Puppet Masters

Gold Seal

Top ten Putinisms from previous live marathon Q&A sessions

© RIA Novosti/Aleksey Nikolskyi
Russian President Vladimir Putin seen on his annual 'Direct Line with Vladimir Putin' call-in live broadcast, April 17, 2014.
With President Putin's annual Q&A session scheduled for Thursday, RT recalls the most memorable moments from the previous sessions, including examples of sometimes-crude humor and rare insights into the business of leading Russia.

Vladimir Putin is holding his 13th question-and-answer marathon. Similar televised sessions, which are roughly a Russian equivalent of a state of the union address in the US in terms of purpose, but with a degree of interaction, have been held since 2001 almost annually.

The shows understandably focus on domestic affairs, with Putin reporting on government successes and acknowledging problems. But occasionally his comments touch upon Russia's international stance, Putin's personal life or even philosophical issues.

With the longest program so far lasting an exhausting 4 hours 47 minutes, they also give plenty of room for Putin's famous humor - sometimes crude, but involving lots of memorable wordplay.

RT recalls 10 remarkable moments the previous sessions have given us.


Statewide WMD drill underway in Des Moines, Iowa

© Youtube
This week you may notice extra emergency vehicles and public safety officers running around in tactical gear, Hazmat suits, and bomb suits. It's a part of a statewide drill Des Moines is hosting Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare emergency personnel for dealing with weapons of mass destruction.

Brian O'Keefe with the Des Moines Fire Department said emergency officials in Iowa need to be prepared for anything.

"You know we're number one seed producer with corn and soy, chicken embryo development, middle of the country heartland. So I'm sure all states access it. But we're a target like any other large community," said O'Keefe.

More than 100 emergency response personnel from around the state will participate including bomb technicians, law enforcement and Iowa Homeland Security.

Tuesday morning officials will met at the Wells Fargo Arena and review proper procedures for dealing with potential WMDs. After the review they'll get into teams and go through various stations assessing different hypothetical situations and practicing with different detection equipment.

Because most teams already know how to handle WMDs on their own, officials say working together with local, regional, and state agencies is what will be most important in these exercises.

"It's the leadership that's critical. We will always learn what we can over these next couple of days, but most of that's already shared. We've already standardized the tactics the techniques and the procedures so this is just more of doing the handshake, of making sure we're both working on the same plan and making sure that what we've trained for actually flows smoothly," said O'Keefe.

War Whore

U.S. and UK accused of war crimes in Yemen for supplying weapons to Saudis

© AP
Britain and the United States have been accused of being complicit in war crimes in Yemen, and of being indirectly responsible for the deaths of many civilians, due to their role in exporting arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

Following the UN Security Council's decision to impose an arms embargo on the Iran-allied Houthi rebel group in Yemen, critics of the opposing Saudi-led military operation in the country have accused the Saudi government of committing war crimes as a result of air strikes being conducted in the country.

Despite the aim of the Saudi operation centred on defeating the Houthi rebels and returning the ousted Yemeni government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power, many civilians have been caught up in violence committed by both sides, with estimates suggesting that of the 650 people killed in the conflict, more than half of those have been civilians.

The UN has confirmed that hospitals, schools, a refugee camp and residential neighborhoods have been among those hit by Saudi airstrikes, while the conflict is creating ongoing humanitarian concerns in Yemen, with 100,000 people forced to leave their homes and many suffering shortages in food, shelter and water.
#UNSC demands end to #Yemen violence adopting resolution with Russia abstaininghttp://t.co/sgYXbTtnBI @Jamal_Benomar

— UN Media Liaison (@UNMediaLiaison) April 15, 2015

Eye 1

Arkansas attorney for police whistleblowers finds surveillance malware on evidentiary hard drive

© Reuters/Stephen Lam
An Arkansas lawyer currently involved in a police whistleblower case was in for a rude surprise when he received an external hard drive via Federal Express from a law enforcement attorney: It was stuffed with three different kinds of surveillance malware.

Lawyer Matthew Campbell of North Little Rock first started thinking something was wrong when the attorney for the Fort Smith Police Department responded to his request for evidence by sending him a hard drive. Typically, Campbell had received evidence via email, the US Postal Service or a cloud-based storage system.

"Something didn't add up in the way they approached it, so I sent it to my software guy first," Campbell said to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. "I thought 'I'm not plugging that into my computer,' so I sent it to [a software expert] to inspect."

After the security consultant took a look at the hardware, he found it was set up to intercept Campbell's passwords, take over control of his computer and allow for the installation of additional malware. The presence of this software wasn't an accident, according to an affidavit on the case filed last week.

"The placement of these trojans, all in the same sub-folder and not in the root directory, means that [t]he trojans were not already on the external hard drive that was sent to Mr. Campbell, and were more likely placed in that folder intentionally with the goal of taking command of Mr. Campbell's computer while also stealing passwords to his accounts," reads the affidavit, as quoted by Ars Technica.
As a result, Campbell has asked the court to hold the defendants in the case in contempt. He is also prepared to file a lawsuit regarding the malware incident.

Comment: Local law enforcement is taking its cues from the NSA and other alphabet soup agencies who are notorious for installing spyware on computers as a form of surveillance. The expectation of justice and privacy are just an illusion in the good ole' USA.


U.S. government watchdog claims modern planes vulnerable to remote midair hijacking

© Reuters/Yuya Shino

Comment: So, what's to stop someone like the CIA from intentionally crashing an airplane via remote hacking and then blaming it on terrorists or another country? Perhaps this is what occurred to bring down the recent Germanwings crash? Intelligence agencies like the CIA and Mossad do love their false flags.

Modern commercial aircraft could be remotely hacked and taken control of, even by someone on the ground, as they are increasingly connected to the internet, according to the latest report by the US Government Accountability Office.

"Modern communications technologies, including IP connectivity, are increasingly used in aircraft systems, creating the possibility that unauthorized individuals might access and compromise aircraft avionics systems," the report states, quoting cyber security and aviation experts.

Modern aircraft systems use IP networking to communicate within the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), and if one system connected to an IP network is compromised, damage can potentially spread to other systems on the network.

The report doesn't provide any specifics on how the hacking and taking over could be done, but states that the person would have to get through the firewalls that divide the aircraft's flight control and entertainment systems.

"Firewalls are software components, they could be hacked like any other software and circumvented,"the report cited experts as saying.

Che Guevara

U.S. feeds the Saudi beast but House of Saud faces defeat in Yemen and overthrow at home

© AP / Hani Mohammed
A Houthi protest in Sana against Saudi-led strikes.

Let Yemenis determine their future
"The interventions of US imperialism, with the direct collaboration of the Saudi monarchy, have plunged the entire Middle East into chaos and bloodshed—from the destruction of Iraq, to the transformation of Libya into a militia-ravaged "failed state," to the ongoing carnage inflicted upon Syria ... This predatory imperialist offensive threatens to ignite a region-wide conflagration, even as Washington deliberately ratchets up military tensions with both Russia and China. The threat of these separate conflicts coalescing into a third world war grows by the day."

- Bill Van Auken, Obama's criminal war against Yemen, World Socialist web Site
"Will the reactionary rulers of Saudi Arabia manage to break the legitimate hopes and enthusiastic dreams burning in the hearts of thousands of young people of the Arabian Peninsula? Never!"

- Gamal Abd al-Nasser, President of Egypt 1956 to 1970

Comment: Yet again we see the U.S. exporting freedom and democracy Western style: destroying a country's infrastructure and killing many innocents who want nothing more than to just live peaceably and off of the yoke of U.S. subjugation and dictates.


Airstrikes 'not the answer': Iran proposes peace plan for Yemen

© Reuters/Faisal Al Nasser
A Saudi artillery unit fires shells towards Houthi positions from the Saudi border with Yemen April 13, 2015.
Iran has proposed a peaceful solution to the crisis in Yemen, calling for a ceasefire on the ground and the end of airstrikes by Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi rebels - Tehran's allies. The plan is expected to be submitted to the UN on Wednesday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said that the peace plan involves a truce, humanitarian aid, dialogue between the factions of the Yemeni conflict and "a broad-based government, friendly to all its neighbors."

"This issue should be resolved by the Yemenis. Iran and Saudi Arabia need to talk but we cannot talk to determine the future of Yemen," Zarif said at a news conference in Madrid on Tuesday.

The foreign minister stressed that "all operations should end on land and from the air," Reuters reported.

Iran is not seeking dominance in Yemen, while Saudi-led air strikes "are simply not the answer" as they are exacerbating the problem, Zarif added.

"Everyone in Yemen carries two weapons. Whoever has the aspiration of controlling this country doesn't know Yemen," Zarif said, reported the Wall Street Journal.

According to the foreign minister, the US and its allies in Europe should not insist on preconditions before diplomatic talks take place in Yemen if they do not want to deepen the crisis.

Comment: With Saudi Arabia signing up Egypt for a 'major military manoeuvre' the crisis in Yemen is escalating rapidly, despite the efforts of Russia and now Iran for a peaceful resolution.

For more geopolitical 'dot-connecting' on recent developments in Iran and Yemen and beyond, listen to: Behind the headlines: Iranian nuclear power - Whats the big deal?

Eye 2

Sinking Minsk-2 - the family war business must go on

© Getty Images
Prominent neoconservative Robert Kagan
Victoria Nuland and Robert Kagan have a great mom-and-pop business going. From the State Department, she generates wars and - from op-ed pages - he demands Congress buy more weapons. There's a pay-off, too, as grateful military contractors kick in money to think tanks where other Kagans work, writes Robert Parry.

Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia - and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats.

This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks.

Not only does the broader community of neoconservatives stand to benefit but so do other members of the Kagan clan, including Robert's brother Frederick at the American Enterprise Institute and his wife Kimberly, who runs her own shop called the Institute for the Study of War.

Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution (which doesn't disclose details on its funders), used his prized perch on the Washington Post's op-ed page on Friday to bait Republicans into abandoning the sequester caps limiting the Pentagon's budget, which he calculated at about $523 billion (apparently not counting extra war spending). Kagan called on the GOP legislators to add at least $38 billion and preferably more like $54 billion to $117 billion:


Need more killing: Saudi Arabia signs up Egypt for 'major military maneuver'

© Reuters / Faisal Al Nasser
Saudi army artillery fire shells towards Houthi positions from the Saudi border with Yemen April 13, 2015.
Riyadh continues to strengthen ties with powerful regional armies amid an ongoing air campaign against Houthi fighters in Yemen. It has signed up Egypt for a joint planning of a "major military maneuver" with other Gulf states in Saudi Arabia.

During the visit of the Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Cairo to discuss military campaign in Yemen, both countries agreed to form a joint military committee to discuss the "implementation of a major strategic maneuver in the territory of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia", the Egyptian President's office said in a statement. The statement gave no further details on the planned military exercise.

Comment: This new war in Yemen is quickly escalating. Probably much to the delight of Israel and the US.

Star of David

Netanyahu whines after Putin briefs him on defensive weapons concept

© RIA Novosti / Pavel Lisitsyn
Following Russia's decision to lift a ban on supplying S-300 missile systems to Iran, the Israeli PM has called President Putin to express his "grave concerns" - and received a detailed explanation of defensive weapons and the logic behind Moscow's move.

According to a statement released by the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin "gave a detailed explanation of the logic behind Russia's decision...emphasizing the fact that the tactical and technical specifications of the S-300 system make it a purely defensive weapon; therefore, it would not pose any threat to the security of Israel or other countries in the Middle East."

The assurances do not appear to have had the desired effect. In a statement released by his office, the Israeli PM expressed "grave concerns regarding the decision," and told Russia's president that this step "will only encourage Iranian aggression in the region and further undermine the stability of the Middle East."

Comment: It actually undermines Israel's aggression in the region.

Comment: Putin had to move quickly because the US Congress is 'doing its job' finding ways to scrap the Iranian deal.