Puppet MastersS

Star of David

Sen. Rand Paul calls for reduction in foreign aid to Israel

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© AFP Photo / Mark WilsonU.S. Sen. Rand Paul.
During his first trip to Israel, US Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) called for a reduction in foreign aid for Jerusalem, admitting that he was expressing a minority opinion but making a statement with high shock value nevertheless.


Comment: It's depressing to note that any discussion of reducing America's aid to Israel has "high shock value" in which the speaker "is in the minority", but it certainly speaks to the hold the Zionist lobby holds over politicians and media in today's world. Speak sensibly about reducing America's foreign aid to Israel and the politicians and media will be "shocked, shocked!!" by such a suggestion. Simply pitiful.


Receiving $3 billion for its military each year, Israel is one of America's top foreign aid recipients and the largest cumulative recipient since World War II.

The country receives about one-fifth of the US foreign aid budget. To date, the US has given Israel $115 billion in bilateral assistance, most of which went to the country's military.

While Sen. Paul believes Congress is unlikely to cut foreign aid from Israel, he told the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies that the US is only hurting itself by doing so. By "borrowing from one country to give to another," the Kentucky senator expects the US will only face dire economic consequences down the line and burden itself with greater debt.

"It will be harder to be a friend of Israel if we are out of money. It will be harder to defend Israel if we destroy our country in the process," Paul told the think-tank. "I think there will be significant repercussions of running massive deficits . . . you destroy your currency by spending money you don't have."

Even though Paul called for cutting aid to Israel, one of America's strongest allies, he did acknowledge that Washington should first cut aid to countries with tense relationships to the US, such as Pakistan and Egypt.

The senator added that providing so much foreign aid was helping create an arms race in the Middle East that could ultimately harm Israel instead of helping it.

Megaphone

Chinese hold anti-censorship protest outside newspaper

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© REUTERS/James PomfretDemonstrators gather along a street near the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, January 7, 2013.
Hundreds of supporters of one of China's most liberal newspapers demonstrated outside its headquarters on Monday, backing a strike by journalists against interference by the provincial propaganda chief.

The rare anti-censorship protest happened in Guangzhou, capital of wealthy Guangdong, China's most liberal province and birthplace of the reforms, begun three decades ago, that propelled China to become the world's second-largest economy.

The outcry began late last week when reporters at the influential Southern Weekly newspaper accused censors of replacing an original New Year's letter to readers that called for a constitutional government with another piece lauding the party's achievements.

Police allowed the demonstration, suggesting the Guangdong government, led by newly appointed Hu Chunhua, a rising political star, may want to tread carefully in tackling public discontent over censorship.

The protesters, many of them youths, held signs with slogans such as "Freedom of expression is not a crime," and "Chinese people want freedom". Others made speeches defending the paper an laid chrysanthemums, a flower used in Chinese funerals, to symbolically mourn the death of press freedom.

Cult

Gerard Depardieu meets Putin, receives Russian passport

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© ReutersGerard Depardieu and Vladimir Putin met in the Russian resort of Sochi
French actor Gerard Depardieu has met President Vladimir Putin and has been handed his new Russian passport.

The actor had announced he was seeking Russian citizenship after the French government criticised his decision to move abroad to avoid higher taxes.

Mr Depardieu met Mr Putin in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Mr Depardieu was then given his new passport, although the president's spokesman said Mr Putin did not hand it over personally.

Mr Depardieu and Mr Putin shook hands and hugged each other at the meeting in Sochi.

The actor was later invited to set up home in the central Russian region of Mordovia, known for its Stalin-era prison camps.

Local governor Vladimir Volkov said Mr Depardieu could choose an apartment or a place to build a house, Interfax news agency reported.

After arriving in Mordovia's main city of Saransk, the actor showed of his new passport, saying: "I am very happy, it's very beautiful here. Beautiful and soulful people live here."

Earlier this week, Mr Putin signed the decree granting Russian citizenship to Mr Depardieu.

Apple Green

Why China's explosive economic growth could trigger a global food crisis

food shopping
© Unknown
As the global population heads towards a projected 9.1 billion by 2050, the availability and cost of food are likely to pose major challenges for countries around the world.

World food prices and the cost of grain increased by 7 percent and 12 percent respectively over the year to the end of 2012. This has happened without any major food crisis or panic policies on the part of major food grain producers.


Comment: But the author omits to mention the obvious link to commodity traders artificially pushing up prices for profit.


V

Red Cross chief: 'Britain could face more riots'

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The Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross has warned that Britain could face further riots as a result of the economic crisis.

Yves Daccord also said he believes there is the prospect of further violence throughout Europe, drawing parallels with the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

Vader

Obama nominates psychopathic drone strike programme mastermind as next CIA director

  • John Brennan is behind programme that has carried out over 300 remote strikes against terrorist targets, killing some 2,500 people
  • Drawn fire from Democrats for connection to 'torture' techniques such as waterboarding under Bush administration
  • Also criticised for wrongly stating bin Laden was armed and had used his wife as a human shield in a briefing following the historic SEAL Team Six raid
  • Nominated after David Petraeus quit following revelations of his clandestine affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell
John Brennan
© GettyPraise: Despite his controversial past, Obama set out his respect for John Brennan at a press conference today as one of America's most talented intelligence officials

Comment: Maybe General Petraeus was ousted because he just wasn't psychopathic enough?


Snakes in Suits

Microsoft signs 3-year, $617 million deal with the DoD

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Deal will bring Windows 8 to 75% of the Department of Defense employees.

I'm sure you've been hearing that sales of Windows 8 have been slow and/or disappointing since its release in late October. Some blame it on the hardware, while others are saying that sales was actually meeting, admittedly lowered, expectations. After scoring gigantic win on Friday, though, I'm pretty sure Microsoft will have put any of those fears to rest.

The Defense Department has awarded a three-year, $617 million joint enterprise license agreement for Microsoft products, it was announced Friday.

The net new contract was awarded to Insight Public Sector, a division of Insight Enterprises, one of the largest global Microsoft Large Account Resellers, Microsoft wrote on its blog, and the deal will cover nearly 75% of all Department of Defense personnel. Microsoft called it "the most comprehensive licensing agreement" it has ever established with the DoD.

As part of the deal, the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) will be given access to the most recent versions of Microsoft products, including Microsoft Office 2013, SharePoint 2013 Enterprise and Windows 8.

The new SharePoint 2013 Enterprise, Microsoft says, "will unlock new levels of cross-agency information sharing through improved enterprise search and social communications features while powering advanced business intelligence and reporting capabilities," while the Department of Defense will use Windows 8 "to empower productivity from any location, and any supported device, while taking advantage of enhanced security."

Target

U.S. drone attacks 'counter-productive', former Obama security adviser claims

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© Photograph: ReutersThe aftermath of a US drone strike in Yemen in September. The US claimed the attack killed six Islamist militants but the Yemeni government said the target was missed and 13 civilians were killed.
US reliance on drones to target terrorists undermines rule of law, is ineffective and has strategic drawbacks, argues Michael Boyle.

The United States' use of drones is counter-productive, less effective than the White House claims, and is "encouraging a new arms race that will empower current and future rivals and lay the foundations for an international system that is increasingly violent", according to a study by one of President Obama's former security advisers.

Michael Boyle, who was on Obama's counter-terrorism group in the run-up to his election in 2008, said the US administration's growing reliance on drone technology was having "adverse strategic effects that have not been properly weighed against the tactical gains associated with killing terrorists".

Civilian casualties were likely to be far higher than had been acknowledged, he said.

In an article for the Chatham House journal International Affairs, Boyle said the conventional wisdom over the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) needed to be challenged.

He said there was an urgent need for greater transparency because most Americans remained "unaware of the scale of the drone programme ... and the destruction it has caused in their name".

Padlock

Prison reform controversy: China may close notorious labor camps

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© AFP PhotoPicture dated 12 June 1986, shows the "Re-education through labor" camp of Tuanhe near Beijing
Beijing has announced it will halt China's widely criticized labor camp practices, state media reported, quoting China's chief of security. However, the announcement was removed shortly after it was made and was followed by a report promising reform.

The ruling Communist Party will "stop the use" of the "reform through labor" system, and will pass new regulations in March, state TV network CCTV quoted Meng Jianzhu, Secretary of Central Politics and Law Commission, as saying.

The announcement was removed shortly after it appeared, and was followed by a contradictory report by official state news agency Xinhua, which said the system will undergo unspecified changes.

China's labor camp system, which began in the 1950s, allows police to imprison petty criminals into labor camps for up to four years without trial. The camps operate outside these Chinese legal system, giving police unchecked power to issue and set sentences.

The four-year prison terms for labor camp prisoners are often longer than many formal criminal sentences, China Daily reported.

USA

Bolivia slams U.S. over 'irrefutable evidence' of meddling

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© AFP Photo / Lluis GeneBolivia's President Evo Morales
Bolivia has "concrete evidence" that the US is plotting to destabilize the Latin American nation, Minister Juan Ramon Quintana said. Proof of US "harassment" of the Bolivian government will be handed over to President Obama, he added.

The Bolivian government is "scrupulously following" US activity in Bolivia, Minister for the Bolivian Presidency Quintana said in a press conference.

"There is so much evidence to hand over to the President of the USA to say to him: Stop harassing the Bolivian government, stop politically cornering and ambushing us!" Quintana stressed. He added that investigations into drug-trafficking and human rights abuses would reveal a "permanent battle" waged by the US to impede progress in Bolivia.

"In the offensive against the government there are no visible subjects... What we're seeing are the political machinations of the US Embassy," which seeks to damage the image of the Bolivian government, Quintana said.

The country's US ambassador was ejected in 2008 after being accused of plotting against the Bolivian government by President Evo Morales. The US quickly followed suit, removing its Bolivian ambassador.

A charge d'affaires now heads the American Embassy in La Paz; both nations signed a deal in 2011 that would pave the way for the reinstatement of the ambassadors. However, diplomatic relations between the two countries have yet to be normalized.