Puppet Masters

Gold Seal

The new great game between the US and China: Will chess, not battleships, be the game of the future in Eurasia?

© Flickr/thierry ehrmann
A portrait of Chinese president Xi Jinping
The U.S. is transfixed by its multibillion-dollar electoral circus. The European Union is paralyzed by austerity, fear of refugees, and now all-out jihad in the streets of Paris. So the West might be excused if it's barely caught the echoes of a Chinese version of Roy Orbison's "All I Have to Do Is Dream." And that new Chinese dream even comes with a road map.

The crooner is President Xi Jinping and that road map is the ambitious, recently unveiled 13th Five-Year-Plan, or in the pop-video version, the Shisanwu. After years of explosive economic expansion, it sanctifies the country's lower "new normal" gross domestic product growth rate of 6.5% a year through at least 2020.

It also sanctifies an updated economic formula for the country: out with a model based on low-wage manufacturing of export goods and in with the shock of the new, namely, a Chinese version of the third industrial revolution. And while China's leadership is focused on creating a middle-class future powered by a consumer economy, its president is telling whoever is willing to listen that, despite the fears of the Obama administration and of some of the country's neighbors, there's no reason for war ever to be on the agenda for the U.S. and China.

Given the alarm in Washington about what is touted as a Beijing quietly pursuing expansionism in the South China Sea, Xi has been remarkably blunt on the subject of late. Neither Beijing nor Washington, he insists, should be caught in the Thucydides trap, the belief that a rising power and the ruling imperial power of the planet are condemned to go to war with each other sooner or later.

Eye 2

Israel to revoke work permits of Palestinians who have family fighting against Israeli oppression

© 24.ae
Israel will revoke the work permits of "terrorist" Palestinians' family members, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu said, adding that Israel will resort to harsher measures to stop the ongoing wave of violence.

"A family knows that it has in its midst someone who is extreme or someone liable to attack, and a family like that does not have the right to work in Israel," Netanyahu said during his visit to the Gush Etzion Junction, which has witnessed a number of attacks in recent weeks, Israeli media network Arutz Sheva reported.

The Prime Minister said that Israel will resort to harsh new measures to curb the ongoing Palestinian uprising. "We need to carry out additional actions to counter what [threats] do exist," Netanyahu said.

"There are no restrictions on the activities of the IDF and the security forces; on the contrary - there's full support, and this is important. There are no limits to our offensive," he added.

Comment: The Israeli government is like most criminal organizations. They know that they can hurt someone even more if they go after their family. It's ludicrous for any government to punish someone who isn't involved in violence because they are related to someone who is. The Israelis have lost all sense of whatever little bit of decency they had and now are functioning much like a Mafia, except they are much more dangerous due to the support from the US Empire.


Nanny State: Australia to stop giving childcare benefits to parents who don't vaccinate their children

© Shannon Stapleton / Reuters
Parents who don't immunize their kids will stop receiving childcare benefits next year in Australia. Only people with solid medical reasons will be exempt from the crackdown.

The new "no jab, no pay" rules are expected to save more than AUS$500 million (US$350 million) over four years. The changes take effect on January 1, 2016 after legislation passed the Senate on Monday, with the backing of Labor, the Greens and crossbench senators.

According to the Department of Health, the percentage of children under seven years old with a conscientious objection recorded on the Australian Childhood Immunization Register (ACIR) rose from 0.23 per cent in December 1999 to 1.77 per cent in December 2014.

The government believes that removing non-medical exemptions will "reinforce the importance of immunisation and protecting public health" and that "the choice made by families not to immunise their children is not supported by public policy or medical research nor should such action be supported by taxpayers in the form of child care payments."

Comment: Whether a parent chooses to immunize their child or not should not be up to the government. This is not about saving money, but forcing people to inject their children with unproven and often poisonous chemicals. Governments should worry about running their country, not the lives of the people who live in their country.


Desperate times: Ukraine suspends cargo traffic from leaving or entering Crimea

© Maks Vetrov / Sputnik
The Ukrainian government has suspended the movement of cargo between Crimea and Ukraine, citing an initiative put forward by PM Arseny Yatsenyuk. The suspension will be active until a list of goods allowed to be delivered to the peninsula is compiled.

The decision was preceded by a request from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday which wanted to look into the possibility of a temporary "termination of road and railroad freight transport communication with Crimea in both directions".

Within a matter of hours, the ban on cargo transport exchange was approved by the Ukrainian cabinet. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk proposed that a list of goods and services which could be supplied to Crimea be worked out.

"So that this list corresponds with Ukrainian interests, first of all I propose to engage the Mejlis [highest executive-representative body]of the Crimean Tatar People to make sure that the decision will take the interests of our fraternal Crimean Tatar people into account," the Prime Minister said in a statement.

Георгиевская ленточка

Italian media praises Putin's courageous anti-ISIS strategy

Last week saw an about-turn in the attitude of Western leaders towards Russian President Putin, which has been reflected by the Western mass media, mostly as a consequence of the G20 meeting in Antalya. Here are just several quotes from the Italian media praising Russia's leader and his policies, mostly towards battling ISIL.

Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera:

"Sour Russian-American smiles needed to be transformed into real cooperation, both politically and militarily. Turkey must be mandated to launch anti-ISIL, and not anti-Kurdish operations, as it is now currently undertaking.

ISIL is intensifying its mass killing campaign with the only purpose being to draw us into a ground operation out of revenge.

It is a trap known only too well to everyone: for each "crusade" there will be a response in the form of a "holy war", it will be a global conflict and the internal western fronts will eventually collapse.


If you disagree, you must die: U.S. complicity in worldwide suffering

About 19 months ago I started to wonder, "What is wrong with my countrymen?" When America's and Britain's leadership decided to try and trash Russia's Sochi Olympics, I figured our leadership had sunk to a new low. Since then my thinking has been proven wrong, our leaders are hired killers devoid of any sense of honor whatsoever. Evidence of their complicity in worldwide suffering floats to the top of the new media cesspool every day. The most recent case is Barack Obama's unforgivable breech of etiquette and conscience over the downed Russian airliner over Egypt. Simple disdain cannot cover the depth of pain and suffering world leadership now conveys, but I will try.

The western media is sometimes forced to let us know bits and pieces of what is really going on in the world. The gentle uproar we heard when the United States attacked a field hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan proved that the corporations that control your news do not have complete control of your mind yet. I guess knowing the story would get out via MSF's president Dr. Liu and a hundred or more caring doctors who staff the organization prompted the Rupert Murdochs of the world to release the reins on news, if only for a moment. Why even the White House press office was forced to post a statement from Obama, which I quote below:
"President Obama spoke today by phone with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) International President Dr. Joanne Liu to apologize and express his condolences for the MSF staff and patients who were killed and injured when a U.S. military airstrike mistakenly struck an MSF field hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. During the call, President Obama expressed regret over the tragic incident and offered his thoughts and prayers on behalf of the American people to the victims, their families, and loved ones. Acknowledging the great respect he has for the important and lifesaving work that MSF does for vulnerable communities in Afghanistan and around the world, the President assured Dr. Liu of his expectation that the Department of Defense investigation currently underway would provide a transparent, thorough, and objective accounting of the facts and circumstances of the incident and pledged full cooperation with the joint investigations being conducted with NATO and the Afghan Government."
I feel the need to punch somebody in the nose. Sorry, but this statement does not begin to address the utter savagery of this attack on defenseless human beings. Folks! Listen to me please. This hospital was not hit by some malfunctioning bomb. There was no idiot pilot in error. A US military madman was not responsible, nor was there any real mistake in identifying the target - THESE PEOPLE WERE BLOWN TO BITS THEN STRAFED! Get it, shot to pieces effectively and efficiently. I quote now Dr. Liu's and her colleagues' statements on the nature of the killing.


Iraq seizes US-led coalition planes along with arms cargoes

© en.farsnews.com
Coalition planes and cargo given a pass on illegal entry.
The Iraqi security forces have seized 2 German planes at Baghdad Airport that were carrying weapons to the Kurdistan region illegally and without prior information and permission of the central government in Baghdad. The captured planes were carrying arms worth $5 million to the city of Erbil in Kurdistan region without prior coordination or information of Baghdad, the Kurdish-language Kurd Press news agency reported on Saturday.

Earlier this month, the Iraqi defense ministry announced in a statement that two Canadian and Swedish planes which had also been carrying arms to the Kurdistan region illegally were seized and later returned to their bases in Kuwait and Turkey after unloading their cargoes in Baghdad. According to the statement, "Upon the order of the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces and after several days of confiscation, the two planes were allowed to leave Baghdad international airport with all their cargos to their bases in Kuwait and Turkey".

Comment: "Return to Sender" (much less than even a slap on the wrist)

Also in November, the Iraqi government had announced that it had seized two planes of the US-led anti-ISIL coalition member states that were carrying weapons to the Kurdistan Region without prior coordination or information of Baghdad. "The inspection committee in Baghdad International Airport has found a huge number of rifles equipped with silencers, as well as light and mid-sized weapons," Head of the Iraqi Parliament's Security and Defense Commission Hakem al-Zameli said. He noted that two Swedish and Canadian airplanes were going to fly to Iraq's Kurdistan region, but they were seized after arms cargos were discovered.

Comment: No paperwork, permissions, or legal entry. Above the law, no matter where or when...a handy mantra of imperialism practiced often.

Gold Seal

Putin destroying ISIS: The jury is out and the G20 shudders at the verdict

© REUTERS/ Kayhan Ozer/Pool
It was almost imperceptible; most people probably missed the sliver of a smile from Vladimir Putin as he leaned in to talk with American President Barack Obama at the G20 in Antalya.

Not so many noticed either, the "handwriting" gesture from Putin just before the casual meetup in front of cameras ended. It hit me last night like a scene from the Daniel Craig film Spectre, "the writing's on the wall," Putin had won. ISIL will soon be over. We still have a chance for world peace.

When ISIL terrorists slaughtered those innocents in Paris the other day, the extremists essentially beheaded themselves. The message has just not reached their feet I guess. Key to the power play in Cold War II, France and Germany had already bucked the traces of an Obama-Cameron led policy war on Russia. Mr. Hollande and Mrs. Merkel had already orchestrated Minsk II remember, and the Americans and Brits simply did not like that game.

Do you recall independent media chiming in on the EU-America disconnect coming? Well, it arrived via a horrid and ghastly event. The French people marching through the tunnels of the Stade de France singing their national anthem, even knowing another bomb could go off any second, this was a stunning reminder of how tough those people really are. Courage, dignity, Russian or French, Syrian or Kenyan, its face is unmistakable.


Big Pharma becomes behemoth in the biggest tax evasion scheme of its kind

© Chris Potter/flickr/cc
The so-called "corporate inversion" would allow Pfizer to profit from a lower corporate tax rate in Allergan's home country of Ireland.
Mega-merger between pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Allergan could lead to higher drug prices, watchdogs warn.

Big Pharma just became Huge Pharma.

Creating the world's largest drugmaker—and paving the way for higher pharmaceutical prices—Viagra-maker Pfizer Inc. and Allergan PLC, which manufactures Botox, said Monday that they would merge in a so-called inversion deal worth up to about $155 billion.

The takeover "would be the largest inversion ever," according to the Wall Street Journal, allowing Pfizer to profit from a lower corporate tax rate in Allergan's home country of Ireland.

The LA Times reported that the deal "is likely to fuel critics' concerns that consumers would pay even more for drugs as competition declines among manufacturers, insurers and retailers."


French Finance Minister says Europe needs access to SWIFT payments data to combat militants

© Reuters/Charles Platiau
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin
European authorities need to be able to tap into data from the SWIFT bank payments network under a push to clamp down on the financing of militant groups, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on Monday.

Sapin said SWIFT - the world's biggest electronic payments system - had two computer servers, one in Europe and the other in the United States. However, Europe currently relied on U.S. authorities to collect and analyze the vast amounts of data flowing through the system to detect security issues.

"We Europeans don't have the capacity to exploit our own data. I don't think this can carry on this way," Sapin told a news conference. "Since we do not have the means to analyze the data located in Europe, we transfer all of this data to the Americans, who have the capacity to analyze it."

Comment: Is this another sign Europe is losing trust in their American ally?