Puppet MastersS

Bad Guys

Libyan "Rebel" Leader Spent Much of Past 20 Years in Suburban Virginia

Khalifa Hifter
The new leader of Libya's opposition military spent the past two decades in suburban Virginia but felt compelled - even in his late-60s - to return to the battlefield in his homeland, according to people who know him.

Khalifa Hifter was once a top military officer for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, but after a disastrous military adventure in Chad in the late 1980s, Hifter switched to the anti-Gadhafi opposition. In the early 1990s, he moved to suburban Virginia, where he established a life but maintained ties to anti-Gadhafi groups.

Late last week, Hifter was appointed to lead the rebel army, which has been in chaos for weeks. He is the third such leader in less than a month, and rebels interviewed in Libya openly voiced distrust for the most recent leader, Abdel Fatah Younes, who had been at Gadhafi's side until just a month ago.

At a news conference Thursday, the rebel's military spokesman said Younes will stay as Hifter's chief of staff, and added that the army - such as it is - would need "weeks" of training.


US: The Decade's Biggest Scam - Homeland Security

© Wikipedia
The Los Angeles Times examines the staggering sums of money expended on patently absurd domestic "homeland security" projects: $75 billion per year for things such as a Zodiac boat with side-scan sonar to respond to a potential attack on a lake in tiny Keith County, Nebraska, and hundreds of "9-ton BearCat armored vehicles, complete with turret" to guard against things like an attack on DreamWorks in Los Angeles. All of that -- which is independent of the exponentially greater sums spent on foreign wars, occupations, bombings, and the vast array of weaponry and private contractors to support it all -- is in response to this mammoth, existential, the-single-greatest-challenge-of-our-generation threat:
"The number of people worldwide who are killed by Muslim-type terrorists, Al Qaeda wannabes, is maybe a few hundred outside of war zones. It's basically the same number of people who die drowning in the bathtub each year," said John Mueller, an Ohio State University professor who has written extensively about the balance between threat and expenditures in fighting terrorism.


Best of the Web: 25 Corporations Paid More To Their CEO Last Year Than They Paid In Taxes

Last year, as Americans across the country grappled with the widespread effects of the Great Recession, tax dodging by corporations and the wealthy cost the average U.S. taxpayer $434, even as corporate profits soared 81 percent. In fact, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies, "corporate tax dodging has gone so out of control that 25 major U.S. corporations last year paid their chief executives more than they paid Uncle Sam in federal income taxes."

© Unknown
- Of last year's 100 highest-paid corporate chief executives in the United States, 25 took home more in CEO pay than their company paid in 2010 federal income taxes.

- These 25 CEOs averaged $16.7 million, well above last year's $10.8 million average for S&P 500 CEOs. Most of the companies they ran actually came out ahead at tax time, collecting tax refunds from the IRS that averaged $304 million.

- CEOs in 22 of these 25 firms enjoyed pay increases in 2010. In 13 of these companies, CEO paychecks ratcheted up while the corporate income tax bill either declined or the size of the corporate tax refund expanded.


IMF Downgrades US Economic Forecast

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange a day after Hurricane Irene swept through the area on August 29, 2011 in New York City (Spencer Platt / Getty Images / AFP)

If fear from the Fed that the economy was crumbling wasn't enough to raise a scare on Wall Street last week, now the IMF is also saying that the outlook on America isn't what it should be.

International Monetary Fund Chief Christine Largade said on Sunday that the United States needs a "credible" plan to keep the economy in check. Lagarde's comment, delivered at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, came only two days after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke revealed that the road to economic recovery was "much less robust" than the Federal Reserve has hoped for.

Speaking in Wyoming, Lagarde said that lawmakers need to push for economic growth, but a failure to act accordingly to debt dilemmas in the future would cause the country to lose credibility. "Who will believe that commitments to cut spending can survive a lengthy stagnation with prolonged unemployment and social dissatisfaction?" asked Lagarde.

The unemployment rate in the United States has been at or above 9.0 percent since April of this year.

Black Cat

US:Ranger's Widow Expelled from Rumsfeld Book Signing

© Coffee StrongFormer U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld begins to sign a copy of his book for Jorge Gonzalez while Ashley Joppa-Hagemann looks on. Gonzalez and Joppa-Hagemann were later escorted from the event Friday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Two people were removed from a Donald Rumsfeld book signing Friday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, including the Yelm widow of an Army Ranger who blames the military for her husband's suicide.

Security officers for the former secretary of defense escorted Ashley Joppa-Hagemann out by the arm, she said Saturday. She and Jorge Gonzalez, the executive director of Coffee Strong, a Lakewood-based anti-war group, confronted Rumsfeld as he promoted his memoir, "Known and Unknown."

According to an account posted on Coffee Strong's website: "Mrs. Joppa-Hagemann introduced herself by handing a copy of her husband's funeral program to Rumsfeld, and telling him that her husband had joined the military because he believed the lies told by Rumsfeld during his tenure with the Bush administration."

Joppa-Hagemann complained about Rumsfeld's response Friday to her account of Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann's multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and his death at age 25. Hagemann belonged to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

War Whore

Ex-Bush Official Col. Lawrence Wilkerson: "I am Willing to Testify" If Dick Cheney is Put on Trial

As former Vice President Dick Cheney publishes his long-awaited memoir, we speak to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. "This is a book written out of fear, fear that one day someone will 'Pinochet' Dick Cheney," says Wilkerson, alluding to the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested for war crimes. Wilkerson also calls for George W. Bush and Cheney to be held accountable for their crimes in office. "I'd be willing to testify, and I'd be willing to take any punishment I'm due," Wilkerson said. We also speak to Salon.com political and legal blogger Glenn Greenwald about his recent article on Cheney, "The Fruits of Elite Immunity." "Dick Cheney goes around the country profiting off of this sleazy, sensationalistic, self-serving book, basically profiting from his crimes, and at the same time normalizing the idea that these kind of policies...are perfectly legitimate choices to make. And I think that's the really damaging legacy from all of this," says Greenwald.

AMY GOODMAN: Today marks the official launch of one of most anticipated memoirs of any top Bush administration official. I'm talking about former Vice President Dick Cheney's 576-page memoir, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir. Cheney has begun a publicity blitz to promote his new book, with a string of TV appearances scheduled on Fox News Channel, as well as C-SPAN and the major networks. He appeared on The Today Show this morning. This is an excerpt of his pre-taped interview with Jamie Gangel that aired last night on NBC News Dateline


Russia Disagrees with Western Resolution on Syria

© EPAVitaly Churkin.
The draft resolution of the UN Security Council on Syria submitted by the USA and the EU lacks objectivity, declared Russia's permanent representative in the UN Vitaly Churkin in his interview for the Russia Today TV channel.

He said that a resolution stipulating only measures of pressure on President Bashar al-Assad may instigate radical oppositional forces in Syria to start activities against the government. The document does not mention the necessity of a dialogue between the opposition and authorities.

"Russia will not accept the aims which the West is trying to achieve by way of this resolution," Churkin said in conclusion.

Earlier a diplomatic source in New York reported that Russia has prepared its own version of a draft resolution of the UN Security Council on Syria.


UK: The Lockerbie Bomber I Know

© AFP/Getty ImagesMegrahi is greeted on his return to Libya in August 2009.
Two years ago Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was controversially released on the grounds he was about to die. But this shadowy figure has survived to become a pawn in the Libyan conflict. John Ashton, who has long believed in his innocence, describes the man behind the myth.

It's an anniversary that the Scottish justice minister, Kenny MacAskill, will have long dreaded. Two years ago tomorrow MacAskill granted Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, AKA "the Lockerbie bomber", compassionate release from the life sentence he was serving for the murder of the 270 victims of the 1988 bombing. MacAskill had been advised that terminal cancer was likely to end the Libyan's life within the following three months: he had, in short, been "sent home to die". As Megrahi's recent appearance at a pro-Gaddafi rally reminded us, he has not stuck to the script.

The anniversary presents sections of the media with another opportunity to splutter its outrage at MacAskill's decision, and to resurrect the theory that it was driven by backroom deals rather than medical evidence. More seriously, for many of the relatives of the Lockerbie dead it adds an appalling insult to their already grievous injury.

But Megrahi's survival, and the Lockerbie case in general, now has far wider significance. For western governments struggling to justify why Libya should be singled out for enforced regime change, the issue has become a godsend. In recent weeks both Barack Obama and William Hague have tried to boost wilting public support for the war by highlighting Gaddafi's responsibility for the 1988 attack.

Wall Street

UK: Now Banks Ring Up Their Cash-Strapped Customers to Warn Them: "Ditch Mobiles and Gym Membership or Lose Your Home"

  • Banks admit secret checks on 'high-risk' customers
  • About 30,000 home owners to be contacted
  • Other lenders expected to follow suit
© Alamy'We want customers to look at their finances and change their behaviour': The banks confirmed they were identifying customers who may be struggling with other debts
Cash-strapped homeowners are being telephoned by their banks and told to cut spending on 'luxuries' - or risk losing their homes.

Every week, around 2,000 customers of Northern Rock Asset Management and Bradford & Bingley are being warned to slash their outlay on mobile phones, gym memberships and even socialising, to 'prioritise' their mortgages.

In an extraordinary admission, the taxpayer-owned banks said that for the first time they were doing secret credit checks to identify high-risk customers.

Star of David

Leaked Document: Israeli Forces Train And Arm Settlers To Attack Palestinian Protesters


Israeli settlers living in violation of international law in the West Bank have been issued stun grenades and tear gas by the Israeli military, in preparation for anticipated protests by Palestinians following the UN statehood declaration later this month.

The Israeli military has codenamed the planned attack on Palestinians "Operation Summer Seeds", which sounds much like the 2006 "Operation Summer Rains" in which 40,000 sound grenades and live missiles were dropped on the Gaza Strip over the course of the summer.

According to an internal Israeli government document leaked to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, Israeli troops distributed maps with red lines drawn on them around Israeli settlements in the West Bank, with instructions to soldiers that if Palestinian protesters get too close to the settlements, they should be shot in the legs.