Puppet MastersS


German Scandal Adds to Pressure on Merkel

Nation's President, Picked by Chancellor, Faces Criticism for Seeking to Quash Press Coverage on Loan Received as Governor
Merkel, Wulff
© Agence France-Presse/Getty ImagesChancellor Merkel, second from left, and President Wulff, second from right, attend a Berlin event in August.

A political scandal surrounding German President Christian Wulff intensified Tuesday as new information emerged that he tried to squelch media reports about his private business dealings.

The affair presents German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who nominated Mr. Wulff for the largely ceremonial position in 2010, with a new political headache as she scrambles to find a solution to the euro-zone debt crisis.

The story of Mr. Wulff's attempts to stifle media coverage first appeared in German newspapers over the weekend. Mr. Wulff, a senior member of Ms. Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party, learned last month that the mass-circulation daily tabloid Bild was about to publish a story about a private loan he received from a friend to finance the purchase of his home in 2008, when he was still governor of the state of Lower Saxony, Bild reported.


Israelis, Palestinians hold first peace talks in more than a year

© Reuters/PETRAMiddle East peace mediators including Tony Blair (at table in red tie) attend a meeting with envoys, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators in Amman on Jan. 3, 2012.
Israeli and Palestinian officials met Tuesday in Jordan's capital, Amman, in the first attempt at peace talks in more than a year. As expected, there were no breakthroughs.

Diplomats from the so-called quartet of Middle East peacemakers - the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations - witnessed the talks, though analysts said they saw no prospects for the two sides to agree soon to settle the decades-long standoff.

"It does not look like 2012 will be the year we solve the Israeli-Palestinian peace process," said one senior "quartet" diplomat who spoke only on the condition that neither his name nor country be identified, because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. "It's ironic and maybe a bit sad that I can say that just a few days into 2012, but that's what it looks like."

Even as the two sides agreed to open the year with the talks, each was plotting a scheme that seemed intended to prevent agreement.

Palestinian officials are hoping to use their newfound backing in the U.N. to launch investigations into Israel and to rally support against Israel's policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Bad Guys

Best of the Web: Psychopaths Caused the Financial Crisis ... And They Will Do It Again and Again Unless They Are Removed From Power

corporate psychopath
© n/a
Psychopaths Caused the Financial Crisis

Bloomberg notes:
The "corporate psychopaths" at the helm of our financial institutions are to blame [for the financial crisis].

Clive R. Boddy, most recently a professor at the Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University, says psychopaths are the 1 percent of "people who, perhaps due to physical factors to do with abnormal brain connectivity and chemistry" lack a "conscience, have few emotions and display an inability to have any feelings, sympathy or empathy for other people."

As a result, Boddy argues in a recent issue of the Journal of Business Ethics, such people are "extraordinarily cold, much more calculating and ruthless towards others than most people are and therefore a menace to the companies they work for and to society."

How do people with such obvious personality flaws make it to the top of seemingly successful corporations? Boddy says psychopaths take advantage of the "relative chaotic nature of the modern corporation," including "rapid change, constant renewal" and high turnover of "key personnel." Such circumstances allow them to ascend through a combination of "charm" and "charisma," which makes "their behaviour invisible" and "makes them appear normal and even to be ideal leaders."

Bad Guys

Monsanto Is Not The Answer

© gaia-health.com
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has teamed up with Monsanto Company and Nepal's Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative to pilot hybrid maize production among 20,000 farmers of Chitwan, Nawalparasi and Kavre districts.

The long term goal is to spread hybrid maize across the country. One of the purported goals of this initiative is to increase food security for the people. A closer analysis shows that this is not going to be the case. If at all, the focus on hybrid maize production will result in worse food security. Additionally, there are many other problems that the promotion of hybrid maize production is certainly going to create.

The promotion of hybrid corn was aimed at supplying raw materials for the animal feed industry. It was made amply clear by USAID's Mission Director David C. Atteberry on September 12 during the multi-stakeholder meeting at Hotel Himalaya. Nepal imports 135,000 tons of corn feed annually to be consumed by the animal industry. The value of 135,000 tons of corn feed is around Rs 300 million, according to Atteberry.

Bad Guys

Leaked: US to Start 'Trade Wars' with Nations Opposed to Monsanto, GMO Crops

Paper Money
© Natural Society

The United States is threatening nations who oppose Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) crops with military-style trade wars, according to information obtained and released by the organization WikiLeaks. Nations like France, which have moved to ban one of Monsanto's GM corn varieties, were requested to be 'penalized' by the United States for opposing Monsanto and genetically modified foods. The information reveals just how deep Monsanto's roots have penetrated key positions within the United States government, with the cables reporting that many U.S. diplomats work directly for Monsanto.

The WikiLeaks cable reveals that in late 2007, the United States ambassador to France and business partner to George W. Bush, Craig Stapleton, requested that the European Union along with particular nations that did not support GMO crops be penalized. Stapleton, who co-owned the Dallas/Fort Worth-based Texas Rangers baseball team with Bush in the 1990s, stated:
"Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory. Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices."

Alarm Clock

Best of the Web: George Galloway - Don't Attack Iran 5 Dec 2011

George Galloway, speaking at Stop the War Coalition's public meeting 'Don't Attack Iran' on Monday 5th December 2011 in Conway Hall, London.

Bad Guys

US: Iowa - The Meaningless Sideshow Begins

Presidential Candidates
© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Scott Olson/Getty ImagesRon Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

The 2012 presidential race officially begins today with the caucuses in Iowa, and we all know what that means ...


The race for the White House is normally an event suffused with drama, sucking eyeballs to the page all over the globe. Just as even the non-British were at least temporarily engaged by last year's royal wedding, people all over the world are normally fascinated by the presidential race: both dramas arouse the popular imagination as real-life versions of universal children's fairy tales.

Instead of a tale about which maiden gets to marry the handsome prince, the campaign is an epic story, complete with a gleaming white castle at the end, about the battle to succeed to the king's throne. Since the presidency is the most powerful office in the world, the tale has appeal for people all over the planet, from jungles to Siberian villages.

It takes an awful lot to rob the presidential race of this elemental appeal. But this year's race has lost that buzz. In fact, this 2012 race may be the most meaningless national election campaign we've ever had. If the presidential race normally captivates the public as a dramatic and angry ideological battle pitting one impassioned half of society against the other, this year's race feels like something else entirely.


Iran Threatens U.S. Navy as Sanctions Hit Economy

© ReutersThe Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) transits the Strait of Hormuz, November 12, 2011.
Tehran - Iran threatened Tuesday to take action if the U.S. Navy moves an aircraft carrier into the Gulf, Tehran's most aggressive statement yet after weeks of saber-rattling as new U.S. and EU financial sanctions take a toll on its economy.

The prospect of sanctions targeting the oil sector in a serious way for the first time has hit Iran's rial currency, which reached a record low Tuesday and has fallen by 40 percent against the dollar in the past month.

Queues formed at banks and some currency exchange offices shut their doors as Iranians scrambled to buy dollars to protect their savings from the currency's fall.

Army chief Ataollah Salehi said the United States had moved an aircraft carrier out of the Gulf because of Iran's naval exercises, and Iran would take action if the ship returned.

"Iran will not repeat its warning ... the enemy's carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf," army chief Salehi said.

"I advise, recommend and warn them over the return of this carrier to the Persian Gulf because we are not in the habit of warning more than once."

Comment: Another round of blaming the victim. How dare Iran for trying to protect its oil, interests, and economy. Poor America the victim of Iran's threats. The oldest trick in the book. Undoubtedly, Americans will buy into the lie.


Iraqi Minister Survives Bomb Attack

Rafe al-Essawi
© unknownIraq's Finance Minister Rafe al-Essawi
Iraq's Finance Minister Rafe al-Essawi has survived a bomb attack targeting his convoy north of the capital, Baghdad, police said.

Three of Essawi's bodyguards, two officers and one soldier, were injured after a roadside bomb exploded near his convoy in Salahuddin Province on Sunday night.

"It was a roadside bomb placed on the main road targeting the convoy of Dr. Rafe in al-Ishaqi town yesterday evening," Zaid Mohammed, the finance ministry's media manager, said on Monday.

The Iraqi minister, who is a member of the Iraqiya political party, was on his way back to Baghdad when the explosion took place. Esawi had attended a funeral in Salahuddin Province.

It was not immediately clear that his convoy was targeted or the attack was random. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Bad Guys

Iran Warns U.S. to Keep Ship Out of Gulf

© AP Photo/U.S. NavyThis file photo provided by the U.S. Navy shows the USS John C. Stennis at sea in the Pacific Ocean in November 2009.
A senior Iranian Army commander has warned the U.S. Navy not to move an aircraft carrier which left the Persian Gulf during Iran's recent military drills back into the body of water which forms much of Iran's southern border.

According to the Reuters news agency, army chief Ataollah Salehi suggested to the IRNA network on Tuesday that Iran would take unspecified action if the carrier returned to Gulf waters.

The USS John C. Stennis and another U.S. Naval vessel headed out of the Gulf and through the Strait of Hormuz last Tuesday after a visit to Dubai.

"Iran will not repeat its warning ... the enemy's carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf," Salehi reportedly told IRNA.

"I advise, recommend and warn them (the Americans) over the return of this carrier to the Persian Gulf because we are not in the habit of warning more than once," Salehi told the semi-official Fars news agency, according to Reuters.