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Mr. Potato

Hypocritical U.S. Sends Warship to Black Sea

uss taylor black sea
© RT
The USS Taylor, Conventienly in the black sea undergoing "repairs" after running aground. That's like saying it hit a telephone pole, or backed into a tree. Who the hell is driving these things?
Turkey has given a US Navy Warship the green light to pass through the Bosphorus within the next two days as tensions in Ukraine's Crimea region continue to divide world powers.

Turkish sources, speaking with the Hurriyet Daily News on Wednesday, declined to elaborate on the name of the US warship. The same officials told the daily on condition of anonymity that the ship in question was not the USS George H.W. Bush nuclear aircraft carrier as suggested in some news reports, as it did not meet the standards specified by the 1936 Montreux Convention in terms of weight.

Comment: So here's how you know something is up. 1) Useless details. 2) Childishly Coy about Useful Details, 3) The American's Are Doing It.

Russia is like RIGHT next to the Ukraine. They actually lease a Navy Base from the Ukraine. America is really far away from the Ukraine. Like almost 5,000 miles away. They have no business, at all sending a Warship to the Black Sea, ever. If they wanted to De-escalate, as they claim, this situation, sending a Warship was the last thing that would help.

Alarm Clock

Private license plate scanners amassing vast databases open to highest bidders

cars
© Reuters / Seth Wenig

Automated license plate readers used by car repo companies, for example, collect billions of personal records per year, which contribute to vast databases that can be used by law enforcement, insurance companies, banks, and the like, with few limits.

BetaBoston, working with the Boston Globe, detailed one Boston repo company's data collection abilities, reporting that New England Associates Inc. can collect $200 to $400 for each vehicle found by an automated reader attached to an unmarked car. The company says it can typically add 8,000 license plate scans to its database in Texas each day.

Digital Recognition Network, which works with New England Associates, says it collects plate scans of 40 percent of all US vehicles per year.

According to the company's own disclosures, Digital Recognition Network operates in conjunction with around 400 repossession outfits across the US, has increased tenfold its plate scans since September 2010, and adds 70 million scans a month.
Bad Guys

Obama wants projects in parks, more onshore drilling

Yosemite National Park in California
© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A view of Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley at Yosemite National Park in California.

President Obama's budget proposal for fiscal 2015 highlights conservation as a priority while laying the groundwork for expanded oil and gas drilling on public lands, reflecting an administration belief that it can promote energy development without sacrificing environmental protection.

The budget blueprint unveiled Tuesday by the White House would provide permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal program that diverts revenues from offshore oil and gas production to conservation initiatives. The program has been around since 1964, but as Interior Secretary Sally Jewell pointed out during a press call on Tuesday, "ever since the fund has been around, with the exception of one year, it has been shorted in the appropriations process."

Obama's conservation requests follow an announcement by the president during his State of the Union address that he would "use [his] authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations."
Newspaper

Spinning Yarns: Ukraine crisis resurrects Cold War ghosts as U.S. warns Russia, Poland appeals to NATO

Cold War shadows loomed ever larger over the crisis in Ukraine on Monday, as the United States and Russia traded bitter accusations at the United Nations, the Obama administration sought to mobilize international outrage against Moscow, and nervous Eastern Europeans sought Western protection.

With no substantive response to his demands that Russia withdraw its troops from the autonomous Ukrainian region of Crimea, President Obama said Moscow was "on the wrong side of history" and threatened "a whole series of steps - economic, diplomatic - that will isolate Russia and will have a negative impact on Russia's economy and its status in the world."

U.S. officials noted with approval the fall of Russian stock values and the ruble when markets opened Monday.

Obama met for more than two hours with his National Security Council on Monday evening to discuss "what steps we can take with our international partners to further isolate Russia and reinforce that the Russians still have an opportunity to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation or they face further political and economic repercussions," a senior administration official said.

Take 2

The Fashion for Hypocrisy

© BringingTruth.com
Hypocrisy seems to be massively in fashion. This from William Hague renders me speechless: "Be in no doubt, there will be consequences. The world cannot say it is OK to violate the sovereignty of other nations."

Then today we have the British Establishment at a closed event in Westminster Abbey in memory of Nelson Mandela. Prince Harry, David Cameron, all the toffs. I was never more than a footsoldier in the anti-apartheid movement, but I trudged through the rain and handed out leaflets in Dundee and Edinburgh. I suspect very few indeed of the guests at this posh memorial service did that. David Cameron was actively involved in Conservative groups which promoted precisely the opposite cause.

My first appointment in the Foreign Office was to the South Africa (Political) desk in 1984. The official British government line was that the ANC was a terrorist organization. I faced hostility and disapproval even when I tried to get action on appalling human rights abuses like the case of Oscar Mpetha (thanks here to Tony Gooch and Terry Curran, they know why). I got in big trouble for asking how many black guests had been received in the High Commissioner's residence in Pretoria.
Dollars

Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and the myth of income inequality

© AP
American journalists Jeremy Scahill, right, and Glenn Greenwald
Quite righteously, Glenn Greenwald and his sidekick Jeremy Scahill see nothing wrong with Pierre Omidyar having $8 billion, and not using it to house, feed, clothe and heal the poor. No harm, no foul.

Omidyar's "political views and donations are of no special interest to me," Greenwald explained.

Those views and "donations" (apart from those that pay his salary) have "no affect whatsoever on my journalism or the journalism of The Intercept," he added humbly, from the heart.

Noting that Omidyar worked hard for every cent in his piggy bank, Greenwald recently assured his nervous followers that the Omidyar Network's political views and activities "have no effect whatsoever (italics added) on what he and his recycled mainstream media cohorts at The Intercept report, how they report it, or what they say.

But do Greenwald and Scahill really have editorial freedom? Could they, for example, investigate and write a story on something as farfetched as income inequality in America?

I hear you laughing, and wondering why a winner of the Polk Award and a guy who'd been on the Bill Maher Show would risk their reputations by treading into such a dubious arena.

Comment: Wolf in sheep's clothing? Billionaire neoliberal Pierre Omidyar

Propaganda

Bear-baiting BS: U.S. and Europe threaten to punish Putin

© T-mag.it
The U.S. and its European allies vowed Sunday to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin and punish his nation's economy, demanding he withdraw what they called an occupation force from Ukraine's Crimean region.

Washington began canceling joint economic and trade initiatives with Moscow, including preparations for the summit of the Group of Eight leading nations scheduled to be held in Sochi, Russia, in June.

Senior U.S. officials said the administration was also beginning discussions with Congress on implementing targeted economic and financial sanctions on Russian companies and leaders if the Kremlin didn't begin pulling back from Crimea.

"Russian forces now have complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula, some 6,000-plus airborne and naval forces, with considerable materiel," a senior official said. "There is no question that they are in an occupation position in Crimea, that they are flying in reinforcements, and they are settling in."
War Whore

Useless eater Hillary Clinton compares Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler‏

hillary
© Unknown
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday compared recent actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine to those implemented by Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s.

Putin's desire to protect minority Russians in Ukraine is reminiscent of Hitler's actions to protect ethnic Germans outside Germany, she said.

Putin has been on a campaign to give Russian passports to anyone who has Russian connections, Clinton said.

The Russian leader has recently done so in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which, Clinton said, is similar to what happened in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. Hitler resettled tens of thousands of ethnic Germans who were living in parts of Europe to Nazi Germany.

Clinton made her comments at a private event benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach.

Comment: It seems that Hillary is resorted to the age old trick of projecting her own inner Hitler onto the latest boogieman that is Putin. We suggest that she take a look in the mirror, and at the people around her.

Apple Red

Apple's Tim Cook: Climate-change deniers don't buy shares in this firm

© Independent
Apple's chief executive was responding to conservative think tank National Centre for Public Policy Research that has challenged the company's sustainability goals.
He leads a company that some would consider the epitome of ruthless global capitalism. But Apple chief executive Tim Cook has shocked some in the US with an impassioned attack on the single-minded pursuit of profit - and a direct appeal to climate-change deniers not to buy shares in his firm.

Eyewitnesses said Cook, who succeeded Steve Jobs as boss of the technology giant in 2011, was visibly angry as he took on a group of right-wing investors during a question-and-answer session at a shareholders' meeting.

Responding to calls from the National Centre for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), a conservative think tank and investor, for Apple to refrain from putting money in green energy projects that were not profitable, he shot back that Apple did "a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive". The chief executive added: "We want to leave the world better than we found it."

Addressing he NCPPR representative directly, he said: "If you want me to do things only for ROI [return on investment] reasons, you should get out of this stock."

Cook, who is generally known for his level-headed demeanour, also insisted that he places more importance on helping people and the environment than on pure profit, saying: "When we work on making our devices accessible to the blind, I don't consider bloody ROI."
Snakes in Suits

I have the smoking gun in Obama's IRS scandal

© AFP/Getty Images
IRS official Lois Lerner is finally testifying in front of Congress Wednesday.

Still, the media and Republicans in Congress are missing the larger picture. They keep thinking this scandal involves nameless, faceless Tea Party groups. That's only the tip of the iceberg. That's what Obama hopes we all think. This "IRS targeted the Tea Party" is the distraction to make us miss the real scandal. Congress needs to expand this investigation.

The real scandal is that this was a widespread criminal conspiracy by the Obama White House to use the IRS to target, persecute, intimidate and silence Obama's critics and political opposition.

And I believe I personally have the smoking gun to tie the Obama White House to this scandal.
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