Puppet MastersS


Pakistan Picks New Director for Spy Agency

Zahir ul-Islam
© ReutersLt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam
Islamabad - The prime minister of Pakistan appointed a new general to run the country's most powerful intelligence agency on Friday, signaling an important change in the military leadership at a pivotal moment in relations with the United States.

Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam will take over as the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, on March 18, replacing Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who has held the post since 2008, a spokesman for Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said.

The ISI chief is the second most powerful figure in the military - some would argue in the country - and General Islam is likely to play a significant role in peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, a movement the ISI has long been accused of supporting.

Although the ISI officially reports to the prime minister, in reality it is controlled by the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, with whom General Pasha had a close relationship during the agency's turbulent relationship with the United States in recent years.


Best of the Web: Censorship attempt by Berkeley police chief

© Frances DinkelspielA reporter interviews Chief Michael Meehan before Thursday's community meeting on the murder of Peter Cukor.
Minutes after reading a late-night news story online about him that he perceived to be inaccurate, Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan ordered a sergeant to a reporter's home insisting on changes, a move First Amendment experts said reeked of intimidation and attempted censorship.

Meehans's actions were "despicable, totally despicable," said Jim Ewert, general counsel of the California Newspaper Publisher's Association. "It's the most intimidating type of (censorship) possible because the person trying to exercise it carries a gun."

Bay Area News Group reporter Doug Oakley said he was shaken by the 12:45 a.m. Friday knock on the door of his Berkeley home. He said at first he and his wife thought something was drastically wrong or perhaps that a relative had died.

Meehan apologized Friday.

"I would say it was an overzealous attempt to make sure that accurate information is put out," Meehan said. "I could have done better." Meehan said he didn't think Oakley would be upset or intimidated because the police sergeant, Mary Kusmiss, regularly deals with the media.

"I did not mean to upset (Oakley) or his family last night; it was late, (I was) tired, too. I don't dispute that it could be perceived badly," he said.


Israel Kills Five More Gaza Gunmen, Rockets Hit Israel

© Reuters/Mohamad TorokmanPalestinian demonstrators run away from tear gas fired by Israeli security officers during clashes at a weekly protest against a nearby Jewish settlement, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, March 9, 2012.
  • EU, Egypt demand halt to the escalating violence
  • Sound of explosions echo across Gaza, southern Israel
Gaza - Israeli warplanes killed five militants in Gaza in a second day of cross-border violence in which gunmen have fired dozens of rockets against Israel and an Israeli missile strike killed a prominent militant, both sides said on Saturday.

Fifteen militants in the Gaza Strip have now been killed since Friday, Hamas medics said. In the most recent attack, a gunman was killed in a vehicle near Gaza's border with Egypt. Earlier in the day Israeli jets killed two gunmen on a motorcycle and two others in a pre-dawn attack, officials in Gaza said.

The sounds of explosions and rocket fire reverberated across coastal Gaza and southern Israel early on Saturday and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said its air strikes would continue.

"This round in the Strip is still far from over," he told reporters on a visit to the south of the country where around half a million Israelis have been told to stay indoors and keep bomb shelters open.

Six people in southern Israel have been injured by rockets fired from Gaza. One man, a Thai, was reported to be in a serious condition.

The flare-up in Gaza is the worst since October, and a further escalation could threaten a wider conflict that may complicate Western efforts to halt bloodshed in the region, including Syria.

Comment: Reuters lying on behalf of Israel once again.

No 'militants' have been killed. However, a funeral procession of some of the first victims has been hit by a US-made missile from an Israeli drone, killing 3 and injuring dozens. Are old ladies and young children grieving for their loved ones 'militants'?

2 + 2 = 4

Report: How Corporations Undermine Science with Fake Bloggers and Bribes

© Photo by Edw via Shutterstock
You've probably heard about how the tobacco industry tried to suppress scientific evidence that smoking causes cancer by publishing shady research, bribing politicians, and pressuring researchers. But you may not have realized that tabacco's dirty tricks are just the tip of the iceberg. In a disturbing new report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists about corporate corruption of the sciences, you'll learn about how Monsanto hired a public relations team to invent fake people who harassed a scientific journal online, how Coca Cola offers bribes to suppress evidence that soft drinks harm kids' teeth, and more. Here are some of the most egregious recent examples of corruption from this must-read report.

Comment: It's actually the reverse. The information regarding tobacco that's being suppressed is that smoking can be healthy. Why would information regarding the "dangers of smoking" be allowed to enter the mainstream when all other information is being suppressed so successfully?

The report is a meaty assessment of corporate corruption in science that stretches back to incidents with Big Tobacco in the 1960s, up through contemporary examples. Here are just a few of those.

Wall Street

War Profiteers: Ten Companies Making a Killing

Global sales of arms and military services by the 100 largest defense contractors increased in 2010 to $411.1 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The increase reflects a decade-long trend of growing military spending. Since 2002, total arms sales among the 100 largest arms manufacturers have increased 60%.

The institute recently published its annual report on the leading arms producing companies in the world - SIPRI Top 100. The report identifies the largest companies in the sector and provides each company's arms sales as a percentage of its total sales. Based on the report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 companies with the highest revenue from arms sales. These companies alone account for $230 billion - over half of all arms sales that year.

While many industries continued to suffer in 2010 as a result of the financial crisis, leaders in the arms and military services were largely unaffected. According to SIPRI arms industry expert Dr. Susan Jackson, when sales dropped, it was not because of the financial crisis. Instead, Dr. Jackson notes that loss in sales was due to "the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq and the subsequent expected decrease in related equipment sales."

Comment: And the American public wonders why their schools are closing, their roads and bridges are falling apart, and why they are being told that Social Security and Medicare (or rather, what is left of it) could be on the chopping block any day now.


War on women: Georgia female state senators walk out in protest

All of the female Democratic state senators walked out of the Georgia Senate on Wednesday to protest bills put forward by the Republican male majority.

The demonstration took place after Republicans passed two bills that opponents have said are part of the GOP's "war on women." The only female Republican senator did not take part in the protest.

State Senate Bill 438, passed by a vote of 33-18, prevents state health plans from paying for abortions. The measure makes no exception even in cases of rape and incest.


Protests Underwhelming After Putin's Election

Vladimir Putin
The anticipated apocalypse did not come to pass. The presidential election in Russia ran its course, Putin was duly elected, and to the great astonishment of the opposition, multimillion crowds demanding the blood of the tyrant did not materialize. Only some 15,000 protesters gathered in central Moscow and dispersed peacefully within two hours. Only a remaining hundred hardcore activists were resolved "to stay until Putin goes" in the frozen city fountain. They were removed by police, charged and released. What a flop!

An inspired spokesperson of the Whites, a returnee from New York Masha Gessen, self-described "Jewish Lesbian, a sworn enemy of the Putin regime", a blogger for the NY Times, "extremely influential", according to Newsweek, who has just published with Riverhead a book prophesying the swift fall of Putin, predicted (or called for) 200,000 angry Russians tearing down the walls of Kremlin and washing with blood the streets on March 5. Rarely has a forecast failed so profoundly.

The last rally had its funny moments. The radicals came with quite obscene slogans against Putin and against his electorate. They booed down almost everybody including the billionaire oligarch Mr. Prokhorov who tried his luck with them. It was rather cold, almost 20 degrees F (-6°C), and the call of Udaltsov and Navalny to stay put was met with visible disbelief. Navalny looked extremely unhappy; he spoke of the need to build a movement from scratch. The police behaved very well; even the participants lauded its polite and respectful attitude. US cops could take a lesson from Moscow riot police how to be cool.

Eye 1

Sabu - The Secret life of LulzSec's Chief Hacker

© UnknownHector Xavier Monsegur
Hector Xavier Monsegur, the LulzSec chief hacker turned FBI informant, allegedly participated in a number of online attacks since 1999. 

Monsegur, who adopted the nom de plume "Sabu," was also accused of attempting to sell four pounds of marijuana, buying stolen jewelry and using a former employer's credit card to make $15,000 in purchases. 

However, Monsegur won't be charged for the above-mentioned crimes due to his cooperation with law enforcement officials. 

Nevertheless, Sabu may face more than 122 years in prison after pleading guilty in 2011 to 12 criminal charges, including three counts of conspiracy to engage in computer hacking, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

"Since literally the day he was arrested, the defendant has been cooperating with the government proactively," Assistant US Attorney James Pastore said at an Aug. 5, 2011, bail hearing quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

War Whore

Syria War Plans being prepared by Pentagon

In testimony before a Senate committee Wednesday, the Pentagon's civilian and uniformed chiefs confirmed that they are drawing up war plans against Syria at the request of the Obama White House.

The statements by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey came amid mounting evidence that Washington and its key European allies, working in conjunction with the right-wing monarchical regimes in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are escalating a covert intervention aimed at bringing about Syrian regime change.

Much of the media coverage of Wednesday's hearing focused on the jingoistic intervention of Arizona's Senator John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate. He is demanding US air strikes against Syria, to carve out "safe havens" in which Western-backed armed groups can prepare military strikes against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"How many additional civilian lives would have to be lost in order to convince you that the military measures of the kind we are proposing necessary to end the killing and force Assad to leave power?" McCain demanded of Panetta.

Star of David

Netanyahu's target is Obama, not Iran

One version of "Greater Israel"
It cannot be denied that the Holocaust theme has served Netanyahu well politically. As many commentators have pointed out, Netanyahu has succeeded in reframing political discourse on the Middle East: this visit to the U.S. was the first in a long time in which the Palestinian issue was completely off the table. Nobody even raised the question of settlement construction or the old question how to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiation table. Instead of being on the defensive on the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu is now on the offensive on Iran. By invoking the allied power's failure to disrupt the Nazis sending millions to concentration camps in 1944, he is reminding the Free World of a horrible mistake, and demanding that this mistake not be repeated. Carlo Strenger - Haaretz
Observing Netanyahu's continuous invocation of the Holocaust and the imminent threat of Iran annihilating the Jewish people, it is passing curious to note that much of the most qualified Israeli military and intelligence community is openly against attacking Iran and neither are most Israelis.
Most Israelis believe that if the United States does not attack Iran's nuclear facilities, Israel must not try to do so alone, according to a Haaretz poll.