Puppet MastersS


US Warns Americans Against Joining Gaza Aid Flotilla

© The Associated PressTurkish aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, is seen in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, May 30, 2011. Pro-Palestinian activists marked the first anniversary of a deadly raid by Israel on a Turkish aid ship bound for the Gaza Strip by gathering on the deck of the same boat, refitted and preparing to sail for Gaza once again next month. An international coalition of activists said Egypt's removal of a 4-year-old blockade of the Gaza Strip last weekend will not affect their plans for a new flotilla, which will depart from various European ports in an attempt to breach Israel's sea blockade.
The United States has warned Americans against participating in an international aid flotilla aimed at breaking Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

A new State Department travel warning for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, issued Wednesday, said U.S. citizens could face arrest, prosecution and deportation by Israel if they join the flotilla.

It said the Gaza coast is "dangerous and volatile" and notes the Israeli navy has stopped previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea, resulting in deaths, injuries and arrests.

Arrow Down

Foreign Professionals the Economy Needs 'Not Attracted' to Germany

While German industry continues to try to fill jobs remaining empty as the economy grows, politicians are split on how and even whether to attract foreign professionals, while others say Germany is simply not attractive enough to them.

The pro-business Free Democratic Party wants to lower one barrier by reducing the minimum annual wage a foreigner must earn in Germany to get permission to stay from the current level of €66,000 to €40,000, a suggestion supported by many in the centre-right Christian Democratic Union.

Yet the CDU's Bavarian counterpart the Christian Social Union, CSU, opposes any changes to the immigration laws.

"Those who want that [income limit change], are not after professionals, rather cheap labour," said CSU economic expert Georg Nüßlein told the daily Berliner Zeitung.

There is also conflict within the coalition over whether the rule that employers must show that there is no candidate within Germany or the European Union who can do a job before they offer it to a foreigner, should be lifted altogether.

It has already been suspended for doctors and engineers. FDP parliamentary leader, and recent Economics Minister, Rainer Brüderle said this should be expanded.

"Today perhaps we are missing doctors and engineers, but tomorrow we will be needing professionals in further or other areas," he told the Hamburger Abendblatt.


Germany Prepares to Open Doors to Foreign Professionals

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German Education and Research Minister Annette Schavan said on Tuesday the government would soon ease restrictions on foreign doctors, engineers and other professionals in a bid to plug a yawning gap in the labour market of Europe's top economy.

Schavan told the daily Passauer Neue Presse that the centre-right coalition would this week approve a draft law aimed at attracting thousands of professionals from abroad.

"We agree that the complicated rules of preference (stipulating that jobs must go to Germans first) for engineers as well as doctors must be eliminated," said Schavan, from Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats.

"In future, it will no longer have to be proved that no applicant from Germany or the European Union could be found."

Currently employers seeking to hire foreign professionals must undergo a review by the local labour office to determine whether a German was available to fill the job.

Schavan said Berlin would hack away at red tape for sectors in particular need of qualified employees and improve opportunities for foreigners already living in Germany.


Obama Orders Rapid Drawdown of U.S. Troops from Afghanistan

© Pablo Martinez Monsivais / BloombergPresident Obama announces his plan for winding down U.S. involvement in Afghanistan during a nationally televised speech at the White House.
Citing success in the war against insurgents over the last two years, he calls for 33,000 'surge' troops to begin coming home and says it's time for America to take a more 'pragmatic' approach to military intervention.

Declaring that the "tide of war is receding," President Obama ordered a rapid withdrawal of the 33,000 "surge" troops he sent to Afghanistan and charted a path toward ending large-scale U.S. combat operations in Central Asia.

In a nationally televised address Wednesday evening, Obama took care to emphasize what he sees as the successes of the last two years in Afghanistan, saying he was beginning to draw down the number of U.S. troops "from a position of strength" after an intensive counterinsurgency effort.

"We have put Al Qaeda on a path to defeat," he said, prominently citing the killing of the terrorist network's leader, Osama bin Laden.

And while he briefly acknowledged the reality that U.S. troops would be fighting in Afghanistan for at least another three years and that "huge challenges remain," Obama's emphasis was on a door closing on a decade of war.

"It is time to focus on nation-building here at home," the president said. "These long wars will come to a responsible end."

Obama also sought to draw a larger lesson from the last 10 years of U.S. warfare in the Middle East and Central Asia, saying the country needs to "chart a more centered course" between "an isolation that ignores the very real threats that we face" and the urge to "overextend ourselves, confronting every evil that can be found abroad."


Julian Assange's New Legal Strategy

© APWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen at the house where he is required to stay in, near Bungay, England, Wednesday, June 15, 2011. Assange says his house arrest over sex allegations is hampering the work of the secret-spilling site, and his supporters accuse Britain of spying on him. The 39-year-old Australian has spent six months at a supporter's rural estate as he fights extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of the rape and sexual assault of two women.
Julian Assange has chosen a new legal team to represent him in his quest to prevent extradition from London to Sweden, where authorities are seeking to interview him in a sexual assault case involving two Swedish women.

Until now, the Assange defense team has disparaged the Swedish assault charges and suggested that once in Swedish hands, the WikiLeaks founder might face extradition to the United States on conspiracy charges carrying a life sentence.

Extensive interviews I conducted last week revealed that the previous Assange legal team had created puzzlement, loss of confidence and even antagonism in Sweden by their attacks on Swedish justice. Though a reasonable paranoia is understandable from the Assange team and from Assange himself, given the calls for the death penalty (by Mike Huckabee) or that he be "hunted down like al Qaeda" (Sarah Palin), not to mention previous renditions of two terrorism suspects from Sweden by the CIA in 2004, the legal strategy has backfired by alienating not only mainstream Swedish opinion but also some among the left and in the peace movement.

The new solicitor on the case is Gareth Peirce, a renowned British human rights advocate who has defended Guantánamo detainees and Irish republicans in previous decades. The barrister who will present Assange's case in the appellate hearing set for July 12 is Ben Emmerson, also a respected human rights attorney who has served as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism.


US: Woman Arrested for Filming Police from Home

A Rochester, NY woman is facing misdemeanor charges after police arrested her for filming a routine traffic stop from her front lawn.

Emily Good began recording officers on her iPhone outside her home after they pulled a man over shortly before 10 p.m. on May 12. Ryan Acuff, a friend of Good, writes that cops stopped a young black male, handcuffed him and detained him in their cruiser while they searched his car for drugs. While the suspect was released, Good wasn't quite as fortunate.

A police report says Officer Mario Masic of the Rochester Police Department is the individual that told Good she had to retreat into her house after he noticed her filming.

Masic asks, "You guys need something?" to which Good responds, "I'm just - this is my front yard - I'm just recording what you're doing. It's my right."

"Actually, not from the sidewalk," replies Masic.

While Good tells the officer that she has the right to record from her front yard, Masic tells her that he doesn't "feel safe" with her there. The woman responds by pointing out that she is nowhere near him and clearly doesn't have a weapon.

Masic alleges on tape that Good and her friend made an "anti-cop" statement before the recording began, but Good, her friend and their neighbors have since disputed that.

"I think, uh, you need to go stay in your house, guys," says Masic.

Good and Masic argue over if she is actually doing anything wrong - or threatening her safety - until the officer comes onto her property and says, "You know what, you're gonna go to jail. That's just not right."


Germany: Women Playing Bigger Role Among Far-Right Extremists

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What does a Neo-Nazi look like? One's typical stereotype might be of a jackbooted skinhead. But increasing numbers of active right-wing extremists in Germany are actually women, experts say.

Although there are no definitive numbers, up to one-fifth of participants in the far-right scene are female, said Andrea Röpke, who recently released the book Mädelsache! (Girl Thing!) on the topic.

"You can assume that the proportion of women in the right-wing extremist scene is rising," said. "In Berlin and Brandenburg the proportion of women is very, very high."

Röpke said women were valued because they provide stability and a sense of calm to an often violent and virulently xenophobic scene. Often they play the role of organizing less threatening events such as football tournaments of children's parties.

In politics they often try to project a sense of reasonableness by concentrating on social or green issues.

"The women stabilize the scene in the background," she said. "They call themselves the 'community anchor.'"

But though women play a valuable role, it doesn't mean they seen as equal with men. In fact, the opposite is often true and women must hold their tongues in order to be accepted.


Mysteries of a Nazi Photo Album

© private collection via The New York TimesPage 12: Adolf Hitler, persumably waiting for the arrival of Adm. Miklos Horthy, the regent of Hungary.
Readers of Lens and EinesTages quickly figured out that the photographer was Franz Krieger. ("World War II Mystery Solved in a Few Hours.") And that his wife and children did not survive the war.

There are certainly many photo albums of Nazi leaders and many photo albums of the Nazis' victims. But it's hard to imagine many albums depicting both, just a few pages apart.

At least one does, however, and it has surfaced in New York City. Its creator was able - apparently within weeks - to photograph Hitler as he warred on Russia and also to photograph some of the earliest victims of that brutal campaign, known as Operation Barbarossa, which began 70 years ago Wednesday.

Two pages in this album, on the Eastern Front in 1941, are devoted to prisoners. Some are dressed in rags, some dressed in uniforms of the Red Army, some wearing jackets with Star of David patches. They stand before what might be freshly dug graves. (Their own? Their landsmen?) In six almost intimate pictures, verging on portraiture, men gaze hollowly or defiantly at the camera.

Four pages later, there is Hitler himself, waiting at a train station for the arrival of Adm. Miklos Horthy, the regent of Hungary, with whom he will shortly be bargaining at the East Prussian war headquarters known as the Wolf's Lair. The photographer stands just a few feet from Hitler, almost as close to the Führer as he stood to the Führer's prisoners.

Clearly, this photographer had a lot of access - and not a little talent.

Evil Rays

SOTT Focus: Wikileaks and the War for your Mind

In November 2008, current advisor to President Obama, Zbigniew Brzezinski, described to a group of British political and corporate elite two very basic transforming developments that he believes are occurring on the world scene:

"The first change concerns the surfacing of global issues pertaining to human well being as critical international issues such as climate, environment, starvation, health and social inequality. The second change concerns a global political awakening."

Brezezinski described this second change as "a truly transformative event on the global scene". He said that: "for the first time in all of human history, almost all of mankind is politically awake, activated, politically conscious and interactive. There are only a few pockets of humanity here or there in the remotest corners of the world which are not politically alert and interacted with the political turmoil and stirrings and aspirations around the world. And all of that is creating a world wide surge for the worldwide surge for personal dignity and cultural respect in a diversified world."

To an audience in the US he described the global 'terror threat' in this way:

Bad Guys

Israeli undercover agents boast of killing Palestinians on TV

© Unknown
Undercover Israeli intelligence officers appeared on national television Saturday to talk about assassinating Palestinians in a program broadcast on Israel's Channel 10.

Oren Beaton presented a photo album of Palestinians he killed during his time as a commander of an undercover Israeli unit operating in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Beaton explained that he kept photos of his victims.

"This is a photo of a Palestinian young man called Basim Subeih who I killed. This is another young man. I shredded his body, and the photo shows the remnants of his body," he said.