Puppet MastersS


Bad Guys

Delivering democracy from 40,000 feet: Another 15 innocent Libyans killed in NATO airstrike

In Libya, another deadly NATO bombing has reportedly killed at least 15 civilians in the capital Tripoli. NATO insists it hit a command center, but Libyan officials say three children are among the dead.


­It comes just a day after the alliance admitted killing up to nine civilians in another airstrike, which it blamed on a technical failure.

A large private compound to the west of the capital has been reduced to rubble in the latest apparent airstrike. Rescuers have discovered the remains of 15 people, accordion to Libyan officials.

The house destroyed belonged to General Khoweildi al-Hamidi, one of the people closest to Colonel Gaddafi. He was among those who took part in the military coup to bring the Libyan leader to power 41 years ago. The general escaped injury, but most of his family died in the attack.

MIB

"Ofergate", a Hush-Hush Scandal: Ofer Brothers Ships Transported Mossad Agents to Iran, 'High Ranking Security Official' Shut Down Israeli Knesset Probe

Image
© HaaretzSammy and Yuli Ofer, Israel's richest men, violated Iran embargo
I haven't covered or even followed in any great detail the Ofer Brothers scandal involving illegal trade between Israel and Iran. But developments today really perked up my ears. First a bit of background: Ofer Brothers are Israel's wealthiest family, owning shipping and other interests. They were recently named to a Treasury Department blacklist for engaging in illegal trade with Iran, which included their ships docking at Iranian ports numerous times and sale of one of their tankers to an Iranian shipping company.

This news has erupted into a medium-sized scandal in Israel with the company claiming it had the government's approval to engage in such trade. This of course would mean that the government colluded with commercial interests against international sanctions. Those of you with an interest in intelligence activities and cloak and dagger mystery can imagine why this might be the case. The government, of course, denies the claims. The company also claims the government is attempting to get it removed from the blacklist with the foreign ministry denying it is doing so. All very strange.

Phoenix

Arizona Wild Fires: John McCain Blames Illegal Immigrants

John McCain
© unknownJohn McCain
Sen. John McCain and other Republican politicians have claimed that there was "substantial evidence" that illegal immigrants were partly responsible for wildfires blazing across the state.

Fire officials said three major blazes in Arizona were started by humans, but they don't know any more details.

Activists swiftly jumped on Mr McCain's statement as "scapegoating," saying that state leaders were merely deflecting attention away from wildfire response.

The debated raged as people returned to homes that had been evacuated near the US-Mexico border. One day earlier the so-called Monument fire swept off a mountain into the outskirts of Sierra Vista, forcing about 3,000 residents of 1,700 homes to flee.

The evacuations brought the total to about 10,000 people from 4,300 homes forced out by the blaze. The fire has burned more than 40 square miles since it started about a week ago and had destroyed 44 homes.

Meanwhile, in the central part of the state along the New Mexico border, the largest blaze in state history has charred an area five times that size.

Vader

Obama to Announce Afghan Plans Wednesday

Obama
© Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty ImagesUS President Barack Obama
President Obama is in the final phase of determining how many U.S. troops he will withdraw from Afghanistan next month and plans to announce his decision Wednesday, administration officials said.

The announcement is also expected to lay out a glide-path for further withdrawals between now and the end of 2012, including the 33,000 so-called "surge" troops he sent there early last year as part of a broad counterinsurgency strategy that the administration has said succeeded in clearing Taliban fighters from key areas in southern Afghanistan.

The number and pace of the withdrawals, from a current total of about 100,000 troops, has been a contentious issue within the White House and between the administration and the U.S. military, which has warned against a significant withdrawal before gains of the last year are solidified.

The administration had hoped to couple Obama's announcement on troop withdrawals with news of progress on political reconciliation with Taliban leaders. But discussions have stalled following several rounds of talks this spring between U.S. officials and Taliban interlocutors, first in Qatar and later in Germany.

Bad Guys

Time for Plan B: How the Euro Became Europe's Greatest Threat

Image
© European Commission 2011

The euro is becoming an ever greater threat to Europe's common future. The currency union chains together economies that are simply incompatible. Politicians approve one bailout package after the other and, in doing so, have set down a dangerous path that could burden Europeans for generations to come and set the EU back by decades.

In the past 14 months, politicians in the euro-zone nations have adopted one bailout package after the next, convening for hectic summit meetings, wrangling over lazy compromises and building up risks of gigantic dimensions.

For just as long, they have been avoiding an important conclusion, namely that things cannot continue this way. The old euro no longer exists in its intended form, and the European Monetary Union isn't working. We need a Plan B.

Bizarro Earth

The Psychopath's Science: War Evolves With Drones, Some Tiny as Bugs

Image
© Chang W. Lee/The New York TimesA microdrone during a demo flight at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Two miles from the cow pasture where the Wright Brothers learned to fly the first airplanes, military researchers are at work on another revolution in the air: shrinking unmanned drones, the kind that fire missiles into Pakistan and spy on insurgents in Afghanistan, to the size of insects and birds.

The base's indoor flight lab is called the "microaviary," and for good reason. The drones in development here are designed to replicate the flight mechanics of moths, hawks and other inhabitants of the natural world. "We're looking at how you hide in plain sight," said Greg Parker, an aerospace engineer, as he held up a prototype of a mechanical hawk that in the future might carry out espionage or kill.

Image
© Raven IndustriesA giant blimplike spy balloon, called an aerostat, keeps an eye on insurgent activity in Afghanistan. The helium-filled aerostats are the largest in the drone arsenal. They are tethered to the ground by cables and float 15,000 feet in the air. An attached camera pans 360 degrees for constant, real-time surveillance as far as 30 miles away. There are now more than 60 aerostats in Afghanistan, with double that number expected in the next year.
Half a world away in Afghanistan, Marines marvel at one of the new blimplike spy balloons that float from a tether 15,000 feet above one of the bloodiest outposts of the war, Sangin in Helmand Province. The balloon, called an aerostat, can transmit live video - from as far as 20 miles away - of insurgents planting homemade bombs. "It's been a game-changer for me," Capt. Nickoli Johnson said in Sangin this spring. "I want a bunch more put in."

From blimps to bugs, an explosion in aerial drones is transforming the way America fights and thinks about its wars. Predator drones, the Cessna-sized workhorses that have dominated unmanned flight since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, are by now a brand name, known and feared around the world. But far less widely known are the sheer size, variety and audaciousness of a rapidly expanding drone universe, along with the dilemmas that come with it.

Brick Wall

The MSM Mental Block: Jon Stewart and Chris Wallace

I don't have time to do more than mention this, and it's all over everywhere in any case. But, seriously, sometime take a look at the Jon Stewart / Chris Wallace exchange this weekend on Fox. The 24 minute version is below, not the 14 minutes that was apparently on-air.


If you see nothing else (after the 30-second embedded intro ad), watch the three and a half minutes starting around time 6:45. What is most striking is Wallace's either feigned or genuine inability to grasp the main point Stewart is making, and making not once but about ten times. Stewart seems genuinely appalled by Wallace's "moral equivalence" riff between Fox News and Comedy Central. "You think we're the same?" Stewart says with real animus. And he goes on to lay out the difference between an operation whose goal is principally satirical, but from an ideological perspective, and one that is principally ideological and is satirical or comedic only as it helps toward that end.

The point is not really that difficult, and Stewart tries to illustrate it this way: "What am I, at my highest aspiration? Mark Twain? Or Edward R. Murrow?" Wallace correctly says "Twain" but seems not to register the larger point Stewart is making. Maybe that's him*; maybe it's a for-the-team game face. (The same "can he believe what he's saying?" issue comes up with Wallace's insistence that he was shocked and offended to have to watch South Park and didn't consider it funny.)

Bad Guys

Best of the Web: 12 Things That The Mainstream Media Is Being Strangely Quiet About Right Now

CNN
© Unknown
As the mainstream media continues to be obsessed with Anthony Weiner and his bizarre adventures on Twitter, much more serious events are happening around the world that are getting very little attention. In America today, if the mainstream media does not cover something it is almost as if it never happened. Right now, the worst nuclear disaster in human history continues to unfold in Japan , U.S. nuclear facilities are being threatened by flood waters, the U.S. military is bombing Yemen, gigantic cracks in the earth are appearing all over the globe and the largest wildfire in Arizona history is causing immense devastation. But Anthony Weiner, Bristol Palin and Miss USA are what the mainstream media want to tell us about and most Americans are buying it.

In times like these, it is more important than ever to think for ourselves. The corporate-owned mainstream media is not interested in looking out for us. Rather, they are going to tell us whatever fits with the agenda that their owners are pushing.

That is why more Americans than ever are turning to the alternative media. Americans are hungry for the truth, and they know that the amount of truth that they get from the mainstream media continues to decline.

Arrow Down

Wal-Mart Wins in Sex-bias Case at Top U.S. court

Image
© Reuters/Larry DowningCanadian protester Elizabeth Plank, from Montreal, holds a sign in front of Supreme Court while class action lawsuit Dukes v. Wal-Mart is being argued inside the court in Washington, March 29, 2011.
The U.S. Supreme Court threw out on Monday a massive class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the biggest ever such case, in a major victory for the world's largest retailer and for big business in general.

The justices unanimously ruled that more than 1 million female employees nationwide could not proceed together in the lawsuit seeking billions of dollars and accusing Wal-Mart of paying women less and giving them fewer promotions.

The Supreme Court agreed with Wal-Mart, the largest private U.S. employer, that the class-action certification violated federal rules for such lawsuits.

It accepted Wal-Mart's argument that the female employees in different jobs at 3,400 different stores nationwide and with different supervisors do not have enough in common to be lumped together in a single class-action lawsuit.

The ruling was cheered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business group as the most important class action case in more than a decade but denounced by women's groups.

It represented a major victory for Wal-Mart, which also has faced legal battles including an attempt to unionize and to block the giant retailer from opening stores in New York and other places.

USA

Don't Call Us Occupiers When We're Dying for Your Country, U.S. Tells Karzai

Image
© The Associated Press / Steve RuarkThe remains of Lance Cpl. Joshua B. McDaniels, 21, of Dublin, Ohio, and Lance Cpl. Sean M. O'Conner, 22, of Douglas, Wyo., arrive at Dover Air Force Base, Del., on Tuesday, June 14, 2011. The Defense Department says both men died on June 12 in combat in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
U.S. Ambassador rebukes Karzai for 'hurtful, inappropriate' rhetoric

The outgoing U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan warned Sunday that the American people are growing weary of being viewed as "occupiers" by the leaders of a country where so much American blood has been spilled.

Karl Eikenberry's candid and impassioned remarks came a day after President Hamid Karzai in a televised speech accused U.S.-led foreign troops of being in the country "for their own national interests."

On Sunday, Karzai met with Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi - on the first ever official visit by Iran's top defense official - and the two discussed problems arising from "the presence of foreign forces" in Afghanistan, according to reports in Iranian state media. Last week Karzai held talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of a Eurasian summit in Kazakhstan, and similar sentiments were expressed.