excessive powers to law enforcement and security agencies.

"The assassination of Boris Nemtsov is an attempt to complicate the situation in the country, even to destabilize it by ratcheting up tensions between the government and the opposition," Gorbachev said.

"Just who did this is hard to say, let's not jump to any conclusions right now and give the investigators time to sort this all out," he added.

Gorbachev did not rule out that the high-profile murder could encourage some people to urge the authorities to introduce a state of emergency, which he said would only exacerbate what is already a difficult situation.

Comment: For more see:

Magnify

Nemtsov assassination a message from U.S. to Western proxies - be useful or be dead

Martyrdom on demand: if not of use alive, perhaps of use dead? US-backed opposition groups in Russia have so far failed utterly to produce results. Their transparent subservience to Washington coupled with their distasteful brand of politics has left a rather unpleasant taste in the mouth of most Russians. Each attempt to spread the "virus" of color revolution to Moscow, as US Senator John McCain called it, has failed - and each attempt has fallen progressively flatter.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has never been more popular. His ability to weather serial provocations aimed at Russia by NATO has made him a champion against the perceived growing injustice exacted against the developing world by an increasingly militaristic and exploitative West.

So when US-backed opposition groups in Russia decided to gather again this coming March 1, Sunday, many wondered just exactly what they expected to accomplish.

Bloomberg just a day ago, would report in an article titled, "Anti-Putin Opposition Looks to Russian Spring for Revival," that:
Just before he was jailed for handing out leaflets at a metro station, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny used his last moments in a Moscow court to record a video urging supporters to join a March 1 protest against President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny's removal from the "Spring" rally by a 15-day sentence underlined the beleaguered state of an opposition movement that brought 100,000 onto Moscow's streets three years ago as well as the Kremlin's unease about the potential for unrest in Russia.

Squeezed by government persecution and Putin's near-record approval rating, Russia's opposition is betting that an unfolding economic crisis will spark a spring revolt on a scale last seen at the winter protests of 2011-2012, the largest since the collapse of Communism 20 years earlier. It seeks to draw as many as 100,000 people to the "anti-crisis march" in Moscow, with protests also planned in 15 other cities. They'll highlight declining living standards and the conflict in eastern Ukraine that triggered U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia.
The article however, also stated that:
The opposition "hasn't been this weak for many years," Stefan Meister, an analyst at the German Council of Foreign Relations in Berlin, said by phone. "Even when we have a growing economic crisis in Russia, there's still high support for Putin."
Clearly to match the expectations the "spring" rally was meant to have, to infuse the "virus" US Senator McCain had claimed was intended for Moscow, something drastic would have to be done to change the current calculus.
Top