Puppet MastersS


Michelle Obama Fought with Top Aides in the White House, New Book 'The Obamas' Says

Michelle Obama was at odds with former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and former press secretary Robert Gibbs: book
© Pete Souza/White HousePresident Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama pay tribute to outgoing Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel at a reception on the Truman Balcony of the White House with senior staff, Oct. 1, 2010.

First lady Michelle Obama is a behind-the-scenes force in the White House whose opinions on policy and politics drew her into conflict with presidential advisers and who bristled at some of the demands and constraints of life as the president's wife, according to a detailed account of the first couple's relationship.

New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor, in a book to be published Tuesday, portrays a White House where tensions developed between Mrs. Obama and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and former press secretary and presidential adviser Robert Gibbs.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the book, The Obamas, Friday evening and The Times posted a 3,300-word adaption on its website that appeared to capture its most revealing accounts. The book is based on interviews with 30 current and former aides, though President Barack Obama and the first lady declined to be interviewed for the book.

The book portrays Mrs. Obama as having gone through an evolution from struggle to fulfillment in her role at the White House but all the while an "unrecognized force" in pursuing the president's goals.


US: New Ron Paul South Carolina Ad Hits Santorum on 'Betrayal'

Ron Paul's campaign is out with this new ad in South Carolina, which hits Rick Santorum on his "record of betrayal."

"One serial hypocrite exposed," the ad says, showing clips of Newt Gingrich. "Now another has emerged: Rick Santorum, a corporate lobbyist and Washington politician. A record of betrayal."


UK: Investors Brush off News Corp Hacking Saga

Rupert Murdoch
© unknownRupert Murdoch
In the six months since the revelation that the News of the World accessed a murdered teenager's voicemail messages, the scandal has cost Rupert Murdoch the British tabloid he bought in 1969 his bid for full control of British Sky Broadcasting, some of his closest executives and, perhaps, his dream of family succession.

Yet, in Wall Street's eyes, it is as though nothing happened. This week, shares in News Corp hit a 52-week high, edging past the peak at which they stood before the Milly Dowler report upended Britain's media, police and political establishment.

Over six-month and 12-month periods, the stock has beaten rivals including Walt Disney, Time Warner and Viacom, and, of 25 analysts following News Corp, 17 rate the stock a "buy" and the other eight a "hold", according to Bloomberg.


Iran, Israel and US plan Gulf Exercises

© unknown
Tension in the oil shipping lanes of the Gulf looks set to intensify amid indications that Iran, Israel and the US will hold military exercises designed to test weaponry and tactics.

As the US and European Union press ahead with oil sanctions on Iran, Tehran's defence minister announced on Friday that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps will hold large-scale exercises in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf next month.

The drills will be the "greatest naval war games" to be conducted by the Iranian military's elite corps, Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, said in remarks published by the semi-official Fars news agency. The exercises, called "the Great Prophet", will take place in February and will be more extensive than Iranian naval manoeuvres in the Sea of Oman that ended this week.


US: Work as Usual for U.S. Warship After Warning by Iran

© Tyler Hicks/The New York TimesA jet after landing on the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis in the North Arabian Sea on Wednesday.
Abroad U.S.S. John C. Stennis, in the North Arabian Sea - If Iran's warning on Tuesday to this American aircraft carrier was intended to disrupt the ship's routine or provoke a high-seas reaction, nothing of the sort was evident on Wednesday.

Steaming in international waters over the horizon from the Iranian fleet, the John C. Stennis spent the day and the early hours of the night launching and recovering aircraft for its latest mission - supporting ground troops in Afghanistan. All visible indications were that the carrier's crew was keeping to its scheduled work, regardless of any political or diplomatic fallout from Iran's warnings.

"It is business as usual here," said Rear Adm. Craig S. Faller, commander of the carrier strike group, as he watched a large-screen radar image showing the nearby sea and sky cluttered with commercial traffic.

The screen also showed Navy jets flying back and forth in a narrow air corridor to Afghanistan, known as "the boulevard."


Mark Levin: 'We Have a Constitutional Crisis'

"That is a forthright statement of a dictator."

On his radio show last night, Mark Levin said that President Barack Obama has caused a "constitutional crisis" by appointing members to the National Labor Relations Board and a director to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau without going through the constitutionally required Senate confirmation process.

"We have a constitutional crisis," Levin said. "It is in fact a constitutional crisis."

"The President of the United States is trashing the Constitution now day in and day out," Levin said.

At one point, Levin likened the explanation Obama made yesterday for appointing these federal officials without Senate confrmation to the "forthright statement of a dictator."

Listen to Levin's full argument here:

Magic Wand

Chile to rethink 'dictatorship' curriculum blunder

pen paper
© AlaskaTeacher/Flick
National Education Council will evaluate other proposals for teaching Chile's military past.

After a five-hour meeting Thursday Chile's Education Minister Harald Beyer said he would instruct the National Education Council to reconsider a controversial change in the wording of Chile's national curriculum for primary school students.

On Wednesday press revealed a measure to replace the word "dictatorship" with "military regime" in the textbooks of primary school students between first and sixth grades, when referring to the brutal 17-year rule of right-wing Gen. Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).

The measure was approved by the National Education Council (CNDE), the body responsible for proposing curricular changes to the ministry, on Dec. 9.


Chilean government labels Carahue fire terrorist act

President Sebastian Piñera
© Courtesy of Gobierno de Chile.President Sebastian Piñera
Government invokes anti-terrorist law and suggests Mapuche arsonists are to blame.

A fire which has claimed the lives of seven firefighters near Carahue in Chile's Araucanía Region was deliberately lit and exhibits conduct of a "terrorist nature," President Sebastian Piñera said late Thursday.

The announcement paves the way for the use of a controversial anti-terrorism law to prosecute suspects. Under the law, which has often been used to prosecute indigenous Mapuche activists, defendants enjoy fewer due process safeguards and face possible jail sentences between five and 20 years.


US: Taibbi - Montana decision 'just the start' of fight against 'Citizens United'

Keith Olbermann Matt Taibbi.
© via Current TV.Current TV host Keith Olbermann talks to Rolling Stone editor Matt Taibbi.
Appearing on Current TV's Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Thursday night, Rolling Stone political contributor Matt Taibbi suggested that a recent decision by the Montana Supreme Court will be seen as the start of a long fight against corporate money in American elections.

The highest court in Montana recently struck down a lower court's ruling which said the state's ban on corporate spending to influence elections was illegal due to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the controversial "Citizens United" decision.

Critics say that "Citizens United" will allow unlimited corporate money to pour into U.S. elections thanks to the Supreme Court finding that money in politics is the same as speech and should not be restricted.


Election Time Again: Obama to let some undocumented immigrants remain in U.S.: report

protest immigration
© Flickr user JacobRuff.A protester demonstrates against Arizona's controversial immigration laws, July 2010.
President Barack Obama will propose a new immigration rule aimed at letting the undocumented children or spouses of U.S. citizens remain in the country while their residency application is considered, an unnamed administration source told The Associated Press on Friday.

The rule would not require action by Congress, and would provide waivers to some undocumented immigrants who travel outside of the country to apply for residency, letting them return to their families in the U.S. within days instead of years.

Current rules ban undocumented immigrants from returning to the U.S. for three to 10 years, depending on how long they were living in the U.S. illegally. Hardship waivers can presently be requested, but they typically take more than six months before being approved.