Puppet MastersS


U.S. to Cut Funds for Water Testing at Beaches

A sample of ocean water is collected
© Irfan Khan, Los Angeles TimesA sample of ocean water is collected at Dana Point Harbor for testing.
The EPA plans to cut $10 million in grants it gives annually. Water quality advocates worry that swimmers and surfers will be at even greater risk of illness.

Health testing at beaches in California and across the nation is at risk of being cut under a plan to eliminate federal funds for monitoring whether the water is too contaminated to swim in.

Citing the "difficult financial climate," the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in its budget request this week that it would do away with $10 million in grants it gives each year to state and local agencies in coastal and Great Lakes states to test for tainted water.

"While beach monitoring continues to be important to protect human health and especially sensitive individuals," the EPA said in an emailed statement, "states and local governments now have the technical expertise and procedures to continue beach monitoring without federal support."

But state and local officials have struggled to pay for health testing along California's busy coastline in recent years, and water quality advocates worry that swimmers and surfers will be at even greater risk of getting sick if the federal funds evaporate.

Bad Guys

Syria: End of Game in the Middle East

Although the armed clashes are not completely over in the beleaguered district of Homs and that the Syrian and Lebanese authorities have yet to inform public opinion of their recent actions, Thierry Meyssan appeared Monday night on the leading Russian television channel to make an initial assessment of the operations, providing first-hand information which he is sharing with the readers of Voltaire Network.

For eleven months, the Western powers and the Gulf States have lead a campaign to destabilize Syria. Several thousand mercenaries infiltrated the country. Recruited by agencies in Saudi Arabia and Qatar within the Sunni extremist community, they came to overthrow the "Alawite usurper" Bashar al-Assad and impose a Wahhabi-inspired dictatorship. They have at their disposal some of the most sophisticated military equipment, including night vision systems, communication centers, and robots for urban warfare. Supported secretly by the NATO powers, they also have access to vital military information, including satellite images of Syrian troop movements, and telephone interceptions.

This has been falsely portrayed to the Western public as a political revolution crushed in blood by a ruthless dictatorship. Of course, this lie has not been universally accepted. Russia, China and the Latin American and Caribbean member states of ALBA repudiate it. They each have a historical background that allows them to readily grasp what is at stake. The Russians are thinking of Chechnya, the Chinese of Xinjiang, and the Latin Americans of Cuba and Nicaragua. In all these cases, beyond ideological or religious appearances, the methods of destabilization by the CIA were the same.

Comment: Meyssan have to put some good words for Russia at the end of the article.

Bad Guys

Another March to War?

As a journalist, there's a buzz you can detect once the normal restraints in your business have been loosened, a smell of fresh chum in the waters, urging us down the road to war. Many years removed from the Iraq disaster, that smell is back, this time with Iran.

You can just feel it: many of the same newspapers and TV stations we saw leading the charge in the Bush years have gone back to the attic and are dusting off their war pom-poms. CNBC's house blockhead, the Goldman-trained ex-finance professional Erin Burnett, came out with a doozie of a broadcast yesterday, a Rumsfeldian jeremiad against the Iranian threat would have fit beautifully in the Saddam's-sending-drones-at-New-York halcyon days of late 2002. Here's how the excellent Glenn Greenwald described Burnett's rant:
It's the sort of thing you would produce if you set out to create a mean-spirited parody of mindless, war-hungry, fear-mongering media stars, but you wouldn't dare go this far because you'd want the parody to have a feel of realism to it, and this would be way too extreme to be believable. She really hauled it all out: WMDs! Terrorist sleeper cells in the U.S. controlled by Tehran! Iran's long-range nuclear missiles reaching our homeland!!!! She almost made the anti-Muslim war-mongering fanatic she brought on to interview, Rep. Peter King, appear sober and reasonable by comparison.
Like Greenwald, I was particularly struck by Burnett's freak-out about Iran's nuclear program, about which she said, "No one buys Iran's claim that [it is] for peaceful purposes." She then cited remarks by Director of Intelligence James Clapper, which, she said, "drove that message home." But then she ran a clip with Clapper's quote, which read as follows:
Iran's technical advances . . . strengthen our assessment that Iran is more than capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon if its political leaders, specifically the Supreme Leader himself, choose to do so.
In other words, "If Iran were to decide to be capable of making nuclear weapons, it would be capable of making nuclear weapons." Unless I'm missing something, that's a statement that would be true of almost any industrialized country, wouldn't it?


US: How the government reads your emails without a warrant

© AFP Photo / Nicholas Kamm
Worried that the US government might be able to read your emails? Don't be - they already can! The American Civil Liberties Union is asking the feds to come clean on why - and what - they do with the personal correspondence of its citizens.

The ACLU has filed request under the US Freedom of Information Act in hopes of learning more about the powers the government has granted itself to snoop through the emails, texts and instant messages of Americans. Being able to browse through correspondence without a warrant is a power that the government has had for ages, but with the Internet making sending mail as easy as a click of a button, the ACLU says it is about time the feds fix their current policies.

The organization writes in a recent press release that they are going after the FBI, US Justice Department, IRS and US Attorneys Offices around the country with the intent of figuring out why the government is so interested in sticking its nose in the inboxes of millions of Americans. They have sent FOIA requests to all of those agencies in which they ask "about the government's policies, procedures and practices for accessing the content of private electronic communications."

In the long run, the ACLU hopes for a law change.


Flashback Lawyer blames Swiss police at French cult trial

© 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
Grenoble, France - A French court trying a Swiss conductor for conspiracy to murder heard allegations on Wednesday that Swiss police bungled a 1994 probe into the deaths of 48 members of the Order of the Solar Temple cult, failing to prevent further mass suicide pacts.

Michel Tabachnik went on trial on Tuesday, on charges stemming from his involvement in the doomsday sect, thought to be responsible for 74 deaths.

The court in Grenoble, in the French Alps, is examining the death of 16 cult members, including three children, whose charred bodies were found, laid out in a star pattern, in December 1995 in a forest in the remote Vercors region.

"If the Swiss investigation had been properly conducted, we would not be here today," lawyer Jacques Barillon told the Swiss police officer who led the 1994 probe and who is appearing as a witness in the French trial.

Comment: See also: France puts itself on suicide watch: MIVILUDES vilifying 'cults' to justify its own existence


US Foreclosure Fraud: 85% of Mortgage Transfers Were No Good

#FAIL truck
© beatefirlinger, flickr
That's a pretty startling headline, isn't it? Yet, that was the conclusion reached by study of 400 foreclosure files commissioned by San Francisco County assessor-recorder Phil Ting. You can read the data in a report authored by the auditors called "Foreclosure in California- A Crisis in Compliance." It's only 21 pages long and written in plain language. You should read it, if only for common sense language like this:
Given these well-documented and widespread origination and servicing issues, it is not implausible that there are homeowners who are alleged to have defaulted on loans to which they never fully agreed to and, further, are being foreclosed upon by lenders that might not even own such loans. The fact that these homeowners borrowed something, on some terms, from someone should not be enough to rob them of their due process right.
Gretchen Morgenstern at the New York Times is all over this story. She writes:
In a significant number of cases - 85 percent - documents recording the transfer of a defaulted property to a new trustee were not filed properly or on time, the report found. And in 45 percent of the foreclosures, properties were sold at auction to entities improperly claiming to be the beneficiary of the deeds of trust. In other words, the report said, "a 'stranger' to the deed of trust," gained ownership of the property; as a result, the sale may be invalid, it said.
Wow, let that sink in for a minute, "a stranger to the deed of trust gained ownership of the property." Maybe I should have used that for the headline.


U.S. slaps more sanctions on Iran

© Associated PressAn undated aerial photo of the Brussels-based SWIFT global financial network.
Even as Iran has signaled its readiness to return to international nuclear talks in a letter this week, the United States announced new sanctions on Iran Thursday.

The Treasury Department announced Thursday it is sanctioning Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security [MOIS], accusing it of sponsoring human rights abuses in both Iran and Syria, as well as being a sponsor of terrorism.

"Today we have designated the MOIS for abusing the basic human rights of Iranian citizens and exporting its vicious practices to support the Syrian regime's abhorrent crackdown on its own population," Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said in a Treasury Department press release Thursday. "The action came as key Washington lawmakers pressed for additional measures to further cut the Islamic republic off from the global financial network.

Comment: The basic human rights of American Citizens aren't represented here in the United States. We have Free Speech Zones (yahoo search) and the right to gather and protest is defunct at best. Apparently the Log in our eye (The United States) is somehow far less obstructive than the toothpick in Iran's. Thus we (USA), a nation of so-called-Democracy, can Dictate how Iran functions financially. The US is able to achieve this by the support of our Satellite nations err.. Colonies err.. fellow, Independent, Democratic friends.

Readers of the Signs of the Times have a good idea of what's "really" going on inside Syria.

Bad Guys

The .0000063% Election: How the Politics of the Super Rich Became American Politics

fat cat bankers
At a time when it's become a cliché to say that Occupy Wall Street has changed the nation's political conversation -- drawing long overdue attention to the struggles of the 99% -- electoral politics and the 2012 presidential election have become almost exclusively defined by the 1%. Or, to be more precise, the .0000063%. Those are the 196 individual donors who have provided nearly 80% of the money raised by super PACs in 2011 by giving $100,000 or more each.

These political action committees, spawned by the Supreme Court's 5-4 Citizens United decision in January 2010, can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations, or unions for the purpose of supporting or opposing a political candidate. In theory, super PACs are legally prohibited from coordinating directly with a candidate, though in practice they're just a murkier extension of political campaigns, performing all the functions of a traditional campaign without any of the corresponding accountability.


Thailand: Iranians planned to attack Israelis

© UnknownIran and Pakistan: Terrorism States or Victims of Terrorism?
Bangkok - Three Iranians detained after accidentally setting off explosives in Bangkok were planning to attack Israeli diplomats, Thailand's top policeman said Thursday in the first confirmation by local officials that the group was plotting attacks in Thailand.

The allegation came after days of strong accusations by Israel that Iran was behind the botched plot as well as two others in India and the former Soviet republic of Georgia this week. Iran has denied the charges.

Citing the similarity of bombs used in New Delhi and Tbilisi, national police chief Gen. Prewpan Dhamapong said that Thai authorities now "know for certain that (the target) was Israeli diplomats."

"This issue was about individuals and the targets were specific," he said. "This was something personal."

Israel has accused Iran of waging a covert campaign of state terror and has threatened military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. Iran has blamed the Jewish state for the recent killings of Iranian atomic scientists and has denied responsibility for all three bomb plots, including an explosion Monday in New Delhi that tore through an Israeli diplomatic vehicle, wounding the driver and a diplomat's wife, and a foiled attempt the same day in Georgia.

Comment: Iran and the United States came out recently with evidence that Israel most likely murdered Iranian Nuclear Scientists.

Just because bombs appear to be the same doesn't mean Iran is behind recent terror attacks. It's simple false flag operations, likely conducted by the Mossad to make attacking Iran that much more likely.

Since the recent NBC article 'Israel teams with terror group to kill Iran's nuclear scientists' Israel and the Western media have been speeding up rhetoric and sabre rattling against Iran instead of further investigating that facts about Israeli ties to terror groups and and terror activities. Those "Sticky" bombs, were they similar to the ones used to kill Iranian Scientists?

When you think about Democracy at gun point, or the burden Palestinians shoulder, one HAS TO WONDER, who's actually terrorizing who?!

War Whore

NATO Expresses Regret for Airstrike That Killed 8 Young Afghan Civilians

© Ahmad Jamshid / The Associated PressMike Wigston, right, director of air operations of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) joint command speaks, as U.S. Brig. Gen. Lewis Boone, director of public affairs for coalition forces listens during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Feb. 15,
The U.S.-led military coalition said Wednesday that it regrets the killing of eight civilians in a NATO airstrike this month in eastern Afghanistan.

Civilian casualties have long been a source of friction between the U.S.-led international force and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who condemned the bombing and sent a delegation to the scene to investigate.

The coalition called in the airstrike on Feb. 8 in the Najrab district in Kapisa province, after movements by eight people on the ground were assessed as a threat to Afghan police and NATO forces in the area, said Army Brig. Gen. Lewis Boone, director of public affairs for the coalition.

"The aircraft dropped two bombs on the group that we believed to be an imminent threat to our people," Boone told reporters in Kabul. "Despite all tactical directives being followed precisely, we now know the unfortunate result of this engagement. In the end, eight young Afghans lost their lives in this very sad event."

Coalition and Afghan security forces were searching the area for weapons and ammunition, he said. Using binoculars and other equipment, ground forces identified several groups of Afghan males leaving a village at different times and going in different directions, he said. One group of eight headed for nearby mountains.