Puppet MastersS


13 French officers being held in Syria

© AP Photo/Rodrigo AbdFree Syrian Army fighters gather near a building hit by a Syrian Army tank in Idlib, north Syria, Sunday, March 4, 2012.
Beirut - Around 13 French officers are being held by Syrian authorities in Syria, sources have confirmed to The Daily Star, a claim that the French Foreign Ministry said it could not confirm.

Sources said the group is being held in a field hospital in the city.

It was not clear why the officers were in Syria, when they had arrived or whether they were part of a larger contingent in the city.

Strategic Homs was targeted in a 26-day shelling bombardment by the Syrian Army, which overran the city where anti-Assad protests and Free Syrian Army operations have been focused.

French journalist Remi Ochlick and American Marie Colvin were killed in one shelling attack on a makeshift media center on Feb 22. French reporters Edith Bouvier, who was wounded in the attack, and William Daniels were among four journalists subsequently holed-up in the neighborhood for one week, before being smuggled to Lebanon.

Bad Guys

Best of the Web: Drones in Texas and Tanks in Tampa: Inside the Out-Of-Control Weaponized Homeland Security State

Reaper Drone
Government budgets at every level now include allocations aimed at fighting an ephemeral "War on Terror" in the United States.

At the height of the Occupy Wall Street evictions, it seemed as though some diminutive version of "shock and awe" had stumbled from Baghdad, Iraq, to Oakland, California. American police forces had been "militarized," many commentators worried, as though the firepower and callous tactics on display were anomalies, surprises bursting upon us from nowhere.

There should have been no surprise. Those flash grenades exploding in Oakland and the sound cannons on New York's streets simply opened small windows onto a national policing landscape long in the process of militarization -- a bleak domestic no man's land marked by tanks and drones, robot bomb detectors, grenade launchers, tasers, and most of all, interlinked video surveillance cameras and information databases growing quietly on unobtrusive server farms everywhere.

The ubiquitous fantasy of "homeland security," pushed hard by the federal government in the wake of 9/11, has been widely embraced by the public. It has also excited intense weapons- and techno-envy among police departments and municipalities vying for the latest in armor and spy equipment.


Best of the Web: LulzSec hackers leader Sabu was working for us, says FBI

Hector Xavier Monsegur
Hector Xavier Monsegur, AKA Sabu, who is allegedly the mastermind of hacking group LulzSec
Hacker - real name Hector Xavier Monsegur - helped US authorities bring charges against five others

The world's most notorious computer hacker has been working as an informer for the FBI for at least the last six months, it emerged on Tuesday, providing information that has helped contribute to the charging of five others, including two Britons, for computer hacking offences.

Hector Xavier Monsegur, an unemployed 28-year-old Puerto Rican living in New York, was unmasked as "Sabu", the leader of the LulzSec hacking group that has been behind a wave of cyber raids against American corporations including Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, the intelligence consultancy Stratfor, British and American law enforcement bodies, and the Irish political party Fine Gael.

Magic Wand

Best of the Web: Santorum: 'Higher-income people don't have to pay taxes'

Rick Santorum
Republican presidential Rick Santorum is advising President Barack Obama not to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans because "higher-income people don't have to pay taxes if they don't want to."

"Once we defeat Barack Obama this economy will start turning around," the former Pennsylvania senator told a crowd in Miamisburg, Ohio. "Because you'll know you have someone in there who's going to unshackle businesses, reduce rates, not increase them. The president's promised increased taxes if he's re-elected."

"All he wants to do to solve the deficit problem is increase taxes on people, particularly higher-income people," Santorum continued. "You see, that sounds very populist. Go after the 1 percent. It's interesting because the British just did this. They went after the 1 percent in Britain. They dramatically increased taxes on the highest-income Brits. And guess what? It failed."


Palestine on Hunger Strike

Khader Adnan had been arrested by Israeli authorities eight times before, but this time it'd gone too far. He was suspected of being an active part of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which Israel sees as a terrorist group. Adnan was been detained and no charges were filed against him. In protest, Adnan went on a hunger strike. Ken O'Keefe, human rights activist, joins us to take a deeper look into Adnan's demonstration.

Star of David

Israel wants regional resistance against Tel Aviv destroyed

The Tel Aviv regime is favoring the resignation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in line with its policy of destroying the axis of resistance against Israel in the region, a journalist tells Press TV.

Lizzie Phelan, a British reporter and broadcaster, made the comment in an interview with Press TV on Monday.

"It is not about democracy and human rights in Syria, this is very clear as the Israeli officials say themselves time and time again this is about destroying the axis of resistance to Israel."

On Monday, Israeli media reported that Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon has called for the resignation of President Assad.

"We have a situation whereby a Western-backed illegal insurrection in Syria is being portrayed as a revolution being carried out by freedom fighters, meanwhile... genuine popular uprisings in Bahrain and Yemen are being suppressed by those very same Western forces and Saudi Arabia and Qatar and others," Phelan added.


Geopolitics and The Russian Elections: Putin Wins...

Vlad's the man
Pre-election polls predicted around a 60% majority. Final results show Putin won 63.6% of the vote. He got a clear third term mandate. In 2004, he won 71%.

Five candidates contended:
  • United Russia's Vladimir Putin
  • The Communist Party's Gennady Zyuganov
  • The Liberal Democratic Party's Vladimir Zhirinovsky
  • Just Russia's Sergey Mironov
  • Independent candidate Mikhail Prokhorov (billionaire/Russia's third richest man)
With nearly all votes counted, official results were as follows:
  • Putin: 63.6%
  • Zyuganov: 17.2%
  • Prokhorov: 7.9%
  • Zhirinovsky: 6.2%
  • Mironov: 3.9%
Turnout was 63.3%. It exceeded December's parliamentary elections.


Netanyahu's Gift to Obama: Tale of a Persian Plot

Netanyahu and Obama
© Agence France-Presse
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu handed President Barack Obama a gift on Monday that spoke volumes about Israel's tensions with Iran - an ancient Hebrew tome about a Persian plot to annihilate Jews.

It's called the Scroll of Esther, a tale of palace intrigue featuring a Jewish beauty who charms a Persian king into foiling an evil adviser's genocidal plans for her people some 2,500 years ago.

"Then too, they wanted to wipe us out," Netanyahu told Obama, according to an Israeli official.

Jewish faithful gather in synagogues on Wednesday to read the parchment text, popularly known as the Megillah, on the eve of the Jewish costume holiday of Purim, a celebration of salvation and of turning the tables on one's foes.

"And the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and with slaughter and destruction, and did what they would unto them that hated them," one of the verses says.


ACLU: Obama's extra-judicial killings raise 'profound legal and moral questions'

© Unknown
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is strongly objecting to a speech given Monday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at Northwestern University's law school, during which he offered a public acknowledgement that the Obama Administration believes it has the right to kill U.S. citizens anywhere in the world without judicial review.

Speaking to Raw Story on Monday night, Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's national Security Project, said that Holder's explanation "raises profound legal and moral questions," and poses a grave threat to American liberties should a future president decide to seize upon the precedent for more nefarious purposes.

So far, only three American citizens have been killed by targeted drone strikes overseas, and in each instance the Administration insisted they were participating in terrorist activities and therefore were enemy combatants. Speaking to law students Monday night, Holder insisted that Congress gave the executive branch blanket authority to safeguard national security in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks - meaning they have the right to do as they see fit, with nobody to second guess them.

Bad Guys

Best of the Web: 'Exceptionalism' in America

Banner for Mitt Romney's neoconservative foreign policy white paper,
Banner for Mitt Romney's neoconservative foreign policy white paper, "An American Century"

American politicians forever talk about the nation's "exceptionalism," a special greatness that sets the U.S.A. apart from all others. But this jingoism requires whitewashing much of U.S. history and ignoring much of the present, too, says Lawrence Davidson.

Everyone wants to be exceptional, to be special, to be great at something. Parents spend a lot of time assuring their children that they are indeed exceptional, even though they often know that the their offspring will spend their working lives selling mattresses or cars.

When it comes to individuals there is a very wide range of achievements that can make you stand out. Everyone can be exceptional in some way or other. Yet it is not only individuals who need to feel themselves exceptional or great.