Puppet MastersS

Red Flag

Obamacare is a fiasco: Who says Obama hasn't united the country?

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Yesterday the Obama administration suddenly moved to allow hundreds of thousands of people who've lost their insurance due to Obamacare to sign up for bare-bone "catastrophic" plans. It's at least the 14th unilateral change to Obamacare that's been made without consulting Congress.

"It shows that the Obamacare insurance products aren't selling so, at the last minute, the administration is holding a fire sale on a failed launch," says Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, a health-care advocacy group. "Just think how you must feel if you were one of the people who spent the last two months fighting their way through HealthCare.gov to buy a policy that will be thousands of dollars more expensive than this catastrophic insurance!"

Of course, like every other exemption from Obamacare the latest fix is supposed to last only a year, raising the prospect that people will be kicked off their catastrophic coverage as soon as the 2014 election is safely in the political rear-view mirror.

Eye 1

The Pentagon-Hollywood Connection: Propaganda, censorship, and bribery


Film: "Operation Hollywood"

Want to make a film about Hollywood?

Just do what the Pentagon wants and they'll give you millions of dollars worth of free equipment and personnel.

It's not a secret program. The whole thing is run up front.

Who takes the money? "Top Gun" is a classic example.

But not everyone takes it. "Apocalypse Now!" and "Full Metal Jacket" did not.

How can you tell who is who?

It's pretty darn easy.

Arrow Down

Teacher fired for failing Greek PM's son caught cheating on a test

Greek PM
© The Slog
The Greek Central Council for Secondary Education (KYSDE) announced the definitive dismissal of the teacher who a year and a half ago caught the Greek Prime Minister's son cheating on a test and gave him a failing grade in her class.

After 21 years of working as a teacher, she was removed from duty in June 2012, after having caught Antonis Samaras' son cheating on a test. She filed a lawsuit against Athens College, Greece, seeking to overturn their decision.

KYSDE was also involved in the case but decided not to overturn the dismissal as in their opinion, there was "not enough evidence to prove" an abuse of power by Athens College when they terminated the teacher's contract.

The incident has enraged the Greek Federation of Private School Teachers. In their announcement they said that KYSDE has given an early Christmas present to the Greek Prime Minister's family, the heads of the Ministry of Education and private school owners. The announcement continues, "Three members of KYSDE decided to 'execute' the teacher, Efrosyni Boutala, by reaching the conclusion that there was no evidence for an abuse of power or unfair dismissal by Athens College when they terminated her contract."

Handcuffs

New fascist law in Uganda makes it a crime to be gay AND to not report gays to authorities


Gay rights campaigner Claire Byarugaba: "We would rather stay and fight but we know that people in power are way too powerful"

Uganda's parliament has passed a bill to toughen the punishment for homosexual acts to include life imprisonment in some cases.

The anti-homosexuality bill also makes it a crime punishable by a prison sentence not to report gay people.

The prime minister opposed the vote, saying not enough MPs were present.

The bill has been condemned by world leaders since it was mooted in 2009 - U.S. President Barack Obama called it "odious".

The BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga in Kampala says the government knows there will be an international outcry, which could see some countries suspend aid to the country.

She says that Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi might follow up on his complaints about a lack of quorum, while it remains to be seen whether President Yoweri Museveni will sign the bill into law.

The private member's bill originally proposed the death penalty for some offences, such as if a minor was involved or the perpetrator was HIV-positive, but this has been replaced with life in prison.

Eye 1

Snowden ally Applebaum says his Berlin apartment subject to raids

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© AFP/DPAU.S. internet activist Jacob Applebaum
Jacob Appelbaum, a Berlin-based U.S. journalist with access to some of Edward Snowden's documents, claims there have been a series of raids on his apartment, saying he suspects possible U.S. involvement.

In an interview with "Berliner Zeitung" published on Saturday he described strange scenarios which have been haunting him. "When I flew away for an appointment, I installed four alarm systems in my apartment," Appelbaum said.

"When I returned, three of them had been turned off. The fourth, however, had registered that somebody was in my flat - although I'm the only one with a key. Some of my effects - the positions of which I carefully note - were indeed askew. My computers had been turned on and off," he added.

"The monitoring pressure has ultimately destroyed my relationship with my girlfriend," he mourned. The internet activist, journalist and cybersecurity specialist is a core member of the Tor encrypted network and has well-documented ties to WikiLeaks.

His decision to move to Berlin was made because he considered Germany to have better privacy protection, and because he felt unsafe in the U.S. after repeated detentions at American airports following his trips abroad.

Airplane

U.S. military aircraft hit in S. Sudan, 4 wounded

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Gunfire hit three U.S. military aircraft trying to evacuate American citizens in a remote region of South Sudan that on Saturday became a battle ground between the country's military and renegade troops, officials said. Four U.S. service members were wounded in the attack in the same region where gunfire downed a U.N. helicopter the day before.

The U.S. military aircraft were about to land in Bor, the capital of the state of Jonglei and scene of some of the nation's worst violence over the last week, when they were hit. The military said the four wounded troops were in stable condition.

The U.S. military said three CV-22 Ospreys - the kind of aircraft that can fly like a helicopter and plane - were "participating in a mission to evacuate American citizens in Bor." A South Sudan official said violence against civilians there has resulted in bodies "sprinkled all over town."

"After receiving fire from the ground while approaching the site, the aircraft diverted to an airfield outside the country and aborted the mission," the statement said. "The injured troops are being treated for their wounds." It was not known how many U.S. civilians are in Bor.

After the aircraft took incoming fire, they turned around and flew to Entebbe, Uganda. From there the service members were flown to Nairobi, Kenya aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 for medical treatment, the statement said.

An official in the region who insisted on anonymity to share information not made public said the Americans did not tell the top commander in Bor - Gen. Peter Gadet, who defected from the South Sudan military this week - that they were coming in, which may have led to the attack. The U.S. statements said the gunfire was from unknown forces.

Bad Guys

Syrian conflict: Western leaders 'act according to their selfish interests' - Assad

Assad
© EPA
Western leaders "behave with duplicity and act according to their selfish interests, without understanding the reality or nature" of the Syrian conflict, Syrian President Bashar Assad has said.

Bashar Assad also said Monday his country is being confronted by a major offensive by Islamist extremists.

"The country is facing a takfiri ideology," Assad said, using a term for Sunni Muslim extremists.

"This is terrorism without limits, an international scourge that could strike anywhere and anytime," he said, quoted by the official SANA news agency.

Assad made the remarks while receiving what SANA said was a delegation of "academics, researchers and activists" from Australia who had came to express "solidarity" with his government.

The president also criticised Western leaders, who "behave with duplicity and act according to their selfish interests, without understanding the reality or nature" of the Syrian conflict.


Comment: The majority of Syrians support Assad, so why are we trying to remove him?
British Special Forces, CIA and MI6 supporting armed insurgency in Syria
How Obama and Al-Qaeda became Syrian bedfellows
Saudis' big push to equip rebels before airstrikes


Rocket

Pakistani military might be allowed to shoot down U.S. drones in near future

pakistani military
© EPA
The Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC)'s grand national jirga Sunday asked the government to allow the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to shoot down the drones if the US refused to stop the drone attacks. The jirga also asked the government to immediately halt military operations in the tribal areas, particularly in North Waziristan, and open dialogue with the Taliban in line with the unanimous decisions of Parliament, the All Parties Conference and the Cabinet's Committee on National Security.

DPC Chairman Maulana Samiul Haq, who also heads Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S), presented the declaration which was adopted unanimously.Leaders of all the component groups of DPC stood by his side as he read out the two-page declaration, which was almost similar to his welcome address delivered at the outset of the conference.

Samiul Haq asked the federal government to take effective measures for stopping drone strikes and to take up the issue categorically with the US.

He said the attack on the military checkpoint in North Waziristan a few days back and the killing of security forces personnel was part of the US conspiracy to sabotage the process of dialogue. "Military operation anywhere in the country, particularly in North Waziristan, should be stopped and effective steps be taken for resumption and success of talks," he stressed.

Comment: U.S. terror drone attack kills 18 in NW Pakistan
Pakistan claim 400 civilians killed by drone strikes: US refuses to release death toll figures claiming 'they're classified'
US drone attacks leave 21 dead in NW Pakistan in 48 hours
Drone warfare: U.S. covert actions in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia
U.S. drone strikes are causing child casualties: video and report
Propaganda War: Undercounting civilian deaths in U.S. drone strikes on Pakistan
U.S. drone strike estimates exceed 3,300 deaths
Drone Strikes Threaten 50 Years of International Law, Says UN Rapporteur
Spreading freedom: List of children killed by U.S. (drone strikes) in Yemen and Pakistan


Light Saber

Vladimir Putin is outflanking the west at every turn as the Guardian dreams of regime change in Syria


Putin
© Unknown
The Russian president runs rings around the supposed liberal leaders of the west as he advances his authoritarian agenda
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This has been the year of Vladimir Putin's ascendancy. The Russian president has made Barack Obama look like a conman's stooge - a lame duck president so weak that he can barely waddle to the pond. Putin has managed to protect his client dictatorship in Syria - even after it broke one of the few taboos limiting man's inhumanity to man by using chemical weapons. He has Edward Snowden, perhaps the most damaging leaker in recent history, under the vigilant eyes of his secret police in Moscow. He has out-manoeuvred the pro-European demonstrators in Kiev and bought off the Ukrainian government.

At home, his control over the state and civil society is so complete that he can afford to play the merciful tsar and release dissidents and his former rival Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Forbes magazine was not making a mistake when it called Putin the world's most powerful person in 2013. However, the Centre for Strategic Communications, a thinktank for the Kremlin's pet intellectuals, assessed his power more precisely last week when it acclaimed him "world conservatism's new leader". If you can rid yourself of the idea that being a conservative means merely supporting private enterprise, you will see what it meant.


Comment: The Guardian does a good job at painting a bad picture of Putin from the very beginning. Putin was a democratically elected president and has an undisputed popularity rating in Russia that western leaders can only dream about.
Vladimir Putin's Poll Numbers Still Aren't Declining - Forbes

Syria did not use chemical weapons, but the Western terrorists did. This has been verified.

As far as Snowden goes, then he is a whistleblower and his life is threatened in the so-called democratic West....Think Bradley Manning or Julian Assange. John Bolton said a few days ago, that he would like to see Snowden hang from a tall oak tree.
John Bolton: Edward Snowden 'ought to swing from a tall oak tree'

Khodorkovsky was never a rival:
Khodorkovsky created the myth that he is Putin's political opponent AFTER he was sent to prison for being a corporate thief


Comment: It is strange that the author is so clueless as to what would have happened if western powers had imposed no-fly zones. Look at Libya!
You probably did support that too thereby doing the journalistic propaganda bid for regime change. Yes, look at Libya and know that you have blood on your hands too. The fact that western governments have armed thousand of mercenaries in Syria, means thousands of more innocent deaths and a prolongation of the suffering in Syria.


Gear

Weary Obama at break, hoping for a breakthrough

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© Rare.us
President Obama's news conference on Friday was full of banter and holiday wishes, in keeping with the year-end White House ritual. But Mr. Obama's demeanor and words were often downbeat, leaving no doubt that the gathering was not, as he said at the beginning, "the most wonderful news conference of the year."

That was fitting - 2013 was far from the most wonderful of Mr. Obama's five crisis-filled years. And though he held out hope as he parried with reporters for more than an hour that "2014 can be a breakthrough year for America," he offered little hint of new ideas or strategies to advance his once-ambitious agenda past hostile Republicans.

"The end of the year is always a good time to reflect and see what can you do better next year. That's how I intend to approach it," Mr. Obama said. "I am sure that I will have even better ideas after a couple days of sleep and sun."

It was as if the president could already smell the exhaust fumes of Marine One, which within hours would whisk him and his family from the South Lawn of the White House on the beginning of their annual holiday trip, a full two weeks in Hawaii. "I know you are all eager to skip town and spend some time with your families. Not surprisingly, I am, too," he said.