Puppet Masters

Eye 1

New Russian anti-extremist law comes into force

© RIA Novosti/Mihail Metzel
President Putin has signed the bill introducing heavier fines and longer prison sentences for those convicted of extremism-related crimes.

The law was published on the official government portal on Tuesday and comes into force on the same day.

The maximum prison term for public calls for extremism is raised to four years. The minimum fine for the same crime is set at 100,000 roubles (about $2,850) while the maximum fine was left at 300,000 roubles (about $8,550).

The maximum punishment for inciting ethnic, religious or other types of hatred changes from two to four years, and the minimum fine was tripled and is now 300,000 roubles (about $8,550). The maximum fine again remains the same at 500,000 roubles (about $14,280).

The maximum penalty for the organizers of extremist groups is increased from the current four years to six years in prison. Anyone involved in such organisations would face up to four years instead of the current two.

The bill introducing tougher punishment for extremism was drafted by the government in June 2013.

The parliament is currently working on another bill that toughens the punishment for terrorists. Once passed into law it would increase the punishment for terrorist activities to life in prison.

Comment: Well, in the US, those kinds of activities can lead to having everything you own confiscated and yourself disappeared into Gitmo.

Take 2

'Sochi is Putingrad': Vladimir Putin has made a lasting impression in most expensive Games ever

© John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail
A homeless man gets a hot meal from a soup truck courtesy of the Nochlezhka homeless shelter in St. Petersburg January 18, 2014.
In the Soviet era, great leaders had cities named after them. St. Petersburg, the imperial capital, was rechristened in honour of Lenin and Volgograd became Stalingrad. Now, as modern Russia strives to recapture its past glory, the practice seems ready for a revival.

"Sochi is Putingrad," says Marat Gelman, who considers the $50-billion investment in the Black Sea resort and the Winter Olympics to begin there on Friday the personal handiwork of his former boss, President Vladimir Putin.

"He built the whole thing. It's his legacy."

And they are the Putin Games. Seven years ago, Mr. Putin travelled to Guatemala and campaigned so persuasively (in three languages) that the International Olympic Committee chose Sochi even though it lacked appropriate facilities and is Russia's only city never guaranteed to see snow in February.

Eager to erase painful memories of 1980's blighted Summer Games in Moscow, marred by a Western boycott after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the President and his supporters are now poised to celebrate, with by far the most costly Olympiad ever held, the rebirth of a country they say is strong and proud once again: stable domestically and able to walk on the international stage with a swagger.

The trouble is that Mr. Putin hasn't contained himself to Putingrad.
Bad Guys

Well-planned terrorist attack saw team of snipers take out power station in California on 16 April last year

April Sniper Attack Knocked Out Substation, Raises Concern for Country's Power Grid

The attack began just before 1 a.m. on April 16 last year, when someone slipped into an underground vault not far from a busy freeway and cut telephone cables.

Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley. A minute before a police car arrived, the shooters disappeared into the night.

To avoid a blackout, electric-grid officials rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But it took utility workers 27 days to make repairs and bring the substation back to life.

Nobody has been arrested or charged in the attack at PG&E Corp.'s Metcalf transmission substation. It is an incident of which few Americans are aware. But one former federal regulator is calling it a terrorist act that, if it were widely replicated across the country, could take down the U.S. electric grid and black out much of the country.

The attack was "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred" in the U.S., said Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time.

The Wall Street Journal assembled a chronology of the Metcalf attack from filings PG&E made to state and federal regulators; from other documents including a video released by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department; and from interviews, including with Mr. Wellinghoff.

Comment: Isn't it a little weird we're only hearing about this now, almost a full year after the fact? Also worth noting - that this happened one day after the Boston Marathon bombings.

There's also one other strange power-station-incident from last year: Arkansas man charged in connection with power grid sabotage


Why this Harvard economist is pulling all his money from Bank of America

© Unknown
A classicial economist... and Harvard professor... preaching to the world that one's money is not safe in the US banking system due to Ben Bernanke's actions? And putting his withdrawal slip where his mouth is and pulling $1 million out of Bank America? Say it isn't so...

From Terry Burnham, former Harvard economics professor, author of "Mean Genes" and "Mean Markets and Lizard Brains," provocative poster on this page and long-time critic of the Federal Reserve, argues that the Fed's efforts to strengthen America's banks have perversely weakened them. First posted in PBS.

Is your money safe at the bank? An economist says 'no' and withdraws his:

Last week I had over $1,000,000 in a checking account at Bank of America. Next week, I will have $10,000.

Why am I getting in line to take my money out of Bank of America? Because of Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen, who officially begins her term as chairwoman on Feb. 1.

Before I explain, let me disclose that I have been a stopped clock of criticism of the Federal Reserve for half a decade. That's because I believe that when the Fed intervenes in markets, it has two effects - both negative. First, it decreases overall wealth by distorting markets and causing bad investment decisions. Second, the members of the Fed become reverse Robin Hoods as they take from the poor (and unsophisticated) investors and give to the rich (and politically connected). These effects have been noticed; a Gallup poll taken in the last few days reports that only the richest Americans support the Fed. (See the table.)

State lawmakers proposing bills to rein in federal government surveillance

Angry over revelations of National Security Agency surveillance and frustrated with what they consider outdated digital privacy laws, state lawmakers around the nation are proposing bills to curtail the powers of law enforcement to monitor and track citizens.

Their efforts in at least 14 states are a direct message to the federal government: If you don't take action to strengthen privacy, we will.

"We need to stand up and protect our liberty," said Republican Missouri state Sen. Rob Schaaf, author of a digital privacy bill.

Police groups, however, say the moves will in some cases hinder efforts to deter or solve crimes. "It would cripple law enforcement's ability to do investigations," said Bart Johnson, executive director of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Proponents say the measures will overhaul the definition of digital privacy and help increase oversight of specific surveillance tools that law enforcement agencies have been using in the states that critics say mirrors federal surveillance technology.

The bills include a Colorado proposal that would limit the retention of images from license plate readers, an Oregon bill that would require "urgent circumstances" to obtain cellphone location data and a Delaware plan that increases privacy protections for text messages.

Anglo-American psychopaths' vision of the world: New Afghanistan law legalizes violence against women

© Paula Bronstein/Getty
Most violence against women in Afghanistan is within the family, so the new law means it will be impossible to prosecute cases.
Small change to criminal code has huge consequences in country where 'honour' killings and forced marriage are rife

A new Afghan law will allow men to attack their wives, children and sisters without fear of judicial punishment, undoing years of slow progress in tackling violence in a country blighted by so-called "honour" killings, forced marriage and vicious domestic abuse.

The small but significant change to Afghanistan's criminal prosecution code bans relatives of an accused person from testifying against them. Most violence against women in Afghanistan is within the family, so the law - passed by parliament but awaiting the signature of the president, Hamid Karzai - will effectively silence victims as well as most potential witnesses to their suffering.

"It is a travesty this is happening," said Manizha Naderi, director of the charity and campaign group Women for Afghan Women. "It will make it impossible to prosecute cases of violence against women ... The most vulnerable people won't get justice now."

Under the new law, prosecutors could never come to court with cases like that of Sahar Gul, a child bride whose in-laws chained her in a basement and starved, burned and whipped her when she refused to work as a prostitute for them. Women like 31-year-old Sitara, whose nose and lips were sliced off by her husband at the end of last year, could never take the stand against their attackers.

"Honour" killings by fathers and brothers who disapprove of a woman's behaviour would be almost impossible to punish. Forced marriage and the sale or trading of daughters to end feuds or settle debt would also be largely beyond the control of the law in a country where the prosecution of abuse is already rare.

Wars to continue, NSA to keep spying on everyone, new anti-smoking campaigns rolled out - but sorry, no money left for the 35% unemployed

© Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

The Senate failed to move forward on a three-month extension of assistance for the long-term unemployed on Thursday, leaving it unlikely that Congress would approve the measure soon while undercutting a key aspect of President Obama's economic recovery plan.

Fifty-nine senators, including four Republicans, voted to advance the legislation, falling one vote short of the 60 needed to break a Republican filibuster effort.

Republicans and Democrats, many from the nation's most economically depressed states, had been trying to reach a solution that would allow people who have exhausted their unemployment insurance to continue receiving benefits as long as the government offset the $6 billion cost.

Ultimately, how to pay for the program proved too big a hurdle for senators to overcome.

Patriot Act architect: No more spying unless my NSA reform bill passes

© JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner warned government officials that they risk losing all spying authorization next year if his Freedom Act doesn't pass Congress.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner sent another warning shot Tuesday to members of the intelligence community that they risk losing all congressional authority for the National Security Agency's collection of bulk telephone records if his bill restricting the program is not passed.

Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, told Deputy Attorney General James Cole during a House Judiciary Committee hearing that Congress will not reauthorize Section 215 of the post-9/11 Patriot Act before it sunsets on June 1, 2015, if substantial reforms to government surveillance are not adopted by then. The NSA derives much of its surveillance power from that section of the law. He added that Congress would never have passed or twice reauthorized the Patriot Act, which he authored, had it known the full breadth of the NSA's surveillance muscle.

"Unless Section 215 gets fixed, you, Mr. Cole, and the intelligence community will get absolutely nothing, because I am confident there are not the votes in this Congress to reauthorize it," Sensenbrenner said. "And I can say that without qualification."

Cole refused to offer a position on the bill when pressed by Sensenbrenner, noting that the Justice Department held no stance on NSA legislation pending in Congress.

Junk Science: Hundreds of U.K. "health experts" call for smoking ban in cars carrying children

© Alamy
In a letter to the British Medical Journal, respiratory experts said second-hand smoke was a “major cause of ill health in children”
Around 700 doctors, nurses and other health experts have called on the Government to ban smoking in cars carrying children ahead of a Commons vote on Monday.

In a letter to the British Medical Journal, respiratory experts said second-hand smoke was a "major cause of ill health in children", damaging the lungs, causing sudden infant death and leading to thousands of hospital trips a year.

They claimed those objecting to a change in the law assumed there was a "right to force children to breathe tobacco smoke". Objectors "seem to value this more highly than the children's right to breathe clean air", they added.

Comment: Good luck with that. Open your car window in any city and you'll breathe in much worse than cigarette smoke. Once again so-called "experts" show a profound lack of critical thinking as they push their agenda further and further.

Comment: Some more links to enjoy!
Smokers' lungs used in half of transplants: Improves Survival Rate!
Smoking Does Not Cause Lung Cancer
Smoking Does Not Cause Lung Cancer (According to WHO/CDC Data)
Air pollution causes lung cancer in non-smokers (erm, can't it cause it in smokers too then?)
Government Suppresses Major Public Health Report
Air pollution leading cause of cancer, World Health Organisation warns
5 Health Benefits of Smoking
'World No Tobacco Day'? Let's All Light Up!


Propaganda exposed: Fake images in Ukraine

Naked man in Ukraine
© Unknown
False flag exposed
The images of a naked Ukrainian prisoner in the snow, surrounded by police forces taunting him, have been spread around the world. They show the brutality of the regime that the glorious activists of Maidan Square are trying to overthrow.

There is only one problem: at the end of the footage, Andrei Dubrovik can be spotted wearing a uniform. Yet, Mr. Dubrovik had left the Ministry of the Interior some time back to step in as security chief of the All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland" (Batkivshchyna) led by oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko.
Andrei Dubrovik
© Unknown
Andrei Dubrovik
According to Vremia, this propaganda film was created by television producer Andriy Kozhemyakin, who is also on Mrs. Tymochenko's payroll [1].

Comment: It appears as though the propaganda is getting exposed, but to the rulers it doesn't matter, because the images and videos have already been viewed and believed the world over. Only few will ever discover that it was all just propaganda. Just like the chemical attack in Syria, which was blamed on the Syrian government and turned out to have been perpetrated by the Western armed terrorists.