Puppet MastersS

Bad Guys

Palestine's Last Village Faces Bulldozers

© unknownThe village of Lifta today
Lifta to be Razed for Israeli Vacation Homes

On a rocky slope dropping steeply away from the busy main road at the entrance to West Jerusalem is to be found a scattering of ancient stone houses, empty and clinging precariously to terraces hewn from the hillside centuries ago.

Although most Israeli drivers barely notice the buildings, this small ghost town -- neglected for the past six decades -- is at the centre of a legal battle fuelling nationalist sentiments on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

Picking his way through the cluster of 55 surviving houses, their stone walls invaded by weeds and shrubs, Yacoub Odeh, 71, slipped easily into reminiscences about the halcyon days in Lifta.

He was only eight years old in January 1948 when the advancing Jewish forces put his family and the 3,000 other Palestinian villagers to flight.

Over the coming months, as the Jewish state was born, they would be joined by 750,000 others forced into exile in an event that is known by Palestinians as the "nakba", or catastrophe.

Despite the passage of time, Lifta's chief landmarks are still clear to Mr Odeh: the remains of his own family's home, an olive press, the village oven, a spring, the mosque, the cemetery and the courtyard where the villagers once congregated.


Qaddafi Seeks Exit Guarantees: Russian Envoy

© Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images Muammar Qaddafi attends a ceremony for the Italia - Libya friendship day at Salvo D'Acquisto barracks, on Aug. 30, 2010 in Rome.
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi will have to receive security guarantees to relinquish his four decades of rule over the North African nation, said Mikhail Margelov, Russia's envoy for negotiating Qaddafi's departure.

"Qaddafi will be interested in getting guarantees about his personal security," Margelov said in a phone interview from Harare today after holding talks with Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

Qaddafi is willing to surrender power in exchange for security guarantees, Moscow-based Kommersant reported today, citing an unidentified high-level Russian official. President Dmitry Medvedev yesterday discussed an African Union plan to resolve the conflict in Libya with his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Russia's resort of Sochi.

"The meeting was very effective because Mr. Zuma set out his vision of how to achieve a political solution in Libya," Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's ambassador to NATO and a participant in the talks, said by phone today from St. Petersburg.

NATO must end its campaign against Qaddafi's forces to allow the political process to go forward, Rogozin said.
Unfreezing Assets

Countries including France have signaled they may meet Qaddafi's conditions by unfreezing his assets and providing immunity from the United Nations war tribunal in The Hague if he cedes power peacefully, Kommersant reported.


US: At New Hampshire Town Hall, Romney Says Obama Has Made the Economy Worse

© The Washington Post
Wolfeboro - Mitt Romney again said Tuesday that President Obama has made the economy worse, speaking during a visit to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire and reclaiming an argument that seemed murky last week.

Calling Obama "a very nice fellow . . . who didn't have a track record that we could look at" during the 2008 campaign, Romney blamed the president for the economy's deterioration since he took office in 2009.

"The president came in, and he didn't cause the recession, as you know . . . but he didn't make it better, he made things worse," Romney said, speaking at Bayside Grill & Tavern in Wolfeboro. "And he made things worse through a series of actions which hurt the economy at a time when it needed to be taking off. The recovery is extraordinarily anemic, again, because things he did made that recovery worse."

The former Massachusetts governor took his campaign message to his own back yard Tuesday morning, holding a wide-ranging town hall with about 200 of his neighbors in this resort town near his vacation home and laying out his vision for the economy, health care, foreign policy and immigration.

The 2012 Republican front-runner had seemed to backtrack on a similar claim about Obama and the economy last week, and his critics have seized on that as proof of flip-flopping - an accusation that hurt Romney during the 2008 GOP nomination race.

Bad Guys

Propaganda Alert! US warning of airline plot to implant bombs in people

© Agence France-PresseUS officials have warned airlines terror groups may be mulling implanting bombs under the skins of passengers, reports said Wednesday, but stressed the alert was not linked to any specific threat

US officials have warned airlines terror groups may be mulling implanting bombs under the skins of passengers, reports said Wednesday, but stressed the alert was not linked to any specific threat.

The Los Angeles Times said the US administration had warned airlines that extremist groups were considering surgically implanting explosives into people to try to beat enhanced airport security measures.

Passengers flying to the United States could now face even tougher screening procedures, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, Nicholas Kimball, told the daily.

"These measures are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same activity at every international airport," Kimball said, adding existing methods could not detect plastic explosives under the skin.


Misery Lit: Unhappy Julian Assange Changes Mind on Memoirs

© Lewis Whyld/PAJulian Assange has indicated that he no longer wished to write the kind of book that was initially envisaged.
WikiLeaks founder thought to have told publishers book could give ammunition to US prosecutors

The million-pound book deal signed by Julian Assange to write his memoirs has collapsed, the Guardian has learned, after the WikiLeaks founder became unhappy with the process.

Assange signed a high profile deal for his memoirs in December with the Edinburgh-based publishers Canongate and US firm Alfred A Knopf, for a reported sum of £930,000. The rights have subsequently been sold in 35 countries.

At the time, Assange said he hoped the book "would become one of the unifying documents of our generation". But he also indicated that the deal was critical in helping to fund his legal fight against extradition to Sweden to face accusations of rape and sexual assault.

According to publishing sources, however, the contract has fallen through, at least in its original form, after Assange indicated he no longer wished to write the kind of book that was initially envisaged.


US: Union Workers Replaced With Prison Labor Under Scott Walker's Collective Bargaining Law

While Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) law dismantling collective bargaining rights has harmed teachers, nurses, and other civil servants, it's helping a different group in Wisconsinites - inmates. Prisoners are now taking up jobs that used to be held by unionized workers in some parts of the state.

As the Madison Capital Times reports, "Besides losing their right to negotiate over the percentage of their paycheck that will go toward health care and retirement, unions also lost the ability to claim work as a 'union-only' job, opening the door for private workers and evidently even inmates to step in and take their place." Inmates are not paid for their work, but may receive time off of their sentences.

Bad Guys

Best of the Web: Psychopaths often lack insight into their nature: "Sexy Israel" gets treatment for flotilla nightmares and exposes her pathology in the process

(Update below: Actress is Israeli and appears to have been commissioned on Hasbara gig)

I'm somewhat of a fool for excruciatingly bad Hasbara videos, but this one surely takes the cake:


Journalism as a Weapon of War in Libya

© UnknownLibyans rally in support of their leader
The truth has been turned on its head in Libya. NATO and the Libyan government are saying contradictory things. NATO says that the Libyan regime will fall in a matter of days, while the Libyan government says that the fighting in Misrata will end in about two weeks.

During the night the sound of NATO jets flying over Tripoli can be heard in the Mediterranean coastal city. Tripoli has not been bombed for a few days, but the sound of the flyovers have been numerous. The Atlantic Alliance deliberately picks the night as a means to disturb the sleep of residence in an attempt to spread fear. Small children in Libya have lost a lot of sleep during this war. This is part of the psychological war being waged. It is meant to break the spirit of Libya. This is all additional to the severing wound imposed on Libya through trickery and sedition.

In the same context, the media war against Libya has continued too. The Rixos Hotel in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, where the majority of the international press is located, is a nest of lies and warped narratives where foreign reporters are twisting realities, spinning events, and misreporting to justify the NATO war against Libya. Every report and news wire being sent out of Libya by international reporters has to carefully be cross-checked and analyzed. Foreign journalists have put words in the mouth of Libyans and are willfully blind. They have ignored the civilian deaths in Libya, the clear war crimes being perpetrated against the Libyan people, and the damage to civilian infrastructure, from hotels to docks and hospitals.

Arrow Down

Boat sinks off Sudan, 197 killed

"One hundred and ninety seven people from neighboring countries drowned in the Red Sea, inside Sudanese territorial waters, following the burning of a boat that was illegally transporting them to Saudi Arabia," Sudan Media Centre cited a Sudanese official as saying.

Sudanese authorities said only three people had been rescued, stating that efforts to find survivors were underway, AFP reported on Tuesday.

Four Yemenis who were thought to be the owners of the Cuban-flagged boat have been arrested in connection with the incident, officials said.

Sudanese authorities added they had foiled a people-trafficking plan that aimed at transferring 247 immigrants from Somalia, Eritrea, Chad, and Nigeria through Sudan's coastal region of Tokar.

Somali refugees, fleeing violence in their country, often try going to Saudi Arabia via the sea with the help of smugglers. Many end up first in the kingdom's poor southern neighbor Yemen which is closer to Somalia.


Strauss-Kahn case maid sues New York Post over prostitute allegation

© Allison Joyce/ReutersJustice in the USA: a reporter holds up the front page of the New York Post on Saturday 2 July.
Newspaper and five of its journalists face lawsuit amid spate of leaks about alleged sexual attack

The hotel maid at the centre of the attempted rape case against the former head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is suing the New York Post for libel after the newspaper accused her of working as a prostitute.

The lawsuit was filed against the Post and five of its journalists after a stream of articles over the weekend that claimed she had engaged in sex work both in the Sofitel hotel where Strauss-Kahn had been staying at the time of the alleged assault and afterwards when the maid was under the protective care of New York police.

The legal action, reported by Reuters, says that "all of these statements are false, have subjected the plaintiff to humiliation, scorn and ridicule throughout the world by falsely portraying her as a prostitute or as a woman who trades her body for money and they constitute defamation and libel per se."