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A First Look at a New Report on Crony Capitalism – Trillions in Corporate Welfare | A Lightning War for Liberty

A First Look at a New Report on Crony Capitalism – Trillions in Corporate Welfare | A Lightning War for Liberty.

Posted on March 26, 2014

One of the primary topics on this website since it was launched has been the extremely destructive and explosive rise of crony capitalism throughout the USA. It is crony capitalism, as opposed to free markets, that has led to the gross inequality in American society we have today. Cronyism for the super wealthy starts at the very top with the Federal Reserve System, which consists of topdown economic central planners who manipulate the money supply and hence interest rates for the benefit of the financial oligarch class. It then trickles down through lobbyist money into the halls of Washington D.C., and ultimately filters down to local governments and then the average person on the street gaming welfare or disability.

As such, we now live in a culture of corruption and theft that is pervasive throughout society. One thing that bothers me to no end is when fake Republicans focus their criticism on struggling people who need welfare or food stamps to survive. They have this absurd notion that the whole welfare system doesn’t start with the multinational corporations and Central Banks at the top. In reality, it is at the top where the cancer starts, and that’s where we should focus in order to achieve real change.

That’s where a new report from Open the Books on corporate welfare comes in. In a preview of the publication, the organization notes:

If Republicans are going to get truly serious about cutting government spending, they are going to have to snip the umbilical cord from the Treasury to corporate America.  You can’t reform welfare programs for the poor until you’ve gotten Daddy Warbucks off the dole. Voters will insist on that — as well they should.

So why hasn’t it happened? Why hasn’t the GOP pledged to end corporate welfare as we know it?

Part of the explanation is that too many have gotten confused about the difference between free-market capitalism and crony capitalism.

Federal_Contract_Spending_Spirals

And part of the problem is corporate welfare that is so well hidden from public view in the budget that no one has really measured how big this mountain of giveaway cash to the Fortune 500 really is. Finding out is like trying to break into the CIA.

Until now. Open the Books, an Illinois-based watchdog group, has been scrupulously monitoring all federal grants, loans, direct payments and insurance subsidies flowing to individuals and companies.

It’s an attempt to force federal agencies to release information on where the $4 trillion budget is really spent — and Open the Books will release a new report on corporate welfare payments to the Fortune 100 companies from 2000 to 2012.

Over that period, the 100 received $1.2 trillion in payments from the federal government.

That number does not include the hundreds of billions of dollars in housing, bank and auto company bailouts in 2008 and 2009, because those payments and where they went are kept mostly invisible in the federal agency books.

As suspected, the biggest welfare queens in the U.S. are the super wealthy themselves, but they’d rather you focus on some single mother on welfare simply trying to survive.

The full report can be downloaded here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

Putin Signs Crimean “Absorption” Law As Visa, MasterCard Halt Payment Services For Bank Rossiya | Zero Hedge

Putin Signs Crimean “Absorption” Law As Visa, MasterCard Halt Payment Services For Bank Rossiya | Zero Hedge.

Moments ago the “absorption” of Crimea into the Russian Federation was completed after Putin signed the final previously passed by parliament. And with that, in less than a month, the Crimean “question” has been answered. The only question is whether Putin will stop here or will the ease with which he just expanded the Russian political map leave him hungry for more.

In other news, as part of the Western escalations against Russia, Bank Rossiya, the one bank exclusively identified in the sanctions list, announced that Visa and MasterCard have stopped, without notification, providing services for payment transactions for clients. Another bank that saw the drop of merchant credit card services was SMP bank, co-owned by brothers Boris and Arkady Rotenberg, who were also on the latest U.S. sanctions list.

SMP bank said in a statement that it considered the credit card giants’ move unlawful, because the U.S. sanctions targeted shareholders and not the bank itself, Reuters reported Friday.

Earlier in the day, Bank Rossiya said it was working in a “stable regime” and was taking all the necessary legal measures to defend its rights and its clients’ rights and legal interests.

“In connection with the information about U.S. sanctions being imposed on Rossiya we can report that the bank is working in a stable regime. The bank is meeting and will, without a doubt, fully meet all its obligations to its clients and partners,” the bank said in a statement.

“The management of Rossiya understands the difficulties of clients in the current situation and will do all it can to solve them,” the bank said in a statement.

These moves in turn promptly led to Putin announcing that he wants to open an account with the Bank Rossiya. From Moscow Times:

“I don’t have an account there, but I will certainly open one there on Monday,” Putin said Friday, while speaking at a Security Council meeting, Interfax reported.

Putin later asked for his salary to be transferred to Bank Rossiya and ordered Russia’s Central Bank to take the sanction-hit lender’s clients under protection and provide all possible assistance to them, The Associated Press reported.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday announced that Washington was levying a new round of sanctions affecting 20 Russian officials and businessmen, but also Bank Rossiya, which is chaired and part owned by businessman Yuri Kovalchuk, who is one of the 20.

Why was the bank singled out?

The United States Treasury Department stated that Bank Rossiya is used by senior Russian officials and that its shareholders include members of Putin’s inner circle.

Putin Signs Crimean "Absorption" Law As Visa, MasterCard Halt Payment Services For Bank Rossiya | Zero Hedge

Putin Signs Crimean “Absorption” Law As Visa, MasterCard Halt Payment Services For Bank Rossiya | Zero Hedge.

Moments ago the “absorption” of Crimea into the Russian Federation was completed after Putin signed the final previously passed by parliament. And with that, in less than a month, the Crimean “question” has been answered. The only question is whether Putin will stop here or will the ease with which he just expanded the Russian political map leave him hungry for more.

In other news, as part of the Western escalations against Russia, Bank Rossiya, the one bank exclusively identified in the sanctions list, announced that Visa and MasterCard have stopped, without notification, providing services for payment transactions for clients. Another bank that saw the drop of merchant credit card services was SMP bank, co-owned by brothers Boris and Arkady Rotenberg, who were also on the latest U.S. sanctions list.

SMP bank said in a statement that it considered the credit card giants’ move unlawful, because the U.S. sanctions targeted shareholders and not the bank itself, Reuters reported Friday.

Earlier in the day, Bank Rossiya said it was working in a “stable regime” and was taking all the necessary legal measures to defend its rights and its clients’ rights and legal interests.

“In connection with the information about U.S. sanctions being imposed on Rossiya we can report that the bank is working in a stable regime. The bank is meeting and will, without a doubt, fully meet all its obligations to its clients and partners,” the bank said in a statement.

“The management of Rossiya understands the difficulties of clients in the current situation and will do all it can to solve them,” the bank said in a statement.

These moves in turn promptly led to Putin announcing that he wants to open an account with the Bank Rossiya. From Moscow Times:

“I don’t have an account there, but I will certainly open one there on Monday,” Putin said Friday, while speaking at a Security Council meeting, Interfax reported.

Putin later asked for his salary to be transferred to Bank Rossiya and ordered Russia’s Central Bank to take the sanction-hit lender’s clients under protection and provide all possible assistance to them, The Associated Press reported.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday announced that Washington was levying a new round of sanctions affecting 20 Russian officials and businessmen, but also Bank Rossiya, which is chaired and part owned by businessman Yuri Kovalchuk, who is one of the 20.

Why was the bank singled out?

The United States Treasury Department stated that Bank Rossiya is used by senior Russian officials and that its shareholders include members of Putin’s inner circle.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Paul Craig Roberts

Washington’s plan to seize Ukraine and to evict Russia from its Black Sea naval base has come amiss. But as Lenin said, “two steps forward, one step back.”

Do you remember all the tough talk coming from John Kerry, the White House Fool, Hilary Clinton, and the lickspittle Merkel about the harsh sanctions that would “badly damage” the Russian economy unless Russia prevented the referendum vote in Crimea? Well, it was all bullshit, more hot air from the White House sock puppet and the lickspittle German chancellor who is a disgrace to the German nation. As the Russians kept telling John Kerry, sanctions on Russia would destroy Europe and do little damage to Russia.

I wish the Russians had kept this to themselves. I was looking forward to the Washington morons destroying NATO by closing down the European economy.

Of course, after pretending that they were macho tough guys, something that Washington’s presstitute media could hype as sanctions had to be imposed, so Washington came up with sanctions, not on Russia, but on eleven individuals: the deposed Ukrainian president, an advisor to the deposed president, 2 Crimean officials, and 7 Russians.

The choice of the officials is an utter mystery. The seven Russians are a Putin aid, a Putin adviser, four members of the Russian parliament (Duma) and a deputy prime minister. What any of these people had to do with the referendum in Crimea, no one knows.

Moreover, the sanctions only apply to foreign bank accounts that these 11 individuals might have outside Russia. Most likely, that means only the deposed Ukrainian president, if we are to believe all the propaganda about him. Other reports say that the sanctions are only for the next six months.

If the Washington and EU criminals steal any money from these persons, the Russian central bank can replenish their stolen accounts.

The people who decided that Crimea would disassociate from Ukraine and return to Russia were the people themselves. Under the wording of Obama’s stupid sanctions, his sanctions should apply to the Crimean people who voted to disassociate from the US stooge government in Kiev.

Additionally, Obama’s sanctions apply to himself and to his regime and to its NATO puppets as it was the West that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine, not Russia or Crimea. The Americans, of course, never apply law to themselves.

In other words, the sanctions are totally meaningless. Yet, the White House Fool declared: “If Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine, we stand ready to impose further sanctions.”

Obama’s hypocrisy makes a person want to puke. It is the White House Fool who is interfering in Ukraine. It was Washington that financed and organized the overthrow of the elected Ukraine government, using well organized and well armed neo-nazis to intimidate the unarmed police and ruling party, thus clearing the way for Washington to set up an unelected government of its well-paid stooges.

What the incompetent White House Fool overlooked is that southern and eastern Ukraine are Russian, not Ukrainian, so the fool’s coup has caused Crimea to depart and is causing widespread protests in eastern Ukraine against Washington’s stooge unelected government in Kiev. Washington’s stooge Kiev government has appointed unelected Ukrainian multibillionaire oligarchs, who have their own private security forces, as mayors of the Russian cities to put down the protests. If the oligarchs use violence against the Russian people, the likely result will be that the Russian Army will take control of eastern Ukraine, which in every essential way is Russian.

If eastern Ukraine returns to Russia, Washington will be left with the ultra-nationalists of western Ukraine, people who fought for Hitler during World War 2. The EU doesn’t want ultra-nationalists as the EU is busy stamping out nationalism and the sovereignty of European countries. Nevertheless, Washington will have gained a strategic advantage over Moscow, as Washington can place anti-ballistic missile and other military bases on western Ukraine’s border with Russia, thus completing Washington’s encirclement of Russia with hostile military and missile bases.

Russia will neutralize the US bases by targeting them with Iskander missiles, which cannot be intercepted by ABMs.

All that the White House Fool will have achieved is to further make clear to Russia, and to China, that Washington has both on its target list, because both are in the way of Washington’s world hegemony.

One can only wonder why Putin doesn’t preempt the coming US military attack on Russia by destroying NATO economically without firing a shot. All Putin needs to do is to cut Europe off from energy. It would take Washington three years to create the capability to deliver US natural gas, achieved by fracking’s destruction of US water supplies, to Europe. By that time NATO governments would likely have been overthrown by mass unemployment and economic suffering. Putin could also seize all foreign assets in Russia and rapidly complete the arrangements with China, India, Brazil, and South Africa to abandon the use of the US dollar in international settlements.

The US dollar as world reserve currency is the source of American imperialism. The five countries that comprise the BRICS have half of the world’s population. They can conduct their economic affairs without the dollar.

The world needs to understand that the neoconservative US government is the Third Reich on steroids. It is a malevolent force with no sense of justice or respect for truth, law, or human life. Just ask the residents of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Palestine, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Lebanon, Honduras, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran. Even the deluded western Ukrainians will soon catch on.

Obama himself declared that the US is “the exceptional nation.” This is the neoconservatives version of Hitler’s declaration that the German nation was exceptional and, therefore, above all others. The only difference between Washington and National Socialist Germany is that Washington has a far more powerful police state and nuclear weapons.

The hubris and arrogance that arises from Washington’s belief that it is the government of the “indispensable and exceptional nation” means Washington has no respect for any other country, nor for law whether its own or international. Washington can invade countries without cause, a war crime. Washington can kidnap and torture people, a crime under US and International law. Washington can ignore the self-determination of peoples, such as Crimeans. Who are mere Crimeans to vote on their own future without Washington’s consent, without Washington determining the outcome? Washington declares the Crimean people’s self-determination “illegitimate and illegal,” and refuses to recognize self-determination, while pretending to be the home of “freedom and democracy.”

No government in human history can come close to the hypocrisy and malevolence of Washington. Armed with nuclear weapons and a military doctrine of pre-emptive nuclear first strike, Washington alone stands as the threat to life on earth.

Washington Has Set The World On A Path To War — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Washington Has Set The World On A Path To War — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org.

Washington Has Set The World On A Path To War

Paul Craig Roberts

Why is Washington so opposed to Crimean self-determination? The answer is that one of the main purposes of Washington’s coup in Kiev was to have the new puppet government evict Russia from its Black Sea naval base in Crimea. Washington cannot use the government Washington has installed in Ukraine for that purpose if Crimea is no longer part of Ukraine.

What Washington has made completely obvious is that “self-determination” is a weapon used by Washington in behalf of its agenda. If self-determination advances Washington’s agenda, Washington is for it. If self-determination does not advance Washington’s agenda, Washington is against it.

The Washington-initiated UN Security Council resolution, vetoed by Russia, falsely declares that the referendum in Crimea, a referendum demanded by the people, “can have no validity, and cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of Crimea; and calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of Crimea on the basis of this referendum and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status.”

Washington could not make it any clearer that Washington totally opposes self-determination by Crimeans.

Washington claims, falsely, that the referendum cannot be valid unless the entire population of Ukraine votes and agrees with the decision by Crimeans. Note that when Washington stole Kosovo from Serbia, Washington did not let Serbians vote.

But overlook Washington’s rank hypocrisy and self-serving double-standards. Let’s apply Washington’s argument that in order to be valid any change in Crimea’s status requires a vote on the part of the population of the country that it departs. If this is the case, then Crimea has never been a part of Ukraine.

Under Washington’ s interpretation of international law, Ukraine is still a part of Russia. When Khrushchev transferred Crimea (but not Sevastopol, the Black Sea base) to Ukraine, Russians did not get to vote. Therefore, according to Washington’s own logic it is invalid to recognize Crimea as part of Ukraine. That also goes for other parts of Russia that Lenin transferred to Ukraine. Under the logic of Washington’s UN resolution, large parts of Ukraine are not legitimately part of Ukraine. They have remained parts of Russia, because Russians were not allowed to vote on their transfer to Ukraine. Thus, there is no issue about “Russia annexing Crimea,” because, according to Washington’s logic, Crimea is still a part of Russia.

Do you need any more proof that the Ukrainian crisis is made up out of thin air by schemers in Washington who created the entire crisis for one purpose–to weaken Russia militarily?

No one was surprised that the New York Times published on March 14 the warmongering rant, written by neoconservatives for John McCain, which described Washington’s aggression in Ukraine as Russia’s aggression. The US government overthrows an elected democratic Ukrainian government and then accuses Russia of “invading and annexing Crimea” in order to divert attention from Washington’s overthrow of Ukrainian democracy. There is no elected government in Kiev. The stooges acting as a government in Kiev were put in office by Washington. Who else choose them?

What surprised some was Rand Paul joining the hysteria. Rand Paul wrote his propagandistic rant against Russia for Time. Rand Paul claims, falsely, that Putin has invaded Crimea and that it is an affront to “the international community.” First of all, the decision of Crimea to leave Ukraine is a decision of the Crimean population and the elected government, not a decision by Russia. But, for the sake of argument, let’s take Rand Paul’s lie as the truth: Is “Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine a gross violation of that nation’s sovereignty and an affront to the international community” like Washington’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Washington-sponsored invasions of Libya and Syria, and Washington’s ongoing slaughter of Pakistanis and Yemenis with drones, and Washington’s violation of Iran’s sovereignty with illegal sanctions, and Washington’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty by overthrowing the elected government and imposing Washington’s stooges?

If Putin is behaving as Rand Paul ignorantly asserts, Putin is just following the precedents established by Clinton in Serbia, by Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq, and by Obama in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. Washington’s argument is reduced to: “We, the exceptional and indispensable nation can behave this way, but no other country can.”

As some Americans have misplaced hopes in Rand Paul, it is just as well that he revealed in Time that he is just another fool prostituting himself for the neoconservative warmongers and the military/security complex. If Rand Paul is the hope for America, then clearly there is no hope.

As I have been pointing out, the propaganda and lies issuing from Washington, its European puppets, New York Times, Time, and the entirety of the Western media are repeating the path to war that led to World War 1. It is happening right before our eyes.

World War 1 All Over Again — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org

World War 1 All Over Again — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org.

World War 1 All Over Again
The same fools play the same game

Paul Craig Roberts

“If you reduce the lie to a scientific system put it on thick and heavy, and with great effort and sufficient finances scatter it all over the world as the pure truth, you can deceive whole nations for a long time and drive them to slaughter for causes in which they have not the slightest interest.” — Chief French Editor, Behind the Scenes in French Journalism, describing the organization of World War 1 propaganda in France.

Did US Secretary of State John Kerry ask you before he delivered an all or nothing ultimatum to Russia? Did he ask Congress? Did he ask the countries of western and eastern Europe–NATO members who Kerry has committed to whatever the consequences will be of Washington’s inflexible, arrogant, aggressive provocation of Russia, a well-armed nuclear power? Did Kerry ask Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Mexico, South America, Africa, China, Central Asia, all of whom would be adversely affected by a world war provoked by the crazed criminals in Washington?

No.

He did not.

The exceptional, indispensable, arrogant, self-righteous United States government does not need to ask anyone. Washington speaks not merely for itself. Washington represents the country chosen by history (and the neoconservatives) to speak not merely for itself, but for the entire world.

Whatever Washington says is truth. Whatever Washington does is legal, in accordance with both domestic and international law. When Washington invades countries and destroys them, sends in drones and missiles, blows up people attending weddings, funerals and children’s soccer games, Washington is practicing human rights and bringing democracy to the people. Whenever a country tries to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the country is engaging in terrorism, al-Qaeda connections, human rights violations, and suppressing democracy.

We are watching this audacity play out now in the confrontation with Russia that Washington’s coup in Ukraine has provoked. Obama and Kerry have been advised by the idiots that comprise the US government that Russia will surrender and accept Washington’s will if Washington is sufficiently insistent.

Apparently, no one has asked the advisors what happens if ultimatums are given, and the Russians do not submit.

Here’s What The Richest Man In The World Thinks About Snowden And NSA Surveillance | Zero Hedge

Here’s What The Richest Man In The World Thinks About Snowden And NSA Surveillance | Zero Hedge.

Submitted by Mike Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

So Bill Gates recently gave an interview to Rolling Stone magazine. The vast majority of the interview focused on his philanthropic efforts, with a particular focus on poverty and climate change. However, several questions were brought up on illegal NSA surveillance in general, and Edward Snowden in particular.

His answers reveal one of the biggest problems facing America today, which is the fact that the billionaire class as a whole does not question or rock the boat whatsoever. They criticize only when it is convenient or easy to do so, never putting themselves at risk for the sake of civil liberties and the Constitution.

In mosts cases, this is due to the fact that they themselves are the characters pulling the strings of the political class in Washington D.C. So when it comes down to it, their policies ultimately become our policies.

It is also important to note that Microsoft was a particularly eager participant in NSA spying from the very beginning. For example, according to the following PRISM slide provided by Edward Snowden, we see that Gates’ company was the first to become involved. In fact, they were participating a full six months before Yahoo!, while Apple didn’t join until a year after Steve Jobs died.

What a tangled web we have weaved. Now from Rolling Stone:

Question: When people think about the cloud, it’s not only the accessibility of information and their documents that comes to mind, but also their privacy – or lack of it.

Gates: Should there be cameras everywhere in outdoor streets? My personal view is having cameras in inner cities is a very good thing. In the case of London, petty crime has gone down. They catch terrorists because of it. And if something really bad happens, most of the time you can figure out who did it. There’s a general view there that it’s not used to invade privacy in some way. Yet in an American city, in order to take advantage of that in the same way, you have to trust what this information is going to be used for.

Do they really catch terrorists because of it in London? Because in the U.S., the NSA chief already admitted that the entire spy program has stopped essentially zero terrorist attacks. It certainly didn’t stop the Boston bombings. So what are we giving up our privacy for exactly?

Question: Thanks to Edward Snowden, who has leaked tens of thousands of NSA documents, we are. Do you consider him a hero or a traitor?

Gates: I think he broke the law, so I certainly wouldn’t characterize him as a hero. If he wanted to raise the issues and stay in the country and engage in civil disobedience or something of that kind, or if he had been careful in terms of what he had released, then it would fit more of the model of “OK, I’m really trying to improve things.” You won’t find much admiration from me.

Sorry Billy boy, but we have had many whistleblowers in the past who went through the system and they ended up in jail or their lives were ruined. For example, the only person imprisoned for torture in the USA is the guy who exposed the torture program, John Kiriakou.

Question: Even so, do you think it’s better now that we know what we know about government surveillance?

Gates: The government has such ability to do these things. There has to be a debate. But the specific techniques they use become unavailable if they’re discussed in detail. So the debate needs to be about the general notion of under what circumstances should they be allowed to do things.

First of all, without the Snowden revelations, there would be no “debate.” As it stands, the intelligence complex and Obama don’t seem to have much interest in changing a single thing anyway.

Before Snowden proved us right, those who accurately claimed the NSA was doing all of these things were labeled paranoid conspiracy theorists. Moreover, how can anyone seriously defend these “techniques” in light of the recent revelations that show activities so egregious that security experts think they threaten the infrastructure of the entire internet?

Gates goes on to ponder…

Should surveillance be usable for petty crimes like jaywalking or minor drug possession? Or is there a higher threshold for certain information?Those aren’t easy questions.

How are those not easy questions? They are exceedingly easy questions for a civilized society. The answer is no. Unless you want to toss even more citizens in jail for non-violent offenses, because having 25% of the world’s prison population and only 5% of its population is not inhumane enough.

More from Gates…

The U.S. government in general is one of the better governments in the world. It’s the best in many, many respects. Lack of corruption, for instance, and a reasonable justice system.

Seriously, what country is Gates living in? I suppose when you are the richest man in the world it’s pretty easy to live in a bubble. He is so obsessed with the problems of the outside world and the fact that they are more corrupt than we are, that he is completely blind to the very dangerous trends happening in America.

What a joke.

The entire interview can be read here.

Here's What The Richest Man In The World Thinks About Snowden And NSA Surveillance | Zero Hedge

Here’s What The Richest Man In The World Thinks About Snowden And NSA Surveillance | Zero Hedge.

Submitted by Mike Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

So Bill Gates recently gave an interview to Rolling Stone magazine. The vast majority of the interview focused on his philanthropic efforts, with a particular focus on poverty and climate change. However, several questions were brought up on illegal NSA surveillance in general, and Edward Snowden in particular.

His answers reveal one of the biggest problems facing America today, which is the fact that the billionaire class as a whole does not question or rock the boat whatsoever. They criticize only when it is convenient or easy to do so, never putting themselves at risk for the sake of civil liberties and the Constitution.

In mosts cases, this is due to the fact that they themselves are the characters pulling the strings of the political class in Washington D.C. So when it comes down to it, their policies ultimately become our policies.

It is also important to note that Microsoft was a particularly eager participant in NSA spying from the very beginning. For example, according to the following PRISM slide provided by Edward Snowden, we see that Gates’ company was the first to become involved. In fact, they were participating a full six months before Yahoo!, while Apple didn’t join until a year after Steve Jobs died.

What a tangled web we have weaved. Now from Rolling Stone:

Question: When people think about the cloud, it’s not only the accessibility of information and their documents that comes to mind, but also their privacy – or lack of it.

Gates: Should there be cameras everywhere in outdoor streets? My personal view is having cameras in inner cities is a very good thing. In the case of London, petty crime has gone down. They catch terrorists because of it. And if something really bad happens, most of the time you can figure out who did it. There’s a general view there that it’s not used to invade privacy in some way. Yet in an American city, in order to take advantage of that in the same way, you have to trust what this information is going to be used for.

Do they really catch terrorists because of it in London? Because in the U.S., the NSA chief already admitted that the entire spy program has stopped essentially zero terrorist attacks. It certainly didn’t stop the Boston bombings. So what are we giving up our privacy for exactly?

Question: Thanks to Edward Snowden, who has leaked tens of thousands of NSA documents, we are. Do you consider him a hero or a traitor?

Gates: I think he broke the law, so I certainly wouldn’t characterize him as a hero. If he wanted to raise the issues and stay in the country and engage in civil disobedience or something of that kind, or if he had been careful in terms of what he had released, then it would fit more of the model of “OK, I’m really trying to improve things.” You won’t find much admiration from me.

Sorry Billy boy, but we have had many whistleblowers in the past who went through the system and they ended up in jail or their lives were ruined. For example, the only person imprisoned for torture in the USA is the guy who exposed the torture program, John Kiriakou.

Question: Even so, do you think it’s better now that we know what we know about government surveillance?

Gates: The government has such ability to do these things. There has to be a debate. But the specific techniques they use become unavailable if they’re discussed in detail. So the debate needs to be about the general notion of under what circumstances should they be allowed to do things.

First of all, without the Snowden revelations, there would be no “debate.” As it stands, the intelligence complex and Obama don’t seem to have much interest in changing a single thing anyway.

Before Snowden proved us right, those who accurately claimed the NSA was doing all of these things were labeled paranoid conspiracy theorists. Moreover, how can anyone seriously defend these “techniques” in light of the recent revelations that show activities so egregious that security experts think they threaten the infrastructure of the entire internet?

Gates goes on to ponder…

Should surveillance be usable for petty crimes like jaywalking or minor drug possession? Or is there a higher threshold for certain information?Those aren’t easy questions.

How are those not easy questions? They are exceedingly easy questions for a civilized society. The answer is no. Unless you want to toss even more citizens in jail for non-violent offenses, because having 25% of the world’s prison population and only 5% of its population is not inhumane enough.

More from Gates…

The U.S. government in general is one of the better governments in the world. It’s the best in many, many respects. Lack of corruption, for instance, and a reasonable justice system.

Seriously, what country is Gates living in? I suppose when you are the richest man in the world it’s pretty easy to live in a bubble. He is so obsessed with the problems of the outside world and the fact that they are more corrupt than we are, that he is completely blind to the very dangerous trends happening in America.

What a joke.

The entire interview can be read here.

Venezuela Also Is Being Overthrown By The Criminal Regime In Washington — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Venezuela Also Is Being Overthrown By The Criminal Regime In Washington — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org.

Dear Readers, now that US Secretary of State John Kerry has issued an ultimatum to Russia, telling Putin that he has until Monday to follow Washington’s orders or else,
hopefully everyone can see the repeat of the March of Folly that produced World War 1.
In my last column, “Merkel Whores For Washington,” I mistakenly attributed to Khrushchev all transfers of Russian territory to Ukraine. The first gifts of Russian territories to Ukraine were made by Lenin, and the last was Sevastopol in the early 1990s. I have posted today Alexandr Solzhenitsyn’s account of how Russian territory was given to Ukraine. In the meantime, Washington’s puppet regime in Kiev has sent in thugs to commit violence against protesting Russians who want nothing to do with Washington’s stooges in Kiev, prompting Russia to issue another warning that the Russian military will protect Russians. Clearly, Washington is doing everything it can to provoke Putin into sending the Russian Army into eastern Ukraine. Now that Merkel has sold out Europe, the course of Ukrainian events seems clear, which provides an opportunity for me to address Washington’s coup-in-the-making against Venezuela.

Venezuela Also Is Being Overthrown By The Criminal Regime In Washington

Paul Craig Roberts

The Washington orchestrated coup in Ukraine has kept Venezuela out of the headlines.
A confrontation with nuclear armed Russia is more dangerous than with Venezuela. But the violence that Washington has unleashed on Venezuela almost simultaneously with Ukraine is testimony to Washington’s stark criminality.

South America has always consisted of a tiny Spanish elite with all the money and power ruling over large majority populations of indigenous peoples who have not had political representation. In Venezuela, Chavez broke this pattern. An indigenous president was elected who represented the people and worked in their behalf instead of looting the country. Chavez became a role model, and indigenous presidents were elected in Ecuador and Bolivia.

Chavez was hated by Washington and demonized by American presstitutes. When Chavez died of cancer, Washington celebrated.

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, was inclined in favor of granting asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Consequently, Washington ordered its European puppet states to deny overflight permission to President Morales’ airplane on its return to Bolivia from Russia. Morales’ airplane, in violation of every diplomatic protocol, was forced down and searched. Morales has since suffered other indignities at the hands of the Washington criminals.

Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, made himself a target of Washington by granting political asylum to Julian Assange. On Washington’s orders, Washington’s British puppet state has refused to grant free passage to Assange, and Assange is spending his life in the London Embassy of Ecuador, just as Cardinal Mindszenty spent his life in the US Embassy in Communist Hungary.

With Chavez’s death, indigenous Venezuelan Nicolas Maduro became president. Maduro does not have Chavez’s charisma, which makes him an easier target for the tiny Spanish elite that owns the media.

Washington began the attack on Maduro by attacking the Venezuelan currency and driving down its value in currency markets. Then university students, many of whom are the children of the rich Spanish elites, were sent out to protest. The falling Venezuelan currency raised prices and spread dissatisfaction among Maduro’s poor indigenous base. To put down the rioting, property damage, and unrest that Washington is using to launch a coup, Maduro had to turn to the police. Secretary of State John Kerry has labeled the government’s effort to reestablish public order and forestall a coup a “terror campaign against its own citizens.”

Having orchestrated the protests and plotted a coup, Kerry blamed Maduro for the violence that Kerry unleashed and called on Maduro “to respect human rights.”

For Washington, it is always the same script. Commit a crime and blame the victim.

If Washington can overthrow Maduro, the next target will be Correa. If Washington can get rid of Correa and re-empower a puppet government of rich Spanish elites, Washington can have the Ecuadoran government revoke the political asylum that Correa granted to Julian Assange. The Ecuadoran Embassy in London will be ordered to kick Assange out into the waiting arms of the British police who will send him to Sweden who will send him to Washington to be tortured until he confesses to whatever Washington demands.

The poor gullible dupes demonstrating in Venezuelan streets have no more idea of the damage they are doing to themselves and others than their counterparts in Ukraine had. Venezuelans have already forgot what life for them was like under the rule of the Spanish elites. It appears that Venezuelans are determined to help Washington to return them to their servitude.

If Washington reconquers Venezuela and Ecuador, Bolivia will be next. Then Brazil. Washington has its sights on Brazil, because the country is a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), and Washington intends to destroy this organization before the countries can establish a trading bloc that does not use the US
dollar.

Not long ago a US official said that as soon as we (Washington) get Russia in a bind, we will deal with the upstarts in South America.

The program is on schedule.

5 Ways Russia’s Ukraine ‘Boomerang’ Could Strike Asia | The Diplomat

5 Ways Russia’s Ukraine ‘Boomerang’ Could Strike Asia | The Diplomat.

Putin has warned that U.S. action over Ukraine would have a boomerang effect. Will the target be Asia?

harry-kazianis
March 12, 2014

Last week I noted four lessons Asia watchers should ponder in light of the events unfolding in UkraineAs there has been no letup and various pundits warn of a new Cold War it seems timely to consider what actions Russia could take against the United States if tensions were to spiral out of control. Clearly Vladimir Putin has a number of options to create significant havoc in multiple areas of American national interest—especially in Asia.

Last week Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared that any sanctions introduced by Washington against Moscow will have a “boomerang” effect. And such a boomerang could have some oomph. What would such a boomerang look like? Here are five ways (beyond the one Ankit Panda pointed out last week) Putin could make life very difficult for America and its allies in Asia if tensions in Eastern Europe were to intensify and Russia sought to retaliate:

1. Russian Arms Sales to China go hog wild – Remember that deal that keeps floating around concerningRussian SU-35s and advanced conventional submarines to China? Even if things don’t get worse in Ukraine, I think we can consider that a done deal now. But, heck, why stop there! If Washington wants to keep upping the ante in Ukraine it might be a great time for Moscow to expand its dealings with China to levels never seen. Remember all that talk about hypersonic weapons in January? Since both nations are pursing such weapons, why not share the costs and the spoils? It seems 5th generation fighters aren’t easy for anyone to craft these days—so why not a joint Russo-Sino development project? If things were to get really nasty, and Russia decided to pull out of the INF treaty, maybe it’s time Moscow and Beijing exchange notes on all those lovelyA2/AD weapons systems we like to talk about here on Flashpoints? I could go on and on. The bottom line: If Russia wanted to make things hard for America in Asia at a time when its defense budget is shrinking, here is an easy way to do it.

2. Moscow goes all in on natural resource sales to Beijing – While large deals were announced late last year, China would love to purchase as much Russian oil, natural gas and any other natural resources it could get its hands on. While issues of price have slowed or halted other deals in the past, Russia this time might be a little more flexible, especially if it were to halt or slow sales to Ukraine or Western Europe. China clearly wins in such a deal as it would become less reliant on sea-borne natural resources imports that could be disrupted if things with America were to go really south.

3. Russian Arms Sales to Iran, Rebooted – While any analysis here must factor in P5+1 negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear deal, Moscow could seek to make trouble for Washington and its allies by rebooting arms sales to Iran. With Russia and Iran already trying to work out the aftermath of an aborted sale of the S-300 air defense system, Putin may decide to put the system back on the table for Iran. In fact, he may even suggest selling Tehran the more advanced S-400 system. Consider this: if nuclear negotiations fail and Iran fears an attack by the West over its nuclear facilities, Russia could be in position to supply all the weapons it needs to make such an attack even more complicated than it would already be.

4. Syria: Give Assad all the arms he wants: While Russia may have offered an unlikely solution to the chemical weapons crisis of last summer, the U.S. and its allies should expect nothing from Moscow if Putin’s boomerang comes lunging back at them. Putin could easily begin sending even more arms to his allies in Syria, raising the stakes and a death toll that is already reaching epic if not historic proportions. While it may be hard to envision Russia being able to completely turn the tide with Assad winning a clear victory, Moscow could certainly change the calculus if it decided to go all in and arm Syria to the teeth.

5. The Death of the Pivot/Rebalance: So say tensions in Eastern Europe were to escalate even further with Russia formally annexing Crimea or worse—Russia taking large sections of Eastern Ukraine. It does not seem out of the question that Washington would be forced to consider beefing up its security commitments in Europe. While additional forces could certainly move into the region as a deterrent to further Russia troublemaking, missile defense plans scuttled in the past could be re-crafted, and U.S. naval power could make a strong comeback. All this comes at a price however. Unless the U.S. were to increase its defense spending which, short of a shooting war I consider unlikely, American forces, already stretched thin to begin with, would be even more strained. Washington may simply have no choice but to reconsider its mighty pivot/rebalance to Asia. Add in the fact that a senior defense department official may have put the final coffin in it anyway– stating that “right now, the pivot is being looked at again, because candidly it can’t happen”– one more nail for good measure thanks to Russia would certainly seal its fate.

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