Puppet MastersS


USA

Best of the Web: The world psychiatrist on the "madness" of President Putin

Skull
© Juliette Bates

Of all the various interpretations Western leaders and commentators have offered for why the president of the Russian Federation has responded the way he has to the events in Ukraine over the course of February and March of 2014 - in refusing to acquiesce to the installation of a neo-fascist regime in Kiev, and in upholding the right of Crimea to self-determination - the most striking and illuminating interpretation is that he has gone mad. Striking and illuminating, that is, something in the West itself.

In times past, the international landscape reflected a multipolar order, a multiplicity of competing ideologies, alternative schemes of social and economic organization. Back then the actions of another country could be understood in terms of its alternative ideology. Even extreme figures - Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot - calling them crazy was an example of hyperbole, an intensified way of describing the brazenness with which they pursued their rationally set political goals. But when Chancellor Angela Merkel asks whether Putin is living "in another world," echoing a theme in the narrative presented by Western media, the question seems to imply something quite literal.

TV

Western media's reporting on Ukraine is as terrible as it was on Iraq

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© Unknown
As the Ukraine crisis continues to deepen, the mainstream U.S. news media is sinking to new lows of propaganda and incompetence. Somehow, a violent neo-Nazi-spearheaded putsch overthrowing a democratically elected president was refashioned into a "legitimate" regime, then the "interim" government and now simply "Ukraine."

The Washington Post's screaming headline on Sunday is "Ukraine decries Russian 'invasion,'" treating the coup regime in Kiev as if it speaks for the entire country when it clearly speaks for only a subset of the population, mostly from western Ukraine. The regime's "legitimacy" comes not from a democratic election but from a coup that was quickly embraced by the U.S. government and the European Union.

Bomb

Ukraine, Syria, Venezuela and beyond: Beware the wars of March

In the 1930s it was a notorious fact the German government of Adolf Hitler chose the month of March to perpetrate its most daring moves in reasserting the nation as a continental power, culminating in the most deadly war in history.

For example:

March 1933:
German federal election brings Hitler to power as chancellor

March 1936:
Germany remilitarizes the Rhineland in contravention of the Treaty of Versailles

March 1937:
The Third Reich's Condor Legion bombs and attacks Durango, Spain and the next month bombs Guernica

March 1938:
Germany absorbs Austria

Over the past fifteen years a not dissimilar pattern has emerged.

Top Secret

CIA-Senate dispute 101: Who's spying on whom?

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© Gary Cameron/Reuters
Did the Central Intelligence Agency spy illegally on Senate Intelligence Committee computers?

That's what Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California charged Tuesday in an extraordinary Senate floor speech. The CIA has denied wrongdoing and has its own questions about how Intelligence Committee staffers turned up a sensitive internal report on the agency's past use of harsh interrogation techniques.

Here are nine questions and answers about a complex story that starts with waterboarding and ends in a secret CIA facility in northern Virginia.

1. What's the background?

The CIA began using so-called enhanced interrogation techniques on terror suspects at black sites around the world in 2002. These included use of waterboarding to simulate drowning, stress positions, and sleep deprivation.

Following a series of news reports detailing this activity, the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2009 authorized a comprehensive review of the program. While panel lawmakers had been informed of the program by agency briefers, a preliminary staff inquiry showed that the interrogations were harsher than they had been described, according to Senator Feinstein, the committee chairman. The panel was also concerned about the CIA's destruction of some videotapes of interrogations, seeing it as possible destruction of evidence.

Cards

Snowden accuses Dianne Feinstein of double standards, pointing out her lack of concern about widespread surveillance of ordinary citizens

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© Vanity Fair
NSA whistleblower accuses Dianne Feinstein of double standards, pointing out her lack of concern about widespread surveillance of ordinary citizens

The whistleblower Edward Snowden accused the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee of double standards on Tuesday, pointing out that her outrage at evidence her staff were spied on by the CIA was not matched by concern about widespread surveillance of ordinary citizens.

Snowden, the former contractor whose disclosures to journalists revealed widespread surveillance by the National Security Agency, was responding to an explosive statement by Senator Dianne Feinstein about the CIA's attempts to undermine a congressional investigation into interrogation and detention.

In a surprisingly combative statement on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Feinstein, who has been widely criticised by privacy experts for failing to hold the NSA to account, accused the CIA of conducting potentially unconstitutional and criminal searches on computers used by her staff.

The remarks put the Democratic senator on a collision course with the CIA's director, John Brennan, who strongly denied "hacking" the committee's computers. Feinstein described the controversy as "a defining moment for the oversight of our intelligence community".

Dollar

More hypocrisy from Warren Buffett as he structures deal to avoid $400 million in taxes

Obama n Buffett
© Wikimedia Commons
Warren Buffett epitomizes everything that is wrong with the global economy, and the U.S. economy specifically. He is the consummate crony capitalist, a brilliant yet conniving oligarch who intentionally plays on the gullibility of the masses to portray himself as one thing, when in reality he is something else entirely.

He publicly talks about how rich people need to pay more in taxes, then turns around and pioneers new ways for his company Berkshire Hathaway to avoid hundreds of millions in taxes. He thinks that by going on television stuffing ice cream cones and hamburgers in his mouth and acting all grandfatherly that no one will notice who he is really is and the incredible hypocrisy of his actions.

I've pointed out "Uncle" Warren's hypocrisy previously on these pages, most recently in my post from last March titled: Crony Capitalist "Uncle" Warren Buffett Drives Company Profits Using Derivatives.

While that was pretty blatant hypocrisy, Buffett's latest elaborate scheme to avoid $400 million in capital gains taxes from the disposition of a large chunk of Berkshire Hataway's Washington Post stake (which was acquired in the 1970s for $11 million) absolutely takes the cake.

Vader

Obama administration censoring records more than ever before

obama administration censoring
© Reuters / Stoyan Nenov
Despite promising he'd preside over the most transparent administration in United States history, President Barack Obama's White House is setting new records with regards to not releasing government documents.

Never mind Obama's assurances on the campaign trail and the vow he made in 2009 about being "committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government." Journalists at the Associated Press say that their research indicates that the US government has withheld more information from ever under the authority of Pres. Obama.

Journalists Jack Gillum and Ted Bridis have been investigating just how hard it is to successfully request documents from the White House through the US Freedom of Information Act, and in an article published by the AP on Sunday they wrote that the current administration "more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them."

"The administration cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy," they wrote. "Most agencies also took longer to answer records requests, the analysis found."

According to the AP's research, the Obama administration has exhibited anything but what the president promised with regards to maintaining an open and transparent White House.

Bizarro Earth

Warning to Ukraine: Former 'economic hitman': U.S. 'death economy' brought world to brink of destruction

A former "economic hitman" explained that the United States model for global domination cannot be repeated - and should not be attempted.

Author John Perkins explained last week on the David Pakman Show how American corporations extorted natural resources from developing nations in a process that sounds very similar to domestic privatization schemes.

Perkins, who wrote the 2004 book Confessions of an Economic Hitman about his experience working as a chief economist for the engineering company Chas. T. Main, said corporations would identify countries that had resources sought by the U.S. and arrange for them to obtain large loans from the World Bank and similar organizations.

"But the money never actually went to the country," Perkins said. "Instead, it went to our own corporations to build infrastructure projects in that country. They made a great deal of profit from that."

The countries would use those borrowed funds to build electrical systems, highways, industrial parks, and other infrastructure projects.

"Yet the country would be left holding a huge debt they couldn't repay, and so at some point we'd go back and say, 'Hey, you know, since you can't pay your debts, sell your resource - oil, whatever - very cheap to our companies without any environmental restrictions or social regulations or privatize your public sector businesses, sell them real cheap - your utility companies, your water and sewage system, your schools, your jails, off to our corporations," Perkins said. "And in that way we created the world's first truly global empire, primarily without the use of the military."

He said most economists agreed that developing countries needed better infrastructure to improve their economies, but he said statistics supporting this model were misleading.

Vader

Obama vows 'unwavering support for illegal government in Ukraine'

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© AP/ Pablo Martinez MonsivaisPresident Barack Obama speaks about Ukraine, Monday, March 17, 2014
A day after the people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly in support of being annexed by Russia, President Barack Obama on Monday delivered a message in support of Ukrainian sovereignty and for NATO allies concerned about the emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The White House earlier Monday announced sanctions on Russian officials, and Obama said further restrictions would occur if Russia continues to interfere with Ukraine. The European Union also announced its own sanctions on Russia.

Vice President Joe Biden is traveling to Europe Monday to meet with leaders of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Obama said he will travel to Europe next week.

"We'll continue to make clear to Russia that further provocation will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world," Obama said. "The international community will continue to stand together to oppose any violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. And continued Russian military intervention in Ukraine will only deepen Russia's diplomatic isolation and exact a greater toll on the Russian economy."

Pirates

Fox's apathetic parasite Stuart Varney outraged states still feeding poor despite food stamp cuts

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© Fox News
Fox News host Stuart Varney is outraged that state governments are continuing to help the poor feed themselves, even after Congress agreed to cut spending on food stamps.

The farm bill passed Jan. 29 cuts about $800 million from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but officials in Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania have made changes to state programs to tie food-stamp eligibility to home-heating assistance to allow more low-income families to be eligible for aid.

"This completely negates, almost entirely negates the cuts that Congress imposed," Varney said Tuesday on "Fox & Friends." "It shows you, once you've got a program, you can never get rid of it and it's very difficult to cut. Now what's really going on here is the government's buying votes. They're keeping, churning out the food stamps in return for votes. That's what's happening."

"Fox & Friends" host Brian Kilmeade said the states had forced Republicans into "a tough situation politically."

"They know what's right, they know what's affordable, they know that food stamps are a never-ending cycle, but do you want to be the party that goes up to the poor and says, 'Take that back'?" Kilmeade said.