Puppet MastersS

Beaker

Feds Approve Monsanto Herbicide-Resistant Crops

corn
© Ian Hayhurst / Jared Rodriguez
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved plantings of three genetically engineered (GE) crops in as many weeks, including Monsanto Co.'s Roundup Ready sugar beets and alfalfa that are engineered to tolerate Roundup Ready weed-killing herbicide.

The USDA on February 11 also legalized, without restriction, the world's first GE corn crop meant for biofuel production. Biotech giant Syngenta's Event 3272 seed corn will simplify ethanol production and is not meant to feed animals or humans.

The approvals flew in the face of legal and regulatory challenges posed by GE crop opponents and members of the agricultural industry. Opponents fear the GE crop varieties could contaminate conventional food crops and promote the overuse of herbicides like the glyphosate-based Roundup and more toxic chemicals used to kill glyphosate-resistant weeds.

Monsanto won a victory on February 4 when the USDA partially deregulated Roundup Ready sugar beets. A federal court in August 2010 temporarily banned the beets and ordered the USDA to re-review the environmental impacts of the Roundup Ready sugar beets as the result of a lawsuit filed by farmers and environmental groups.

Plaintiff attorney Paul Achitoff from the environmental group Earthjustice said the USDA's decision to allow plantings of the sugar beets under "lax conditions" violates federal law. However, the USDA said the beets pose no "plant pest risk" and farmers can start planting them before a final Environmental Impact Statement is issued in 2012.

Dollar

US: Deficit is Biggest as Share of Economy Since 1945

Obama budget
© AP/J. Scott ApplewhiteCopies of President Obama's 2012 budget are delivered to the Senate Budget Committee by staff member Dylan Morris, Monday, Feb. 14, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Not since World War II has the federal budget deficit made up such a big chunk of the U.S. economy. And within two or three years, economists fear the result could be sharply higher interest rates that would slow economic growth.

The budget plan President Barack Obama sent Congress on Monday foresees a record deficit of $1.65 trillion this year. That would be just under 11 percent of the $14 trillion economy -- the largest proportion since 1945, when wartime spending swelled the deficit to 21.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

The danger is that a persistently large gap in the budget could threaten the economy. Investors would see lending their money to the U.S. as riskier. So they'd demand higher returns to do it. Or they'd simply put their cash elsewhere. Interest rates on mortgages and other debt would rise as a result.

And if borrowing turned more expensive, people and businesses might scale back their spending. That would weaken an economy still struggling to lower unemployment, revive real estate prices and restore corporate and consumer confidence.

So far, it hasn't happened. It's still cheap for the government to borrow money and finance deficits. But economists fear the domino effect if all that changes.

Bad Guys

US: Army Admits Gulf War Medical Records Destroyed

Op Desert storm
© Peter Turnley / Corbis
St. Petersburg, Fla. - A letter from the Department of the Army telling units to destroy their records after the end of Operation Desert Storm has made it more difficult for injured veterans to get the medical benefits they need.

The letter, never made public before now, says units were told to destroy their records because officials had no room to ship the paperwork back to the United States. The letter goes on to say it was in direct contradiction to existing Army regulations.

"This could have been one, five, six, a couple of hundred or this could be thousands (of soldiers)," says Andrew Marshall, a Florida regional officer with the nonprofit Disabled American Veterans group. "You don't know."

One solider trying to get help from the Veterans Administration for combat-related injuries says he has been turned down because his records are missing. He did not want to be identified.

He says he has all the medical records for the time he was in the states, but the records for everything that happened outside of the country are gone.

Bad Guys

Defector who told the West about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction admits he lied

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© unknownLied: Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, known by the alias Curveball, admits he lied when he told German intelligence that the Iraqi dictator had mobile weapons laboratories as part of a secret biological programme
An Iraqi defector who convinced the West that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which was used as a basis for war, has admitted he lied.

Engineer Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, known by the alias Curveball, told German intelligence that the Iraqi dictator had mobile weapons laboratories as part of a secret biological programme.

However, in an interview with the Guardian newspaper, he now says he lied in order to rid his country of the brutal regime, which he had fled in 1995.

Stop

Egypt's military dissolves Parliament, suspends constitution

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© unknownProtesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square carry Egyptian police officers on their shoulders Sunday.
Egypt's military dissolved the country's Parliament and suspended its constitution Sunday following the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, telling Egyptians it would be in charge for six months or until elections can be held.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said it would appoint a committee to propose changes to the Constitution, which would then be submitted to voters. The council will have the power to issue new laws during the transition period, according to a communique read on state television.

Sameh Shoukry, Egypt's ambassador to the United States, said Sunday that the generals have made restoring security and reviving the economy its top priorities.

"This current composition is basically a technocratic government to run the day-to-day affairs, to take care of the security void that has happened, and to also address the issues related to the economy," Shoukry told CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

Handcuffs

Silvio Berlusconi WILL face trial for having sex with 17-year-old Moroccan belly dancer

Berlusconi
© GettyIn the dock: Silvio Berlusconi salutes during his visit to Mineo in Sicily today
Silvio Berlusconi was yesterday sent for trial on charges of sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of power.

An all-female panel of judges ruled that the Italian Prime Minister should be tried based on 782 pages of wire taps, intercepted text messages and bank details.

If convicted, he could face 15 years in prison. Mr Berlusconi, 74, denies the charges and claims he is the victim of a political witch hunt.

He has been at the centre of torrid allegations since it emerged he had paid teenage Moroccan belly dancer Karima El Mahroug.

Prosecutors said he also used his influence to secure her release when she was arrested.

Star of David

SOTT Focus: A Sovereign Palestinian State?

Over the past few months, numerous nations have taken the step of officially recognising a Palestinian state, or the right for Palestinians to have a 'sovereign' state of their own. Over the course of a few weeks at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana and Peru all declared Palestine as a 'free and sovereign State". On January 19th, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev joined the chorus when he met with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank oasis town of Jericho and reaffirmed his country's support for a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.

While such moves are to be welcomed, we shouldn't allow them to obscure the reality on the ground in Palestine and Israel. For several decades, Israeli authorities have followed a policy of building illegal (according to international law) Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. As of early 2011, half a million Jewish settlers are living in over 150 settlements (comprising small to medium-sized towns) in both the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem. The simple reality is that the extent of these settlements is such that, unless most of them are removed, there is simply no 'sovereign' Palestinian land on which a Palestinian State could ever be established. As a result, all affirmations by other nations, however well-intentioned, of a Palestinian right to statehood ring rather hollow.

Phoenix

Best of the Web: Dresden - The Real Holocaust

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The full extent of the Dresden Holocaust can be more readily grasped if one considers that as many as a half a million persons died within a 14-hour period, whereas estimates of those who died at Hiroshima range from 90,000 to 140,000. Author Kurt Vonnegut was in Dresden as an American POW when it was bombed in 1945; he wrote a famous anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse Five, in 1969, based on his experience. The book was banned in several US states - and branded a "tool of the devil" in North Dakota. Churchill, the monster who ordered the Dresden slaughter, was knighted. The rest is history...

The WWII Dresden Holocaust - 'A Single Column Of Flame'
"You guys burnt the place down, turned it into a single column of flame. More people died there in the firestorm, in that one big flame, than died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined." - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr
On the evening of February 13, 1945, an orgy of genocide and barbarism began against a defenseless German city, one of the greatest cultural centers of northern Europe. Within less than 14 hours not only was it reduced to flaming ruins, but an estimated one-third of its inhabitants, possibly as many as a half a million, had perished in what was the worst single event massacre of all time.

Target

British Cabinet Office Collaborates With French Brainwashing Guru To Change The Way We Think

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© unkOlivier Oullier, President Sarkozy's Brainwashing Guru
On 3 January 2011, following the UK Column's lead article exposing insider dealing between the Cabinet office and political behavioural training charity Common Purpose, the Independent newspaper revealed that David Cameron had also set up a Cabinet Office Behavioural Insight Team. Formed in July last year, the secretive cell is tasked to "dream up psychological tricks to alter our behaviour" - and on a massive scale.

The Independent article warned how the public is to be reframed or "nudged" into politically acceptable "Social Norms"; starting with healthy eating, voluntary work and tax gathering. While this may seem innocent to some people, these early 'soft' targets are already being greatly expanded to include wider central government ideological and political agendas, including Cameron's socialist straitjacket of the Big Society. Elite multi-millionaire Socialist and Tory Chancellor George Osborne has already signed up to Behavioural Economics - another form of mental reframing of individuals and groups, specifically to achieve political economic objectives. Their theory and intent is, that once mentally retrained, we "willingly rush to pay excessive taxes".

Stormtrooper

Wisconsin Governor Walker Threatens To Deploy National Guard As 'Intimidation Force' Against Workers' Unions

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© unkWisconsin Governor Walker
Last month, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said that if employees strike, "they should be fired," and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) wrote in an op-ed that the moral case for unions "does not apply to public employment."Now, facing a $137 million budget deficit, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a "budget repair bill" that would severely limit collective bargaining, eliminate the right of unions to negotiate pensions, retirement and benefits.

Walker is facing fierce criticism for this all-out assault against state workers, especially after he insisted that the "National Guard" will be used against a walkout:

When asked by a reporter what will happen if workers resist, Walker replied that he would call out the National Guard. He said that the National Guard is "prepared...for whatever the governor, their commander-in-chief, might call for. ... I am fully prepared for whatever may happen."