Puppet Masters


Europeans stop Uganda aid after antigay law

© Associated Press
A Ugandan reads a copy of the 'Red Pepper' tabloid newspaper in Kampala, Uganda, Tuesday.
Several European nations said Tuesday they were suspending assistance to Uganda, a day after the country's president signed a law that could see some homosexuals jailed for life.

Norway, Netherlands and Denmark said they would withhold aid to the Ugandan government in protest against the "draconian law."

On first conviction for so-called homosexual acts, offenders face a 14-year prison sentence. Subsequent convictions for "aggravated homosexuality," which include homosexual acts committed by an HIV-positive person, could bring a penalty of life in prison.

An official at the Norwegian embassy in Kampala said that the measure would immediately affect at least $8 million in aid to Uganda's legal system. Norway extends more than $64 million to Uganda every year. The bulk of western aid has been going directly to the Ugandan government, which would then earmark it for spending in different departments - notably, health, education and the military.

Will Obama kill unknown American with secret memo?

© Reuters
Every time you think the war on terror can't get any weirder, it does.

In the latest manifestation, White House officials are leaking to the news media that they are considering whether to use drone strikes to kill an unnamed American in Pakistan. This behavior is bizarre as a matter of national security: If a terrorist really poses an imminent threat, how exactly does the administration have time to test the political waters before taking him out? But it is the inevitable result of a more fundamental, long-term problem with the U.S.'s use of drone strikes. President Barack Obama's administration has kept secret the legal justification for such strikes on Americans, as well as the internal procedures to be followed in making the decision. The secrecy shrouds the drone program in a basic sense of illegitimacy. No wonder the administration feels it can't just kill our enemies, but needs to send up trial balloons first: The whole program is operating under a bad legal conscience.

The backdrop to the current mess is the fundamental problem of secret legal opinions. In 2013, the Justice Department released a "white paper" -- not, it must be noted, a legal term -- vaguely explaining why it believed that it was constitutional and lawful to kill an American abroad if he or she was a "senior operational leader of al-Qaeda."

The white paper offered a kind of sketch or "framework" based on a secret Office of Legal Counsel memorandum that presumably provides the actual legal arguments on which the government relies in making such a momentous decision. But the memorandum itself has never been declassified: We have no idea what it really says, or whether the white paper accurately summarized its reasoning.

Western spy agencies build 'cyber magicians' to manipulate online discourse

© Reuters/Kieran Doherty
Satellite dishes are seen at GCHQ's outpost at Bude, close to where trans-Atlantic fibre-optic cables come ashore in Cornwall, southwest England.
Secret units within the 'Five Eyes" global spying network engage in covert online operations that aim to invade, deceive, and control online communities and individuals through the spread of false information and use of ingenious social-science tactics.

Such teams of highly trained professionals have several main objectives, such as "to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet" and "to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable," The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald reported based on intelligence documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Eye 1

How the CIA recruited Nazis & adopted their propaganda methods

Abby Martin speaks with American University Professor and Author of 'Blowback: The First Full Account of America's Recruitment of Nazis, Chris Simpson, about the cooperation between US intelligence and military agencies and Nazi espionage and propaganda experts in the years following World War II.

Source: RT
Arrow Down

Pentagon's Chuck Hagel plans to downsize U.S. military

Hagel: "American dominance... can no longer be taken for granted"
Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the US Army to its smallest size since before the US entered World War Two. Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to 440,000-450,000 personnel, down from 520,000 currently.

Cold War-era Air Force fleets - the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack jet - will also be retired. The US defence budget remains higher than during most of the Cold War.

'Difficult decisions ahead'

On Monday, Mr Hagel noted the US military had come under pressure to downsize after two costly foreign wars. "This is a time for reality," he said. "This is a budget that recognises the reality of the magnitude of our fiscal challenges."
Cloud Grey

China's naval chief says smog is best defence against U.S. laser weapons

Zhang Zhaozhong's comments on thick smog is best defence against US laser weaponry
Thick smog is the best defence against US laser weapons, a Chinese military chief has declared on national television.

Zhang Zhaozhong, the Navy Major General for the People's Liberation Army drew massive criticism when he made the statement on CCTV's Haixia Liang'an (Cross-Straits) current affairs programme, adding that lasers were "most afraid of smog".

He said: "Under conditions where there is no smog, a laser weapon can fire [at a range of] 10 kilometres. When there's smog, it's only one kilometre. What's the point of making this kind of weapon?

"It only works when the weather is good. The enemy will target you when the weather is bad.

Deutsche Bank to cut U.S. unit's assets by quarter to meet Fed rules

© Thomas Lohnes | Getty Images
Deutsche Bank has for the first time laid out plans to slash its US balance sheet as it seeks to allay concerns over how it would deal with tough new rules imposed by the Federal Reserve on foreign banks.

The lender aims to reduce assets held in its US arm by up to a quarter largely through reassigning some operations to Europe or in Asia. This comes after the Fed confirmed last week that overseas lenders operating in the US would have to ringfence capital in the country to safeguard against future financial crises.

Stefan Krause, Deutsche's chief financial officer, told the Financial Times that the lender was confident it would be able to meet the new capital and leverage requirements imposed on its US arm. He said the balance sheet adjustment should not be seen as a pullback from the bank's US franchise, where the lender is focused on growing its asset and wealth management business as well as battling to regain ground lost to US rivals in its flagship fixed income arm.

"The US continues to be an important market for us. We are very comfortable we will be able to meet the leverage requirements in the US," he said.

Brazil, Europe plan direct undersea cable to bypass U.S. spying

© Reuters/Francois Lenoir
Brazil's President Rousseff
Brazil and the European Union agreed on Monday to lay an undersea communications cable from Lisbon to Fortaleza to reduce Brazil's reliance on the United States after Washington spied on Brasilia.

At a summit in Brussels, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said the $185 million cable project was central to "guarantee the neutrality" of the Internet, signaling her desire to shield Brazil's Internet traffic from U.S. surveillance.

"We have to respect privacy, human rights and the sovereignty of nations. We don't want businesses to be spied upon," Rousseff told a joint news conference with the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council.

"The Internet is one of the best things man has ever invented. So we agreed for the need to guarantee ... the neutrality of the network, a democratic area where we can protect freedom of expression," Rousseff said.

Obama official warns on Russia sending troops to Ukraine

A senior Obama administration official warned Russian leaders Sunday not to send armed forces into Ukraine to restore what they see as a compliant government, urging them to reject a Cold War view of the tumult in Ukraine as a struggle between East and West.

"That would be a grave mistake," President Barack Obama's National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "It's not in the interests of the Ukraine or of Russia or of Europe or of the United States to see the country split. It's in nobody's interest to see violence return and the situation escalate."

Ms. Rice's remarks came after bloody street protests in Ukraine culminated this weekend in pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to leave the capital of Kiev.

Ms. Rice said that Mr. Yanukovych's whereabouts are "not known at the present." She made clear that the Obama administration isn't mourning his departure from the scene, saying he had lost "enormous legitimacy ... by turning on his people, by using violence in the streets against peaceful protesters and by flouting the will of the Ukrainian people."
Black Cat

Yulia Tymoshenko is no angel

Yulia Tymoshenko
Yulia Tymoshenko
Yulia Tymoshenko has a record allegedly as shady as any politician's in Ukraine, and that's saying something. But, still, she brings her people hope.

Don't let her looks fool you. The woman of the moment in Ukraine, whose crown of braided golden hair is calculated to evoke mythical memories of rural strength, has always been a better icon than a politician.

When former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, 53, addressed tens of thousands of people in Kiev's Independence Square on Saturday night, many in the crowd were moved to tears. Only hours before she'd been serving a seven-year prison sentence under guard in a hospital far from the capital. Now, afflicted with crippling back problems, she spoke from a wheelchair, telling the crowd she drew strength from their bravery, their martyrdom. "You are heroes!" she cried. Her most bitter political enemy, President Viktor Yanukovych had meanwhile fled the capital.

A new chapter seemed to be opening in the political life of the country last night, and indeed it was. But as Ukraine moves toward new elections in the near future (most likely at the end of May), Tymoshenko's not-so-pretty past may yet prevent her from winning the presidency she's sought for so long.

Comment: For more background on Yulia Tymoshenko read:
Free-dumb and Democrazi: Ukraine MPs vote for release of ex-PM and gas billionaire Tymoshenko, along with a return to 2004 CIA-imposed constitution
The Country Run by a Mafia: Ukrainian ex-PM Tymoshenko may face life in prison for 'ordering murder'
Ukraine: Tymoshenko accused of murder link