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Attorneys with the SEC’s Investment Management Division are exhorting managers of registered investment funds, such as your mutual fund, to disclose their holdings in Russia and warn of the risks associated with them, now that the Crimean debacle has turned into a magnificent sanction spiral. “Several people familiar with the matter” had been talking toReuters. The SEC is apparently fretting that the funds aren’t truthful with investors and aren’t even thinking about how to respond to the possible outcomes of the crisis.
Investment Management Division Director Norm Champ, when contacted by Reuters, didn’t even deny it. “We want to be proactive,” he said.
The Division contacted asset managers on other occasions when civil unrest erupted or when things threatened to blow up; it wanted to make sure managers weren’t omitting or misrepresenting material information – for example, during the uprising in Egypt in 2011, when the Cairo stock market simply shut down. But this time it’s different: the lawyers at the Investment Management Division were joined by another group of SEC lawyers who focus on risk examinations.
Would the White House be trying behind the scenes to give investors second thoughts about plowing money into Russia? Would it be trying to demolish Russian stocks, bonds, and the ruble? Naw.
The efforts by the SEC, which started “over a week ago,” were accompanied by a White House announcement that 5 million barrels would be released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. WTI tanked. Russia, a huge energy exporter, depends on its oil and gas revenues, and knocking down the price of oil could wreak havoc on the Russian economy. It was a declaration that commodities would be used as a weapon against the Putin Regime.
Then on Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney launched another attack on the Russian markets at a press briefing. In light of the sanctions the US and the EU were slapping on Russia, its economy would pay the price, he said. “I wouldn’t, if I were you, invest in Russian equities right now, unless you’re going short.”
Shaken to its roots by these threats, Russia annexed the Crimea and picked a new target: Estonia. A Russian diplomat told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday that Russia was “concerned” by the treatment of the ethnic Russian minority “in Estonia as well as in Ukraine” … even while Vice President Joe Biden was in Lithuania to calm tattered nerves in the Baltics and the EU.
On Thursday, German Chancellor Merkel announced in Parliament, shortly before the EU summit in Brussels, that the EU would come up with new sanctions, such as expanding the list of Russians subject to travel limitations and freezing assets. And if the situation escalates, there would be “without doubt” economic sanctions, she said. Russia was “largely isolated in all international organizations.” And the G-8, which includes Russia, and whose upcoming shindig has already been cancelled, “no longer exists.”
She was immediately attacked by the parliamentary leader of the opposition Left Party, Gregor Gysi, who accused the government of double standards; the separation of Kosovo too had been a breach of international law, he said, but it had been supported by the German government at the time. The transitional Ukrainian government wasn’t legitimate, he said. “Fascists are part of this government, and we want to give them money?!” Under pressure from the US, Merkel was imposing sanctions on Russia to the detriment of Europe, he said. That’s “moral cowardice.”
The “Putin Doctrine” was what SPD parliamentary leader Thomas Oppermann, who is part of Germany’s governing Grand Coalition, was fretting about. Under that doctrine, Russia could intervene if ethnic Russians were perceived to be in danger outside Russia. It would give Russia an automatic right to intervene anywhere, he said. “Such a right does not exist, and such a right cannot exist.”
Hours later, President Obama announced he’d slapped new sanctions on a “number” of oligarchs, additional Russian government officials, and a bank that provides services to them. The White House was working “closely” with the EU “to develop more severe actions that could be taken if Russia continues to escalate the situation.” Then he urged US Lawmakers to approve the aid package for Ukraine and urged the IMF to put its aid package together pronto. Alas, read…. Aid for the Ukraine “Will Be Stolen” – Former Ukrainian Minister of Economy
As Obama’s words were still echoing around the world, the Russian Foreign Ministry shot back: nine US officials, including Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, would be barred from entering Russia. And it published the list on its website.
Delicious irony: that boring list with nine names on it, issued by a Russian ministry whose website rarely gets shared in the social media, lit up a mini-firestorm on VK.com, the second largest social network in Europe after Facebook, and one of the most popular sites in Russia. The list got, as I’m writing this, 538 VK “likes.” Not sure if Obama’s list got anyFacebook likes.
Not to be left out, Standard & Poor’s slammed Russia by lowering its outlook to Negativefrom Stable. “In our view, heightened geopolitical risk and the prospect of US and EU economic sanctions following Russia’s incorporation of Crimea could reduce the flow of potential investment, trigger rising capital outflows, and further weaken Russia’s already deteriorating economic performance.”
The Sanction Spiral works in a myriad ways and performs, as we can see every day, outright miracles. It spirals elegantly higher and higher and takes on grotesque forms. And by the looks of it, no one at the top has a clue how to back out of it. Yet stock and bond markets in the US and Europe, stuffed to the gills with central-bank liquidity and intoxicated by free money, the only thing that really matters anymore these crazy days of ours, are blissfully ignoring the entire drama, and what may eventually come of it.
The first official warning shot was fired. Not by a Putin advisor that can be brushed off, but by Alexey Ulyukaev, Russia’s Minister of Economy and former Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank. A major escalation. Read…. Kremlin: If The US Tries To Hurt Russia’s Economy, Russia Will Target The Dollar System
Three years ago, Washington experienced its own dose of “shock and awe” — the PR phrase used to sanitise its brutal invasion of Iraq — when hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of ordinary Arabs took to the streets to demand the overthrow of leaders more interested in Washington’s approval than that of their own peoples. But American policy elites’ professed surprise was primarily a function of their own self-imposed amnesia and delusion.
No one in Washington seemed to realise or care that Egyptians forced their pro-American dictator from power on February 11, 2011 — 32 years to the day after the Shah of Iran’s military conceded to the will of the Iranian people, giving birth to the Islamic Republic of Iran and bringing down a pillar of American dominance in the region. On the eve of Iran’s revolution, as a deep and abiding thirst for independence was sweeping through Iran, President Jimmy Carter toasted the shah, in “great tribute…to your leadership and to the respect and the admiration and love which your people give to you.”
Thirty-two years later, US foreign policy elites seemed to have learned little. When similar revolutionary fervour threatened another pillar of US dominance in the Middle East — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak — the Obama administration appeared to be following the example of its 1970s predecessor. Vice President Joe Biden proclaimed that Mubarak wasn’t “a dictator” because he was an American ally and a friend of Israel — thereby highlighting that the only way an Arab leader can be those things is by being a dictator. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had already declared “President and Mrs Mubarak to be friends of my family.”
But with security forces marauding through Tahrir (“Liberation”) Square, killing nearly 1,000 people by the time Mubarak finally resigned — and drawing more people to protest, instead of repelling them — alarm set in among Washington’s foreign policy elite. Could the US really lose the Egyptian pillar it had so assiduously co-opted after its Iranian pillar was tossed out in 1979?
When Washington finally understood that Mubarak’s days were numbered, as Carter had finally understood with the shah, the Obama administration tried to orchestrate a “transition” to Mubarak’s reviled intelligence chief. Omar Suleiman was the man responsible for “rendering” Egyptians to be tortured for the CIA and for collaborating with Israel to keep the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza under siege. When that did not work, Washington set out to co-opt and then abort what it termed the Arab Spring — a Western phrase meant to depict movement toward secular liberalism rather than toward participatory Islamist governance.
Unchanging foreign policy
Mubarak’s departure brought into uncomfortably stark relief a reality that US policymakers had denied since the overthrow of the shah thirty-two years before. US efforts to use cooperative autocrats — autocrats willing to facilitate US military aggression, to torture alleged “terrorists” (their own citizens) for the CIA’s benefit, and to tolerate a militarily dominant Israel engaged in open-ended occupation of Arab populations — to promote American hegemony over the Middle East were unacceptable to the vast majority of people there.
As protests unfolded in Egypt, large numbers of demonstrators in Yemen demanded that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh — a major US counter-terror collaborator — resign. Three days after Mubarak’s removal, large-scale protests paralysed Bahrain — home of the US Fifth Fleet — underscoring the threat to America’s regional hegemony even more dramatically.
US foreign policy elites were not just concerned about a precipitous erosion of the US strategic position in the Middle East. They also worried about what the spread of popular demand for leaderships accountable to their peoples, not to Washington, would mean for the hegemonic house of cards the US had imposed on the region.
It was clear — and has become ever clearer over the past three years — that the majority of population in the Middle East want to vote for their leaders and to have a voice in decision-making on issues affecting their daily lives and social identities. But they also want that to happen in an explicitly Islamic framework — not in some secular, liberal “Spring” context, divorced from their identities and ability to assert real independence.
When given the chance to express preferences about their political futures, Middle Eastern Muslims do not embrace the sort of secular liberalism that America might be able to countenance as an alternative to pro-Western autocracy. Rather, they vote for Islamists espousing the integration of participatory politics and elections with Islamic principles — and with a commitment to foreign policy independence.
Thus, in early 2011, Washington was anxious that the Arab Awakening would ultimately benefit the Islamic Republic of Iran. For the Islamic Republic is the Middle East’s only political system that, since 1979, has actually tried to integrate participatory politics and elections with principles and institutions of Islamic governance. It has also been an exemplar of foreign policy independence, embodied in its consistent refusal to submit to the imperatives of a pro-US regional order.
Three US goals in the Middle East
Faced with these risks to its hegemonic ambitions, the US could not simply declare its opposition to popular sovereignty in the Middle East. Instead, the Obama administration crafted a policy response to the Arab Awakening that had three major goals. In the course of pursuing these goals, the administration — with strong bipartisan backing in Congress — has imposed even more instability and violence on the region. It has also set the stage for further erosion of the credibility and effectiveness of US policy in a vital part of the world.
The Obama administration’s first goal was to prevent the Arab Awakening from taking down any more US allies. To that end, the administration tacitly (but happily) acquiesced to the Saudi-led military intervention in Bahrain on March 14, 2011 to sustain the Khalifa monarchy. As a result, the monarchy continues to hold on to power (for now) and US naval forces continue operating out of Bahrain.
At the same time, Washington’s support for suppressing popular demands for political change there through Saudi Arabia’s armed intervention has helped fuel a dangerous resurgence of sectarian tensions across the Middle East. This, in turn, has given new life to al-Qaeda and similar jihadi movements around the region.
The Obama administration’s second goal was to co-opt the Arab Awakening for US purposes, by showing that, somewhere in the Middle East, the US could put itself on the “right” side of history. So, when Saudi Arabia offered the Arab League “cover” to intervene in Libya and arm anti-Gaddafi rebels, President Barack Obama overrode objections by his defence secretary and military leaders to order US forces into action.
On March 17, 2011, the UN Security Council narrowly adopted a resolution authorising use of force to protect civilian populations in Libya. In short order, Team Obama distorted it to turn civilian protection into coercive regime change. The results have been disastrous for US interests and for the region: Worsening violence in Libya, a growing jihadi threat in North Africa, a dead US ambassador, and more polarised US relations with Russia and China.
The Obama administration’s third goal was to show that, after the loss of pro-Western regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and near-misses in Bahrain and Yemen, it wasn’t just authoritarian regimes willing to subordinate their foreign policies to the US that were at risk from popular discontent. In particular, Washington wanted to demonstrate that it was also possible to bring down regimes with clear commitments to foreign policy independence — and, in the process, weaken not just Iran’s strategic position but that of Islamists across the region promoting participatory Islamist governance.
Soon after unrest started in Syria in March 2011, the Obama administration saw an opening, declaring that President Bashar al-Assad “must go” and goading an externally supported “opposition” to undermine him — if not bring him down. It was clear from the start that arming a deeply divided opposition would not bring down the Syrian government. Nevertheless, Washington joined with its so-called allies in Riyadh, Paris, and London in an almost desperate attempt to roll back Iran’s rising power.
Almost three years on, Iraq, as well as Iran, have been hurt by this misadventure — but the American and the Syrian people have paid a much higher price. Washington has paid in terms of its regional standing, intensification of the regional resurgence of violent extremists, and further polarisation of relations with Russia and China; Syria, of course, has paid with over 100,000 Syrians killed (so far) and millions more displaced.
More recently, the Obama administration’s tacit backing for the military coup that overthrew Egypt’s democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president in July 2013 has removed any residual doubt that the US, intent on clinging to its hegemonic prerogatives in the Middle East, can endorse moves toward real democracy in the region. Putting US strategy in the Middle East on a more positive and productive trajectory will require Washington to accept the region on its own terms, to deal straightforwardly with all relevant (and authentic) actors, and to admit that trying to coercively micromanage political outcomes in Muslim-majority societies isn’t just incompatible with claims to respect popular sovereignty — it is unsustainable and counter-productive for long-term US interests.
Reprinted with permission from author’s Going to Tehran blog.
When the Republican victory in the 2010 midterm election raised the prospect of political gridlock, John Podesta was ready with an answer: The president should bypass Congress and wield the executive powers of his office.
Less than two weeks after the returns came in, Podesta had compiled 47 pages of proposals for unilateral action on issues from immigration to solar energy. PresidentBarack Obama’s ability to “accomplish important change through these powers should not be underestimated,” he wrote.
Now, Podesta’s appointment as counselor to Obama adds a strong promoter of that strategy to the president’s inner circle as Republicans stand in the way of the White House agenda.
The activist vision of the 64-year-old former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton could play out across the economy, encompassing matters such as greenhouse gas emission standards forpower plants, food safety and border enforcement.
“John will be an advocate for forceful executive action, either for its own sake or to force congressional action,” said Jake Siewert, a former Clinton White House press secretary who is now a managing director at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Among the proposals Podesta forwarded to Obama three years ago as head of the Center for American Progress, a research group with close ties to the administration, were a $2-per-barrel fee on imported oil to finance clean-energy projects, solar panels for Air Force hangars and curbs on detention of undocumented immigrants without criminal records.
Greater use of executive power would raise the stakes in Washington, provoking a clash with Republicans that could lead to a wave of congressional hearings, lawsuits from aggrieved parties and more tense negotiations over spending and taxes. It would also add to Republican bitterness already fueled by Senate Democrats’ move to limit filibusters of Obama appointees.
Podesta may find a receptive audience in the White House.
“He’ll be preaching to the choir in this administration,” said Bruce Reed, who worked with Podesta as Clinton’s chief domestic policy adviser and until recently was Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff.
Under the theme “We Can’t Wait,” the White House started a series of executive actions before the 2012 election, including an order to stop deporting undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, if they have no criminal record. Unable to win passage of a gun-control bill, Obama announced moves on firearms using his presidential authority earlier this year.
Podesta joins a White House at a low ebb in public standing after Obama’s inability to win passage of a revamp of immigration policy, a 16-day government shutdown and the botched rollout of the federal online insurance exchanges at the core of his signature health-care law.
After starting his second term with an inaugural address calling for a more activist government — he vowed to come up with executive moves to fight climate change “if Congress won’t act soon” — Obama has little to show for it.
His 42 percent job approval in the Gallup Poll for the week ended Dec. 15 is down 10 percentage points from the same week a year earlier and comparable to the 41 percent approval at this point in the administration of George W. Bush, who left office as one of the most unpopular presidents in recent history.
At the end of the fifth year of an administration, when attention shifts to the next election, a president has “a sense that the sand is running out of the hourglass,” said Stephen Hess, a scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
“Your time is short and you want to do as much as you can,” said Hess, who has studied the presidency since serving in Dwight Eisenhower’s administration. “You then want to do things by executive orders and executive regulations.”
Because government regulations take so much time to complete if they are to withstand legal challenges, the coming year will be crucial in setting the administration’s final initiatives, said Carol Browner, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under Clinton.
“It takes you a minimum two years to get a rule done, start to finish,” said Browner, who’s also a former Obama White House aide. “They’ve got to have a clear agenda now. What are the 10 or 20 things that are most important that they want to get done before he leaves office using existing authority?”
While Podesta recused himself from involvement in the administration’s consideration of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline because of his public opposition to the project, his portfolio will include environmental and energy issues.
His presence in the White House will reassure environmentalists that administration regulations on cutting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants will be as “effective as possible,” said David Goldston, director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, where Podesta has been on the board of the group’s political arm.
“Beyond that, he’ll be looking at all the tools that he can use to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change,” Goldston said.
Podesta didn’t respond to a request to be interviewed for this story.
As chief of staff during the final years of Clinton’s presidency, he oversaw a frenzy of rule-making, executive orders and land-preservation edicts. He was so closely identified with the burst of activity that some aides dubbed it “Project Podesta,” according to a National Journal report at the time.
The regulations in the administration’s final months included protection of 59 million acres of forest from roads and logging; work-safety rules on repetitive stress injuries that required millions of offices and factories to be redesigned; and more stringent standards for arsenic in drinking water.
Clinton designated more land protected in the lower 48 U.S. states than any president sinceTheodore Roosevelt. He made five of the national monument designations on Jan. 17, 2001, with only three days left in his term.
Podesta “cleared the way” for conservation regulations, particularly a rule prohibiting virtually all road-building, logging, or coal, gas, oil and other mineral leasing in designated roadless areas of national forests, said Bruce Babbitt, who served as Clinton’s Interior secretary.
That rule, issued eight days before Clinton left office, survived legal challenges that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012.
“The roadless rule was a huge achievement and a bureaucratic nightmare,” said Babbitt.
During Clinton’s last year in office, Republican lawmakers tried to thwart an EPA regulation in the final stages of review. They tacked a rider onto a bill funding military construction and disaster assistance that would have barred the use of government money to complete the rule which set stricter pollution standards for watersheds.
The president couldn’t afford to veto the legislation, and after a series of meetings led by Podesta, his aides came up with their own gambit: stall on signing the legislation while they rushed the rule through the review, said Chuck Fox, then the EPA’s assistant administrator for water.
That culminated in a 90-minute meeting in Podesta’s office in which Browner and then budget director Jack Lew personally negotiated the rule’s final wording line by line, Fox said.
Once Browner signed the regulation, Fox jumped in a taxi to get the document to the printers to beat an end-of-day deadline to publish the regulation in the Federal Register, as required.
Though Republicans were furious over the end run, the rule survived, said Fox, now program director at Oceans 5, a conservation group.
Podesta “was very bold on it,” Fox said.
The U.S. military is conducting daily flights through China’s newly declared air-defense zone without notifying Beijing authorities in advance, a U.S. defense official said today.
The disclosure indicates that U.S. flight activity in the area, where China has unilaterally sought to exert control, is more extensive than was previously known. The Pentagon had acknowledged a flight by two unarmed B-52 bombers through the air zone earlier this week.
Fighter jets on the USS George Washington aircraft carrier on Oct. 24, 2013, in the South China Sea. Photographer: Martin Abbugao/AFP via Getty Images
Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) — Alastair Newton, senior political analyst at Nomura International Plc, talks about the territorial disputes between Japan and China. Vice President Joe Biden will press Chinese leaders on their intentions with a new air-defense zone, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel assured Japan of U.S. support and continued military operations in the region. Newton also discusses policies of President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He speaks from Tokyo with Rishaad Salamat on Bloomberg Television’s “On the Move.” (Source: Bloomberg)
A woman walks near Chinese aircraft on display during a visit to a museum in Beijing on Nov. 29, 2013. Photographer: Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images
The defense official, who asked not to be named discussing military operations, wouldn’t specify the type of aircraft used in subsequent flights nor say whether any of them are armed.
“It’s very important the U.S. signal to the Chinese that we’re not going to be bullied and that we’re going to adhere to our commitments,” which include a defense treaty with Japan, saidNicholas Burns, a former U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs from 2005 to 2008.
China for a second day today sent fighter planes into the air zone over an area that includes islands claimed by both China and Japan. The situation “certainly holds the real potential for a crisis,” said Dean Cheng, a senior research fellow at the Asian Studies Center of the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
China’s assertion and the subsequent flights have increased tensions which U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will seek to defuse when he visits Japan, China and South Korea next week. Biden will convey U.S. concerns about China’s air zone and seek clarification from Chinese leaders on their intentions, according to an administration official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity because the talks will be private.
China’s “provocative” behavior toward its neighbors in the region “now becomes a very prominent issue for the visit,” said Burns, who is now a professor of international relations at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Biden is “well-positioned to play a calming role hopefully to defuse this crisis, in a way that is supportive of our primary friend, the government of Japan,” Burns said in an interview.
China announced the air-defense identification zone effective Nov. 23 and said its military will take “defensive emergency measures” if aircraft enter the area without reporting flight plans or otherwise identifying themselves.
Japan, which denounced the move, told its airlines to stop providing flight plans to China. Japan and South Korea also have flown military aircraft through the air zone in recent days, testing China’s resolve to control a swath of the East China Sea that is central to a territorial dispute.
Japan and China both claim sovereignty over islands known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese. The surrounding waters are rich in oil, natural gas and fish.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has called China’s air zone “a destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region” and warned that it “increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations.”
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, wrote a Twitter posting warning of the “real chance” of a military incident involving China, Japan and others over the air zone. Haass, a former State Department official, said the “challenge will be to manage” the situation and avoid an escalation.
While the U.S. is probably responding correctly, the military flights pose the danger of a conflict, most likely by accident if warning shots are fired that could be misinterpreted, Cheng said in an interview.
“It is a multilateral powder keg,” he said. “You’re talking about something that will inevitably spill over to broader diplomatic relations and economic relations.”
The U.S. defense official said the Pentagon’s flights through China’s air zone are consistent with U.S. freedom-of-navigation policies that are applied to many areas of operation around the world.
Chinese planes were deployed in the zone off the country’s eastern coast and identified Japanese aircraft in the area, China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on its website. Yesterday, Chinese planes entered the area on normal patrols, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The Chinese Defense Ministry statement also said its planes identified U.S. aircraft, without specifying whether they entered the air-defense zone.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said today he would respond to China’s air zone in a “calm, assured manner.” Japan and the U.S. plan to step up air surveillance in the East China Sea, with Japan stationing E-2C airborne early-warning aircraft at the Naha base in the Okinawa region and expanding the use of unmanned Global Hawk aircraft, the Yomiuri newspaper reported today, without citing a source.
South Korea is considering expanding its own air-defense zone in response to China’s move, Wee Yong Sub, spokesman for the Defense Ministry said today in Seoul.
“This is one of the most serious challenges ever posed by China to freedom of movement both on the sea and in the sky and will affect very seriously the forward deployment of the United States,” Tomohiko Taniguchi, an adviser to Japan’s Abe, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
Japan’s major airlines, including ANA Holdings Inc. and Japan Airlines Co., have been flying through the zone without coordinating with China, all without incident.
U.S. airlines “are being advised to take all steps they consider necessary to operate safely in the East China Sea region,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Nov. 27.
Hagel called Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on Nov. 27 to assure the U.S. ally of support and its commitment to continued military operations in the region.
Hagel commended Japan “for exercising appropriate restraint” and he “pledged to consult closely with Japan on efforts to avoid unintended incidents,” according to a Pentagon statement.
To contact the reporter on this story: David Lerman in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at email@example.com
When the US government said the sequester would cripple its ability to single-handedly rule over the world, it wasn’t kidding. Either that, or Joe Biden’s Joint Strategic Plan to “curb” copyright infringement was just a case of very confused humor by the vice president gone badly wrong, and he meant to “encourage.” Whatever the reason, the fact that the Obama administration was just busted with a $50 million case of software piracy involving none other than the US Army, is indicative that while the Bureau of Labor Statistics was adopting all the best features of the Chinese Department of Truth, the US government was busy copycatting China’s respectful approach toward intellectual property. Yet what is even worse, is that the software that was pirated managed the US army’s troop and supply movements: in other words, the US government relied on pirated software to prepare for and engage in eventual war.
Specifically, the army “used Apptricity’s integrated transportation logistics and asset management software across the Middle East and other theaters of operation. The Army has also used the software to coordinate emergency management initiatives, including efforts following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.”
Here’s what happened, as reported by RT: in 2004, Apptricity agreed with the US Army to license the troop-movement software, allowing the government to use it on five servers and 150 standalone devices. What happened instead is that the Army proceeded to use the softward around the world. “The improper installation of thousands of unlicensed copies of software was discovered incidentally, when the US Army Program Director said during Strategic Capabilities Planning 2009 that thousands of devices had Apptricity software.”
Ultimately, 93 servers and over 9,000 standalone devices of the Army had the unlicensed software. Apptricity figured it was owed US$224 million based on usual fees of US$1.35 million per server and US$5,000 per device.
Upon discovering just how vast the US government piracy stretched Apptricity sued the government, accusing the US military of willful copyright infringement. It won, and the government went on to admit the illegal use and entered into lengthy negotiations with Apptricity to settle. The cost to the Obama administration from being caught in the act: $50 million in damages.
RT does a great summary of yet another instance of remarkable hypocrisy by the “most transparent administration ever.”
While the Obama administration’s has launched efforts against intellectual property theft – including the Joint Strategic Plan run by Vice President Joe Biden that aims to curb copyright infringement – the US Army was concurrently using pirated Apptricity enterprise software that manages troop and supply movements.
The Administration has yet to comment on the settlement. But Biden’s words upon announcing the federal anti-copyright-infringement plan ring clear.
“Piracy is theft, clean and simple.”
Even when it was your subordinates that engaged in theft? Surely someone’s hand will be slapped, right? But one can be absolutely certain: neither Biden nor Obama “had any idea”…
What was not mentioned anywhere, however, is just how the US government spent the hundreds of millions in appropriated funds, because it is guaranteed that the Army was allotted the full mandated amount by Congress to purchase every single piece of Apptricity software it would ever need. And still somehow $200 million disappeared. Of course in any non-banana republic, a legal system might inquire in whose pockets this excess cash ended up. Which of course means that in the US nobody will even consider this eventuality, especially since Ben Bernanke prints that amount in roughly 5 minutes every day.
Finally, one wonders: what would happen if in the middle of a Syrian (or any other) war suddenly the US army was halted dead in its tracks when HQ got a flashing red “Your 30 Day trial period has expired. Please insert activation code now” notification. We can only hope US drone command didn’t get its copy of “Blow Up Innocent Women And Children From 10,000 Miles Away Ver 1.0” on the Moscow black market.
- Obama administration preps for potential strikes on Syria (wjla.com)
- US lays groundwork for possible Syria strike (cnsnews.com)
- US readies rationale for possible Syria strike (miamiherald.com)
- Syrian Official: Obama Administration’s Claims Assad Regime Carried Out Chemical Attack ‘Completely Wrong’ (washington.cbslocal.com)
- Obama’s FSA Terrorists Launch Sarin Gas On Syrian People – Video Proof (nodisinfo.com)
- US strike on Syria could come within days as military assets ‘ready to go’ (theguardian.com)
- Report: Biden asks Ecuador’s president to deny Snowden asylum (thehill.com)
- Biden asks Ecuador to reject asylum bid (huffingtonpost.com)
- Biden asks Ecuador president to nix Snowden asylum (TBO.com)
- USG Pressure Intensifies: Biden Asks Ecuador’s President to Deny Snowden Asylum (economicpolicyjournal.com)
- We Could’ve Deported One of the Terrorists, But Apparently We Didn’t Think He Was A Threat (minx.cc)
- BOSTON BOMBER COULD HAVE BEEN DEPORTED After 2009 Arrest (secretsofthefed.com)
- Exclusive: Terrorists for FBI Secret Network Surveils & Entraps Americans (lissakr11humane.com)
- #COMMUNISTS Name Patriots “Domestic Terrorists” & “Hate Groups” – #BostonBomber Is “Person Of Interest” (themadjewess.com)
- Why ending domestic violence is our business (allstate.com)
- Tamerlan Tsarnaev Should Have Been Deported In 2009 (youviewed.com)
- Fashion’s latest trend is helping to curb domestic violence (allstate.com)