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Congress to eliminate the debt by not counting it anymore….

Congress to eliminate the debt by not counting it anymore….. (source)

October 28, 2013
Sovereign Valley Farm, Chile

You know the old rule of thumb about laws–

The more high-sounding the legislation, the more destructive its consequences.

Case in point, HR 3293– the recently introduced Debt Limit Reform Act. Sounds great, right? After all, reforming the debt seems like a terrific idea.

Except that’s not what the bill really does. They’re not reforming anything. HR 3293′s real purpose is to authorize the government to simply stop counting a massive portion of the US national debt.

You see, one of the biggest chunks of the debt is money owed to ‘intragovernmental agencies’.

For example, Medicare and Social Security hold their massive trust funds in US Treasuries. This is the money that’s owed to retirees.

In fact, nearly $5 trillion of the $17 trillion debt (almost 30%) is owed to intragovernmental agencies like Social Security and Medicare.

So now they basically want to stop counting this debt. Poof. Overnight, they’ll make $5 trillion disappear from the debt.

On paper, this looks great. But in reality, they’re setting the stage to default on Social Security beneficiaries without causing a single ripple in the financial system.

Remember, when governments get this deep in debt, someone is going to get screwed.

They may default on their obligations to their creditors, causing a crisis across the entire financial system. Or perhaps to the central bank, causing a currency crisis.

But most likely, and first, they will default on their obligations to their citizens. Whatever promises they made, including Social Security, will be abandoned.

And if you read between the lines, this new bill says it all.

Not to be outdone by the United States Congress, though, the International Monetary Fund recently proposed a continental-wide ‘one off’ wealth tax in Europe.

Buried in an extensive report about Europe’s troubled economies, the IMF stated:

“The appeal is that such a tax, if it is implemented before avoidance is possible and there is a belief that it will never be repeated, does not distort behavior (and may be seen by some as fair).”

In other words, first they want to implement capital controls to ensure that everyone’s money is trapped. Then they want to make a grab for people’s bank accounts, just like they did in Cyprus.

The warning signs couldn’t be more clear. I’ve been writing about this for years. It’s now happening. This is no longer theory.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been having my staff revise a free report we put together two years ago about globalizing your gold holdings.

In the report I mentioned that capital controls are coming. And that some governments may even ban cash transactions over a certain level.

These things have happened. Cyprus has capital controls, France and Italy have limits on cash transactions. And given this new evidence, it’s clear there’s more on the way.

Every rational, thinking person out there has a decision to make.

You can choose to trust these politicians and central bankers to do the right thing.

Or you can choose to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence and reduce your exposure to these bankrupt western countries that will make every effort to lie, cheat, and steal whatever they can from you… just to keep the party going a little while longer.

It’s time for people to wake up to this reality. You only have yourself to rely on. Not the system. Not the government. And certainly not the bankers.

 

Canadian Corporate Profit Decline Approaching Recession Levels: TD

Canadian Corporate Profit Decline Approaching Recession Levels: TD. (source)

TORONTO – Canadian corporate profits have declined in five of the past six quarters and are now 16 per cent below their post-recession peak in late 2011, according to a study released Tuesday by TD Bank.

“This decline is not as bad as during the last recession, but it is approaching the performance Canadian firms saw during the U.S. downturn in 2000-2001,” TD economist Leslie Preston writes.

Key export-driven sectors like manufacturing and resources have seen the most weakness.

The resource sector’s corporate profit performance has followed closely with commodity prices, which fell last year and remain below a post-recession peak in set in early 2011.

“So far in 2013, generally higher commodity prices have helped drive encouraging growth in resource sector profits, although the sector is still in the red over the past six quarters as a whole,” Preston writes.

Manufacturers face competitive challenges, not only from a relatively strong loonie but also because unit labour costs have risen in Canada since the recession but remain flat in the United States, TD says.

Profits in more domestically-oriented industries have held up better, although they too have seen their pace of growth slow dramatically compared to the pre-recession period.

The study says the weakness in corporate profit can be seen in the way Canada’s equity markets have underperformed the United States since the lows seen in October 2011.

Looking ahead, however, TD expects profit performance to show modest improvement over the coming quarters, led by the export and resource-oriented sectors, as stronger economic growth in the United States next year will help lift U.S. demand.

U.S. economic growth will be weaker than anticipated in the near-term because of the recent government shutdown, but TD expects that the lost activity will be recouped next year.

The bank says commodity prices should also improve, although further gains are likely to be modest, and domestic demand growth is also likely to be slow.

“Echoing the forecast for growth in the economy as a whole, corporate Canada should see better days ahead, but not a return to the heydays seen prior to the recession,” Preston said.

 

charles hugh smith-System Reset 2014-2015

charles hugh smith-System Reset 2014-2015. (source)

Resets occur when the price of everything that has been repressed, manipulated or obscured is repriced.

The global financial system will reset in 2014-2015, regardless of official pronouncements and financial media propaganda hyping the “recovery.” Despite the wide spectrum of forecasts (from rosy to stormy), nobody knows precisely what will transpire in 2014-2015, so we must remain circumspect about any and all predictions– especially our own.

Even as we are mindful of the risks of a forecast being wrong (and the righteous humility that befits any analysis), it seems increasingly self-evident that financial systems around the world are reaching extremes that generally presage violent resets to new equilibria–typically at much lower levels of complexity and energy consumption.

John Michael Greer has described the process of descending stair-step resets (my description, not his) as catabolic collapse. The system resets at a lower level and maintains the new equilibrium for some time before the next crisis/system failure triggers another reset.

There is much systems-analysis intelligence in Greer’s concept: systems without interactive feedbacks may collapse suddenly in a heap, but more complex systems tend to stair-step down in a series of resets to lower levels of consumption and complexity–for example, the Roman Empire, which reset many times before reaching the near-collapse level of phantom legions, full-strength on official documents, defending phantom borders.

In the present, we can expect the overly costly, complex, inefficient, fraud-riddled U.S. sickcare (i.e. “healthcare”) system to reset as providers (i.e. doctors and physicians’ groups) opt out of ObamaCare, Medicare and Medicaid; like the phantom armies defending phantom borders of the crumbling Empire, the vast, centralized empire of sickcare will remain officially at full strength, but few will be able to find caregivers willing to provide care within the systems.

Just as much of the collateral supporting the stock, bond and housing bubbles is phantom, many other centralized systems will reset to phantom status. As local and state governments’ revenues are increasingly diverted to fund public union employees’ sickcare and pension benefits, the services provided by government will decline as the number of retirees swells and the number of government employees actually filling potholes, etc. drops.

Local government will offer services that are increasingly phantom, as stagnating tax revenues fund benefits for retirees rather than current services. On paper, cities will remain responsible for filling potholes, but in the real world, the potholes will go unfilled. In response, cities will ask taxpayers to approve bonds that cost triple the price of pay-as-you-go pothole filling, as a way to dodge the inevitable conflict between government retirees benefits and taxpayers burdened with decaying streets, schools, etc. and ever-higher taxes.

As for phantom collateral–the real value of the collateral will be undiscovered until people start selling assets in earnest. As long as everyone is buying, the phantom nature of the collateral is masked; it’s only when everyone tries to get their money out of asset bubbles is the actual value of the underlying collateral discovered.

When assets go bidless, i.e. there are no buyers at any price, the phantom nature of the supposedly solid collateral is revealed. Price discovery is one way of describing reset; transparent pricing of risk is another way of saying the same thing.

When risk has been mispriced via state guarantees, fraud, willful obfuscation, complexity fortresses, etc., then the repricing of risk also resets the system.

Resets occur when the price of everything that has been repressed, manipulated or obscured is repriced. The greater the manipulation and financial repression, the more violent the reset. What been manipulated, obscured or repressed? Virtually everything: risk, credit, assets, labor, currency, you name it. Everything that has been manipulated by central banks and central states will be repriced.

Trust is difficult to price. Every reset erodes trust in the capacity of the centralized status quo to manipulate/repress price to its liking. Once trust in the system is lost, it cannot be purchased at any cost.

 

Garth Turner: Canadian Housing Data Unreliable, Needs Regulation

Garth Turner: Canadian Housing Data Unreliable, Needs Regulation. (source)

canadian housing market
A former member of Parliament has suggested data on Canadian housing markets should be regulated the way data on financial markets is regulated.

Garth Turner, who served as both a Progressive Conservative and Liberal member of Parliament for the Halton region near Toronto, has called the monthly numbers released by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) a “fraud,” because of the apparent practice of houses being counted multiple times when they are sold.

CREA’s monthly sales and price releases are among the most closely-watched measures of the housing market. Several industry insiders confirmed to HuffPost Canada last month that duplication of house listings across multiple real estate boards could be distorting sales data.

Turner, who runs a blog focused partly on real estate and is a financial advisor at Turner Tomenson Wealth Management Group, also suggested that something fishy could be going on at the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB).

Speaking on BNN Monday, Turner said TREB’s house sales numbers “are almost always revised down” after their initial public release. That would mean that, when new numbers are released, they appear to show a larger increase from the previous reporting period than otherwise would have been the case.

Other housing market observers, such as analyst and blogger Ben Rabidoux, have also suggested that TREB may be revising its older numbers too far down, and creating the impression of a stronger real estate market than may really be the case.

This sort of thing matters, Turner told BNN, because people’s perceptions of the housing market affect house prices.

“Real estate is a very emotional commodity,” Turner said. “If you think the housing market’s hot, you’re going to come in at a higher price point, there [will be] bidding wars.”

Turner didn’t speculate on how much house prices may be getting pushed up by potentially misleading data.

CREA economist Gregory Klump told HuffPost Canada last month that double-counted listings amount to a scant 0.8 per cent of housing supply on the market.

In an interview on CBC’s Lang & O’Leary Exchange on Monday, Klump said the double- or triple-listing of homes is largely concentrated in the Toronto area and Nova Scotia. But he described the effects of those listings as “statistically insignificant.”

“We remain completely confident in the reliability and accuracy of those statistics,” he said.

But real estate consultant Ross Kay, who is the original source for Turner’s arguments, suggested in an audit of housing data that sales numbers may have been over-reported this year by some 22,000 house sales so far.

He told HuffPost last month that the phenomenon of double-counted houses is having substantial effects on housing data.

“Statistically valid month-over-month comparisons on sales volumes are inflated as much as 15 per cent in some cities in 2013,” Kay wrote. “Average prices are skewed upward as much as 10 per cent some months.”

Noting that most Canadians’ net worth is in their homes, Turner suggested housing market data should be made reliable through regulation the way financial markets are regulated.

“We have complete regulation in the financial markets, and almost complete benign denial of the accuracy of numbers in the real estate market, which is so critically important to people,” he said.

“I hope it changes.”

 

Canadians’ Non-Mortgage Debt Jumps 21%, Fewer Paying It Off: RBC

Canadians’ Non-Mortgage Debt Jumps 21%, Fewer Paying It Off: RBC. (source)

cent in the past year, and more consumers are running into the red, according to Royal Bank’s debt poll.

Just 24 per cent of Canadians say they are debt-free, compared to 26 per cent in 2012. And those who are in debt have increased their non-mortgage burdens to $15,920 from $13,141 in the same time frame, RBC’s survey found. That’s an extra $2,779 over the past year compared to growth of just $83 in the year prior.

Canadians are taking advantage of the era of super low interest rates to finance more borrowing, a move the government has vocally discouraged.

Debt loads have skyrocketed in the years since the 2008-2009 recession, after the government dropped borrowing rates to near zero in order to stimulate consumer activity, the housing market and the economy.

The RBC poll found that the number of Canadians who are anxious about their debt levels has risen four percentage points in the past year, to 38 per cent. Still, the same number said they are comfortable with the amount they owe.

The household debt-to-disposable income ratio is at an all-time high, around 163 per cent. That means for every dollar Canadians earn, they owe $1.63.

The Bank of Canada and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty have repeatedly warned Canadians about digging themselves into a financial hole while borrowing is cheap. They fear consumers may be unable to climb out of the debt load when interest rates inevitably rise.

However, in its latest monetary policy report, Canada’s central bank slashed its economic outlook for Canada for the next three years and indicated that a troubled global economy may compel it to maintain interest rates at the current near record low rate of one per cent, where it has been since 2010.

The announcement left many observers wondering whether the prolonged low interest rate environment will increase the likelihood of a housing correction or hard landing for borrowers when rates finally rise.

The RBC poll was conducted by Ipsos Reid from Aug. 22 to 27 through an online sample of 2,108 Canadians with an estimated margin of error of plus or minus two per cent, 19 times out of 20.

 

Can Fracking Showdown on Native Land Help Break Canada’s Cycle of Colonialism?

Can Fracking Showdown on Native Land Help Break Canada’s Cycle of Colonialism?. (source)

Mi'kmaq women. Photo via Twitter.

Women lead a march at Elsipogtog. Photo via Twitter.

In the mid-1990s I moved to Mi’gma’gi to go to graduate school. I was expecting to learn about juvenile Atlantic salmon on the Miramichi River. I was naive and misguided. Fortunately for me, the Mi’kmaq people saw that in me and they taught me something far more profound. I did my first sweat in the homeland of Elsipogtog, in the district of Siknikt. I did solidarity work with the women of Elsipogtog, then known as Big Cove, as they struggled against imposed poverty and poor housing. One of them taught me my first song, the Mi’kmaq honor song, and I attended her Native Studies class with her as she sang it to a room full of shocked students.

I also found a much needed refuge with a Mi’kmaq family on a nearby reserve. What I learned from all of these kind people who saw me as an Nishnaabeg in a town where no one else did, was that the place I needed to be wasn’t Mi’gma’gi, but in my own Mississauga Nishnaabeg homeland. For that I am grateful.

Nearly every year I travel east to Mi’gma’gi for one reason or another. In 2010, my children and I traveled to Listuguj in the Gespe’gewa’gi district of Mi’gma’gi to witness the PhD dissertation defense of Fred Metallic. I was on Fred’s dissertation committee, and Fred had written and was about to defend his entire dissertation in Mi’gmaw (Mi’kmaq) without translation—a groundbreaking achievement. Fred had also kindly invited us to his community for the defense. When some of the university professors indicated that this might be difficult given that the university was 1,300 kilometers away from the community, Fred simply insisted there was no other way.

He insisted because his dissertation was about building a different kind of relationship between his nation and Canada, between his community and the university. He wasn’t going to just talk about decolonizing the relationship, he was determined to embody it, and he was determined that the university would as well.

This was a Mi’kmaw dissertation on the grounds of Mi’kmaw intellectual traditions, ethics, and politics.

The defense was unlike anything I have ever witnessed within the academy. The community hall was packed with representatives from band councils, the Sante Mawiomi, and probably close to 300 relatives, friends, children, and supporters from other communities. The entire defense was in Mi’gmaw, led by community Elders, leaders, and Knowledge Holders—the real intellectuals in this case.

There was ceremony. There was song and prayer. At the end, there was a huge feast and giveaway. It went on for the full day and into the night. It was one of the most moving events I have ever witnessed, and it changed me. It challenged me to be less cynical about academics and institutions because the strength and persistence of this one Mi’gmaw man and the support of his community changed things.

I honestly never thought he’d get his degree, because I knew he’d walk away rather than compromise. He had my unconditional support either way. Fred is one of the most brilliant thinkers I’ve ever met, and he was uncompromising in his insistence that the university meet him halfway. I never thought an institution would.

All of these stories came flooding back to me this week as I watched the RCMP attack the nonviolent anti-fracking protestors at Elsipogtog with rubber bullets, an armored vehicle, tear gas, fists, police dogs, and pepper spray. The kind of stories I learned in Mi’gmagi will never make it into the mainstream media, and most Canadians will never hear them.

Instead, Canadians will hear recycled propaganda as the mainstream media blindly goes about repeating the press releases sent to them by the RCMP designed to portray Mi’kmaw protestors as violent and unruly in order to justify their own colonial violence. The only images most Canadians will see is of the three hunting rifles, a basket full of bullets and the burning police cars, and most will be happy to draw their own conclusions based on the news—that the Mi’kmaq are angry and violent, that they have no land rights, and that they deserved to be beaten, arrested, criminalized, jailed, shamed, and erased.

The story here, the real story, is virtually the same story in every indigenous nation: Over the past several centuries we have been violently dispossessed of most of our land to make room for settlement and resource development. The active system of settler colonialism maintains that dispossession and erases us from the consciousness of settler Canadians except in ways that is deemed acceptable and non-threatening to the state.

We start out dissenting and registering our dissent through state-sanctioned mechanisms like environmental impact assessments. Our dissent is ignored. Some of us explore Canadian legal strategies, even though the courts are stacked against us. Slowly but surely we get backed into a corner where the only thing left to do is to put our bodies on the land. The response is always the same—intimidation, force, violence, media smear campaigns, criminalization, silence, talk, negotiation, “new relationships,” promises, placated resistance, and then more broken promises.

Then the cycle repeats itself.

This is why it is absolutely critical that our conversations about reconciliation include the land. We simply cannot build a new relationship with Canada until we can talk openly about sharing the land in a way that ensures the continuation of indigenous cultures and lifeways for the coming generations. The dispossession of indigenous peoples from our homelands is the root cause of every problem we face, whether it is missing or murdered indigenous women, fracking, pipelines, deforestation, mining, environmental contamination, or social issues as a result of imposed poverty.

So we are faced with a choice. We can continue to show the photos of the three hunting rifles and the burnt-out cop cars on every mainstream media outlet ad nauseam and paint the Mi’kmaq with every racist stereotype we know, or we can dig deeper.

We can seek out the image of strong, calm Mi’kmaq women and children armed with drums and feathers and ask ourselves what would motivate mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters, and daughters to stand up and say enough is enough. We can learn about the 400 years these people and their ancestors have spent resisting dispossession and erasure. We can learn about how they began their reconciliation process in the mid-1700s when they forged Peace and Friendship treaties. We can learn about why they chose to put their bodies on the land to protect their lands and waters against fracking because—setting the willfully ignorant and racists aside—sane, intelligent people should be standing with them.

Our bodies should be on the land so that our grandchildren have something left to stand upon.


Leanne SimpsonLeanne Simpson wrote this article for the Huffington Post, where it originally appeared. Leanne is a writer, spoken-word artist, and indigenous academic.

 

Syria hit by polio outbreak, UN confirms – World – CBC News

Syria hit by polio outbreak, UN confirms – World – CBC News. (source)

Refugee children look out from a fence from inside a Syrian refugee camp just at the border in Turkey in June 2011.  The UN's health agency said Tuesday it has confirmed 10 polio cases in northeast Syria, the first confirmed outbreak of the diseases in Syria in 14 years. Refugee children look out from a fence from inside a Syrian refugee camp just at the border in Turkey in June 2011. The UN’s health agency said Tuesday it has confirmed 10 polio cases in northeast Syria, the first confirmed outbreak of the diseases in Syria in 14 years. (Burhan Ozbilici/Associated Press)Related Stories

The UN’s health agency said Tuesday it has confirmed 10 polio cases in northeast Syria, the first confirmed outbreak of the diseases in the country in 14 years, with a risk of spreading across the region.

Officials are awaiting lab results on another 12 cases showing polio symptoms, said World Health Organization spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer.

Rosenbauer said the confirmed cases are among babies and toddlers, all under 2, who were “under-immunized.”

The polio virus, a highly contagious disease, usually infects children in unsanitary conditions through the consumption of food or liquid contaminated with feces. It attacks the nerves and can kill or paralyze, and can spread widely and unnoticed before it starts crippling children.

“This is a communicable disease — with population movements it can travel to other areas,” said Rosenbauer. “So the risk is high of spread across the region.”

Vaccination campaign

Syria had launched a vaccination campaign around the country days after the Geneva-based WHO said it had received reports of children showing symptoms of polio in Syria’s Deir el-Zour province, but the campaign faces difficulty with lack of access in many parts of the war-torn country.

Nearly all Syrian children were vaccinated against the disease before the civil war began more than 2 1/2 years ago. Polio was last reported in Syria in 1999.

The Syrian conflict, which began as a largely peaceful uprising against President Bashar Assad in March 2011, has triggered a humanitarian crisis on a massive scale, killing more than 100,000 people, driving nearly 7 million more from their homes and devastating cities and towns.

U.N. officials have warned of the spread of disease in Syria because of lack of access to basic hygiene and vaccinations.

 

Bangladesh media suffers crackdown – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English

Bangladesh media suffers crackdown – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English. (source)

Bangladeshi journalists have said the government is threatening the freedom of the press in the country.The ruling Awami League has shut down TV stations and detained a prominent newspaper editor in the past few months in an apparent bid to restrict the media.

Opponents say it is part of a political strategy ahead of next year’s elections, but the government says the measures are necessary after months of violent protests.

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull reports from Bangladesh.

 

False Alarm: Obama Will Continue Spying On “Allies” After All | Zero Hedge

False Alarm: Obama Will Continue Spying On “Allies” After All | Zero Hedge. (source)

In a dramatic change of events that is a) sure to not win the administration any goodwill point with the citizens of the free, or enslaved, world or their insolvent leaders so desperately reliant on the US for day to day funding, and b) will confirm the state of complete policy chaos that is at the core of the Obama administration’s handling of the ObamaPhone spygate (where for some reason the fact that the US spied on foreigners, as it should, has taken far more precedence over the NSA intercepting and recording each and every domestic communication, with neither checks nor balances), the earlier reported news originating from the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein, who said that “the White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue, which I support” was a fabrication.

Instead, as The Hill reported shortly thereafter,  “A senior administration official on Monday rejected Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein’s claim that the U.S. has halted intelligence collection against its allies. In a statement released earlier Monday, the California Democrat said that the White House “has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue.”  But the administration official called that statement “not accurate.” In other words, the situation surrounding Obama’s global Watergate hotel, has devolved to a state where the executive and the Chair of the Legislative’s intelligence committee are not even able to communicate in order to get their story straight about lying what the US will and won’t do in the future. Because, needless to say, any promise that the US won’t do what it obviously will continue doing as there is absolutely no downside to doing so, is merely the latest lie in long and illustrious chain of seasonally adjusted truths.

From The Hill:

While we have made some individual changes, which I cannot detail, we have not made across the board changes in policy like, for example, terminating intelligence collection that might be aimed at all allies,” the administration official said.

And then the confusion and backtracking began:

After the administration’s statement, a spokesman for Feinstein clarified that the senatorintended to say that the U.S. was ceasing “collection on foreign allied leaders.”

Feinstein also said that it was her understanding President Obama “was not aware” the U.S. had been monitoring the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Obama first learned of the program, which apparently began in 2002, during an internal audit of intelligence practices this summer.

Why do we know Obama is “not” lying? Because he had no comment.

In an interview Monday afternoon with Fusion, the president refused to comment when asked about when he became aware of the surveillance.

What we do know, is that Obama no longer has a direct feed to Merkel’s cell phone. Whatever that means:

The administration has announced at least one determination, however. White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week that Obama assured Merkel in a private phone conversation that the administration was not currently monitoring her cell phone, nor would they do so in the future.

All the BS aside, in retrospect if indeed the NSA, being a government agency, does its job with the “efficiency” with which the government makes up lies on the fly, then there is absolutely nothing to worry about. For either the allies of the US, as long as that special status continues, or the billions of electronic communications intercepted among US citizens each day.

White House To Stop Spying on Allies, Dianne Feinstein Promises | Zero Hedge

White House To Stop Spying on Allies, Dianne Feinstein Promises | Zero Hedge. (source)

Continuing to play Obama like a fiddle, the Snowden revelations have done more to change US foreign policy in a few short months, than all laws passed since the advent of the Patriot Act. In the latest example of just this, moments ago, USA Today first and the WSJ and others subsequently, reported that according to Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and an NSA supporter, the National Security Agency has stopped gathering intelligence on allied political leaders, a practice that has drawn global criticism. “The White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue, which I support,” according to Feinstein. It was not immediately clear if this is an implicit admission that the White House actually did know about the NSA’s spying on foreign leaders over the past decade, and lied about being unaware. Recall that Obama denied just this last night, but at this point the pit of lies is so deep, few actually care or are keeping track.

Ironically, in an attempt to redirect once again, Feinstein “criticized President Obama over reports he only recently learned about the monitoring that included German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel’s communications were being collected since 2002,” she said. “That is a big problem.” Don’t worry Dianne, he knew everything, but an autocrat-in-waiting has to lie do what an autocrat-in-waiting has to lie do.

From USA Today:

As a growing chorus of nations protest U.S. surveillance policies, Obama’s spokesman said Monday that an ongoing review will address the concerns of allies.

The review of NSA programs is designed to insure that intelligence gathering protects “both the security of our citizens and our allies and the privacy concerns shared by Americans and citizens around the world,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

Administration officials refused to comment on a report indicating that Obama learned only this year about a program that monitored the communications of foreign leaders — a situation that wouldn’t be particularly unusual, said an intelligence expert.

Paul Pillar, a former senior intelligence officer, said most presidents don’t know about “the targeting decisions” made by their intelligence agencies.

It would be a horrible drain on the president’s time and attention,” Pillar said.

So instead the president can focus all his time and energy on creating 40-ing websites and taking over the public healthcare system?

As reported earlier, Spain was the latest country to be exposed as having been the target of the NSA’s extensive espionage (at a massive cost to US taxpayers), resulting in just the latest ambassadorial summoning. Which of course was merely more theater, set in motion merely to appease the locals.

Pillar said it’s not the tactics themselves that create international friction as much as the fact that they have now been publicized.

“Not only do allies spy on each other all the time, allies know about it all the time,” Pillar said.

Normally, he said, nations that discover surveillance from other countries would tighten their security procedures and not make “a public stink” about it.

But the news coverage – inspired by the Snowden revelations and fueled by outrage from their domestic constituents – forces leaders to confront the United States.

The issue is particularly sensitive in Germany, where memories of the nation’s Cold War divisions remain fresh. That includes domestic spying by police forces in Communist-run East Germany – the native region of Chancellor Merkel, an outspoken critic of NSA tactics.

“Their history is speaking very loudly to them,” said Heather Conley, senior fellow and director of the Europe Program with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Conley and Pillar said intelligence agencies do gather information on each other, on items ranging from positions on trade negotiations to the political troubles of the targeted government.

The difference these days? “It’s a public discussion,” Conley said.

Precisely. Because the public has had enough of governments scheming behind their backs, always to the detriment of common people. And the person to thank for all of this is none other than Edward Snowden, who instead of being praised as a hero in his home country, has been forced into exile into the country that once upon a time was the “evil empire.” How the times have changed in the despotic New Normal.

As for Feinstein’s promise that the US will stop spying either on foreign leaders, or domestically, that is about as good as any other promise made by an insolvent empire in full decline.

 

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