Puppet MastersS


Vader

Nixon 'Far Worse' Than Thought Say Watergate Reporters

Richard Nixon
© unknownRichard Nixon
Washington - Almost four decades after the infamous Watergate break-in, the reporters who broke the story have concluded that then-president Richard Nixon was "far worse" than they thought.

Nixon resigned in August 1974 for his administration's role in a June 17, 1972, burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in the US capital and the subsequent cover-up. He became the only American president ever to resign the office.

Many inaccurate ideas and myths related to Nixon's role in the burglary and its cover-up have found long life over the years, reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward wrote in an op-ed piece for The Washington Post Saturday.

"Another ... has since persisted, often unchallenged: the notion that the cover-up was worse than the crime. This idea minimizes the scale and reach of Nixon's criminal actions," the reporters stressed.

Mr. Potato

Francois Hollande's Socialists Poised to Seize Parliamentary Majority

French President Francois Hollande's Socialists and allies came out on top in first-round parliamentary elections Sunday, poised to secure the majority needed to push through tax-and-spend reforms.
François Hollande, Valerie Trierweiler
© REXThe French president, François Hollande, and his partner, Valerie Trierweiler
The election also saw a surge in support for Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front, which wants to ditch the euro and battle against what she calls the "Islamisation" of France.

The Socialists, Greens and allies won around 46 per cent of the vote, ahead of the 34 per cent for ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing UMP party and its allies, the final results released by the interior ministry showed.

Pollsters TNS Sofres, IPOs and OpinonWay agreed that the Socialists and close allies might win between 283-329 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly or potentially as many as 329 and could hold power in the parliament without relying of the votes of the Greens or the anti-capitalist Left Front.

Hollande defeated Sarkozy in last month's presidential election and wants voters to give him a strong mandate to enact reforms as France battles Europe's crippling debt crisis, rising joblessness and a stagnant economy.

If next week's second round confirms Sunday's results, it will boost his status in Europe as champion of the movement away from German-led fixation on austerity towards growth, which he favours as the solution to the economic crisis.

Airplane

Kenyan Minister's Death in Helicopter Crash Fuels Terrorism Fears

George Saitoti
© Daily TelegraphProf George Saitoti and today's crash scene
The architect of Kenya's military campaign in Somalia and a leading presidential candidate for next year's election has died in a helicopter crash in the hills outside the capital, Nairobi.

The Internal Security Minister, George Saitoti, and at least five of his colleagues died when the police helicopter they were travelling in crashed on the outskirts of the city. Authorities are investigating the cause of the crash, which comes at a time when Kenya is on high alert for terrorist attacks. "As we speak now, nobody knows the cause of the accident," the Prime Minister Raila Odinga said yesterday.

Mr Saitoti pushed for Kenya's intervention last year in neighbouring Somalia. Since then, there has been a spate of grenade attacks blamed by police on supporters of the Somali militant group al-Shabaab. One person was killed and dozens were injured last month in a firebomb attack on a Nairobi shopping centre that has been linked to al-Shabaab. The Islamist group has threatened an attack against a major Kenyan target in the coming month.

Bad Guys

Former 'God's Banker' Could Blitz Vatican with Cache of Secret Documents

Bank Scandal
© AFP Photo/Osservatore RomanoPope Benedict XVI talks to the former head of the Vatican bank Ettore Gotti Tedeschi.
The former head of the Vatican Bank has become the Papacy's Enemy Number One, after police discovered a trove of documents exposing financial misdeeds in the Holy See. The banker now reportedly fears for his life.

­Earlier this week police conducted a dawn raid on the house and office of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. Investigators say they were looking for evidence in a graft case against defense and aerospace firm Finmeccanica, which was formerly run by a close friend of Gotti Tedeschi.

Instead, as it turns out, police stumbled upon an entirely different find.

They discovered 47 binders containing private communication exposing the opaque inner workings of the secretive Holy See. They included financial documents, details of money transfers and confidential internal reports - all prepared by Gotti Tedeschi to build a convincing expose of corruption in the Vatican.

A renowned economics professor and head of the Italian branch of the giant Bank of Santander Gotti Tedeschi took what turned out to be a poisoned chalice of a job in 2009, when he became the President of the Institute for Works of Religion, the formal name for the Bank of Vatican. His brief was formidable - to introduce transparency to a lucrative enterprise that had become a byword for money-laundering and corruption.

After a tumultuous three years marked by in-fighting and public scandals, Gotti Tedeschi was unanimously dismissed from his post by a board of Vatican officials in May.

"I have paid for my transparency" the indignant banker said to the media, as he stormed off even before his dismissal hearing was over.

The confidential minutes of the stormy meeting obtained by Reuters showed the banker accused of "progressively erratic personal behavior" and "exhibiting lack of prudence and accuracy in comments regarding the Institute".

But there may have been other reasons.

Dominoes

Bank Run Forces Spain To Request $125 Billion Bailout

Spain
Spain has officially requested a $125 billion bailout to keep its banks afloat after massive deposit withdrawals from the nation's banks.

Three days ago Spain's budget minister split with Spain's prime minister announced that the country no longer had feasible access to borrow money from the financial markets.

He begged for bailout live on the radio after coming to the realization Spain's banks need a massive cash injection to recapitalize the deposits that have disappeared due to the bank runs that have spread across Europe.

Just three short days later Spain's economy minister is now officially requested Europe's fourth bailout seeking $125 billion dollars to inject into the banks.

The key thing to realize here is this bailout isn't to help with the Sovereign debt crisis and in fact will only make Spain's crisis worse by adding more debt on the nation's unbearable debt load.

This bailout is simply to inject the banks with capital following the bank run after Spain's 3rd largest bank announced it was insolvent and Spain is requesting it because they can't borrow money from the markets at a rate which they will be able to pay back.

Vader

Leon Panetta: US is Running Out of Patience with Pakistan

US defence secretary says Pakistan is offering safe havens to terrorists as he arrives in Kabul for Nato talks
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© S Sabawoon/EPALeon Panetta in Kabul, where he called on Pakistan to do more to crack down on militants.
The US defence secretary, Leon Panetta, has said the United States is reaching the limits of its patience with Pakistan because of the safe havens the country offers to insurgents from neighbouring Afghanistan.

In some of the strongest language used by a US official to describe the strained ties between Washington and Islamabad, Panetta said: "It is difficult to achieve peace in Afghanistan as long as there is a safe haven for terrorists in Pakistan."

Panetta arrived in Kabul on Thursday morning for talks with Nato military leaders amid rising violence in the war against the Taliban and a spate of deadly attacks, including a Nato air strike said to have killed 18 villagers.

"It is very important for Pakistan to take steps. It is an increasing concern, the issue of safe havens, and we are reaching the limits of our patience," he told reporters.

Bizarro Earth

Thousands flee after deadly Ivory Coast attacks

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© Agence France-Presse/Issouf SanogoDeputy Defence Minister Paul Koffi Koffi said the attackers crossed over from neighbouring Liberia
Thousands of civilians in Ivory Coast have fled their homes after seven UN peacekeepers and eight civilians were killed in raids near the Liberian border, a UN official and residents said Saturday.

The wave of unrest prompted Liberia to announce it was shutting its border with its neighbour, although it said the move would not affect humanitarian work in the area.

The peacekeepers were killed Friday while they were patrolling an area between two villages after hearing rumours of an imminent attack on communities there. At least one Ivorian soldier was also killed in the ambush.

A series of simultaneous raids on several villages near the southwestern town of Tai sparked an "immediate" exodus, UN spokeswoman Anouk Desgroseilliers told AFP.

The raids came just days after a Human Rights Watch report blamed recent attacks in southwest Ivory Coast on fighters loyal to former president Laurent Gbagbo, who is currently awaiting trial on war crimes charges.

The authorities in Abidjan have said those behind Friday's attacks came from Liberia.

2 + 2 = 4

Taliban close Afghan schools over NATO killings

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© Agence France-Presse/Manan VatsyayanaBaraki Barak resident Shah Mahmood says his three children were sent home by teachers today
Taliban insurgents have ordered schools in an Afghan district where a NATO air strike killed 18 civilians to close for three days to mourn the dead, officials said.

The civilians died in an operation against insurgents Wednesday in Baraki Barak, a heavily populated district in Logar province, just south of the capital Kabul.

The US commander of NATO forces General John Allen apologised in a meeting with President Hamid Karzai and gave a commitment that his forces would no longer carry out air strikes in residential areas, Karzai's office said.

"The Taliban have threatened the residents and teachers to not go to schools for three days. They say it's to mourn the deaths of the civilians," district governor Sayed Wakil Agha told AFP.

Bizarro Earth

45 Militants Killed in Afghanistan

At least 45 Taliban militants have been killed in operations carried out by Afghan and NATO-led troops, the interior ministry said on Sunday. The forces launched 10 "clean-up" operations in Kabul, Laghman, Parwan, Helmand, Uruzgan and Farah provinces, in which 33 militants were killed, Xinhua reported citing a ministry statement.

Six militants were injured and nine were captured during the raids.

The statement, however, did not say if there were any casualties among the security forces.

Eight Taliban militants were killed in a special forces operation in Bati Kot district of eastern Nangarhar province Saturday night, said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the provincial government.

Four militants were killed when an anti-tank mine blew up prematurely in Jani Khil district of Pakitka province, the ministry said.

According to figures released by the interior ministry, around 430 militants have been killed, 130 wounded and over 450 others detained since May 1.

Vader

Egypt's Mubarak in Critical Condition

Hosni Mubarak
© The Associated Press/Mohammed Al-Law Jan. 29, 2012, file photo, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is wheeled into court in Cairo, Egypt.
Cairo - Egypt's ailing former president Hosni Mubarak is slipping in and out of consciousness eight days after he was transferred to a hospital inside a Cairo prison to serve his life sentence, a security official said on Sunday.

In order to squash rumors of his death, authorities granted his wife, former first lady Suzanne Mubarak, and her two daughters-in-law special permission to visit him early on Sunday morning, according to the official who spoke from inside Torah prison.

Since then, he has suffered from an irregular heartbeat and required assistance in breathing. The official told The Associated Press that Mubarak lives only on liquids and yogurt. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Mubarak's health is reported to have collapsed since his June 2 conviction for failing to stop the killing of protesters during the uprising that overthrew him in 2011. His life sentence saw him transferred immediately to a prison hospital, instead of the military hospital and other facilities where he had been held since his April 2011 arrest.

Authorities have turned down several requests by Mubarak's family to transfer the ousted president back to a military facility, the official said.