Puppet MastersS

War Whore

Best of the Web: Vote for Endless War: In 2012, whoever gets elected, its the Pentagon that wins

US troops
© Getty

Let's start with this: according to the Pentagon, the production and acquisition costs of Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jet, the military's most expensive weapons program, have risen yet again, this time by 4.3% since 2010 to $395.6 billion. If you're talking about the total cost of the system, including maintenance and support for the nearly 2,500 planes that will some (endlessly delayed) day be produced for the military, that has now reached an estimated $1.51 trillion, a 9% rise since 2010. All this for a plane that some experts doubt has any particular purpose in the future U.S. arsenal.

Bad Guys

The Corruption of Science: How Corporations Like Monsanto Have Hijacked Higher Education

mortarboard money
© Shutterstock/mostafa fawzy
Academic research is often dictated by corporations that endow professorships, give money to universities, and put their executives on education boards.

Here's what happens when corporations begin to control education.

"When I approached professors to discuss research projects addressing organic agriculture in farmer's markets, the first one told me that 'no one cares about people selling food in parking lots on the other side of the train tracks,'" said a PhD student at a large land-grant university who did not wish to be identified. "My academic adviser told me my best bet was to write a grant for Monsanto or the Department of Homeland Security to fund my research on why farmer's markets were stocked with 'black market vegetables' that 'are a bioterrorism threat waiting to happen.' It was communicated to me on more than one occasion throughout my education that I should just study something Monsanto would fund rather than ideas to which I was deeply committed. I ended up studying what I wanted, but received no financial support, and paid for my education out of pocket."

Unfortunately, she's not alone. Conducting research requires funding, and today's research follows the golden rule: The one with the gold makes the rules.

War Whore

Best of the Web: Meet the 'new normal': Fordham University to give Honorary 'Doctorate in Humane Letters' to Kidnap, Torture and Drone Killings Advocate John Brennan

john brennan
White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan
In this season of graduations - and the rush to bestow honorary degrees on the "great and powerful" - one ironic moment will play out at Fordham University, where Jesuits are giving top billing among its honorees to White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan, notes Fordham grad (and ex-CIA analyst) Ray McGovern.

Since even readers of the New York Times are aware of deputy national security adviser John Brennan's open identification with torture, secret prisons and other abuses of national and international law, Fordham University's invitation to him to give the commencement address on May 19 brought, well, shock and awe to many Fordham students, faculty and alumni.

It now turns out we didn't know the half of it. Piling outrage upon indignity, Fordham announced this week that Brennan will enjoy pride of place among the "eight notables" on whom it will confer honorary degrees at commencement. The others receiving a Doctorate in Humane Letters, honoris causa, include Timothy Cardinal Dolan (Archbishop of New York), and Brooklyn congressman Edolphus Towns.

Unlike his co-recipients, Brennan is widely known for his advocacy of kidnapping-for-torture (aka "extraordinary rendition") and killing "militants" (including U.S. citizens) with "Hellfire" missiles fired by "Predator" and "Reaper" drone aircraft.


Henry Kissinger Receives Full TSA Pat-Down at Airport

© The Associated Press/Andy WongKissinger at a summit in Beijing, June 25, 2011.
Henry Kissinger was searched by the Transportation Security Administration at New York's LaGuardia Airport on Monday.

Matthew Cole, a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, recognized the former secretary of state, who was in a wheelchair, at a security checkpoint. The 88-year-old Kissinger, Cole said, got a "full pat-down."

"He stood with his suit jacket off, and he was wearing suspenders," Cole told the Post's "In the Loop" blog. "They gave him the full pat-down. None of the agents seemed to know who he was."

In March, the TSA said it would begin testing a program that would allow passengers 75 and older to keep their shoes and light jackets on as they pass through security. But the TSA said that older passengers may still be subject to normal screening procedures if the full-body scanners detect any anomalies.


Conservatives End Four Years of Denial, Plead Guilty to Illegal Campaign Spending

Stephen Harper
As court orders maximum fine of $52,000, Liberals ask: Did Tories buy their victory?

It was a case that dragged on for years amid rumour, speculation and finally formal charges that accused Stephen Harper's Tory party of a financial sleight-of-hand that allowed it to illegally overspend on campaign advertising.

Now, after four years of denying that it broke the rules on election spending during the 2006 campaign, the federal Conservative Party has admitted that it overspent on ads in the vote that brought Harper to power.

On Thursday, the party and its fundraising arm pleaded guilty of spending more than the $18.3-million legal limit and of filing an election return that failed to report all the expenses it incurred.

The court levied the maximum fine possible: $52,000. Tory spokesmen dismissed the whole mess as an "administrative dispute." The NDP said the ruling party had undermined democracy and it demanded an apology; the Liberals called it an "administrative scam" and speculated that Harper's party may have bought him an election.

The Canadian Press has the latest details:

Ottawa -- The Conservatives are being accused of buying victory in the 2006 election that brought Stephen Harper to power, after pleading guilty Thursday to exceeding their campaign spending limit and failing to report all advertising expenses.

The Conservative party and its fundraising agency both pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Elections Act and agreed to pay maximum fines totalling $52,000.


Curtain Closes on 'Unpopular' Sarkozy Presidency

France's outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy came to power in May 2007 on a promise to change French politics, but his approval rating soon sank as the French grew to dislike his brash behaviour and extravagant style.

Outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy is leaving office as one of the most unpopular presidents in France's history and with the unwelcome distinction of being only the second French head of state to fail to win re-election since World War Two.

Sarkozy, who has suggested he will quit politics when he steps down on May 15, has kept a low profile and avoided encounters with the media in the last days of his five-year mandate.

The subdued finale has contrasted sharply with the boisterous presence that people have grown to expect - and to dislike.

"Sarkozy's approval rating went through several different phases, but it was often under 30% and taken as a whole was the lowest we've recorded for any [French] president," said Eric Bonnet, head of opinion surveys for the French polling firm BVA.

Sarkozy's "bling-bling" style was not the only thing the French loved to loathe. Many disillusioned voters felt Sarkozy had failed to deliver on campaign promises and that several of the reforms he championed, such as pushing the retirement age from 60 to 62 years and offering tax breaks to France's wealthy, were unjust.

Mr. Potato

Hollande to Take Over French Presidency, Dash to Berlin

© ReutersFrançois Hollande.
Socialist Francois Hollande was to be sworn in as France's president Tuesday before naming a prime minister and dashing to Germany to battle with Berlin over how to tackle Europe's debt crisis.

Nine days after he defeated right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy in a fierce campaign, Hollande, 57, was to be inaugurated at the Elysee Palace and only hours later head to Germany for his first foreign visit as president.

He was also set to make the much-anticipated announcement of who will lead his government as prime minister, with Jean-Marc Ayrault, the head of the Socialists' parliamentary bloc, tipped as the heavy favourite.

Hollande is expected to be sworn in shortly after meeting Sarkozy at the Elysee at around 10:00 am (0800 GMT).

The ceremony itself will be relatively simple, with no other heads of state invited, and Hollande accompanied only by his partner, journalist Valerie Trierweiler.

After the swearing in, Hollande will take an open-topped ride in a Citroen DS5 hybrid up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, waving to the crowd.


MKO Terrorists Receive Funds from Saudi Arabia, Israel: MKO Defector

A Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization defector says the terrorist group receives funding from Saudi Arabia and Israel, emphasizing MKO's role in the suppression and massacre of Iraqis under the former Baath regime.
© Press TVFile photo of the members of the terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO)
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Ashraf News website in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Saturday, Maryam Sanjabi said there is evidence about the relations and cooperation between the MKO and the Saudi kingdom.

She added that the group has used the tactic of establishing relations with Jordanian lawmakers in order to expand their activities in Jordan with the help of Riyadh.

She also called on the remaining MKO members in camp Liberty in Iraq to think rationally and take advantage of the Iraqi government and UN decisions about their re-settlement in another country.


Top Joseph Kony Commander Captured

© Agence France-Presse/Getty ImagesCeasar Acellam, a senior member of the Lord's Resistance Army, was arrested by Ugandan forces in Central African Republic.
Kampala, Uganda - Ugandan forces captured a senior commander of Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army after a brief fight with rebels near the Congo-Central African Republic border, an army official said Sunday, in what an analyst said was an "intelligence coup" for forces hunting for Kony.

Lt. Col. Abdul Rugumayo, intelligence chief for Uganda's military operation against the LRA, said Caesar Acellam was captured Saturday with two other rebel fighters as they tried to cross a river called Mbomu.

Although Acellam is not one of the LRA commanders indicted along with Kony in 2005 by the International Criminal Court, Ugandan officials say he was one of Kony's top military strategists and a reliable fighter.

"He is in good condition," Rugumayo said of Acellam. "He was captured with two other rebels. They were in a group of 30 rebels."

He said the others escaped.

Details of precisely how Acellam was captured were not available, but some analysts said it was possible he had just walked into the hands of Ugandan army officials.

"He's been on the defection shelf for a long time," said Angelo Izama, a political analyst with the Kampala-based security think tank Fanaka Kwawote. "This is a big intelligence coup for the Ugandan army."


Electromagnetic Pulse Could Bring Civilization to a Halt

Nuclear Blast
© http://www.ordinary-light.comAtomic weapons testing on Bikini Atoll, 1954. Defence scientists quickly realized the potential for generating electromagnetic pulses with high-altitude nuclear explosions.
An electromagnetic pulse attack could cripple Britain's infrastructure, defence experts fear. This is how they occur.

Defence experts believe detonating a nuclear device above the earth could cripple electronic systems, knock out water and electricity supplies and bring civilisation to a halt.

The abrupt pulse of electromagnetic radiation from a large explosion, such as that produced by a nuclear weapon high above the earth, produces rapidly changes electric and magnetic fields. They generate surges in voltage and current inside electronic equipement - burning out microchips and circuitry.

A nuclear electromagnetic pulse produces three waves of energy. The first is a very fast-moving, brief and intense electromagnetic field. It is created when gamma radiation from the nulcear explosion knocks electrons out of atoms in the earth's upper atmosphere. These electrons start moving downward and interact with the earth's magnetic field - creating a very large, brief pulse.

The second wave is generated by scattered gamma rays. It is similar to the pulses caused by lightning strikes and as such tends to be less damaging to equipment.