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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.

Obama Says Surveillance Program Changes Coming in January – Bloomberg

Obama Says Surveillance Program Changes Coming in January – Bloomberg.

President Barack Obama said he will act in January on the recommendations of an advisory panel suggesting changes to government surveillance programs.

“What we’re doing now is evaluating all of the recommendations that have been made,” Obama said at a news conference today. “I’m going to make a pretty definitive statement about all of this in January.”

He’ll decide which recommendations “make sense” and which need further work, Obama said at a White House news conference, his final planned for 2013.

The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, a five-member panel, offered 46 policy changes this week that would allow U.S. surveillance programs to continue while limiting worldwide collection of communications by the National Security Agency.

The proposals, which Obama isn’t obligated to adopt, aim to alter spy programs in response to a domestic and international backlash over the extent of U.S. surveillance exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Before the report was released, Obama rejected the panel’s recommendation that the NSA be given a civilian leader and separated from the Pentagon’s Cyber Command.

“I have confidence in the fact the NSA is not engaging in domestic surveillance or snooping around”, he said, while “we may have to refine this further to give people more confidence” because of evolving technology.

“Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we necessarily should,” he added.

Possible Legislation

Lawmakers may consider legislation early next year to rein in the NSA.

In its report, made public on Dec. 18 and submitted to the president on Dec. 13, the panel recommended satisfying a demand of Internet companies such as Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) andFacebook Inc. (FB) Internet companies should be permitted to make public “general information” about government orders compelling them to turn over data, including how many users are affected.

The panel also would put new burdens on telecommunications providers to retain data for future snooping.

It recommended the NSA retain access to bulk phone-calling records, with two changes: Phone companies, not the spy agency, should keep the records, and the NSA should have to obtain court orders for specific customer data.

Surveillance of foreign leaders could continue if more consideration is given on a case-by-case basis to national security, economic and diplomatic implications, the panel said.

The panel also recommended that the U.S. not undermine or weaken encryption standards, and establish international norms to prevent a splintering of the Internet.

The so-called “metadata” bulk collection of phone data “has probably got the most attention,” Obama said today. The NSA, based on its experiences following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, thought that “it was necessary for us to track” calls coming into the U.S. and store the data.

Any changes must be made with the agency’s goal of protecting the U.S. public in mind, he said.

 

Is Hyperinflation Just Around the Corner? | The Exchange – Yahoo Finance

Is Hyperinflation Just Around the Corner? | The Exchange – Yahoo Finance.

By Laurence Kotlikoff

In his parting act, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has decided to continue printing some $85 billion per month (6 percent of GDP per year) and spend those dollars on government bonds and, in the process, keep interest rates low, stimulate investment, and reduce unemployment.

Trouble is, interest rates have generally been rising, investment remains very low, and unemployment remains very high.

Bernanke’s dangerous policy hasn’t worked and should be ended. Since 2007 the Fed has increased the economy’s basic supply of money (the monetary base) by a factor of four! That’s enough to sustain, over a relatively short period of time, a four-fold increase in prices. Having prices rise that much over even three years would spell hyperinflation.

The Treasury dance

And while Bernanke says this is all to keep down interest rates, there is a darker subtext here. When the Treasury prints bonds and sells them to the public for cash and the Fed prints cash and uses it to buy the newly printed bonds back from the public, the Treasury ends up with the extra cash, the public ends up with the same cash it had initially, and the Fed ends up with the new bonds.

Yes, the Treasury pays interest and principal to the Fed on the bonds, but the Fed hands that interest and principal back to the Treasury as profits earned by a government corporation, namely the Fed. So, the outcome of this shell game is no different from having the Treasury simply print money and spend it as it likes.

The fact that the Fed and Treasury dance this financial pas de deux shows how much they want to keep the public in the dark about what they are doing. And what they are doing, these days, is printing, out of thin air, 29 cents of every $1 being spent by the federal government.

QE an unsustainable practice

I have heard one financial guru after another discuss Quantitative Easing and its impact on interest rates and the stock market, but I’ve heard no one make clear that close to 30 percent of federal spending is now being financed via the printing press.

That’s an unsustainable practice. It will come to an end once Wall Street starts to understand exactly how much money is being printed and that it’s not being printed simply to stimulate the economy, but rather to pay for the spending of a government that is completely broke — with long-term expenditures obligations that exceed its long-term tax revenues by $205 trillion!

This present value fiscal gap is based on the Congressional Budget Office’s just-released long-term Alternative Fiscal Scenario projection. Closing this fiscal gap would require a 57 percent immediate and permanent hike in all federal taxes — starting today!

Prices will rise

When Wall Street wises up to our true fiscal condition (and some, like Bill Gross, already have), it will dump long-term bonds like hot potatoes. This will lead interest rates to jump and make people and banks very reluctant to hold money earning no return. In trying to swap their money for goods and services, the public will drive up prices.

As prices start to rise and fingers start pointing at the Fed for fueling the inflation, QE will be brought to an abrupt halt. At that point, Congress will have to come up with an extra 6 percent of GDP on a permanent basis either via huge tax hikes or huge spending cuts. Another option is simply to borrow the 6 percent. But this would raise the deficit, defined as the increase in Treasury bonds held by the public, from 4 to 10 percent of annual GDP if we take 2013 as the example. A 10 percent of GDP deficit would raise even more eyebrows on Wall Street and put further upward pressure on interest rates.

What are we waiting for?

But why haven’t prices started rising already if there is so much money floating around? This year’s inflation rate is running at just 1.5 percent. There are three answers.

First, three quarters of the newly created money hasn’t made its way into the blood stream of the economy – into M1 – the money supply held by the public. Instead, the Fed is paying the banks interest not to lend out the money, but to hold it within the Fed in what are called excess reserves.

Since 2007, the Monetary Base – the amount of money the Fed’s printed – has risen by $2.7 trillion and excess reserves have risen by $2.1 trillion. Normally excess reserves would be close to zero. Hence, the banks are sitting on $2.1 trillion they can lend to the private sector at a moment’s notice. I.e., we’re looking at a gi-normous reservoir filling up with trillions of dollars whose dam can break at any time. Once interest rates rise, these excess reserves will be lent out.

The fed says they can keep the excess reserves from getting lose by paying higher interest on reserves. But this entails poring yet more money into the reservoir. And if interest rates go sufficiently high, the Fed will call this practice quits.

As excess reserves are released to the economic wild, we’ll see M1, which was $1.4 trillion in 2007, rise from its current value of $2.6 trillion to $5.7 trillion. Since prices, other things being equal, are supposed to be proportional to M1, having M1 rise by 219 percent means that prices will rise by 219 percent.

But, and this is point two, other things aren’t equal. As interest rates and prices take off, money will become a hot potato. I.e., its velocity will rise. Having money move more rapidly through the economy – having faster money – is like having more money. Today, money has the slows; its velocity – the ratio GDP to M1 — is 6.6. Everybody’s happy to hold it because they aren’t losing much or any interest. But back in 2007, M1 was a warm potato with a velocity of 10.4.

If banks fully lend out their reserves and the velocity of money returns to 10.4, we’ll have enough M1, measured in effective units (adjusted for speed of circulation), to support a nominal GDP that’s 3.5 times larger than is now the case. I.e., we’ll have the wherewithal for almost a quadrupling of prices. But were prices to start moving rapidly higher, M1 would switch from being a warm to a hot potato. I.e., velocity would rise above 10.4, leading to yet faster money and higher inflation.

No easy exit

I hope you’re getting the point. Having addicted Congress and the Administration to the printing press, there is no easy exit strategy. Continuing on the current QE path spells even great risk of hyperinflation. But calling it quits requires much higher taxes, much lower spending, or much more net borrowing (with requisite future repayment) from the public. Yet weaning Uncle Sam from the printing press now is critical before his real need for a fix – paying for the Baby Boomers’ retirement benefits – kicks in.

The one caveat to this doom and gloom scenario is point three – increased domestic and global demand for dollars. The Great Recession put the fear of God into savers worldwide. And the fact that U.S. price level has risen since 2007 by only 15 percent whereas M1 has risen by 88 percent reflects a massive expansion of domestic and foreign demand for “safe” dollars. This is evidenced by the velocity of money falling from 10.4 to 6.6. People are now much more eager to hold and hold onto dollars than they were six years ago.

If this increased demand for dollars persists, let alone grows, inflation may remain low for quite a while. But our ability to get Americans and foreigners to hand over real goods and services in exchange for very few green pieces of paper is hardly guaranteed once everyone starts to understand the incredible rate at which Uncle Sam is printing and spending this paper. Once everyone gets it into their heads that prices are taking off, individual beliefs will become collective reality. This brings me to my bottom line: The more money the Fed prints, the more it risks everyone starting to expect and, consequently produce, hyperinflation.

Laurence Kotlikoff is Professor of Economics at Boston University and co-author of The Clash of Generation and author of Jimmy Stewart Is Dead.

 

 

Germany Advises Journalists To Stop Using Google Over US Spying Concerns, May Ask Snowden To Tesity Against NSA | Zero Hedge

Germany Advises Journalists To Stop Using Google Over US Spying Concerns, May Ask Snowden To Tesity Against NSA | Zero Hedge. (source)

The spat between the US and Germany is getting worse by the minute. Following yesterday’s meaningless escalation by the Treasury accusing, via official pathways, Germany of being the main culprit for Europe’s lack of recovery (andGermany’s subsequent retaliation), it is Germany’s turn now to refocus public attention on Big Brother’s spying pathology when a union representing Germany’s journalists advised its members earlier today to stop using Google and Yahoo because of the latest report implicating the NSA ineavesdropping on Google and Yahoo.

From Reuters:

“The German Federation of Journalists recommends journalists to avoid until further notice the use of search engines and e-mail services from Google and Yahoo for their research and digital communication,” the union said in a statement.

It cited “scandalous” reports of interception of both companies’ web traffic by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s GCHQ.

“The searches made by journalists are just as confidential as the contact details of their sources and the contents of their communication with them,” said Michael Konken, head of the union which represents about 38,000 journalists. He said there were safe alternatives for both searches and email.

And while in the US having one’s dirty laundry is almost perceived as a status symbol by a culture that encourages online exhibitionism via Facebook and other social media (so what if some bureaucrat in Virginia knows more than what is public), in Germany privacy is actually taken seriouysly.

The German government said last week it had evidence that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone had been monitored by U.S. intelligence.Government snooping is especially sensitive in Germany, which has among the strictest privacy laws in the world, since it dredges up memories of eavesdropping by the Stasi secret police in former communist East Germany.

Earlier this month, Deutsche Telekom said it wanted German companies to cooperate to shield local internet traffic from foreign intelligence services, although experts believe this could be an uphill battle.

In August, Deutsche Telekom and its partner United Internet launched an initiative dubbed “E-mail made in Germany” to protect clients’ email traffic.

And in other news, it is increasingly looking likely that none other than Ed Snowden will be called to testify against the NSA in a German court of law. Germany’s ARD reported that Snowden is willing in principal to help shed light on U.S. spying but outlined his complicated legal situation. As we noted earlier, German Greek politician Stroebele proposed possible safe conduct to Berlin, and granting Snowden a residence permit that would prevent extradition. Snowden attorney Anatoly Kutscherena earlier said he wouldn’t comment on alleged NSA spying on Angela Merkel.

Ironically, this follow news that Snowden would take a position with Russian Internet company Vkontakte, a local analogue to Facebook, to develop major website, according to his lawyer.

So if Obama was hoping that all the late summer scandals that have taken his reptuation to an all time low would at least push the NSA spying scandal away from the front page, he may need some additional fabricated and YouTube-validated false flag wars very soon.

 

NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally – The Washington Post

NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally – The Washington Post.

The National Security Agency is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, according to senior intelligence officials and top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The collection program, which has not been disclosed before, intercepts e-mail address books and “buddy lists” from instant messaging services as they move across global data links. Online services often transmit those contacts when a user logs on, composes a message, or synchronizes a computer or mobile device with information stored on remote servers.

Rather than targeting individual users, the NSA is gathering contact lists in large numbers that amount to a sizable fraction of the world’s e-mail and instant messaging accounts. Analysis of that data enables the agency to search for hidden connections and to map relationships within a much smaller universe of foreign intelligence targets.

During a single day last year, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers, according to an internal NSA PowerPoint presentation. Those figures, described as a typical daily intake in the document, correspond to a rate of more than 250 million a year….

 

Jeff Rubin: Boom Times Aren’t Coming Back, But That’s Not Necessarily Bad (Q&A)

Jeff Rubin: Boom Times Aren’t Coming Back, But That’s Not Necessarily Bad (Q&A). (FULL ARTICLE)

Key takeaways:

-We must prepare for a long period of harder times
-Canada will be a water superpower
-Oil sands won’t boom like the industry predicts
-Anti-Keystone movement has backfired

As recently as 13 years ago, a barrel of oil cost $20, or even less. Today, global crude prices are hovering around the $100 mark. We may be getting used to higher prices at the pump, but the world economy isn’t, says economist Jeff Rubin — and the result is a permanent shift down in economic growth.

Rubin was the chief economist at CIBC World Markets for close to two decades, but had to part ways with his employer when he started writing about how rising energy costs are going to put make our worlds a lot smaller.

Rubin’s argument is controversial: He says we aren’t so much in the midst of a sluggish recovery as we are in the middle of a new reality — one where we will have to get used to a lower standard of living.

Rubin’s latest book, The End of Growth, recently came out in an updated paperback edition. HuffPost Canada talked to him about what it will mean to live in a world of high energy prices, his reasons for believing Canada will become a “water superpower,” and why the end of growth might not necessarily be a bad thing.

What do you mean when you talk about the end of growth?…

 

Microsoft and Google to sue over US surveillance requests | Law | The Guardian

Microsoft and Google to sue over US surveillance requests | Law | The Guardian.

 

Google and the NSA: Who’s holding the ‘shit-bag’ now? | The Stringer

Google and the NSA: Who’s holding the ‘shit-bag’ now? | The Stringer.

 

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