Puppet MastersS


US: Obama the Invisible: Anti-leadership Amid World Crises

© ESPNObama appears on ESPN to reveal his NCAA March Madness picks
Where is the president? The world is beset. Moammar Khadafy is moving relentlessly to crush the Libyan revolt that once promised the overthrow of one of the world's most despicable regimes.

So where is the president?

Japan may be on the verge of a disaster that dwarfs any we have yet seen. A self-governing nation like the United States needs its leader to take full measure of his position at times of crises when the path forward is no longer clear.

This is not a time for leadership; this is the time for leadership.

So where is Barack Obama?

The moment demands that he rise to the challenge of showing America and the world that he is taking the reins. How leaders act in times of unanticipated crisis, in which they do not have a formulated game plan and must instead navigate in treacherous waters, defines them.

Obama is defining himself in a way that will destroy him.


Flashback Why Worry? Japan's Nuclear Plants at Grave Risk From Quake Damage

© unknownMap showing location of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant
I had warned that a major earthquake would strike the Chuetsu region around Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, and about the fundamental vulnerability of nuclear power plants.

The 6.8 magnitude temblor of July 16 caused considerable damage to the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), proving me right.

In the 40 years that Japan had been building nuclear plants, seismic activity was, fortunately or unfortunately, relatively quiet. Not a single nuclear facility was struck by a big quake. The government, along with the power industry and the academic community, all developed the habit of underestimating the potential risks posed by major quakes.

Since around the time of the Great Hanshin Earthquake that devastated Kobe in 1995, however, almost the entire Japanese archipelago has entered a period of brisk seismic activity.

In the past two years, major quakes took place in close proximity of three nuclear power plants: the Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture (August 2005), the Shika plant in Ishikawa Prefecture (March 2007) and the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. In each case, the maximum ground motion caused by the quake was stronger than the seismic design criteria for the nuclear power plants. The latest temblor near Kashiwazaki generated a peak ground acceleration of 993 gal, compared with the design value of 450 gal.


Alarmed US urges calm as Mideast uprisings grow

tunisian protester
© Agence France-Presse/Joseph Eid
The Obama administration on Wednesday sharply warned Bahrain against violent crackdowns on anti-government demonstrators as unrest worsened around the Middle East.

The warning came as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged Egyptians to hold true to the ideals of their revolution while she toured Cairo's Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the peaceful uprising that toppled Egypt's longtime autocratic leader last month.

Carrying a message similar to that which she delivered in Egypt earlier in the day, Clinton arrived late Wednesday in Tunisia, where protesters demanding democratic freedoms inspired reformers around the Arab world. They succeeded in ousting their authoritarian ruler in January.

Clinton was to hold meetings with Tunisia's transitional leaders on Thursday, encourage civic leaders to press ahead with calls for change and pledge U.S. support for greater political, economic and social openness.

Clinton's democracy cheerleading tour to Egypt and Tunisia came as the situation in Bahrain deteriorated with soldiers and riot police expelling hundreds of protesters from a square in Bahrain's capital, using tear gas and armored vehicles. At least five people were killed Wednesday as clashes flared across the kingdom, according to witnesses and officials.

Bahrain, a strategic ally of the United States because it hosts the Navy's 5th Fleet, has sought and received hundreds of reinforcements for its security forces from neighbors like Saudi Arabia, raising fears of an escalation in violence and descent into the near civil war that is embroiling Libya. Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi have pressed ahead with assaults on opposition-held towns.


US Military Using Psychological Warfare on Americans

movie slate/brain graphic
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Paul J. Balles looks at how the US armed forces are now using psychological warfare not only to influence foreign foes, such as in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also in within the USA itself.

One big story of the last few weeks has the US military playing "mind games" with civilian leaders in order to get greater support for the war in Afghanistan.

Sometimes these mind games have been called brainwashing. Another name for them is psyops or psychological operations.

According to the US Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, "Psychological operations are planned propaganda operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behaviour of foreign governments, organizations, groups and individuals."

Eye 2

Veterans Today Exclusive: Raymond Davis Release, the Inside Story

"Family kidnapped, forced to sign pardon letter'" - Pakistan in shock
"Pakistan's government has sold out the pride of the nation" Imran Khan

CIA contractor Raymond Davis was released by Punjab officials after a reported deal was negotiated with the families of the two men he was accused of murdering. Davis was scheduled to be indicted for murder charges today. Security forces picked up the families last night.

A payment estimated a $2 million was made to secure the release. The families are still in police custody. Davis is now at an undisclosed location, rumored to be Bagram Air Force Base in Kabul.

Magic Hat

'Blood Money' Frees CIA Contractor In Pakistan

Raymond Davis
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Contractor Had Been Detained On Suspicion Of Murder

An American CIA contractor detained on suspicion of murder was released on Wednesday after families of the two Pakistanis he killed were given "blood money" and the case was dropped, Pakistani officials said.

The killings and detention of Raymond Allen Davis had strained ties between Pakistan and the United States and added to anti-America sentiment.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said Davis was charged with murder Wednesday but then immediately pardoned by the families of the victims in exchange for compensation or "blood money", as is permitted under Pakistani law. Davis was arrested on Jan. 27 after killing two Pakistanis in what he said was self-defense.

Chaudhry Mushtaq, superintendent at Kot Lakhpat jail, said Davis left the jail with U.S. consulate officials after the hearing.


Judge OKs feds' access to WikiLeakers Twitter info

Rebuffs constitutional challenges

A federal judge in Virginia has given investigators access to the Twitter records of four WikiLeaks associates, including the email addresses associated with the accounts and the IP addresses used to access them.

Friday's decision by US Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan, rejected arguments by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation that the request for records violated federal law and Free Speech and Privacy rights guaranteed by the US Constitution. She also denied the groups' request to unseal investigators' application seeking the data from Twitter.

"The Twitter Order does not demand the contents of any communication, and thus constitutes only a request for records under §2703(c)," Buchanan wrote, referring to a provision of the 1994 Stored Communications Act that permits the prosecutors to obtain contact details, IP addresses and other information related to records stored online. "The Twitter Order does not demand the contents of any communication, and thus constitutes only a request for records under §2703(c)."

Heart - Black

UK: NHS reforms: will family doctors become accountants?

GP consortiums competing for patients will break up the health service, critics say
NHS protesters
© Andy Rain/EPASupporters demonstrate against the government's new health and social care bill.

Among the 50 GPs feted by the prime minister in January at a champagne reception in Downing Street were the leading lights of the National Association of Primary Care, a group of family doctors who many see as the brains behind health secretary Andrew Lansley's plans.

The physicians sipping bubbly at No 10 were part of the first wave of GP shadow consortiums - doctors tasked with reshaping hospital services in the runup to finally being handed the NHS purse strings. Treading the corridors of power that chilly winter evening was Charles Alessi, an executive member of the NAPC, who two weeks earlier had penned a tabloid comment piece backing the radical pro-market plans of the government.

While the association is careful to say it is not aligned to any party, it did come up with the central plank of the health secretary's policy: dissolve England's primary care trusts, which currently commission hospital care on behalf of patients, and instead allow GP practices, essentially private businesses run by doctors, to form consortiums to buy treatments using £80bn of Treasury money. The loss of the primary care trusts will see 24,000 jobs go.


Bahrain king declares martial law over protests

© Associated PressThis screen grab taken from Bahrain TV shows troops arriving in Bahrain from Saudi Arabia on Monday, March 14.
Cairo - Bahrain's king declared a three-month state of emergency Tuesday and gave the country's military chief wide authority to battle a Shiite-led protest movement that has threatened the Sunni monarchy and drawn in forces from around the Gulf.

The martial law-style order was read out on Bahrain state TV a day after more than 1,000 Saudi-led troops arrived to help prop up the U.S.-backed regime in the first major cross-border military action to challenge one of the revolts sweeping across the Arab world.

On Tuesday, clashes broke out across the tiny island nation, with a doctor reporting that hundreds of protesters were injured by shotgun blasts and clubs and that one died from a bullet to the head. One of the Saudi soldiers was also shot and killed by a protester, said a security official in Saudi Arabia.

Further underlining the regional implications of the unrest in Bahrain, Shiite power Iran denounced the intervention of foreign troops as "unacceptable" and predicted it would complicate the kingdom's political crisis.

Iran holds no deep political ties to Bahrain's Shiite groups, but some Iranian hard-liners have hailed their efforts over the years for greater rights for their community, which represents a majority of the nation's population. In the month of protests, the Shiite-led opposition is also pressing for political freedoms.


Germany: Nuclear Disaster 'Will Have Political Impact as Great as 9/11'

© ReutersA combination photo showing an explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi plant on Monday.
The nuclear disaster in Fukushima makes it hard to ignore the vulnurabilities of the technology. It could spell the end of nuclear power, German commentators argue on Monday. The government in Berlin may now cave in to mounting pressure to suspend its 12-year extension of reactor lifetimes, they say.

The nuclear accident at Japan's Fukushima plant following Friday's earthquake and tsunami has led to anxious questions in Germany about the safety of its own nuclear reactors and is putting the government under intense pressure to rethink its decision to extend plant lifetimes by an average of 12 years.

German media commentators across the political spectrum are saying the accident in a highly developed nation such as Japan is further evidence that nuclear power isn't safe. One commentator in the conservative Die Welt went as far as to liken the global impact of the Fukushima explosions to that of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.