Puppet MastersS


Sarkozy camp fumbles response to graft charges

© altermedia.infoSarkozy campaigned on an anti-sleaze platform during the 2007 presidential elections in France.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's allies came out fighting on Friday as a graft scandal threatened to derail his re-election bid, but their panicked response drew more fire from his opponents.

This week two of Sarkozy's closest associates, including the best man at his 2008 wedding, were arrested and charged by police investigating alleged kickbacks on an arms deal and illegal campaign finance contributions.

The money was allegedly kicked back to former Prime Minister Edouard Balladur's failed 1995 presidential campaign by middlemen in a contract to supply French submarines to Pakistan.

Sarkozy was the campaign's spokesman at the time of the alleged payments, but angrily insists he had nothing to do with funding. Government stalwarts leapt to his defence, but the response has been muddled.


Allies of French President Are Questioned in Graft Inquiry

Sarko l'Americain: gun-running, suitcases full of cash, stolen elections... he's got all it takes to be the leader of a major western nation in the 21st century.
Three allies of President Nicolas Sarkozy of France on Friday found themselves the focus of an expanding investigation into a 17-year-old case involving suspected corruption in the sale of submarines to Pakistan.

The inquiry has gathered momentum at a difficult time for Mr. Sarkozy, only seven months before he is to seek re-election.

The case, known here as "the Karachi Affair," centers on kickbacks that investigators suspect were paid to secure the sale of three submarines to Pakistan in 1994 and then used to help finance the presidential campaign of former Prime Minister Edouard Balladur in 1995.

On Thursday, the police arrested one of Mr. Sarkozy's allies, Nicolas Bazire, who was a witness at his wedding to Carla Bruni in 2008 and was also Mr. Balladur's campaign chief in 1995. Mr. Bazire was accused of complicity in the misuse of public money.


Sarkozy aide's wife claims he handled 'bags of cash' for illegal political funds

© AFP/Getty ImagesThierry Gaubert, left, an associate of President Sarkozy, was arrested last week. Princess Hélène has made damning accusations against her husband
The aristocratic wife of a former aide to President Nicolas Sarkozy has publicly accused her estranged husband of making frequent trips abroad in the 1990s to collect "bags of cash" for illegal political funds.

In her first public comments on a deepening political scandal, Princess Hélène of Yugoslavia, 50, also said she had been threatened by her husband with losing custody of her children and "ending in an asylum" if she spoke too freely to independent investigators.

Princess Hélène, the great-grand-daughter of the last king of Italy, has become one of the key figures in the so-called "Karachi affair" since her husband, Thierry Gaubert, and Nicolas Bazire, another close associate of Mr Sarkozy, were arrested last week and formally accused of handling kick-backs on multibillion-dollar arms contracts.


Sarkozy in hot water as investigation reveals his role in illegal arms kickbacks

French President Nicholas Sarkozy's bid to be re-elected to office for a second term has been dealt a severe blow by an ever-widening arms deal scandal. Three of Sarkozy's close aides are already under investigation for their parts in a sordid story of kickbacks, failed presidential campaigns and fatal bomb blasts in Pakistan. The French sure do turn up in arms deal sagas rather frequently eh?

Known in France as L'affaire Karachi, or less lyrically in English, "The Karachi affair", it has enraptured French media in recent weeks. It is, after all, the most explosive corruption investigation in recent French history and poses a significant threat against the President himself. The scandal dates all the way back to 1995 when France sold Pakistan three submarines. It is alleged that the commissions "earned" by the French officials who secured the deal, theoretically helped fund the presidential campaign of former Prime Minister Edouard Balladur. Sarkozy was the finance minister at the time and a spokesman for Balladur. French prosecutors are also investigating an additional case which alleges that the failure of French officials to pay "kickbacks" to their Pakistani counterparts who had helped to secure the deal, resulted in a bomb attack on a bus in Karachi in 2002 in which 15 people, including 11 French submarine engineers, died.


'The Karachi Affair' and Sarkozy's defeat

May 2002 bombing outside the Sheraton in Karachi, Pakistan: not the work of Islamic terrorists after all
Last Sunday's Senatorial elections in France were a gripping and telling sign of the public opinion of President Sarkozy's policies and the definite desire for a change of government. Never before, since the founding of France's Fifth Republic in 1958, has the control of the Senate gone to the Left Wing Socialist Party. Clearly, it is high time for the Sarkozy administration, which leans towards the Center Right, to read between the lines.

There are several facets on the political, economical and social levels of the implication of what the election results indicate about public discontentment with Sarkozy and his policies.

To begin with, it seems that here is a president who, rather than bring social unity and coherence in a country whose population is one-fifth of ethnic origin, appears to create more of an ethnic divide. This is particularly true of the Sarkozy relationship with the Muslim population in France, of whom there are 6 million and with whom Sarkozy has not only never tried to establish ties but rather isolated and alienated them. The recent ban on veils and prayers on the street is a potent example.

Granted France is a secular country, but those issues are very far from being what ails France today and what very well may cause the president his re-election. What is striking here is that with all of France's profound woes, why these issues even come up in Parliamentary discussions. While veils and prayers being held on the street may be an eyesore to some, they pose absolutely no threat or danger to French society.

Star of David

US Nuclear Weapons Unaccountable


Israel, working with deeply-embedded intelligence moles in the United States, including within the U.S. government and "off-the-books" intelligence front companies, has been pilfering spent U.S. nuclear fuel from American nuclear arms caches at a phenomenal rate over the last several years. U.S. and foreign intelligence sources have confirmed that much of the nuclear fuel has been shipped to Israel and other locations via the port of Houston.

The illegal smuggling of spent highly-enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium fuel from U.S. nuclear weapons facilities is the same outbound Houston shipping pipeline used by Bush-influenced Carlyle Group and the firm's front companies in Spain and France to ship precursor nerve gas chemicals to Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the 1980s, according to one Pentagon intelligence source.

The nuclear smuggling is a major back story to a September 8 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report titled "Nuclear Nonproliferation: U.S. Agencies Have Limited Ability to Account for, Monitor, and Evaluate the Security of U.S. Nuclear Material Overseas." The most serious finding in the GAO report states:

Star of David

Merkel: Netanyahu Foils Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations

Angela Merkel and Benjamin Netanyahu

Berlin- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has foiled Palestinian-Israeli negotiations when he approved building 1100 housing units in East Jerusalem.

She said, following a phone call with Netanyahu described by her as "very difficult," that "I am unable to believe anything Netanyahu says."

Haaretz newspaper described the crisis between Merkel and Netanyahu as unprecedented, due to the Israeli intransigence in continuing settlement activities.

It added that the US administration scolded the Israeli ambassador in Washington, considering settlement activities as endangering the resumption of negotiations and American efforts to achieve peace.

Israeli sources said Germany may stop supporting Israel against establishing a Palestinian state.


House deadlocked over distributing oil spill fines

development driller III
© AP Photo/Gerald HerbertThis file photo made Aug. 3, 2010, shows the Development Driller III, which is drilling the primary relief well, and the Helix Q4000, background left, the vessel being used to perform the static kill operation, at the site of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana. With the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history effectively stopped, and the White House considering an early end to its moratorium on deepwater drilling, Big Oil seems closer to getting back to work in the Gulf.

Washington -- Some 17 months after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Gulf Coast lawmakers in the U.S. House remain unable to agree on a bill to send spill fines to the affected areas.

While aides to two Gulf Coast representatives said last month that House lawmakers were on the verge of a breakthrough agreement, no accord has yet been announced and the members are now keeping tight-lipped.

At stake is potentially billions of dollars in environmental and economic recovery money, which Gulf states won't see unless Congress acts.


Best of the Web: France puts itself on suicide watch: MIVILUDES vilifying 'cults' to justify its own existence

© Parrot-Ruet/Sygma/Corbis16 people including 3 children are shot dead, then burned with a flame thrower on December 23, 1995, on the Vercors Plateau, near Saint-Pierre-de-Cherennes in France
A government agency is taking on superstitious cults with unusual zeal

No other nation in recent history appears to have taken so fervently to apocalyptic prophesies as France has, reports the London Times. Then again, not many nations have a government agency specifically responsible for investigating "cults and suspicious spiritual activities." Indeed, the French agency - known as MIVILUDES - delivered a mass-suicide warning last week, apparently worried about a possible suicide frenzy come Dec. 21, 2012, the day the 5,000-year-old Mayan calendar ends. MIVILUDES contends that the Internet age, natural disasters, and economic turmoil - combined with the ancient Mayan prophecy - have inspired widespread belief in a coming Armageddon (there has been a recent migration of people to the hilltop village of Bugarach, said to be a place immune to apocalypse).

The agency's concern is not entirely outlandish: in the 1990s, 74 people belonging to a cult called the Order of the Solar Temple - 16 of them in France and eight in Quebec - died in murder-suicides to avoid an Armageddon. But cult expert Susan Palmer of Concordia University says that "MIVILUDES is creating artificial emergencies to support the state-sponsored anti-cult movement." Palmer, whose upcoming book The New Heretics of France, about the French anti-cult movement, believes MIVILUDES spends more time vilifying cults than actually researching them - "obviously trying to justify its own existence."

Comment: The 16 mentioned above who were killed in France (well, it appears that 14 of them were killed by the other 2) were connected to the Order of the Solar Temple suicides in Switzerland and Quebec over a year previously. It seems that the very suspicious deaths which took place in France were deliberately conflated with the OST deaths in order to justify the beginning of the French state's witch hunt of people it considers to be subversive.

The suspicious deaths in Vercors, France on 23rd December 1995, took place just one day after a report of the Parliamentary Commission on Cults listing 172 'cultic movements' was ratified unanimously and published in just 50 minutes by only 7 MPs in the French National Assembly. Thus began France's witch hunt.

Bad Guys

US strike kills 35 Somali civilians

Al-Shabab fighters
Al-Shabab fighters (file photo)
A US airstrike has killed at least 35 civilians and wounded 50 others in Elbur town of Galgaduud region in central Somalia, Press TV reports.

The incident took place in the village of Ceelgaras on the outskirts of Elbur on Saturday, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Local residents said dozens of civilians who were injured in the attack have been transferred to a local hospital.

A Somali government official has said that the aerial attack targeted al-Shabab's military base in the region.