Puppet Masters

Piggy Bank

One in five eurozone banks flunks in ECB financial health test

eurozone banks
© AFP Photo/Philippe Huguen
Twenty-five eurozone banks out of a total 130 fail a new financial health check by the European Central Bank, figures show
Nearly one in five eurozone banks is still on shaky financial foundations, the ECB said Sunday after a crunch audit aimed at preventing a repeat of the crisis that nearly led to the euro's collapse. Related Stories

The European Central Bank's financial health check has become more pressing in recent weeks as the eurozone is seen to again be tottering on the edge of recession, with fears of deflation rising and economic growth in its biggest economies stalling.

Even Germany, which had been doing well with exports, is staring down slowing growth on the back of weak investment.

"This unprecedented in-depth review of the largest banks' positions will boost public confidence in the banking sector," said ECB vice president Vitor Constancio, adding that "this should facilitate more lending in Europe, which will help economic growth."

A total 25 of the 130 banks flunked the audit, the ECB said, although none of them were among world leaders.

The worst results were concentrated in Italy, where some nine banks failed, as well as Greece and Cyprus with three each.

The Italian banks included Banca Monte des Paschi -- the country's third biggest -- and Banca Popolare di Milano.
Take 2

Eastern Ukraine becomes a new Gaza thanks to Western intervention

© Unknown
Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko, current president of the Ukraine coup government
Western media has eased off its heavy coverage of the Ukraine conflict, and for a good reason. The West's new democracy protégé, President Poroshenko's coup-miester government has continued combat operations against Donetsk non-stop, while using the so-called ceasefire to refurbish his chewed up army.

The sanctions against Russia have gotten a lot of media play, as has the gas pipeline issue where Ukraine has kind of agreed to pay but doesn't really want to. Yatsenyuk was hoping that the West could use the sanctions pressure to get Moscow to ease off the "pay me now" demands. The good news is the EU is now trying to pull a lending consortium together to guarantee Ukraine's gas debt and get the gas flowing west once again in time for winter.

That is one reason Russia is not objecting too much to the continued shelling violations of the ceasefire. The EU is dangling some sanctions relief, possibly, with a successful permanent ceasefire agreement, and of course the EU will define what successful is.

When it comes to categorizing the horrors visited upon Ukrainian separatist regions by Kiev's military, you have to go to alternative media. Your average Westerner who has followed some of the war will know little about the evidence coming out about execution graves filled with POWs with their hands tied. And there is basically zero coverage on another item -- the Republics "missing in action" fighters, who are probably in graves that will never be found.

But some things cannot be hidden, like the nuclear-capable Tochka (SS-21) short-range ballistic missile, which miraculously struck a chemical plant in Donetsk on Tuesday, going off like an A-bomb. From the photos we have seen at VT, it was similar to a mini-nuke, but we would need a good video to view frame by frame to look for the telltale signs.

Putin: There are reports that a number of world leaders are getting undisguisedly blackmailed

© RIA Novosti. Mikhail Klimentiev
24 October 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) at the wrap-up session of the 11th Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi.
Some of the world leaders could be blackmailed, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday at the Valdai Discussion Club meeting in Sochi.

"There are reports that a number of world leaders are getting undisguisedly blackmailed. It is not without reason that the 'Big Brother' is spending billions of dollars on surveillance around the world, including on their closest allies," Putin said.

Putin questioned the justice of such situation.
Mr. Potato

Lavrov says was not contacted during Swedish submarine hunt, sub could be a 'log'

© AP Photo/ TT News Agency, Fredrik Sandberg
The Swedish minesweeper HMS Kullen, left, and a guard boat in Namdo Bay, Sweden,Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 on their fifth day of searching for a suspected foreign vessel in the Stockholm archipelago.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday Sweden had not contacted Russia during its week-long hunt for a foreign submarine that allegedly got into trouble in the waters off Stockholm.

Lavrov, who appeared on the Vesti v Subbotu (Vesti on Saturday) show, was asked whether Oslo had contacted Moscow via diplomatic channels following the initial reports, to which he responded with a "no".

The Russian foreign minister said he was surprised by the media hype around the purported distress signal that Sweden had intercepted in its waters.

"Allegations pointing to a Russian submarine came from mass media. Swedish authorities never supported them officially," Lavrov noted.

Comment: See also:

Using the Swedes to tar the Russians: The submarine farce continues


Putin's keynote speech at the Valdai Club

The Valdai Discussion Club was established in 2004. It was named after Lake Valdai, which is located close to Veliky Novgorod, where the club's first meeting took place. The club's goal is to promote dialogue between Russian and international intellectual elite, and to make an independent,unbiased scientific analysis of political, economic and social events in Russia and the rest of the world. 

Full Transcript:

Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, friends, it is a pleasure to welcome you to the XI meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

It was mentioned already that the club has new co-organisers this year. They include Russian non-governmental organisations, expert groups and leading universities. The idea was also raised of broadening the discussions to include not just issues related to Russia itself but also global politics and the economy.

I hope that these changes in organisation and content will bolster the club's influence as a leading discussion and expert forum. At the same time, I hope the 'Valdai spirit' will remain - this free and open atmosphere and chance to express all manner of very different and frank opinions.

Let me say in this respect that I will also not let you down and will speak directly and frankly. Some of what I say might seem a bit too harsh, but if we do not speak directly and honestly about what we really think, then there is little point in even meeting in this way. It would be better in that case just to keep to diplomatic get-togethers, where no one says anything of real sense and, recalling the words of one famous diplomat, you realise that diplomats have tongues so as not to speak the truth.

We get together for other reasons. We get together so as to talk frankly with each other. We need to be direct and blunt today not so as to trade barbs, but so as to attempt to get to the bottom of what is actually happening in the world, try to understand why the world is becoming less safe and more unpredictable, and why the risks are increasing everywhere around us.

Today's discussion took place under the theme: New Rules or a Game without Rules. I think that this formula accurately describes the historic turning point we have reached today and the choice we all face. There is nothing new of course in the idea that the world is changing very fast. I know this is something you have spoken about at the discussions today. It is certainly hard not to notice the dramatic transformations in global politics and the economy, public life, and in industry, information and social technologies.

Let me ask you right now to forgive me if I end up repeating what some of the discussion's participants have already said. It's practically impossible to avoid. You have already held detailed discussions, but I will set out my point of view. It will coincide with other participants' views on some points and differ on others.

As we analyse today's situation, let us not forget history's lessons. First of all, changes in the world order - and what we are seeing today are events on this scale - have usually been accompanied by if not global war and conflict, then by chains of intensive local-level conflicts. Second, global politics is above all about economic leadership, issues of war and peace, and the humanitarian dimension, including human rights.

The world is full of contradictions today. We need to be frank in asking each other if we have a reliable safety net in place. Sadly, there is no guarantee and no certainty that the current system of global and regional security is able to protect us from upheavals. This system has become seriously weakened, fragmented and deformed. The international and regional political, economic, and cultural cooperation organisations are also going through difficult times.

Yes, many of the mechanisms we have for ensuring the world order were created quite a long time ago now, including and above all in the period immediately following World War II. Let me stress that the solidity of the system created back then rested not only on the balance of power and the rights of the victor countries, but on the fact that this system's 'founding fathers' had respect for each other, did not try to put the squeeze on others, but attempted to reach agreements.
Eye 2

Washington Post beats the war drums for widening US attack on Syria and overthrowing Assad

Two articles in Friday's Washington Post reporting chemical weapons attacks in Iraq and Syria are part of a general propaganda campaign by the mainstream media to turn the operation against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) into a war to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

A front-page article headlined "Jihadist launched chemical assault" reports that ISIS forces deployed chlorine gas in an attack last month against Sunni police officers in the Iraqi city of Duluiyah, approximately 60 miles north of Baghdad. The officers reported being overcome by a cloud of yellow gas which hung low to the ground, consistent with chlorine gas. The attack reportedly sickened at least 11 officers who were taken to a nearby hospital and treated with oxygen and anti-inflammatory medication for shortness of breath.

According to the Iraq Defense Ministry, ISIS has obtained significant quantities chlorine from water treatment facilities where the chemical is used to chlorinate water to prevent the spread of water-borne disease. Improvised chlorine bombs were used previously by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor of ISIS, at the height of the Sunni insurgency against the US occupation in 2006 and 2007.

There have been other reports in recent weeks of the use of chlorine gas by ISIS in Iraq. According to soldiers who managed to escape an ISIS attack last month on the Saqlawiyah military base in Anbar Province, chlorine gas was deployed as part of the brutal assault which killed approximately 370 soldiers. ISIS fighters reportedly fired chlorine gas canisters into the base.

Comment: Forget the fact that the US military used chemical weapons against civilians in Fallujah, Iraq to terrible effect. Forget that the US-installed junta in Kiev used white phosphorous on civilians in Eastern Ukraine. And forget that the US-armed IDF has dropped white phosphorous on innocents in Gaza. Now the US humanitarian 'red line' says that Syria mustn't use chemical weapons even if it doesn't have them and it's been shown that the government of Bashar al-Assad never used them even when it did have them. How do you like them apples?!? It's WMD redux.

Further, if you think that the study mentioned in the article from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), and their cronies at the Washington Post aren't coordinating their propaganda lies with the White House's plans for war, and if you think that the White House didn't already plan to use their attack on ISIS to set the stage for attacking the democratically elected government of Assad, we have a very nice bridge that we'd like to sell you.

Lastly, it will be interesting to see what steps Russia take as soon as it becomes more clear that the aggression is being aimed at the Assad government. So far there has been the sporadic destruction of infrastructure that was supposedly in proximity to ISIS, but the psychopaths in Washington will not be able to restrain themselves for much longer. They can't. They've got a serious death wish and, as we know, Russia has already shown that it would not allow the US to attack Assad in September 2013.

Hang on to your hats folks! Between what is occurring now in both Syria and Ukraine the wholesale carnage level is about to jump up a notch or three.

Eye 1

FATCA: More Americans renounce citizenship - 2014 on pace for a record

© Iphoto
Significant numbers of people are continuing to renounce their U.S. citizenship or end their long-term U.S. residency.

There are 776 names on the Treasury Department list published Friday for the third quarter of 2014.

That's the third highest quarterly figure ever, according to Andrew Mitchel, an international tax lawyer in Centerbrook, Conn., who tracks the data. The total number of published renouncers so far in 2014 is 2,353, putting this year on pace to exceed last year's record total of 2,999, adds Mr. Mitchel.

The Treasury Department is required by law to publish a list of the names of people who renounce quarterly. The list doesn't indicate when people did so or why. It also doesn't distinguish between people giving up passports and those turning in green cards, or indicate what other nationality the individuals hold.

Experts say that the growing number of renunciations by U.S. citizens and permanent residents is linked to a five-year enforcement campaign against U.S. taxpayers who have undeclared offshore accounts. The campaign began after Swiss banking giant UBS admitted in 2009 that it had systematically encouraged U.S. taxpayers to hide assets in secret Swiss accounts.

About 100 other Swiss financial institutions are currently in a U.S. Justice Department program designed to uncover other secret accounts. Recently, attorneys representing 73 of them protested that the terms of the program were too harsh.

Comment: FATCA effectively forces foreign governments to act as a tentacle of the global pathocracy:
"It's no secret that several U.S. intel agencies (and the IRS of course) collect data on virtually every aspect of U.S. citizens' lives. The global reach of the NSA notwithstanding, it seems that the Obama administration is using financial terrorism to force foreign governments and financial institutions to become branches of the NSA and collect financial data on both U.S. citizens abroad and foreign nationals in their own country, while protecting US politicians and their corporate cronies who, generally speaking, pay no tax at all."

FATCA what? How to fight the war on tax evasion, one American at a time
See also:

These anti-FATCA countries are giving the US the middle finger

Bad Guys

Analyst: World paying for US military adventures

US Empire
© Duncan Long
The whole world is paying a high price for the US military adventurism across the global, says Dirk Adriaensens, author and journalist from Belgium.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is "totally correct" in saying that the United States is undermining the global security, Adriaensens told Press TV on Saturday.

In a speech to a group of political scholars in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday, the Russian president said US foreign policy has made the world a more dangerous place.

Citing the wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria, Putin said the United States was now "fighting against the results of its own policy."

As part of the strategy put forth in 1997 by the Project for New American Century, the United States is attacking, occupying, and intervening in "some fourteen countries," Adriaensens said.

With respect to "the investment in the military and national security," he said, "no other country comes within light years of the United States."

"The defense budgets of the next 30 countries combined are less than the budget of the Pentagon," Adriaensens continued. "They have military bases everywhere."

"Who is flying drones and bomb(ing) people on foreign soils?" he asked. "It's not Vladimir Putin, it's the United States."

Comment: See also:

Telling it like it is: USA has 'shaped the world' according to its interests - Putin

Putin: World is being destroyed by U.S. and its satellites, who pass themselves off as 'the international community'


Wisconsin governor obeys his masters: Denies workers a living wage based solely on corporate study

Under pressure to raise the state's minimum wage, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker confidently declared that there was no need. Low-wage workers had filed a complaint charging that the state's minimum wage -- $7.25 -- did not constitute a "living wage" as mandated by state law. But the Republican governor's administration, after examining the issue, announced on Oct. 6 that it found "no reasonable cause" for the workers' complaint.

That official government finding, according to documents reviewed by the International Business Times, was largely based on information provided by the state's restaurant industry -- which represents major low-wage employers including fast-food companies.

The Raise Wisconsin campaign, which is pushing for a higher minimum wage, requested all documents on which the state based the "living wage" ruling. And the only economic analysis that the administration released in response was one from the Wisconsin Restaurant Association -- a group that lobbies against minimum wage increases, and whose website says it is includes low-wage employers such as "fast food outlets" and "corporate chain restaurants." The restaurant association's study argued that a minimum wage increase would harm the state. It did not actually address whether workers can survive on the $7.25 minimum wage.

Comment: The governor knows who fills the coffers of his campaign fund, and is following the dictates of his corporate masters. And, like most psychopaths, he considers the rest of humanity to be little more than useless eaters.

The real welfare queens: Low wage employers shift labor costs to taxpayers by impoverishing employees

A whistleblower's tale of the new minimum wage economy

Dollar Gold

What financial journalism won't ask and central banks won't answer

Chris Powell Secretary/Treasurer - GATA
For many years this conference [New Orleans Investment Conference] has bravely invited GATA Chairman Bill Murphy and me to speak here about the evidence of manipulation of the gold market, particularly manipulation undertaken directly or indirectly by central banks, and every year there has been new documentation to report. This documentation has been compiled at GATA's Internet site, GATA.org, whose home page you can see here --


-- with the "Documentation" section noted at the top left, along with a section called "The Basics," which summarizes the documentation as well as the purposes and history of central bank policy of suppressing the price of gold, gold being a currency that competes with government currencies.

The last two months have brought confirmation that, as we long have suspected, GATA has outlined only a small part of the surreptitious market manipulation being undertaken by central banks -- that this manipulation is actually comprehensive, that it covers nearly every major market in the world.

This confirmation is largely the work of Eric Scott Hunsader, founder of the market data and research company Nanex in Winnetka, Illinois, who publicized, through the Zero Hedge Internet site, documents recently filed with the U.S. government, two of them with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and one with the Securities and Exchange Commission.