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Wed, 22 Mar 2023
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Puppet Masters


Coup d' Etat in Syria almost complete: Obama says Assad must resign

© Sana handout/EPA
Bashar al-Assad of Syria is facing invasion by NATO forces
EU leaders echo stinging rebuke, delivered by US president in executive order imposing sanctions and assets freeze

Barack Obama has led a demand by world leaders for the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to surrender power. The US president declared that the "sustained onslaught" of Assad's regime against pro-democracy protesters has cost it all legitimacy.

The US president was joined by David Cameron of Britain, Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Angela Merkel of Germany, as well as the European Union in demanding Assad immediately resign.

Obama said the Syrian people's pursuit of democracy was an inspiration that had been met with "ferocious brutality" by their government.

"The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people," Obama said.

Red Flag

Breaking News: Many dead and wounded following multiple terror attack in Israel

Eilat, Israel - Seven Israelis were killed in a three-stage terror attack on roads near Eilat and the Egyptian border, army and police officials said.

Israeli emergency services said two women and five men were killed in the attack and at least 30 were injured, Israel Radio said. Details of where all the fatalities occurred were not published.

Israel's Channel 10 said security officials estimate some 20 terrorists wearing Egyptian military uniforms participated in the attacks on roads near Egypt's border. Elite army and police units killed seven terrorists and sappers were checking the bodies of two believed to be rigged with explosives, the television said.

Towards nightfall security forces were still scouring the area. It was unclear whether the terrorists remained in Israel or had fled, the television report said. Roads leading to and from Eilat were sealed off.


Detaining photographers for taking pictures "with no apparent esthetic value" is within Long Beach Police Department policy

© Sander Roscoe
A photograph shot by Sander Roscoe Wolff on June 30 before he was detained by Long Beach Police
Police Chief Jim McDonnell has confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures "with no apparent esthetic value" is within Long Beach Police Department policy.

McDonnell spoke for a follow-up story on a June 30 incident in which Sander Roscoe Wolff, a Long Beach resident and regular contributor to Long Beach Post, was detained by Officer Asif Kahn for taking pictures of a North Long Beach refinery.

"If an officer sees someone taking pictures of something like a refinery," says McDonnell, "it is incumbent upon the officer to make contact with the individual." McDonnell went on to say that whether said contact becomes detainment depends on the circumstances the officer encounters.

McDonnell says that while there is no police training specific to determining whether a photographer's subject has "apparent esthetic value," officers make such judgments "based on their overall training and experience" and will generally approach photographers not engaging in "regular tourist behavior."

Bizarro Earth

UK: The Stench of a Police State

London Riots
© unknown
The events of the last 12 days are a warning to the working class in Britain and internationally. The state repression and right-wing hysteria unleashed in response to youth rioting in London and other cities reveal the preparations of the ruling class for police-state forms of rule.

The riots were triggered by the police execution of Mark Duggan, a black 29-year-old father of four, in Tottenham, north London on August 4, followed by an unprovoked police assault on a peaceful protest over his killing two days later. Almost a fortnight later, no officer has been identified, let alone charged, for these crimes.

Instead, the political elites who sanctioned the looting of public funds to bail out the banks and the super-rich, and who covered up the illegal phone hacking of Rupert Murdoch's media empire, have sought to whip up a lynch mob atmosphere against the "criminality" and "immorality" of working class youth.

Cheered on by the Labour Party, Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative-Liberal Democrat government have organized vicious state repression, authorizing the use of water cannons and plastic bullets and the possible use of the army against further social unrest.

Basic democratic rights have been thrown to the winds. The presumption of innocence has been jettisoned as police carry out mass arrests, with those detained subject to show trials presided over by courts acting directly at the behest of the authorities.

Comment: For more information on the London riots check out the SOTT focus:

Who Started The London Riots?


Where The Rubber Hits The Road


UK Banks Fund Deadly Cluster-Bomb Industry

Cluster_bomb victim
© Reuters
A victim in Iraq receives treatment
British high-street banks, including two institutions that were bailed out by taxpayers, are investing hundreds of millions of pounds in companies that manufacture cluster bombs - despite a growing global ban outlawing the production and trade of the weapons.

The Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB, Barclays and HSBC have all provided funding to the makers of cluster bombs, even as international opinion turns against a weapons system that is inherently indiscriminate and routinely maims or kills civilians.

One year ago this month, Britain became an active participant in the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a global treaty that bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster bombs. To date, 108 countries have signed the treaty, which also forbids parties from assisting in the production of cluster weapons.

Yet there has been no attempt by the Coalition Government to rein in banks and investment funds that continue to finance companies known to manufacture the weapons.

Star of David

Israel Says It Won't Apologize to Turkey for Deadly Flotilla Raid

Mavi Marmara
© Wikimedia
The Mavi Marmara was the largest ship raided May 31 and the site of violence between passengers and Israeli soldiers
Israel has decided not to apologize to Turkey for last year's deadly raid on a Turkish protest flotilla bound for Gaza ahead of a United Nations report on the episode scheduled to be published early next week, according to a senior Israeli official.

Turkey has demanded an official apology, compensation to victims' relatives and a lifting of the blockade on Gaza as conditions for normalizing its heavily strained relations with Israel, formerly an important ally.

The Obama administration is keen to see Israel and Turkey repair relations and has been urging Israel to apologize.

A diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the subject, said the American request for such an apology was reiterated on Tuesday in a phone call between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Turks kept adding conditions for a reconciliation, raising uncertainty in Mr. Netanyahu's government over whether they were sincere and whether they would consider the case closed even if a deal were reached.


Russia's Arctic "Sea Grab"

Russia is expected within months to claim to the United Nations its right to annex about 380,000 square miles of the Arctic.

Russia arctic grab
© NTV/AFP/File
Russian NTV channel grab from video taken on August 3, 2007 shows a mini-submarine as it places a Russian flag on the seabed of the Arctic Ocean.
In a multinational race to seize the potential riches of the formerly icebound Arctic, being laid bare by global warming, Russia is the early favorite.

Within the next year, the Kremlin is expected to make its claim to the United Nations in a bold move to annex about 380,000 square miles of the internationally owned Arctic to Russian control. At stake is an estimated one-quarter of all the world's untapped hydrocarbon reserves, abundant fisheries, and a freshly opened route that will cut nearly a third off the shipping time from Asia to Europe.

The global Arctic scramble kicked off in 2007 when Russian explorer Artur Chilingarov planted his country's flag beneath the North Pole. "The Arctic is Russian," he said. "Now we must prove the North Pole is an extension of the Russian landmass."

In July, the Russian ship Akademik Fyodorov set off, accompanied by the giant nuclear-powered icebreaker, to complete undersea mapping to show that the Siberian continental shelf connects to underwater Arctic ridges, making Russia eligible to stake a claim. Around the same time, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced the creation of an Arctic military force tasked with backing up Moscow's bid.


Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?

SEC whistleblower shredder paper
© Pete Gardner/Getty

A whistleblower claims that over the past two decades, the agency has destroyed records of thousands of investigations, whitewashing the files of some of the nation's worst financial criminals.

Imagine a world in which a man who is repeatedly investigated for a string of serious crimes, but never prosecuted, has his slate wiped clean every time the cops fail to make a case. No more Lifetime channel specials where the murderer is unveiled after police stumble upon past intrigues in some old file - "Hey, chief, didja know this guy had two wives die falling down the stairs?" No more burglary sprees cracked when some sharp cop sees the same name pop up in one too many witness statements. This is a different world, one far friendlier to lawbreakers, where even the suspicion of wrongdoing gets wiped from the record.

That, it now appears, is exactly how the Securities and Exchange Commission has been treating the Wall Street criminals who cratered the global economy a few years back. For the past two decades, according to a whistle-blower at the SEC who recently came forward to Congress, the agency has been systematically destroying records of its preliminary investigations once they are closed By whitewashing the files of some of the nation's worst financial criminals, the SEC has kept an entire generation of federal investigators in the dark about past inquiries into insider trading, fraud and market manipulation against companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and AIG. With a few strokes of the keyboard, the evidence gathered during thousands of investigations - "18,000 ... including Madoff," as one high-ranking SEC official put it during a panicked meeting about the destruction - has apparently disappeared forever into the wormhole of history.


Syrian security forces adopt shoot-on-sight policy

syrian tank
A Syrian tank stationed in the city of Homs

Syrian security forces have adopted a shoot-on-sight policy to prevent refugees fleeing across the border into Turkey, according to families who have braved the journey in the past week.

Yayladagi, near the Turkish border of Syria

They describe a heavy build-up of troops and tanks slowing the flood of refugees to a trickle.

Human rights campaigners say they are investigating dozens of reports that civilians have been shot dead as they try to cross.

Their stories illustrate how President Bashar al-Assad shows no sign of easing his grip on power or heeding international calls for calm.

Wednesday brought a fresh wave of arrests as Syrian troops raided houses in a Sunni district of the besieged port of Latakia, detaining hundreds of people and taking them to a stadium at the end of a four-day tank assault to crush protests.

Activists say more than 1,800 people have died and more than 30,000 arrested since democracy demonstrations erupted across the country five months ago.

Bad Guys

Naomi Klein: Daylight Robbery, Meet Nighttime Robbery

london riots
© Andy Rain/EPA
A man is framed by smashed glass inside a West London salon that was looted by rioters.

I keep hearing comparisons between the London riots and riots in other European cities - window smashing in Athens or car bonfires in Paris. And there are parallels, to be sure: a spark set by police violence, a generation that feels forgotten.

But those events were marked by mass destruction; the looting was minor. There have, however, been other mass lootings in recent years, and perhaps we should talk about them too. There was Baghdad in the aftermath of the US invasion - a frenzy of arson and looting that emptied libraries and museums. The factories got hit too. In 2004 I visited one that used to make refrigerators. Its workers had stripped it of everything valuable, then torched it so thoroughly that the warehouse was a sculpture of buckled sheet metal.

Back then the people on cable news thought looting was highly political. They said this is what happens when a regime has no legitimacy in the eyes of the people. After watching for so long as Saddam and his sons helped themselves to whatever and whomever they wanted, many regular Iraqis felt they had earned the right to take a few things for themselves. But London isn't Baghdad, and British Prime Minister David Cameron is hardly Saddam, so surely there is nothing to learn there.