Puppet MastersS


Best of the Web: The Syrian opposition: who's doing the talking?

© ReutersThe director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdulrahman, speaks on the phone in his home in Coventry on December 6, 2011.

The media have been too passive when it comes to Syrian opposition sources, without scrutinising their backgrounds and their political connections. Time for a closer look ...

A nightmare is unfolding across Syria, in the homes of al-Heffa and the streets of Houla. And we all know how the story ends: with thousands of soldiers and civilians killed, towns and families destroyed, and President Assad beaten to death in a ditch.

This is the story of the Syrian war, but there is another story to be told. A tale less bloody, but nevertheless important. This is a story about the storytellers: the spokespeople, the "experts on Syria", the "democracy activists". The statement makers. The people who "urge" and "warn" and "call for action".

It's a tale about some of the most quoted members of the Syrian opposition and their connection to the Anglo-American opposition creation business. The mainstream news media have, in the main, been remarkably passive when it comes to Syrian sources: billing them simply as "official spokesmen" or "pro-democracy campaigners" without, for the most part, scrutinising their statements, their backgrounds or their political connections.

Comment: NATO preparing vast disinformation campaign against Syria

Syria's Bloody CIA Revolution - A Distraction?

NATO's 'Civil War' Machine Rolls Into Syria


Tomatoes and Shoes Thrown at Clinton's Motorcade in Egypt

US Psychopath-in-State Hillary Clinton gets the shoe treatment in Egypt
Protesters threw tomatoes and shoes at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's motorcade on Sunday during her first visit to Egypt since the election of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi. A tomato struck an Egyptian official in the face, and shoes and a water bottle landed near the armored cars carrying Clinton's delegation in the port city of Alexandria after she gave a speech on democratic rights.

A senior U.S. official said neither Clinton nor her vehicle, which was around the corner from the incident, were hit by the projectiles, which were thrown as U.S. officials and reporters walked to the motorcade after her speech.

Protesters chanted "Monica, Monica," a reference to the extra-marital affair conducted by Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, while in the White House. Others earlier chanted "leave, Clinton" an Egyptian security official said.


Settlements of Discord: 500 New Homes to Mushroom in West Bank

Isreali settlements
© Agence France-Presse/Jack GuezA general view shows the illegal Jewish outpost of Bruchin, near the Palestinian West Bank city of Nablus on April 24, 2012.
When there's money, there's a house, and when there's a settlement, there's a land, recalled the Israeli government and quietly granted more subsidies to build over 500 new homes in the West Bank.

­This is how Tel Aviv secretly backtracked earlier this year on a promise to deny these incentives to the settlements, as the Associated Press has found out.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying, quite clearly, to ensure the support of the settlers, but the move may well backfire on him. The planned construction has infuriated the Palestinians and it could cloud the visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who arrived in Israel late on Sunday to try to revive the Middle East peace efforts.


Best of the Web: How Poor Kids Are Made to Fight Wars for the Rich

© Teddy Wade, U.S. ArmySpecialist Jason Palmer prepares for takeoff. (Tikrit, Iraq, April 30, 2006)
We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites.

The poor embrace the military because every other cul-de-sac in their lives breaks their spirit and their dignity. Pick up Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front or James Jones's From Here to Eternity. Read Henry IV. Turn to the Iliad. The allure of combat is a trap, a ploy, an old, dirty game of deception in which the powerful, who do not go to war, promise a mirage to those who do.

I saw this in my own family. At the age of ten I was given a scholarship to a top New England boarding school. I spent my adolescence in the schizophrenic embrace of the wealthy, on the playing fields and in the dorms and classrooms that condition boys and girls for privilege, and came back to my working-class relations in the depressed former mill towns in Maine. I traveled between two universes: one where everyone got chance after chance after chance, where connections and money and influence almost guaranteed that you would not fail; the other where no one ever got a second try. I learned at an early age that when the poor fall no one picks them up, while the rich stumble and trip their way to the top.

Black Cat

Corruption Inquiry Over Political Favors Embroils Christine Lagarde and Nicolas Sarkozy

© AFP/Getty Images/EPAChristine Lagarde and Nicolas Sarkozy
Christine Lagarde and Nicolas Sarkozy were embroiled in a new corruption inquiry on Sunday over the awarding of Legion d'Honneur for political favours.

The pair already face allegations that Miss Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), authorised a £270 million payout to a prominent supporter of the former French president when she was his finance minister.

Now, they face a separate inquiry in a row over the amount of compensation that Mr Sarkozy's government should have paid following the collapse of Itea, an insurance company, in 2009.


Army Suicides: The Most Alarming and Tragically Hidden Secret in America

© PolicyMic
A cursory glance at recent media reporting exposes the important issues we Americans are most concerned about - the looming presidential election, our long-suffering economic condition, the Penn State scandal and Tom and Katie's break up. If you're interested in our military's involvement in Afghanistan, our successes and failures, the names of those killed, etc., then you'll have to search more aggressively. The fact is, America's media, and perhaps the American people, have generally lost interest in the decade-long war.

There is however one story about the war that recently made headlines. Time magazine's July 23, 2012 cover read, "ONE A DAY: Every day, one U.S. soldier commits suicide. Why the military can't defeat its most insidious enemy," by Mark Thompson and Nancy Gibbs. Time's story shared the secret, "More U.S. military personnel have died by suicide since the war in Afghanistan began, than those who have died during combat. The rate jumped 80% from 2004 to 2008, and while it leveled off in 2010 and 2011, it has soared 18% this year. Suicide has passed road accidents as the leading non­combat cause of death among U.S. troops."

Compare the rate of suicide among our service members to the national average and you shouldn't be surprised. As reported by FT.com in 2010, an internal U.S. Army report revealed "160 active duty soldiers took their lives in the 2009 fiscal year, putting the Army suicide rate at a record 20.2 per 100,000, exceeding the national average of 19.2..." And that trend isn't new. According to a March 2011 Examiner.com story, "As of 2008, the suicide rate in the military has surpassed that of the civilian population, and it has steadily increased since that time. Before the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts began in 2001, the rate was rarely over 10 per 100,000."

But here is the part that may surprise you. As the Time article continued, "[n]early a third of the suicides from 2005 to 2010 were among troops who had never been deployed; 43% had deployed only once. Only 8.5% had deployed three or four times." This is of course sad and tragic. And as this information suggests, we can't just write off these suicides as a post-traumatic stress-induced epidemic. No, there's something else here.


Nothing to Hide: FDA spied on emails of its own scientists

A wide-ranging surveillance operation by the Food and Drug Administration against a group of its own scientists used an enemies list of sorts as it secretly captured thousands of e-mails that the disgruntled scientists sent privately to members of Congress, lawyers, labor officials, journalists and even President Obama, previously undisclosed records show.

What began as a narrow investigation into the possible leaking of confidential agency information by five scientists quickly grew in mid-2010 into a much broader campaign to counter outside critics of the agency's medical review process, according to the cache of more than 80,000 pages of computer documents generated by the surveillance effort.

Moving to quell what one memorandum called the "collaboration" of the F.D.A.'s opponents, the surveillance operation identified 21 agency employees, Congressional officials, outside medical researchers and journalists thought to be working together to put out negative and "defamatory" information about the agency.

F.D.A. officials defended the surveillance operation, saying that the computer monitoring was limited to the five scientists suspected of leaking confidential information about the safety and design of medical devices.

Comment: "..a substantial and specific danger to public safety."
© www.topnews.inUse at your own risk.


Israeli Drone Crashes in East Lebanon

Israeli drone
© Press TVAn Israeli Heron TP surveillance drone
An unmanned spy drone, reportedly belonging to Israel, has crashed in eastern Lebanon, according to the country's official news agency.

The drone was downed in the village of Younin in the Baalbek region on Saturday and caused fire in the area, the National News Agency reported.

Lebanese security forces surrounded the area and officials are investigating the cause of the incident.

Informed sources announced that the spy drone belonged to Israel.

Card - VISA

WikiLeaks Claims Court Victory Against Visa

© wikileaks
Icelandic court rules that payment processor broke contract laws by blocking credit card donations to whistleblowing site

WikiLeaks has claimed a "significant victory" in its struggle with the US government to allow people to make donations to it through the Visa payment scheme, after an Icelandic court ruled that a payment processor there had broken contract laws by blocking credit card donations to Julian Assange's whistleblowing site.

But Visa International said that the ruling, against a Reykjavik-based company called Valitor - formerly Visa Iceland - might not have any broader application and may not change the current position, in which payments cannot be made to WikiLeaks using Visa cards and other US-owned credit cards. That has choked off the vast majority of donations to WikiLeaks, which said it had lost about $20m in funding as a result.

US financial institutions including Visa, Bank of America, Mastercard, PayPal and Western Union, stopped accepting or handling payments intended for WikiLeaks in December 2010, after the site began leaking US diplomatic cables from a cache of nearly 250,000 it had acquired.


This Global Financial Fraud and its Gatekeepers

© Jason Miczek/ReutersProtesters outside a Bank of America annual shareholders' meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Last fall, I argued that the violent reaction to Occupy and other protests around the world had to do with the 1%ers' fear of the rank and file exposing massive fraud if they ever managed get their hands on the books. At that time, I had no evidence of this motivation beyond the fact that financial system reform and increased transparency were at the top of many protesters' list of demands.

But this week presents a sick-making trove of new data that abundantly fills in this hypothesis and confirms this picture. The notion that the entire global financial system is riddled with systemic fraud - and that key players in the gatekeeper roles, both in finance and in government, including regulatory bodies, know it and choose to quietly sustain this reality - is one that would have only recently seemed like the frenzied hypothesis of tinhat-wearers, but this week's headlines make such a conclusion, sadly, inevitable.

The New York Times business section on 12 July shows multiple exposes of systemic fraud throughout banks: banks colluding with other banks in manipulation of interest rates, regulators aware of systemic fraud, and key government officials (at least one banker who became the most key government official) aware of it and colluding as well. Fraud in banks has been understood conventionally and, I would say, messaged as a glitch. As in London Mayor Boris Johnson's full-throated defense of Barclay's leadership last week, bank fraud is portrayed as a case, when it surfaces, of a few "bad apples" gone astray.

In the New York Times business section, we read that the HSBC banking group is being fined up to $1bn, for not preventing money-laundering (a highly profitable activity not to prevent) between 2004 and 2010 - a six years' long "oops". In another article that day, Republican Senator Charles Grassley says of the financial group Peregrine capital: "This is a company that is on top of things." The article goes onto explain that at Peregrine Financial, "regulators discovered about $215m in customer money was missing." Its founder now faces criminal charges. Later, the article mentions that this revelation comes a few months after MF Global "lost" more than $1bn in clients' money.