Puppet MastersS


Jimmy Carter Attacks Barack Obama Over Assassinations and Drone Attacks

© Former president Jimmy Carter
Former president Jimmy Carter has blasted the United States for anti-terror strategies such as targeting individuals for assassination and using unmanned drones to bomb suspected targets, saying they directly flout the basic tenets of universal human rights and foment anti-US sentiment.

In an article written for the New York Times headlined "A Cruel and Unusual Record", Mr Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work trying to resolve conflicts around the globe, suggested that the US is in violation of 10 of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a rare attack by a former commander-in-chief on a sitting President - especially of the same party.


Scientology's Summer of Hell

Scientology headquarters
© n/a
With the Cruise marriage split, the 60th anniversary of L Ron Hubbard's cult movement is going from bad to worse

Suddenly, being called a "cult" seems the least of Scientology's worries. The movement is already facing a summer of high-profile court cases, bitter defections, blockbuster exposés and members bringing the so-called religion into disrepute. Now its 60th-anniversary year has brought the divorce of its two most high-profile proponents.

Worse, there were reports yesterday that Katie Holmes's decision to walk out on Tom Cruise was linked to her actor husband's involvement with Scientology. According to the celebrity website TMZ, she was concerned Cruise would drag their six-year-old daughter, Suri, deep into the movement. The reports throw the spotlight once again on the belief system that promises members "spiritual rehabilitation" through counselling sessions described as "auditing".

Holmes, who was brought up a Catholic and enrolled Suri in a Catholic pre-school in 2009, is reportedly filing for sole legal custody, specifically to avoid Cruise having control over religious decisions.

At a conference in Dublin yesterday former members were due to add to the chorus of condemnation. The conference organiser, Pete Griffiths, who turned his back on Scientology, said: "They're looking for people who've got a lot of money [and] a lot of time."



US exempts China from Iran sanctions

© ReutersIran is belived to be storing oil aboard its tankers, suggesting that international sanctions are taking effect.
With Thursday's decision to grant exceptions to China, which buys up to a fifth of Iran's oil exports, and Singapore, which buys Iranian fuel oil, the Obama administration has now spared all 20 of Iran's major oil buyers from its unilateral sanctions.

The sanctions themselves are designed to pressure Iran to curb its nuclear program, which the West believes aims to develop nuclear weapons but which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity and medical isotopes.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said both China and Singapore earned the reprieve by cutting imports of Iranian crude and argued the reductions by all 20 countries showed that Iran was paying a high price for its nuclear program.


Banking scandal: how document trail reveals global scam

© Stefan Rousseau/PAQuestions are being asked about the City's ability to police itself over interest rates.
The interest rate rigging scandal that has engulfed Barclays was the result of a coordinated attempt at collusion by traders working for a coterie of leading banks over at least five years, according to a series of lawsuits and legal rulings filed in courts in Asia and North America.

The lawsuits allege the fraud was extensive, spanning at least three continents and involving trades worth tens of billions of pounds. The allegations raise further serious questions about the banks' ability to police themselves and the role of senior management in monitoring the activities of their employees.

In a 28-page statement of facts relating to last week's revelation that Barclays had been fined a total of £290m, the US Department of Justice discloses how a network of traders working on both sides of the Atlantic conspired to influence both the Libor and Euribor interest rates - the rates at which banks lend to each other. It was, in effect, a worldwide conspiracy against the free functioning of the market.

The size of the fines was significant and the opprobrium heaped on Barclays unremitting. "This is the most damaging scam I can recall," said Andrew Tyrie, chair of parliament's Treasury select committee. "It appears that many banks were involved and Barclays were the first to own up."

Indeed, as politicians bay for his blood this weekend, the one source of comfort for Bob Diamond, the embattled Barclays chief executive, is that his bank appears to have been merely one of several involved in the scandal.

For their own sake, many of his fellow senior bankers will be hoping this weekend that he does not go the way of Northern Rock's Adam Applegarth and RBS's Fred Goodwin - ousted by a tidal wave of public fury.


Banksters will keep on escaping justice until the politicians act

© UnknownBank of England governor Mervyn King holds a scathing view of practices.
It shows how much party conference speeches matter to leaders that Ed Miliband and his advisers are already worrying about what he will say in the autumn - an event that lies three months in the future. His inner circle have been debating whether he should try out some new ideas or instead build on the theme that he launched from last year's conference platform when he talked about "producers versus predators". Thanks to the bankers, I suggest Mr Miliband need not agonise any further. The latest, multiple scandals to erupt from the moral cesspit of the City should help the Labour leader to the conclusion that there is plenty of mileage left in making the case for radical reform of how we do capitalism.

He may, mind, have to find a stronger word for the City than predatory. We already knew from the financial crisis that the banksters were greedy, reckless and incompetent. We already knew from their reluctance to account for themselves or change their behaviour that they were shameless. The latest mis-selling scandals confirm something else we already knew: that they fleece their customers. What has changed over the past few days is that we now have proof that they are also corrupt and fraudulent. The rigging of Libor, the key interest rate which is used to value contracts worth trillions and affects everything from home loans to credit card charges, has shocked those who thought they were beyond being shocked. Sir Mervyn King has long held a scathing view of modern banking culture, but even the governor of the Bank of England seemed staggered that they had fallen so low. Barclays and the other institutions involved in this particular fraud were not just practising casino capitalism. They were rigging the wheel, loading the dice and marking the cards. The "few bad apples" defence will not wash. Some 20 further banks, including several other big household names, are also under investigation for perpetrating this scam. This could only happen in a City in which cheating and deception have become institutionalised.


Banking scandal: our whole society has been warped by the City

George Osborne described the damning trail of emails that emerged from the bowels of Barclays last week, in which traders addressed each other as "big boy," and "dude," as they connived to fix the Libor rate, as "the epitaph to an age of irresponsibility". He would dearly like us to believe the comforting fiction that under the failed regulatory regime designed by Gordon Brown and Ed Balls, selfish bankers ran amok, wreaking havoc on the economy and society; but that since the credit crunch - and his own arrival in Downing Street - the culture in the Square Mile has changed.

Barclays boss Bob Diamond has sung from the same hymn sheet in recent months, insisting that far from being a rapacious, morally bankrupt monster, the bank is now a "good citizen".

Yet the Libor revelations were only the most recent of a string of scandals over the past weeks and months that have laid bare what Sir Mervyn King, capturing the public mood, has called "shoddy" and "deceitful" behaviour.


Germany Rejects Obama's Criticism in Euro Crisis

© APUS President Barack Obama has heaped criticism on Europe's handling of the euro crisis in recent weeks.
In a sign of tensions between Berlin and Washington, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said on Sunday that President Barack Obama should focus on cutting America's own budget deficit before advising Europe on how to tackle its debt problems.German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble rebuffed recent criticism of Germany's handling of the euro crisis from Barack Obama, telling the US president to get his own house in order before giving advice.

"Herr Obama should above all deal with the reduction of the American deficit. That is higher than that in the euro zone", he told German public broadcaster ZDF on Sunday night. It is easy to give advice to others, he added,

Obama, worried about the impact of the debt crisis on the global economy and financial markets -- and on his own prospects for re-election --has been urging Europe to step up its efforts to tackle the problem.

In the interview, Schäuble also reiterated his opposition to euro bonds, saying countries must remain individually liable for their public debt as long as they were taking sovereign decisions on how the money was being spent.

"If you spend the money from my account, you won't be frugal with the money," said the finance minister. He added that he was against devoting large sums of money -- for example from the European Central Bank -- to fight the crisis. The roots of the crisis needed to be fought credibly, he said, adding that that was succeeding in Ireland and Portugal, which have both received international bailouts. "It's not succeeding so well in Greece", he added.


New-tech moguls: the modern robber barons?

© AP; GettyFrom left: Co-founders of Google Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Chairman and CEO of Dell Michael Dell, Co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates, and Chairman and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg
Are today's captains of industry - the wealthy and powerful figures who control the digital universe - any different from the ruthless corporate figures of the past?

Here's an interesting fact: 10 of the people on Forbes magazine's tally of the world's 100 richest billionaires made their money from computer and/or network technology. At the top (second on the list) is Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes at $61bn, despite the fact that he continues to try to give it away. Gates is followed by Larry Ellison, boss of Oracle, with $36bn, and Michael Bloomberg with $22bn. Larry Page and Sergey Brin - co-founders of Google - occupy joint 24th place with $18.7bn each. Jeff Bezos of Amazon is No 26 with $18.4bn while the newly enriched Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook sits at No 35 with £17.5bn. Michael Dell, founder of the eponymous computer manufacturer, is at No 41 with $15.9bn while Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, is three places lower on $15.7bn and Paul Allen - co-founder of Microsoft - brings up the rear at No 48 with a mere $14.2bn. Steve Jobs, who was worth about $9bn when he died, doesn't even figure.

What's striking about this is not just the staggering wealth that these people have managed to squeeze out of what are, after all, just binary digits (ones and zeros), but how recent are the origins of their good fortunes. Mark Zuckerberg, for example, went from zero to $17.5bn in less than eight years. Microsoft - the company that has propelled Gates, Ballmer and Allen into the Forbes pantheon - dates only from 1975. Oracle was founded in 1977. Bloomberg turned a $10m redundancy cheque from Salomon Brothers into his personal money-pump in 1982. Dell started making computers in his university dorm in 1984. Bezos launched Amazon with his own savings in 1995. Brin and Page turned their PhD research into a company called Google in 1998. And Zuckerberg launched Facebook in 2004.


Katie Holmes files for divorce from ardent Scientologist Tom Cruise

Katie Holmes was scared she was turning 'into a robot' while with Tom Cruise.

The former Dawson's Creek actress - who has filed for divorce from the 'Rock of Ages' star after five years of marriage - felt like she had changed 'so much' in her time with Tom.

Sources close to the 33-year-old, who played innocent Joey in the popular teen drama, told friends she had found her relationship with the megastar, 49, had become 'too much' for her.

A source said: 'After five years of this Katie really felt like she was going crazy and that she was actually turning into the robot that the press had always made her out to be.

'Katie has actually got a great personality and she used to be spunky and feisty. She changed so much when she was with Tom, she became downtrodden and insipid.

'In the end it just got too much, she was sick of it and decided she had to do something. Basically, she grew up and lost the starstruck goggles she had been wearing.'

Katie is reportedly seeking full custody of their six-year-old daughter Suri after beginning to question her life with Tom and his control of their decision making.


Arrow Up

Complaint Against New Zealand Govt for Crimes Against Humanity

The International Criminal Court - Processing Complaint Against The New Zealand Government for Crimes Against Humanity

Right to Life is pleased that the International Criminal Court [ICC] in The Hague has initiated a formal legal preliminary examination into a complaint against the New Zealand government for crimes against humanity. Right to Life welcomes the preliminary examination by the Prosecutor of the ICC and expects that it will encourage the government to comply with its obligations under international law and United Nations Conventions.This complaint was lodged with the Court by SavingDowns and Right to Life New Zealand. SavingDowns is an organised group of parents with children with Down syndrome. Their children are greatly loved and valued as members of their families and communities.

The complaint is in respect to the government's controversial ante-natal screening programme introduced nationally in February 2010. The Ministry of Health directed that doctors and midwives were obligated to offer screening to all pregnant women in New Zealand. One of the declared objective of this programme was to prevent the births of babies born in New Zealand with Down syndrome and other conditions such as Spina Bifida.. It was expected that the screening programme would result in up to 90 per cent of babies diagnosed in the womb with Down syndrome being killed before birth. This is eugenics that decrees that only the perfect may be born. It is a crime against humanity.

Human life begins at conception. At the moment of conception the new human being is endowed by its Creator with human rights, the foundation right being an inalienable right to life. From conception the unborn child is entitled to the respect and protection that is accorded to the human person. Unborn children diagnosed as having Down syndrome are members of the human family and do not forfeit their right to life because of a genetic condition. Right to Life calls upon the government to cease discrimination against the unborn with Down syndrome or other conditions.