Puppet MastersS


Star of David

Off the deep end: Canada's foreign minister stresses strong support for Israel

The foreign minister of Canada emphasized his country's staunch support of Israel.

"Israel has no greater friend in the world than Canada," John Baird said Monday at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum.

Baird, on his third visit to Israel, also said that "Canada does not stand behind Israel; Canada stands shoulder to shoulder with Israel." He repeated the sentiments later in the day at a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Bad Guys

How Male Global Elites Work Hard to Fix the Economy - In Their Favor

banker graphic
© n/a
On Sunday, 1 percenters left the World Economic Forum at Davos with bold plans to stay fat and happy while the world falls apart.

The pomp and the platitudes. The champagne and the canapés. In the tony ski resort of Davos, Switzerland, the gemütlich gathering of global leaders for the World Economic Forum seemed like business as usual...five days of hobnobbing and male-dominated, Euro-centric jaw-flapping on the economic state of the planet. A rich and rewarding experience for the rich and rewarded.

But what about this year's theme? Billed as "The Great Transformation," the WEF promised sessions on rethinking capitalism, reducing inequality and solving Europe's financial crisis. Founder Klaus Schwab opened the forum with a wise observation that capitalism needs to be fixed "to serve society." Was it possible that these leaders wanted change? Had they opened their ears to the 99 percent?

Guess it depends on which society and what you mean by fixed. Because in reality, the brochure should have read: "The Great Retrenchment: with sessions on denying capitalism's failures, staying rich despite inequality, and dumping Europe's financial crisis onto the backs of ordinary people."

Dominoes

Russia: UN resolution on Syria is path to war

Beirut - A senior Russian diplomat Tuesday said a draft U.N. resolution demanding Syrian President Bashar Assad step aside is a "path to civil war," as Syrian troops besieged rebellious areas with hours of shelling and machine-gun fire.

The U.N. Security Council was set to meet later Tuesday to discuss the draft, backed by Western and some Arab powers. But Russia would likely veto any strong action against Damascus.
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© Unknown

"The Western draft Security Council resolution on Syria does not lead to a search for compromise," Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov wrote Tuesday on Twitter. "Pushing this resolution is a path to civil war."

Russia has been one of Assad's strongest backers as he tries to quell an uprising that began nearly 11 months ago. In October, Moscow vetoed the first Security Council attempt to condemn Syria's crackdown and has shown little sign of budging in its opposition.

Russia fears the new measure could open the door to eventual military intervention, the way an Arab-backed U.N. resolution led to NATO airstrikes in Libya.

Vader

How I woke up to the untruths of Barack Obama

President Obama delivers his State of the Union address
© Associated PressPresident Obama delivers his State of the Union address
The President's State of the Union address was as weaselly as any politician's could be.

When I happened to wake up in the middle of the night last Wednesday and caught the BBC World Service's live relay of President Obama's State of the Union address to Congress, two passages had me rubbing my eyes in disbelief.

The first came when, to applause, the President spoke about the banking crash which coincided with his barnstorming 2008 election campaign. "The house of cards collapsed," he recalled. "We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn't afford or understand them." He excoriated the banks which had "made huge bets and bonuses with other people's money", while "regulators looked the other way and didn't have the authority to stop the bad behaviour". This, said Obama, "was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work."

I recalled a piece I wrote in this column on January 29, 2009, just after Obama took office. It was headlined: "This is the sub-prime house that Barack Obama built". As a rising young Chicago politician in 1995, no one campaigned more actively than Mr Obama for an amendment to the US Community Reinvestment Act, legally requiring banks to lend huge sums to millions of poor, mainly black Americans, guaranteed by the two giant mortgage associations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Chess

The Conundrum of Iran

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© lonelyplanet.com
The EU oil embargo recently slapped on Iran and the threats voiced by the US and other Western countries to come up with further sanctions against the country led watchers to conclude that an armed conflict between Iran and the West finally became imminent.

The first potential scenario in the context is that the current standoff would eventually escalate into a war. The US forces in the Gulf area currently number 40,000, plus 90,000 are deployed in Afghanistan, just east of Iran, and several thousands of support troops are deployed in various Asian countries. That adds up to a considerable military potential which may still fall short of what it takes to keep a lid on everything if armed hostilities break out. For example, Colin H. Kahl argues in a recent paper in Foreign Affairs that, even though "there is no doubt that Washington will win in the narrow operational sense" (1), the US would have to take a vast array of pertinent problems into account.

At the moment, maintaining the status quo is not in the US interests, holds Stratfor, a US-based global intelligence agency: "If al Assad survives and if the situation in Iraq proceeds as it has been proceeding, then Iran is creating a reality that will define the region. The United States does not have a broad and effective coalition, and certainly not one that would rally in the event of war. It has only Israel ..." (2) If the conflict with Iran takes the shape of a protracted bombing campaign and comes as a prologue to the occupation of the country, the US will need to strengthen its positions in adjacent regions, meaning that Washington will be trying to draw the Caucasian republics (Georgia, Azerbaijan) and those of Central Asia into the orbit of its policy and thus tightening the "Anaconda loop" around Russia.

Handcuffs

Iran Slams US Government for Scientist Arrest

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Iranian professor Mojtaba Atarodi
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman has blasted the recent arrest of an Iranian professor in the United States for allegedly buying high-tech American lab equipment.

Ramin Mehmanparast said Sunday the US government's measures against Iranian scientists aim to hamper the country's scientific progress.

"Such measures are in line with the inhuman policy of assassinating Iranian scientists and reveal the deceptive nature of Washington's allegations against the Iranian nation," he added.

A number of Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated in the past two years as tension escalates between Tehran and Western countries over Iran's nuclear program.

In the latest instance, Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, an official at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, was killed in Tehran when a bomb was stuck to his car by operatives working for Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad.

V

Thousands March in Poland Over Acta Internet Treaty

Thousands of protesters have taken to Poland's streets over the signing of an international treaty activists say amounts to internet censorship.

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© AFPThe government says protesters will have their say before the treaty is ratified in Poland
Prime Minister Donald Tusk's government signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement in Tokyo on Thursday.

The treaty, known as Acta, aims to establish international standards to enforce intellectual property rights.

But critics say it could curb freedom of expression, and government websites have been hacked in protest.

Later on Thursday, hundreds of people took to the streets of the eastern city of Lublin to express their anger over the treaty.

Several marches had taken place in cities across the nation on Wednesday, says the BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw.

Crowds of mostly young people held banners with slogans such as "no to censorship" and "a free internet".

Health

Bin Laden Raid: Will CIA's Secret Doctor Face Treason Trial?

Shakil Afridi
© unknownDr. Shakil Afridi
Pakistan is re-examining the fate of the Pakistani doctor who allegedly helped the CIA gather information on the hideout of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden through a fake vaccination program after a top U.S. official publicly confirmed his secret spy operation.

Officials with the commission investigating the May 2 Navy SEAL raid that took the life of America's most wanted terrorist in Abbottabad, Pakistan, told Pakistan's The News they've ordered Dr. Shakeel Afridi to face trial for treason and said he will not be turned over to the U.S. Pakistan's prime minister, Yousaf Gilani, also said Sunday Afridi would be tried.

Another senior Pakistani official, however, said that the commission does not give the final say on Afridi's fate and that the Pakistani government has yet to decide whether to try him.

Pakistani officials have called for a treason trial previously, but the commission's new order comes just days after U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta publicly confirmed Afridi's key role in the Bin Laden mission.

Stop

Joe Biden Advised Against the Osama Bin Laden Raid

Joe Biden
© unknown
Vice President Joe Biden confessed this weekend that he advised President Obama not to launch the mission that ultimately killed Osama bin Laden last spring.

During remarks at a Democratic congressional retreat this weekend, Biden explained that when it came time to make the final decision, he had some lingering uncertainties about whether the 9/11 mastermind was in the suspected compound in Pakistan.

When the president asked his top advisers for their final opinion on the mission, all of them were hesitant, except for the former CIA director, now Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Biden said.

"Every single person in that room hedged their bet except Leon Panetta. Leon said go. Everyone else said, 49, 51," Biden said, as he offered the unsolicited details of the decision-making process.

Dollar

Audit: U.S. Defense Department can't account for billions for Iraq

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© Getty

The U.S. Defense Department cannot account for about $2 billion it was given to cover Iraq-related expenses and is not providing Iraq with a complete list of U.S.-funded reconstruction projects, according to two new government audits.

The reports come from the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

The Iraqi government in 2004 gave the Department of Defense access to about $3 billion to pay bills for certain contracts, and the department can only show what happened to about a third of that, the inspector general says in an audit published Friday.

Although the Department of Defense (DoD) had "internal processes and controls" to track payments, the "bulk of the records are missing," the report says, adding that the department is searching for them.

Other documents are missing as well, including monthly reports documenting expenses, the audit says.

"From July 2004 through December 2007, DoD should have provided 42 monthly reports. However, it can locate only the first four reports."