Puppet MastersS


Ukraine police forced to abandon Kiev conference centre to opposition as Western-funded riots spread across the country

© Getty ImagesAnti-government protesters carry the body of Mikhail Zhiznevsky, 25, a protester killed during clashes with police on Wednesday
Ukraine's two-month old anti-government protests have spread further across the country despite offers of concessions from President Viktor Yanukovych.

Thousands of demonstrators attempted to take over the regional government office in Dnipropetrovsk on Sunday, a major industrial hub in eastern Ukraine home to more than one million people and birthplace of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Thousands more tried to seize the local government headquarters in the south-eastern city of Zaporizhia, local media reported. Further protests took place in Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Lutsk and Sumy over the weekend, raising fears that the previously peaceful movement is morphing into a national uprising.

In Kiev on Sunday, hundreds of protesters chanted "heroes don't die" as the coffin of one demonstrator shot dead in clashes with police was paraded through the city centre.

The opposition cancelled a mass rally to hold a memorial for 25 year-old Mikhail Zhiznevsky - one of at least three people to have died when protests in the capital turned violent last week.

Black Cat

Florida congressman Trey Radel resigns after pleading guilty to cocaine possession

Embattled Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) resigned from Congress Monday, months after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge.

A first-term congressman, Radel was arrested for cocaine possession in the fall . After reaching a plea agreement, he underwent substance abuse rehabilitation treatment and returned to Congress earlier this month. Despite calls from state party leaders for him to step down, Radel had said he was committed to returning to work.

But on Monday, he swiftly changed course and said he would step down later in the day. In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Radel said his personal struggles impeded his ability to serve in Congress. He said last year that struggles with alcoholism led him to make an "extremely irresponsible choice" involving cocaine.

Eye 1

Top-secret document reveals NSA spied on porn habits as part of plan to discredit 'radicalizers'

The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as "exemplars" of how "personal vulnerabilities" can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target's credibility, reputation and authority.

The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. "A previous SIGINT" -- or signals intelligence, the interception of communications -- "assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent," the document argues.

Among the vulnerabilities listed by the NSA that can be effectively exploited are "viewing sexually explicit material online" and "using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls."

Arrow Down

Dow suffers worst weekly loss since Sept. 2011

© Westhavenmanagement.comNew York Stock Exchange
The Dow industrials took their biggest daily tumble in more than seven months Friday, caught up in a two-day selloff in emerging-market stocks and currencies.

Traders said that despite the scope of the decline, fund managers weren't overly urgent in selling. Rather, they pointed to short-term players selling baskets of stocks, such as index futures or exchange-traded funds, as a way to protect against losses elsewhere in their portfolios. Buyers, meanwhile, pulled to the sidelines, content to wait before putting money to work.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 318.24 points, or 2%, to 15879.11, a five-week low. For the week, the benchmark fell 3.5%.

The S&P 500 index dropped 38.17 points, or 2.1%, to 1790.29. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 90.70 points, or 2.2%, to 4128.17.

"There's a lack of buyers supporting the market and incremental sellers who are de-risking on the back of the macro developments," said Doug Crofton, head of U.S. cash equity trading at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "I don't think the market was positioned for the recent events."

"We're not seeing people throw in the towel," or selling indiscriminately in a rush to get out of the market, he added.

Even with Friday's declines, the S&P 500 is up 20% from a year ago and 3% off its Jan. 15 all-time closing high.

Dollar Gold

China's elite storing riches in Caribbean offshore haven

© USA Today
Relatives of political leaders including China's current president and former premier named in trove of leaked documents from the British Virgin Islands

More than a dozen family members of China's top political and military leaders are making use of offshore companies based in the British Virgin Islands, leaked financial documents reveal.

The brother-in-law of China's current president, Xi Jinping, as well as the son and son-in-law of former premier Wen Jiabao are among the political relations making use of the offshore havens, financial records show.

The documents also disclose the central role of major Western banks and accountancy firms, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Credit Suisse and UBS in the offshore world, acting as middlemen in the establishing of companies.

The Hong Kong office of Credit Suisse, for example, established the BVI company Trend Gold Consultants for Wen Yunsong, the son of Wen Jiabao, during his father's premiership - while PwC and UBS performed similar services for hundreds of other wealthy Chinese individuals.

The disclosure of China's use of secretive financial structures is the latest revelation from "Offshore Secrets", a two-year reporting effort led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which obtained more than 200 gigabytes of leaked financial data from two companies in the British Virgin Islands, and shared the information with the Guardian and other international news outlets.

Bad Guys

Raping the planet: U.K. Fracking companies could be allowed under your home without consent

Fracking protest manchester
© Reuters / Phil NobleA sign stands outside a protest camp at the entrance to the IGas Energy exploratory gas drilling site at Barton Moss near Manchester in northern England January 13, 2014.

Government sources have admitted that they are considering overhauling UK trespass laws to make it easier to extract shale gas. Under the plans being considered by the government, fracking could take place under homes without owners' permission.

The government sources say they are mulling over these amendments to the law to make it easier for companies to explore and extract shale gas, amid worries that landowners and other parties could hold up energy companies in costly and lengthy court proceedings, the Telegraph reports.

The plans are expected to be published in the coming months, and are likely to be the most controversial yet in Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to push through fracking regardless of the environmental cost.

Comment: See also:

Investigation confirms the evils of fracking
Opposed to fracking? Then the corporatocracy considers you to be a terrorist
Massachusetts seeks 10 year ban on gas fracking after series of Texas earthquakes
Dangerous levels of radioactivity found at fracking waste site in Pennsylvania
Is there a media blackout on the fracking flood disaster in Colorado?


Flashback New document details arguments about torture at a JSOC prison

© Shrieking TreeAmnesty International projection "Torture is Wrong" outside of the Newseum during the screening of Zero Dark Thirty in Washington DC.
Journalist Michael Otterman, author of the excellent book, American Torture: From the Cold War to Abu Ghraib and Beyond, was kind enough to forward to me some months ago a document he obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. The document consists of the after-action reports made by Colonel Steven Kleinman and Terrence Russell, two of the three team members sent by the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) to a top-secret special operations facility in Iraq in September 2003.

The reports, written shortly after both JPRA officials finished their assignment, present two starkly different accounts of what took place that late summer in the depths of a JSOC torture chamber. Even more remarkable, Col. Kleinman, who famously intervened to stop torture interrogations at the facility, had his own report submitted to Russell for comment. Indeed, Kleinman's report as released contains interpolations by Russell, such that the documents become a kind of ersatz debate over torture by the JPRA team members, and at a distance, some of the Task Force members.

This extraordinary document is being posted here in full for the first time. Click here to download.


Flashback Corrupt legal system: U.S. Judge won't order inquiry over psychologist's role in Guantánamo

© Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty
New York State cannot be forced to investigate a psychologist accused by a human rights organization of overseeing coercive interrogation tactics at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a judge in Manhattan ruled on Thursday.

The rights group, the Center for Justice and Accountability, had brought a suit claiming that the psychologist, John Francis Leso, helped develop a plan of coercive techniques, including sleep deprivation and isolation, to use on detainees at Guantánamo. The suit was brought on behalf of Steven Reisner, a psychologist and an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. It sought an investigation of Dr. Leso by a professional disciplinary office in the state's Education Department that regulates psychologists' licenses.

But in a 12-page ruling filed in State Supreme Court, Justice Saliann Scarpulla wrote that Dr. Reisner had no standing to force an investigation. Nothing in state education law, Justice Scarpulla wrote, guarantees that the office "formally investigate every single complaint of professional misconduct, no matter the contents or applicability of the complaint."

The judge also ruled that Dr. Reisner did not suffer an injury as a result of the state's decision not to investigate.


Flashback Dr Steven Reisner on case filed against psychologist accused of torture in Guantanamo interrogations

The Obama administration announced Monday that key suspects in the 9/11 attacks will be tried by military commissions at the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay, and not in U.S. civilian court. There will, however, be one Guantánamo case tried in New York.

Today the New York State Supreme Court will hear the case against Dr. John Leso, a psychologist accused of participating in torture during interrogation of detainees in Guantánamo. The case was brought on behalf of Dr. Steven Reisner, who is at the center of a growing group of medical professional campaigning against the participation of psychologists in the U.S. government's interrogation programs.

Democracy Now! interviews Reisner about the case right before he heads to the courtroom.

Heart - Black

Was systematic sexual assault a political tactic in Tahrir Square?

Mohammed Mahmoud Street
© David DegnerJust off Tahrir Square, Mohammed Mahmoud Street is where Yasmine El Baramawy was beaten and raped.
It was almost 11 PM on Friday, November 23, 2012, when from the window of her apartment in downtown Cairo, not far from Tahrir Square, Ghada heard a crowd screaming, "She has a bomb strapped to her stomach!" Ghada (who wishes to be known only by her first name) immediately thought of her children who were outside among those who had gathered. She ran to the balcony to search for them, but her terror shifted into action when she saw a naked woman pinned against the hood of a car, with a circle of men around her. Ghada grabbed her husband and some clothes for the stranger, and they sprinted downstairs to rescue her. They pushed through the crowd and into the circle, pulling the girl to safety.