Puppet MastersS


Pakistan's Top Court Convicts PM of Contempt

Yousuf Raza Gilani
© unknownYousuf Raza Gilani
The Supreme Court convicted Pakistan's prime minister of contempt on Thursday but spared him a prison term for refusing to reopen a corruption case against his boss, the president, leaving the premier in power but facing fresh calls to resign.

The ruling against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani added to political uncertainty and tensions between the government and the court, effectively crippling an administration that has shown little will to tackle the economic and security challenges facing the country.

Thursday's hearing had been widely anticipated by opponents of Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari, who were hoping the Supreme Court would sentence the prime minister to prison and order his immediate dismissal from office. That would have triggered a major political crisis, brought criticism on the court and could have benefited Gilani and Zardari electorally by making them martyrs in the eyes of their supporters.

Gilani is the longest-serving prime minister in the history of Pakistan, where civilian governments have repeatedly been toppled by the country's powerful military, often with the support of the Supreme Court, which critics allege is heavily politicized. Corruption charges have routinely been used to target those in power, or seeking to return.

Gilani's conviction in a court of law means there are now grounds to initiate dismissal proceedings, which involves the speaker of the parliament and the election commission. It could take up to four months and be fiercely contested every step of the way.


Rupert Murdoch to Return for 2nd Day of Questioning by London Inquiry

Rupert Murdoch
© Desconocido
London - After a day of testimony at a British judicial inquiry over his ties, friendships and fall-outs with British politicians, Rupert Murdoch was to return to the witness stand on Thursday to face what could be far tougher questions about the hacking scandal that has convulsed his media outpost here.

His appearance offers rare public scrutiny of Mr. Murdoch, usually shielded by his power, influence and wealth.

Since the scandal blossomed last summer, Mr. Murdoch, 81, has been forced to undertake once unthinkable measures, such as the closure of The News of the World Sunday tabloid and the abandonment of a $12 billion satellite television bid, as questions have deepened about the behavior and ethics of journalists, editors and managers working for him.

Last July, he and his son James Murdoch appeared side by side at a separate parliamentary inquiry into the scandal when the elder Mr. Murdoch was assailed by a protester who threw a foam pie in his face.

In addition to the investigations by Parliament and the current inquiry under Lord Justice Brian Leveson, the British police have launched three separate inquiries into hacking of voice mail, e-mail and the alleged bribery of police officers.


Court Acquits Japanese Political Heavyweight of Funding Scandal

Ichiro Ozawa
© BloombergIchiro Ozawa
Tokyo - A Japanese court on Thursday found one of the country's most influential politicians not guilty of participating in a funding scandal, reconfiguring the balance of power in the governing party.

The Tokyo District Court acquitted Ichiro Ozawa -- nicknamed the "Shadow Shogun" for his political power-broking -- of falsifying a funding report.

Ozawa, who was forced to resign as head of the governing Democratic Party of Japan in 2009 because of the scandal, is now in a position to reassert his considerable clout within the party.

He opposes Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's plans to double the sales tax, a controversial measure aimed at tackling Japan's huge public debt.

Bizarro Earth

EU 'Deeply Preoccupied' by Tymoshenko Situation

Yulia Tymoshenko
© unknownYulia Tymoshenko
Brussels - The European Union voiced deep concern Thursday over the situation of Ukraine's jailed ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is on a hunger strike and reportedly suffered physical violence.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged Ukrainian authorities to allow the EU ambassador to visit Tymoshenko in prison along with independent medical specialists "as a sign of their political will to clarify the situation."

Ashton "is deeply preoccupied by the situation of Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister of Ukraine," the chief EU diplomat's spokesman said in a statement.

The Ukrainian ombudsman's office confirmed that 51-year-old Tymoshenko was "subjected to physical violence" during the transfer from her cell to a hospital on April 20, the statement said.

Ashton "recalls the obligation of Ukraine to examine promptly and impartially any complaints of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," it said.

Bad Guys

Trampling on the Tribes: 'The Corporate Way'

Awa tribe
© survivalinternational.org
You might think Man has come a long way from the Dutch and English slave masters of the 18th Century selling work-able men and women from Africa at "markets" in North, Central and South America. But look at the attitudes to indigenous people.

The facts are that in our day and age Power - the ability to do things irrespective of any resistance from anybody - has been fundamentally privatized worldwide.So when private corporations decide to grab resource-rich lands they use all methods - modern and primitive - to get their way, as occurs for example, with the primitive Awá Indian tribe dwelling in Brazil's Amazonian rainforest where major logging companies simply hunt them down to extermination.

For the Awá people, modern Western "democracy", "market economy" and "human rights" mean decimation so complete that, according to a London Guardian newspaper report last Sunday 22nd April, today there's only 355 of them left.The whole tribe could easily fit inside a jumbo jet!

That's the result of the private logging industry inside Brazil ramming into the Amazon forest to get their trees.Reminiscent of the film "Avatar" these corporations use strong private armies of pistoleros - gun-toting "soldiers of fortune" - to round up and kill anyone, primitive aboriginal or local townsfolk, who doesn't immediately grasp the benefits of the "market economy"

Why did this particular case reach the Western press? Because an NGO called "Survival International" campaigns in the Awa's defense, supported by British actor Colin Firth. No doubt, this at least is something, but...what about all the other thousands of tribes and unprotected, voiceless peoples throughout the world who haven't caught the eye of any Oscar-winning actor?


Spain to Close Border for Summit of the European Central Bank

© unknown
Madrid, Apr 24 (Prensa Latina) - Spain will restore border controls to France on Saturday, during a summit of European Central Bank (ECB) to be held on 3 May in Barcelona, said Monday the Ministry of Interior.

The measure, which will run until next May 4, will involve the temporary suspension of the Schengen Agreement on free movement of citizens among the 27 European Union countries.

According to the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy, the land boundaries with France will be reinforced at the border of La Jonquera, Port Bou, Puigcerdá, Camprodon, Les and Canfranc and air borders of Girona and Barcelona airports.

The Schengen Agreement text states that the free movement of persons in Europe without borders can be temporarily interrupted in the case of "a serious threat to public order or national security."

The Spanish authorities fear the arrival of protesters from other countries to Barcelona as part of the unrest prevailing in the so-called Old Continent due to the adjustment measures implemented by governments to overcome the crisis.

No Entry

Borders to France to be Temporarily Closed

The Interior Ministry has announced that it will close the borders between Spain and France, due to serious fears of public order and domestic security issues, to coincide with the European Central Bank summit in Barcelona.

The move temporarily suspends the Schengen Treaty and temporarily restores border controls to France from midnight on Saturday 28th April until midnight on Friday 4th May.

The Schengen agreement, originally established in 1995, to which the UK declined to agree, states that the free movement of persons in Europe without borders can be stopped temporarily if you know it "a serious threat to public order or domestic security."

All land borders will be closed to free flow and there will be increased security checks at Girona and Barcelona airports.


Security Experts: CISPA Not Needed, Would Do More Harm than Good

CISPA graphic
© Image by William Banzai
Government On the Verge - Yet Again - of Doing Something Which Causes More Harm Than Good

Torture doesn't provide any actionable intelligence - it actually reduces the chance that the witness will tell you anything - and yet the government insisted on using it.

Security experts (conservative hawks and liberal doves alike) agree that waging war in the Middle East weakens national security and increases terrorism - see this, this, this, this, this, this and this - but the government insisted on doing it.

For years, many high-level economists and financial experts have said that bailing out the giant banks will make a true economic recovery impossible ... but the government keeps bailing them out.

The government tried to pass SOPA - even though security experts said it would harm Internet security.

Now - after the defeat of SOPA - boneheads in Congress are doing it again ... trying to ram through the CISPA bill which would do nothing useful, and would more or less destroy all privacy in the U.S.*

Brick Wall

Sarkozy wants EU partners to toughen border controls

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, chasing far-right voters in a troubled re-election bid, will press EU partners Thursday to make it easier to recall border guards in Europe's visa-free travel area.

Sarkozy's interior minister will present to EU counterparts a German-backed proposal that would allow states to reintroduce border controls for 30 days as a last resort if another Schengen nation fails to police its external frontiers.

After coming second to Socialist candidate Francois Hollande in Sunday's first round, Sarkozy told a campaign rally on Monday that the French "no longer want a sieve-like Europe" and that "borders are meant to be protected."


Finding the Culprits of the Crisis

Janet Tavakoli
© AdvisorOne
Janet Tavakoli calls it as she sees it - and what she often perceives isn't a pretty picture. But for any advisor, or other investment professional, to ignore this industry veteran's razor-sharp insights would be folly.

A gutsy critic of both Wall Street and the federal government, the Chicago-based consultant, specializing in derivatives and structured products, pulls no punches. Through her independent research into the global financial crisis, Tavakoli uncovered what she calls massive, widespread fraud committed by a network of mortgage originators, securitizers, and rating and regulatory agencies, among others.

Earlier, the founder of Tavakoli Structured Finance, 58, predicted the thrift industry blow-up and the demise of Enron. Then she foresaw that excessive leverage and structured products' misratings would lead to a global financial crisis.

In her just-published e-book, The New Robber Barons, Tavakoli charges that the relationship between failed mortgage lenders and investment banks that securitized and sold risky loans was "the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of our capital markets ... a financial Pearl Harbor," where "investment bankers piloted many of the planes."

Now Tavakoli sees another huge financial crisis looming.

The University of Chicago MBA has traded, structured and sold derivatives at firms including Merrill Lynch, PaineWebber and Westdeutsche Landesbank; and she had earlier stints at Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs. Research recently talked with her about red flags and preventive solutions.