Tagged: Obama

US court overturns Obama’s decision that wind farm is a security risk

wind-farms-US

A US Federal Court has overturned a ruling backing President Barack Obama’s decision to block a Chinese-owned company’s from building four 10MW projects in Oregon.

The US Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia reversed the decision made in October by the Federal District Court, which said Obama followed correct procedure in refusing Ralls Co. permission to build the Oregon projects and forcing the company to sell them.

Ralls Co., which is owned by Chinese firm Sany Electric, sued the US government in 2012 after Obama’s decision. It was the first time since 1990 a US president blocked a foreign business deal.

The president ruled, in 2012, the location of the four projects near the Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility in the US northwest posed a threat to national security

Now, the Federal Court of Appeals has backed Ralls Corp and ordered the company be provided with the evidence the President used to block the application.

The lizard brains in Washington were afraid that airspace used for training naval aviators might somehow be compromised by wind generators producing carbon-free electricity.

Will our nation ever weary of hypocrites and paranoids in charge of our destiny? Populists on the Left and Right wail and whine about foreign investment in the United States as an appropriate alternative to American corporations offshoring jobs whenever and wherever they can save a couple of pennies on the dollar. But, when foreign investors happen to be the wrong political color, when folks roll ashore carrying dollars from the profits they made from your friendly neighborhood capitalist – the Cold War is somehow more appealing to the blivets sitting in air-conditioned DC offices. And, yes, there are other wind farms in the same area also operated by foreigners: one Danish company and another German.

There aren’t a whole boatload of elected officials dedicated to helping us out. Cripes, we can’t even get the leadpants brigade in Congress to ante up the geedus to repair our roads and bridges. But, we’re supposed to trust their history of dedication to job security when they disapprove of clean air from a project owned by the “wrong kind” of furriner.

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Germany expels CIA official over US spying on German government

The German government has ordered the expulsion of a CIA official in Berlin in response to two cases of alleged spying by the US…The official is said to have acted as a CIA contact at the US embassy, reports say, in a scandal that has infuriated German politicians.

A German intelligence official was arrested last week on suspicion of spying.

An inquiry had also begun into a German defence ministry worker, reports said…

Earlier this week the White House described the partnership between the US and Germany as one built on respect. But no-one likes to be spied on, especially when it’s your friend doing the spying.

This latest episode is yet another reminder of how American surveillance programmes are causing friction with allies. It’s angered many in Germany, where the issue of snooping is historically a very sensitive one, and many are asking: “What? Again?”

It wasn’t too long ago, after all, that we heard the National Security Agency was spying on Chancellor Merkel’s mobile phone. After a review into the surveillance programmes, President Obama promised the US wouldn’t spy on its friends overseas…

The request by the German government follows increasing frustration that it has failed to get US assurances that spying would cease on German citizens from Chancellor Merkel down.

She was shocked to learn that her mobile phone conversations were secretly being monitored while President Obama was greeting her as a friend on his visit to Berlin.

Chancellor Merkel has tried to maintain a balance between condemning America’s actions but also maintaining cordial relations. Each revelation has made that balance harder to achieve…

The chairman of the Bundestag (parliament) committee overseeing the secret service said the action had been taken because of America’s spying on German politicians and its failure to co-operate and provide adequate responses.

The US has not denied allegations that a German intelligence agency employee arrested last week was passing secret documents to the US National Security Agency (NSA).

However, the latest reports that an employee within the defence ministry was also spying for the US were considered more serious. Although no arrest was made, searches were carried out on Wednesday at the ministry and elsewhere…

On Thursday, Mrs Merkel said spying on allies was a “waste of energy”…”We have so many problems, we should focus on the important things,” she said…”In the Cold War maybe there was general mistrust. Today we are living in the 21st Century. Today there are completely new threats.”

Anyone who thinks American foreign policy is governed by someone living in the 21st Century should change their meds. From the advent of the Cold War right through Bush/Obama playing kissy-kissy with the NSA and CIA there is no change in the attitude of Imperial America towards the rest of the world.

Our government, the White House and Congress both, not only think we’re the cops of the world, we’re the same kind of cops who beat civil rights demonstrators, who colluded with the worst of racist America, who serve as flunkies for the most backwards elements of corporate wealth. Same as it ever was – for the last seventy years.

Apologists say NSA spying won’t harm US business — Germany cancels Verizon!

Germany favors Deutsche Telekom AG to replace Verizon Communications as a network provider after deciding to end the American company’s contract in the wake of reports about spy surveillance by the U.S…

Germany is using an option in the current Verizon contract to end the arrangement next year, Tobias Plate said, declining to confirm whether the government had any evidence that the provider handed information from the network to the U.S. National Security Agency.

The move is the clearest sign yet that concerns in Europe about spying by the U.S. may harm the business of American companies in the region. The decision doesn’t bode well for communications providers such as Verizon and Dallas-based AT&T which have sunk billions of dollars into winning large clients outside the U.S., said Roger Entner…at Recon Analytics…

“Verizon is the victim here — they tend to be faster, more flexible and cheaper than local providers,” Entner said. “But now security is the trump card in the deck and that’s why Deutsche Telekom wins…”

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government plans to combine three separate networks under one service provider, Plate said. A proposal to award the contracts to Deutsche Telekom has already been discussed in the parliament’s budget committee, though no contract has been signed yet, he said…

German prosecutors and lawmakers have begun investigating allegations that U.S. intelligence agents tapped Merkel’s phone, underscoring the effect on U.S.-German relations of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Merkel and President Barack Obama failed to end the dispute during talks at the White House in May, with Merkel saying “differences of opinion” persist and require further discussion.

It has pained me to see the degree to which the Snowden disclosures have created strains in the relationship” with Germany, Obama said…

It pains me to see how frequently our elected officials lie to the whole world, lie to our allies, lie to us. Yes, I know that’s nothing new; but, part of how Barack Obama was elected derived from his promises of change. Foreign policy and deceit worthy of a John Foster Dulles is not change. Protecting scum ranging from Countrywide Mortgage lenders to CIA torture specialists worthy of a Joe McCarthy is not change.

RTFA for a more expansive treatment. The fact remains that our liberal president is whining about the truth coming out, our corrupt practices exposed. That’s not progressive leadership. That’s business as usual in the White House.

Egypt court obediently finds Al Jazeera journalists guilty

A judge on Monday convicted three journalists of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to broadcast false reports of civil strife in Egypt.

Two of the journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison, and the third was given 10 years, the three additional years apparently for his possession of a single spent bullet. The case has drawn condemnation from international rights groups and Western governments because there was no publicly available evidence that the journalists had either supported the Brotherhood or broadcast anything inaccurate.

In a potentially embarrassing turn for the Obama administration, the verdict came a day after Secretary of State John Kerry visited Cairo in a show of renewed partnership with the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the former general who led the military takeover here last summer. Declaring that the Egyptian president “gave me a very strong sense of his commitment” to “a re-evaluation of human rights legislation” and “a re-evaluation of the judicial process,” Mr. Kerry expressed confidence that Washington would quickly resume the $1.3 billion a year in military aid to Egypt that the administration had partially suspended after the takeover…

Just in case anyone out there actually thought the United States had changed foreign policy since the days of Joe McCarthy and John Foster Dulles.

The three journalists convicted on Monday are respected professionals who were reporting for Al Jazeera’s English-language network at the time of their arrest and who had previously worked for established international news organizations. Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian citizen of Egyptian descent, previously worked for CNN and The New York Times; Peter Greste, an Australian, previously worked for the BBC and had spent only a few days in Egypt at the time of his arrest; and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian, previously worked for the Japanese news organization The Asahi Shimbun.

All three have been in jail since their arrest in December after a raid on Al Jazeera’s makeshift studio in a Marriott Hotel, and they have been described in the state-run and pro-government Egyptian news media as “the Marriott cell.”

Rights advocates have described the charges as farcical…When asked by the court to screen the allegedly false news reports obtained from the defendants’ laptops, prosecutors showed images that included Mr. Greste’s family vacation, horses grazing in a pasture in Luxor, Egypt, and a news conference by the Kenyan police that Mr. Greste had covered in Nairobi…

Several students were also convicted and sentenced along with the journalists, apparently on charges that they had collaborated with the journalists to generate inflammatory news reports of student protests against the takeover.

Outside the courtroom, the British, Australian and Canadian ambassadors all denounced the conviction as a blow to freedom of the press, and all pledged diplomatic pressure to free the imprisoned journalists.

The military junta governing Egypt behaves as expected. The United States behaves as expected. In general, Western democracies will do what can be done through diplomatic channels to try to reverse the phony findings of the Egyptian court.

Meanwhile, Uncle Sugar will resume pouring our tax dollars into the pockets of the thugs in power.

The DEA threatens doctors supporting medical marijuana

The US Drug Enforcement Administration is intimidating physicians in Massachusetts to get them to give up jobs at medical marijuana dispensaries, The Boston Globe reports.

The DEA allegedly went to physicians’ homes and offices and offered them a choice: either they stop helping medical marijuana dispensaries, or the DEA will take away federal licenses that are necessary to prescribe certain medications. Since doctors’ livelihoods can depend on their ability to prescribe drugs, the threats forced some of them to resign from their medical marijuana jobs…

The DEA, in a statement to Vox, confirmed the policies are part of the agency’s protocol, but it refused to comment on the specific allegations in Massachusetts.

Although marijuana is voter-approved and legal for medical purposes in Massachusetts, it remains illegal under federal laws and regulations. The DEA classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 substance, which puts the drug in a stricter classification than cocaine and meth.

The contradiction between federal and state laws speaks to why so many supporters of marijuana legalization want clearer rules on the books. Just two weeks ago, the US House of Representatives voted to protect medical marijuana patients from federal interference. A few weeks before the House vote, the DEA decided to increase how much marijuana it makes available for medical research.

At this point, the two-steps-forward-one-step-backward approach has become all too familiar for supporters of recreational and medical marijuana legalization. As public opinion shifts in favor of marijuana legalization, it’s taking the federal government — and agencies that rely on strict drug laws to stay afloat — a bit more time to catch up…

Several states have already legalized medical marijuana, although the drug remains illegal for all purposes at the federal level. Maryland in 2014 became the 21st state to legalize medical marijuana, and New York and Florida may follow soon.

Every level of our government is not only characterized by hypocrisy; but, the deliberate rejection of either modern inquiry or policies based on sound science. Marijuana is almost impossible to research – good, bad or indifferent – because of laws that were absurd in the first place.

Though citizens and individual states are miles ahead of the morality-crockpot legislators and law enforcers in Washington, DC – that only seems to supercharge bureaucrats who fear diminished budgets more than the good news that their services are no longer needed.

The Edward Snowden interview with NBC’s Brian Williams


Click to reach interview at NBC News site

Of course, there is a commercial before you get to part 1. And NBC News offers a page full of government punditry trying to counter the Snowden revelations. Just because Brian Williams scored the beat of the year with his interview of Edward Snowden – and did it in a fashion worthy of Edward R. Murrow – doesn’t transform NBC/Universal/ComCast into a bastion of free speech and democracy.

They’re covering their butts in predictable fashion.

Meanwhile –

Let me repeat my reaction right after the interview:

First, let me give credit where due to NBC and Brian Williams. I expected something better than Fox Noise or John Kerry. I was able to watch an essentially Socratic interview with interesting questions generally free of jingoism and pap. Maybe I should drop by and watch this wee corner of network television once in a while. At least on this single important issue, they did American journalism proud.

Second, Ed Snowden was about what I expected ideologically. Pretty much a centrist libertarian – that’s with a small “L” – who cares about the history and standards of our constitution. He was much more articulate and detailed in his defense of civil disobedience against a distorted and hypocritical government – than I expected. He was kinder to the pimps who malign him than I ever could be – but, then, he’s dedicated to a single issue, our privacy, our freedom to be Americans in the traditional sense that our government used to support. He did a great job.

I expect nutballs on the Right to be out of their mind with hating this interview. I expect Democrat apologists for the policies of Bush and Obama to be equally incensed. I’m confident those who supported Snowden before tonight – as I have – will continue. And will recommend – as I do – that you watch the video of the interview and draw your own conclusions.

Hacking charges against China arrive the same time the U.S. is wooing more Chinese investment — WTF?

china buying pork

Max Baucus, the U.S. ambassador to China, started his workweek Monday by urging China’s state-owned enterprises to invest in American infrastructure projects. “There is a huge opportunity,” he told a forum at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing that was attended by scores of Chinese and U.S. executives.

While Baucus was looking for Chinese investment, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was preparing to announce an indictment against five Chinese military officers. Holder would accuse them of hacking into U.S. companies’ computer systems on behalf of unnamed Chinese state-owned enterprises _ including possibly some that the United States is courting for investment.

To many analysts, the juxtaposition of the two events Monday reveals how bifurcated U.S. policy toward China has become. On any given day, it can swing between indictments and ceremonial toasts.

Some journalists try to be nice guys. Instead of “bifurcated” try “lying” and “hypocrites”.

Here in Beijing, Baucus’ efforts to court Chinese investment were quickly overshadowed by what China called “fabricated” accusations against its military officers. By Tuesday, China’s official Xinhua news agency was reporting that Baucus had been summoned to the Foreign Ministry to explain the U.S. position and make amends.

Adam Segal, a cyber security expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, said he was surprised that the Obama administration decided to issue the indictments, the first U.S. prosecution against a foreign country’s military for economic espionage. “The public ‘naming and shaming’ has been a big part of the picture since a year ago,” he said, but is unclear how effective it has been…

Unlike in the United States, China’s economy is dominated by more than 100 major state-owned enterprises. These include companies involved in steel manufacturing, nuclear power and solar power _ the sectors named in the indictment as targets for China’s U.S. hacking.

It’s long been known that China’s military has close ties to the enterprises. It’s been suspected for almost as long that the military uses its cyber warfare capabilities to give those industries a competitive advantage. That was backed up in 2013 by a detailed investigation by Mandiant, a private cyber security company. Mandiant revealed that a Shanghai-based espionage unit of the People’s Liberation Army had engaged in years of cyber attacks against U.S. companies and defense installations.

“This issue poses a serious threat to the stability of U.S.-Chinese codependency,” writes Stephen Roach, a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, in his new book, “Unbalanced.” Unlike issues such as unfair trade practices, he writes, hacking doesn’t lend itself to a process of negotiation and adjudication.

Indeed, it now appears that the only avenue for negotiation has been suspended, if not permanently shut down. In response to Monday indictments, China said it would no longer attend a working group made up of senior officials from both countries to resolve complaints about cross-border hacking…

Some observers doubt the indictments will do anything but send a symbolic message to China, and even that isn’t likely to budge Beijing. As reflected in China’s state media, Chinese officials view the United States as a hypocrite on cyber spying in the wake of Edward Snowden NSA-spying revelations.

Yesterday, our DOJ revealed its shocking new revelations which led to the indictment in absentia of Chinese military for cybercrimes. It turns out to be the Mandiant Report which has been in the public domain for seventeen months. Our fearless leaders are not only hypocrites, they must presume most Americans to be stupid and/or ignorant.

The ignorant part of the equation is aided, of course, by national and local media which will not get off their dusty butts sufficiently to read back through previous articles or query an expert like Stephen Roach whose task for decades was to advise American finance on what was actually going on in distant Asia. As far as I’ve seen, only Bloomberg TV has asked Professor Roach about the indictment – and it was he that I saw on that business channel, this morning, taking appropriate umbrage at the hypocrisy of our government spoon-feeding NSA spooks while declaring outrage over “our” corporations being spied on – on the basis of a report from 2012.

China spies on companies and it’s not evil in their eyes. Our government spies on us – as well as spying on allies and other national corporations like Petrobras in Brazil – and it’s not evil in their eyes. Of course, we have a Supreme Court that worries about defending corporate “people” – so, there is that added extra layer of deceit we can take pride in.

U.S. won’t agree to a deal with Germany to end spying



The effort to remake the intelligence relationship between the United States and Germany after it was disclosed last year that the National Security Agency was tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone has collapsed, according to German officials, who say there will be no broad intelligence sharing or “no-spy” agreement between the two countries when Ms. Merkel visits the White House on Friday.

The failure to reach a broader accord has led to some bitter recriminations on both sides, with sharply diverging accounts from officials in Berlin and Washington about who was responsible for what was supposed to be a political solution to an embarrassing disclosure. But it also raises broader questions at a moment that President Obama and Ms. Merkel will attempt to show that they are in general accord on a strategy for both punishing Russia for its actions in Ukraine and containing President Vladimir V. Putin in the years ahead…

While the disclosure that the N.S.A. had listened to Ms. Merkel’s conversations for more than a decade was a passing story in the United States — one of many from the files that Edward J. Snowden took with him when he left Hawaii with the agency’s crown jewels — it has remained an issue in Germany. After the disclosure, Mr. Obama said the United States would not monitor Ms. Merkel’s communications, but he made no such commitment for any other German officials. And he said nothing about the future of the N.S.A.’s operations in Germany, including whether a listening station based in the American Embassy in Berlin, would stay intact.

For a number of months, German officials said the chancellor could not visit Washington until there was a resolution, including what they called a “restoration of trust” between the allies.

But the talks hit the rocks as soon as they began. Germany demanded a no-spy agreement that would ban the United States from conducting espionage activities on its soil. That led to a series of tough exchanges between the president’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, and her German counterpart, Christoph Heusgen.

Ms. Rice, according to American officials, said that the United States did not have no-spy agreements with any of its close allies, even with the other members of the so-called Five Eyes — the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — which share virtually all of their intelligence. She said any such agreement with Germany would set a precedent that every other major European ally, along with the Japanese, the South Koreans and others, would soon demand to replicate.

American officials said that in January, the Germans terminated…talks, saying that if an accord could not include a no-spy agreement — a political necessity for Ms. Merkel — it was not worth signing.

Democracy, transparency, constitutional freedoms. Big words used so often by our politicians – who haven’t the slightest inclination to honor them other than by deceit and arrogance – rejecting their meaning.

White House says just a coincidence CIA director is in Ukraine


Nothing wrong with recycling the same old lies!

Sanctions have been the most visible sign of U.S. anger at Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region in southern Ukraine last month, reflecting the deepest plunge in U.S.-Russian relations since the Cold War.

Obama spoke to French President Francois Hollande about the crisis on Monday and praised Ukraine’s government for showing “great restraint” and working to unify the country, the White House said.

Spokesman Jay Carney confirmed that the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, had been in Kiev over the weekend and decried what he called “false claims” leveled at the CIA by Russian authorities.

“Senior level visits of intelligence officials are a standard means of fostering mutually beneficial security cooperation including U.S.-Russian intelligence collaboration going back to the beginnings of the post-Cold War era,” Carney said.

“U.S. and Russian intelligence officials have met over the years. To imply that U.S. officials meeting with their counterparts (in Kiev) is anything other than in the same spirit is absurd,” he said.

According to media reports, Russia has urged Washington to explain what Brennan was doing in Ukraine.

Bobblehead politicians nod in agreement and sagely quote the nearest brass hat, “Peace is our profession”.