Puppet Masters


'Quiet & without revolutions': Belarus' Lukashenko wins re-election in landslide victory

© Maksim Gucheck / RIA Novosti
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko
Belarus's longtime leader, Aleksandr Lukashenko, won a landslide victory in Sunday's presidential elections, taking over 80 percent of the vote, the Central Election Commission said.

The incumbent president received 83.49 percent of the vote with an election turnout of 87.2 percent. The highest turnout rate of 91 percent was registered in Vitsebsk region, located just north of Minsk, the Belarusian capital. The lowest turnout, on the other hand, was posted in Minsk.

These numbers do not include the votes of citizens who voted from abroad. The official final figures will be available on Friday, October 16.

Lukashenko visited one of the polling stations with his son and cast his ballot in a box.

"You know very well my position and I am not going to deviate from my main principle, and it's not just mine. Many have such a main principle for governing - everything should be quiet and without revolutions," he said.

He also said that he is ready to improve relations with the West, but only if the West wishes for this too.

"I don't think our elections, and not only the elections, can bring an improvement in our relations with the West. They will happen only when the West wants this itself," the president said.

He also said that Russia will remain Belarus' main partner. "Russia has always been with us economically and politically, they are not just our friend but our brothers, whether anyone likes it or not."

Comment: Putin appears to have a steady friend in Mr. Lukashenko. Lukashenko holds the welfare of his country to heart, as Putin does Russia, effecting many positive changes for his countrymen.


Russian anti-terror forces foil plot for attack in Moscow

© Julia Chestnova / RIA Novosti
A group of people who were plotting a terrorist attack in the Russian capital have been detained, Russia's National Anti-Terrorism Committee said on Sunday, adding that an improvised explosive device had been found and defused.

The perpetrators were arrested in an apartment in central Moscow, the National Anti-Terrorist Committee said in a press release.

The operation was carried out as part of a series of criminal investigations resulting in the arrest of an unspecified number of people.

"In the flat, where the gunmen were hiding out, a self-made explosive device has been found and defused," said Andrey Chatskiy, spokesman for the National Anti-Terrorism Committee's information center.

Stock Down

Another nail in the dollar coffin - China launches global yuan payment system

© Lee Jae-Won / Reuters
China's Central Bank has started a global payment system which provides cross-border transactions in yuan. The China International Payment System (CIPS) intends to internationalize the yuan and challenge the US dollar's dominance.

"The establishment of CIPS is an important milestone in yuan internationalization, providing the infrastructure that will connect global yuan users through one single system," Helen Wong, greater China chief executive at HSBC, was cited as saying by the Financial Times.

CIPS will accept payments in cross-border trade, direct investments, financing and personal remittances. The system is open for operations 11 hours a day. The first CIPS transaction was completed by Standard Chartered Bank for Sweden's IKEA.

Nineteen banks have been authorized to use CIPS; eight of them are Chinese subsidiaries of foreign banks, including Citi, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and ANZ.

Comment: Slowly but surely, the dollar will lose its primacy in the world economic system. It is inevitable when a country relies entirely on military adventures to prop up its economy.


Russian buildup in Syria leaves US flat-footed

© www.expressnews.com
Smoke rises after airstrikes in Kafr Nabel of Syria's Idlib province.
  • US admits disconnect amongst intelligence, policy and operations--CIA declines comment
  • Obama slow to recognize and respond to signs of trouble
  • US claims failure to read implications of Russian air strikes on ISIS locations
Among the first clues that Russia was mobilizing for a military offensive in Syria were requests Moscow began making in ­mid-August for permission to cross other countries' territory with more and larger aircraft.

"We were getting the word the Russians were asking for inordinate overflights," a senior Obama administration official said, referring to reports from U.S. allies receiving the requests. Russia was seeking clearance for not only cargo planes but also "fighter aircraft and bombers" that Syrian pilots had never been trained to fly, the official said. "It was clear that something pretty big was up."

But despite that early suspicion — which only intensified as Russia then deployed fighter jets and teams of military advisers — the United States seemed to be caught flat-footed by the barrage of airstrikes that Moscow launched last week.

Comment: Yes, the US was caught flat-footed, in fact it recoiled for days. Why? Hubris, underestimation, out-foxed, out-played, shock and gobsmackery. For the US administration, it is a reality changer. See also:

In one week Russia has destroyed 40% of ISIL's infrastructure

Arrow Up

Intercepted ISIS comms show 'growing panic' after Russian airstrikes - combat report

© Russian Defence Ministry/RIA Novosti
Russian Air Forces have extended the range of their airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Syria to four provinces, focusing primarily on demolishing fortified installations and eliminating supply bases and the terrorists' infrastructure.

Over the last 24 hours Russian aircraft have attacked terrorist positions in the Hama, Idlib, Latakia and Raqqa provinces of Syria. In total, 64 sorties targeted 63 Islamic State installations, among them 53 fortified zones, 7 arms depots, 4 training camps and a command post.

The airstrikes were carried out by Sukhoi Su24M and Su-34 bombers and Su-25SM assault aircraft, with Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets ensuring air escort for the assault groups.


MH17 final report leaked: Moscow appeals to UN aviation agency to intervene into probe

© Maxim Zmeyev / Reuters
Russia has appealed to the head of the UN aviation agency to intervene in the investigation into the MH17 crash in Ukraine to prevent the Dutch experts in charge from ignoring the findings of their Russian counterparts, according to a new media report.

The Deputy Chief of Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency, Oleg Storchevoy, sent a letter to Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, the head of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), after becoming acquainted with a draft of the final report by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB), which is heading the probe. This was revealed by Malaysian newspaper the New Straits Times on Sunday.

The letter, received by the ICAO on September 16, states that the DSB ignored "comprehensive information" provided by the Russian side and relating to the downing of the Boeing 777 over war-torn Eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, the media report said. In the letter, Storchevoy said that, in conducting its investigation, the DSB had violated the principle of "sequence of conclusions," one of the most fundamental rules when conducting probes into air crashes.

Comment: We should see this report soon and it will most likely expose the ineptness of the Dutch investigative team and how the report matches the West's narrative to blame Russia and E. Ukraine. Can the UN aviation agency make any difference? Its statements could certainly thwart the next move the West wants to make: set up a Lockerbie-style tribunal with UN approval:

Sott Exclusive: Dutch government pursuing Lockerbie-style tribunal to prosecute Russia for MH17

Mr. Potato

Total idiot: Defense adviser says 'Don't chase Putin out of Syria - let him fall on his own'

Comment: This is a great example of the pathological thinking typical among American authoritarians: arrogant, ideological, and totally divorced from objective reality. It's no wonder the American empire is breathing its dying breaths.

© AP Photo/Alexander Kots, Komsomolskaya Pravda
Putin is no chess master. He overstretched and misstepped in Syria, and U.S. would be wiser to wait him out than chase him out.

With each Russian escalatory step in Syria, the situation only seems to get worse. Critics pile on, citing it as an example of President Barack Obama's "failed" foreign policy, calling for Obama to "do something" — confront Moscow, punish it for its reckless behavior, reassert leadership. But what would that something be?

Across the political spectrum, there are calls for a more muscular U.S. approach in Syria. Some are talking of proxy battles, while others are calling it a new Cold War and declaring a need to act tough to restore American credibility. But before the U.S. tumbles into something, it's worth taking a step back and asking what Russian President Vladimir Putin aims to get out of this, and whether, if measured by his own goals, this brazen military intervention will work. I think the answer is no - which should guide how the U.S. should respond.

War Whore

North American Union rumors persist: US and Canadian officials discussed a military merger

Ever since the plans for the Trans-Texas Corridor (AKA NAFTA Superhighway) were canceled by the Federal Government and the Texas State Legislature, the theories surrounding the North American Union have largely fallen out of public's awareness. However, every now and then a story will emerge that suggests that the governments of North America are still quietly conspiring to unite Canada, Mexico, and the US into a superstate, much like the European Union.

The latest revelation of this plan comes from Canada, where it's been revealed that Chief of the Defence, Staff Gen. Tom Lawson and the former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, once discussed a plan to fully integrate the militaries of the US and Canada. On the surface this doesn't sound too surprising, since these forces have been frequently deployed together overseas in recent years. And under NORAD, the Air Forces of both nations are already operating under the same command structure for the most part.

Stock Down

Is Monsanto's own excitement about GMOs backfiring?

© grist.com
Pity Monsanto, the genetically modified seed and agrichemical giant. Its share price has plunged 25 percent since the spring. Market prices for corn and soybeans are in the dumps, meaning Monsanto's main customers—farmers who specialize in those crops—have less money to spend on its pricey seeds and flagship herbicide (which recently got named a "probable carcinogen" by the World Health organization, spurring lawsuits).

Monsanto's long, noisy attempt to buy up rival pesticide giant Syngenta crumbled into dust last month. And Wednesday, Monsanto reported quarterly revenues and profits that sharply underperformed Wall Street expectations. For good measure, it also sharply lowered its profit projections for the year ahead.

Comment: Looks like 'A new wave of bad press' for Monsanto! Hopefully the biotech giant will crash and burn!


Guess who's responsible for the 21st century's six most destructive 'interventions'?

On October 2 President Barack Obama, alluding to Russia's decision to launch air strikes in Syria, told reporters at the White House that for Russia to view the forces targeted "from the perspective they're all terrorists [is] a recipe for disaster, and it's one that I reject."

In other words, he was saying that Moscow is not (as it claims) really focusing on ISIL and the al-Nusra Front but on the anti-regime opposition in general, which supposedly includes "moderates."

Never mind that Obama himself as well as Joseph Biden have on occasion pooh-poohed the existence of a moderate armed opposition that controls territory in Syria. Didn't Biden say last year at Harvard that "there was no moderate middle [in Syria] because the moderate middle are made up of shop-keepers, not soldiers"?

Comment: Conclusion: Its no accident that US intervention always makes the situation far worse than better in a given country.