Puppet MastersS

Green Light

European envoys move to resume Syria contacts

© Unknown
European ambassadors and intelligence officials are making discreet trips to the Syrian capital, Damascus in a bid to resume diplomatic contacts with the government of President Bashar al-Assad, diplomats say.

"Since May, little by little, we have begun to return, at first cautiously for a day, then two, then three," AFP quoted a European ambassador to Syria who has been based in Beirut since December 2012.

"Now we are going once or twice a month," added the ambassador who was speaking on condition of anonymity on Friday.
"I think that in the first quarter of 2014, you're going to see many of my European colleagues returning on the road to Damascus," the diplomat added.
Envoys from Austria, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Denmark and the EU's charge d'affaires now make regular trips to Damascus.


Glenn Greenwald: Groups who question his ties to CAIR are helping government erode freedom

Glenn Greenwald
© CAIR CaliforniaGlenn Greenwald
Glenn Greenwald, the civil rights attorney and journalist who helped reveal evidence that the U.S. was spying on its citizens and allies, said it's crucial to safeguard the civil liberties of American Muslims to ensure the rights of all Americans.

Greenwald, who published a series of articles based on documents provided by former National Security Administration contractor Edward Snowden, served as the keynote speaker Nov. 16 at the annual "Faith in Freedom" banquet hosted by the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

He spoke to the group by video, rather than in person, citing concerns about possible attempts by American officials to prosecute him for his journalistic work.

Greenwald also noted reports, columns and statement issued by groups who questioned his ties to CAIR, portraying his speech as a "propaganda coup" for a group that some right-wing critics have described as having ties to terrorist organizations.

Other critics have called for Greenwald's arrest and questioned whether he hated America

"What really makes me genuinely, in all seriousness, happy about those kind of reactions is that it just underscores for me the kind of demonization that American Muslims are routinely subjected to, even to this day," Greenwald said.

Eye 1

What hypocrites! US supports UN anti-spying resolution

Angela Merkel
© Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesAngela Merkel
Somewhat ironically, the United States Tuesday backed an anti-spying U.N. resolution that was pushed by two countries miffed at the NSA.

After the U.S. reportedly eavesdropped on their elected leaders, Dilma Rousseff and Angela Merkel, Germany and Brazil pushed a U.N. resolution affirming "the right to privacy in the digital age." The resolution states that technological advancements have made it possible for government and corporate spying that "may violate human rights" under international human- and civil-rights declarations "and is therefore an issue of increasing concern."

Surveillance "may threaten the foundations of a democratic society," the resolution reads, referring to the "illegal collection of personal data" and calls on nations to "ensure that measures taken to counter terrorism comply with international law." It also calls for the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights to submit a report on protection of privacy rights in the context of digital and mass surveillance.

The U.S. is on board, despite having reportedly recorded phone conversations of world leaders, including Rousseff and Merkel.

The U.N.'s social, humanitarian, and cultural committee passed the resolution Tuesday unanimously without a vote, and the U.S. supported it.

Che Guevara

The Hunger Games and the moral imagination

Hunger Games Poster
© Breands & FilmsThe Hunger Games – book cover and movie poster
This past weekend I caught The Hunger Games: Catching Fire at my local theater. The movie is based on the second part of a dystopian trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. In Collins's fictional world known as Panem, a despotic government rules over all with a violent iron fist. There is a strict separation between the political class and the rest of the populace, with the latter working in slave-like conditions to support the former. The story focuses on protagonist Katniss Everdeen and her struggle to protect her loved ones while surviving the tyranny of her brutal overlords.

Throughout Catching Fire, the subject of revolution is paramount. Since the first instalment of the series when Katniss bested her oppressive dictators in the highly-publicized, annual fight-to-the-death tournament, she has become a symbol of agitation to the people. They look to her as a chink in the government's armor - a sign that tyranny is not immortal but can be damaged. The plebs and their desire for freedom results in riots in the streets with vicious crackdowns from Orwellian-named "peacekeepers" who maintain tranquility with the bloodied end of truncheons. At one point during Katniss's victory tour, an older gentleman raises his hand in defiance of the regime and whistles the popularized tune of revolution. He is summarily executed on the spot while the crowd that attempts to protect him is beaten handily.

The act of violence drew a startled and winced response from the movie audience. It was a demonstration of the horribly destructive nature of tyranny. There was no question as to the evilness of Panem's dictatorial government. The line between enemy and hero was straight and untainted.

Stories such as the Hunger Games are wonderful things because they spark what conservative statesman Edmund Burke called the "moral imagination." In his famed Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke chided the Jacobin revolutionaries for endeavoring to paint "the decent drapery of life" and the "moral imagination" as "ridiculous, absurd, and antiquated." Russell Kirk expanded on this phrase and defined it as the "power of ethical perception which strides beyond the barriers of private experience and momentary events."


Thai protesters capture army HQ in countrywide anti-government protests

Thai protests
© twitter.com @WassanaNanuam
Some 1,500 anti-government protesters in Bangkok have broken into the compound of the Royal Thai Army headquarters in their bid to topple the current government. The largely non-violent action could escalate, police say.

"We want to know which side the army stands on," shouted one protester, according to Reuters.

The protesters gathered at the compound's front gates, forcing them open and flooding the premises, as they demanded for the head of the country's armed forces generals to choose whether they stand with the people or with the government of PM Yingluck Shinawatra. This took place while 100 soldiers stood guard.

Furthermore, the Bangkok police now fears that the situation could indeed escalate into a violent confrontation.

"We have received intelligence reports that there could be violence tonight and tomorrow... we are increasing security around key government and royal buildings." They said in a statement.

Although Thailand's military has been publicly supported by the ruling party, it has remained largely on the sidelines of the current conflict.

Eye 1

U.S. may split Cyber Command and NSA

© Reuters / Doug KapustinNational Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander
The White House is reportedly considering a structural change that would task two separate officials with overseeing the United States National Security Agency and the US Cyber Command when the man currently in charge of both operations retires next year.

Gen. Keith Alexander has been the top ranking NSA official since he was appointed director of the controversial intelligence agency in 2005, and five years later he landed the job of heading the newly-created USCYBERCOM upon the Defense Department's decision to launch a unit in charge of the military's offensive and defensive hacking campaigns. Last month Alexander announced he'd retire in the spring, however, and government officials now say the Pentagon may opt to divide the role of NSA chief and cyber commander among two individuals.

Brendan Sasso of Washington's The Hill website first reported allegations of restructuring on Wednesday this week, quoting an unnamed "former high-ranking administration official familiar with internal discussions" who said the issue was being floated in DC. On Friday, the Associated Press elaborated on the report further and has since added credence to claims that two of the most critical roles within the Department of Defense could be divvied up.

Take 2

Decline of the American empire? Global configurations of power, the swindle economy and the criminal state

The world political economy is a mosaic of cross currents: Domestic decay and elite enrichment, new sources for greater profits and deepening political disenchantment, declining living standards for many and extravagant luxury for a few, military losses in some regions with imperial recovery in others. There are claims of a unipolar, a multi-polar and even a non-polar configuration of world power. Where, when, to what extent and under what contingencies do these claims have validity?

Bubbles and busts come and go - but let us talk of 'beneficiaries': Those who cause crashes, reap the greatest rewards while their victims have no say. The swindle economy and the criminal state prosper by promoting the perversion of culture and literacy. 'Investigatory journalism', or peephole reportage, is all the rage. The world of power spins out of control: As they decline, the leading powers declare "it's our rule or everyone's ruin!"

Evil Rays

Turkey should prepare itself for mass exodus of fighters from Syria

Turkey Syria war
© Unknown
We are publishing below an editorial from the Turkish daily Today's Zaman. The columnist points to the defeat of the Syrian Contras which, in her view, spells out a defeat for Turkey who has given them all out support. While adopting the Atlanticist misrepresentation of the facts, she warns her country against a foreseeable exodus of extremist fighters who will not fail to seep into neighboring countries.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime has been making significant advances on the ground against opposition fighters in a civil war of over two-and-a-half years, raising the possibility of the potential risk of a massive exodus of opposition fighters to neighboring countries including Turkey. Reports coming from both NATO as well as Turkish military sources provide important evidence of the Syrian regime's advances against the opposition, in particular in the past several months.

Comment: Turkey will reap the fruits of the destruction that it has sown.

War Whore

Warwhore: Congresswoman Bachman, representative of Israel, says Iran's nuclear facilities 'must be bombed'

Michele Bachmann
© APTo whom is Michele Bachmann swearing alligiance to?
Republican member of the House of Representatives Rep. Michele Bachmann says Iran's nuclear facilities "must be bombed" despite a nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers.

"It may be incumbent upon the Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] to make a decision he has no desire to make, and that would be to bomb facilities, that must be bombed, in Iran," Bachmann said during a speech at a Zionist Organization of America gala.

On November 24, a six-month accord was sealed in Geneva between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the US, Britain, Russia, France and China -- plus Germany.

The House Intelligence Committee member said the nuclear deal was a deliberate effort to harm Israel's security interests.

"That decision that was made by the P5+1 in Geneva had more to do with Israel than it had to do with Iran," she said.

"Because, you see, the decision that was made could be the biggest cudgel that our president, and that the nations of the world, could use to prevent Israel from defending not only herself, but her right to exist," the congresswoman claimed.


US flyover in China-Japan island row: Will the real provocateur please stand up?

Diaoyu islands
© AFP/Japan Pool via JIJI Press Japan out P-3C patrol plane of Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China, in the East China Sea.
Washington's move to fly nuclear-capable bombers over China's eastern air defense zone as a forceful endorsement of Japan's claims over disputed islands is both needlessly confrontational and totally counterproductive.

The territorial dispute over an uninhabited chain of islands in the East China Sea - referred to as the Senkaku Islands by Japan and the Diaoyu Islands by China - has been a highly contentious issue in Sino-Japanese relations for decades, and the issue has resurfaced in recent times as both sides assert their sovereignty over the area.

Mass protests were seen in China targeting Japan's embassy and Japanese products, shops and restaurants when Tokyo's far-right former Governor Shintaro Ishihara called on Japan to use public money to buy the islands from private Japanese owners in 2012.

The issue stirs passions in Chinese society because Tokyo's claims are seen as an extension of the brutal legacy of the Japanese occupation and a direct challenge to strong historical evidence that has legitimized Chinese sovereignty over the area since ancient times.

Moreover, the official stance of the government in Beijing is that Japan's invalid claims over the islands were facilitated and legitimized by a backdoor-deal between Tokyo and Washington that directly challenges international law and post-World War II international treaties.