Amazon Is Becoming One Of America’s Biggest Military Giants

amazon-is-becoming-one-of-america’s-biggest-military-giants

09-10-19 11:32:00,

By Aaron Kesel

Amazon is on its way to becoming one of the U.S. military’s biggest security giants, with a pending $10bn JEDI cloud computing deal that the company could win, MIT Technology Review reported.

In August the Pentagon halted the controversial contract deal, known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), an initiative to “aggressively accelerate the Department’s adoption of cloud architecture and services, with a focus on commercial solutions.”

The deal was stopped and is now under investigation by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to audit the process which caused complaints form other tech companies like Microsoft.  U.S. President Donald Trump has publicly criticized Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in the past and announced in July that he wanted a review of the contract, citing “tremendous complaints” from competing companies.

Further, the Office of the Inspector General is investigating possible conflicts of interest, the acquisition process and requirements, according to Dwrena Allen, a spokeswoman for the watchdog office, Fed Scoop reported.

The office has “assembled a multidisciplinary team of auditors, investigators, and attorneys” to review “the DoD’s handling of the JEDI cloud acquisition, including the development of requirements and the request for proposal process,” Allen told Fed Scoop in an emailed statement. “In addition, we are investigating whether current or former DoD officials committed misconduct relating to the JEDI acquisition, such as whether any had any conflicts of interest related to their involvement in the acquisition process.”

Microsoft and Amazon are now the two finalists in the running for the contract, leaving many of the others in the dust due to their technological abilities and security outmatching the competition to build the U.S. military its first “war cloud” computing system. Both companies beat out Oracle and IBM who were eliminated at an earlier round of the contract competition.

This “war cloud” would eventually replace the military’s current internet structure, which sources indicate uses a software hard fork of the Navy created TOR (The Onion Router) network to communicate. The program aims to move about 80% of all Department of Defense (DoD) data into the cloud according to Federalist News Network.

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Is Greece Becoming a Weaponized Anti-Russian Small Power? – Global Research

is-greece-becoming-a-weaponized-anti-russian-small-power?-–-global-research

30-09-19 11:03:00,

According to an exclusive report published by Greek online media Rizospastis this week, within the framework of the “Greece-USA Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement,” Washington and Athens have agreed to expand and increase U.S. military installations in the Mediterranean country. This comes off the recent U.S. announcement that it wants to privatize the port of Alexandroupolis near the strategic Dardenelles.

U.S.-Turkish relations have traditionally been strong because of Ankara’s submissiveness to Washington’s demands in the framework of NATO, but have soured in recent years because of the U.S.’s support of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian extension of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) that Ankara, and hypocritically Washington, consider as a terrorist organization. Because of Washington’s support for what Ankara considers a terrorist organization, it has only pushed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan closer to NATO’s main adversary, Russia, where the two countries now work in committees to find peace in Syria and have significantly increased economic and military ties.

Greece however has at times been renegade in NATO, especially during the breakup of Yugoslavia where food, oil, and arms were transported from Greece into Serbia in violation of the UN embargo; Greece was the only European Union state to back Belgrade’s position that Serbian forces had only entered Bosnian territory in response to their provocations; Greece voted against NATO air strikes on Serbian positions; the Aegean country refused any use of the NATO air base in Preveza on the Ionian Sea; and, Athens refused to supply Greek troops to the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. NATO plans were also leaked directly to Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladić so frequently that NATO allies ceased sharing NATO military plans with the Greek authorities, according to Professor C. Wiebes’ report to the Dutch government, titled Intelligence en de oorlog in Bosnie 1992-1995. There was also the famous case of the Greek Captain of the Themistocles warship, Marinos Ritsoudis, who was awarded by the Serbian Orthodox Church the Order of Emperor St. Constantine for refusing his orders to join NATO’s war against Serbia in 1999, and with the support of all his sailors returned the ship back to her port.

Greece was the only European country researched by Pew in a 2013 study where favorable views towards Russia prevailed (63% favorable vs.

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How Germany is becoming a failed state

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14-07-19 06:35:00,

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Photo: Erwache.wordpress.com
Germany is collapsing, I am not only writing about refugees, but the whole system of economy, infrastructure and politics.

Usually I don’t want to write about these issues, because I don’t like the label of being extreme right or extreme left, I am nothing of this kind, just reporting the facts, which I see around, me every day. This issue is not brought under media attention and being a resident (temporarily, because I want to move from this country) of Germany. I see it happening around me on a daily basis and it destroys the life in Germany for Germans, for other Europeans who live here and even for the migrants, who came here years ago and made a life for themselves.

This was filmed by a German Lady in Ashausen, Niedersächsen, who was like the rest of the population without words and interpreted it in her own words, which are not mine…Refugees are okay, but his is mass migration, this are just 1000 today in this Youtube video, but if you drive through Germany, you see whole villages been taken over by immigrants, the Germans are the minority in a lot of places. I don’t know how long it will be online (the video), because, Youtube will delete it for sure.
Ashausen is a small town with 3.800 inhabitants in the municipality of the district of Harburg, Lower Saxony. The place is connected by a train station to the Hannover-Hamburg train route. The YouTube video that went viral shows approx. around 1.000 Africans coming into the station, stepping out from a train. Going to? Nobody knows, walking around in Ashausen?

After more than 2 years in Germany, this country is getting stranger every day. I would never have thought, although of course there were signs that Germany could become a kind of failed state within a few years (2015 mass immigration) that it would be like this, so quickly. The insane immigration policy, the refusal to secure the borders of one’s own state, the statements of the government leaders that repeated the formula of “we can ” (Wir schäffen dass), the daily propaganda of the public state media (you still have to pay taxes for the media,

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Universities Are Becoming Billion-Dollar Hedge Funds With Schools Attached

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19-02-19 09:06:00,

Students are beginning to urge divestment.

Harvard University

A tour group visits the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (AP Photo / Elise Amendola)

Have you heard the latest wisecrack about Harvard? People are calling it a hedge fund with a university attached. They have a point—Harvard stands at the troubling intersection between higher education and high finance, with over 15 percent of its massive $38 billion endowment invested in hedge funds. That intersection is getting crowded. Yale’s comparatively modest $26 billion endowment, for example, made hedge fund managers $480 million in 2014, while only $170 million was spent on things like tuition assistance and fellowships for students. “I was going to donate money to Yale. But maybe it makes more sense to mail a check directly to the hedge fund of my choice,” Malcolm Gladwell tweeted last summer, causing a commotion that landed him on NPR.

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This story was supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, a non-profit supporting journalism, photo and video about economic struggle.

What has gotten less attention is how it’s not just universities with eating clubs and legacies that are getting into the game. Many public universities are also doing so, in part because state support for education has been cut, but also to compete with richer schools by rapidly increasing their more limited wealth. Though the exact figure is hard to determine, experts I consulted estimate that over $100 billion of educational endowment money nationwide is invested in hedge funds, costing them approximately $2.5 billion in fees in 2015 alone. The problems with hedge funds managing college endowments are manifold, going well beyond the exorbitant—some would say extortionate—fees they charge for their services.

Consider the problem of conflict of interest on endowment boards of both public and private colleges. One 2011 survey showed that 56 percent of endowments allowed board members to do business with the university. In 2013, Dartmouth came under fire when it was revealed that some trustees—including Stephen F. Mandel Jr., who was both chairman of the board of trustees and head of the hedge fund Lone Pine Capital—also managed investments for the school. The trustees were blasted, in a widely cited open letter,

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Poland becoming a US accomplice – Global Times

14-01-19 08:55:00,

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/13 20:33:39

After an employee of Huawei was arrested on alleged spying charges, Joachim Brudzinski, Poland’s internal affairs minister, called for the European Union and NATO to work on a joint position over whether to exclude Huawei from their markets. When a spokesman for Poland’s secret services chief tweeted the arrest on Friday, he used @ to attract the attention of the US Department of State, FBI, CIA and NATO. 

Warsaw’s moves confirm the suspicion that the high-profile arrest has the political purpose of catering to the US actions against Huawei.

Very few public espionage disputes have occurred between China and East Europe. Warsaw claims that the allegation was directed at personal behavior instead of the company, but how it handled the issue has already damaged Huawei’s reputation. Although clearly aware of the affair’s special resonance, Warsaw is wooing Washington while playing tricks on Beijing.

Poland fears China’s retaliation, so it is calling for a joint position with the EU and NATO so as to share the pressure. Meanwhile such a call helps the US expand suppression of Huawei into the EU and NATO.

Huawei’s equipment is widely applied in Europe’s 4G networks and no evidence proves that Huawei’s equipment has damaged European network security. Europe’s 4G network is independent and free, but will the continent obey Washington’s command in the communication industry starting from 5G? Warsaw is guiding Europe in the wrong direction.

As a middle-class country in Europe with limited influence and historical experiences of being invaded, Poland still worries that Russia’s threat has not been truly eliminated. Poland ranks a maximum security guarantee from the US at very top of its security agenda and is endeavoring to realize a US military presence in the country.

However, Warsaw’s anxiety is not universal in Europe, especially Western Europe. Most European countries are not as proactive as Poland in picking a side between China and the US and voluntarily helping Washington to exclude Huawei. Some European countries are keeping Huawei at a distance out of security concerns for Huawei’s equipment or US coercion. 

Huawei is China’s best private high-tech enterprise and its suffering is symbolic. The Chinese government must help the company defend its legitimate rights and interests.

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A Russian not becoming head of Interpol is bigger news than the person who did

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22-11-18 10:20:00,

Interpol’s new boss is South Korean Kim Jong-yang, although reading the gleeful mainstream coverage of the news, it’s much easier to find out who didn’t get the job — or more specifically, that the losing candidate was Russian.

Alexander Prokopchuk, who currently serves as Interpol’s vice president was the favorite to take the top job at the international policing organization, but was edged out by the South Korean amid intense lobbying from Western powers against Prokopchuk, despite being described by one source to the Times newspaper as someone who is “respected by his peers and regarded as a more competent candidate than his South Korean rival.”

Almost without exception, mainstream headlines screamed that Prokopchuk had lost out on the job, with Kim Jong-yang’s election mentioned as a mere side note in the articles themselves. Perhaps anti-Russian sentiment has reached the point where something not happening to a Russian is deemed to be bigger news than something that does happen to someone else. Little of Kim Jong-yang’s biography, credentials or achievements is on offer in the articles either, which focus on Prokopchuk’s background instead.

The other obvious conclusion to make here is that the only reason Prokopchuk did not get the job was because of his nationality. Indeed, it was the fact that the organization’s vice president is Russian which led to the campaign of pressure by the United States and Britain to prevent him from being elected to the position, despite his suitableness for the job. Isn’t that exactly the kind of election interference Western powers have claimed to find so unacceptable?

Merely a few days since the Times faced controversy over describing a Russian cartoon as pro-Putin “propaganda” for children, the Times was happy to get in a few more digs, reporting comments by British Liberal Democrat MP Sir Vince Cable, who said Prokopchuk’s election would turn Interpol into “a branch of the Russian mafia,” as well as comments issued by a group of four US senators who said a Russian leading Interpol would be like “putting a fox in charge of the henhouse.”

Context: Last Interpol president was Chinese and nobody cared; Russian candidate is still VP for Europe; German secretary general actually runs the show.

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Banks Are Becoming Obsolete in China—Could the U.S. Be Next?

Banks Are Becoming Obsolete in China—Could the U.S. Be Next?

23-08-18 09:03:00,

The U.S. credit card system siphons off excessive amounts of money from merchants. In a typical $100 credit card purchase, only $97.25 goes to the seller. The rest goes to banks and processors. But who can compete with Visa and MasterCard?

It seems China’s new mobile payment ecosystems can. According to a May 2018 article in Bloomberg titled “Why China’s Payment Apps Give U.S. Bankers Nightmares”:

The future of consumer payments may not be designed in New York or London but in China. There, money flows mainly through a pair of digital ecosystems that blend social media, commerce and banking—all run by two of the world’s most valuable companies. That contrasts with the U.S., where numerous firms feast on fees from handling and processing payments. Western bankers and credit-card executives who travel to China keep returning with the same anxiety: Payments can happen cheaply and easily without them.

The nightmare for the U.S. financial industry is that a major technology company—whether one from China or a U.S. giant such as Amazon or Facebook—might replicate the success of the Chinese mobile payment systems, cutting banks out.

According to John Engen, writing in American Banker in May 2018, “China processed a whopping $12.8 trillion in mobile payments” in the first ten months of 2017. Today even China’s street merchants don’t want cash. Payment for everything is handled with a phone and a QR code (a type of barcode). More than 90 percent of Chinese mobile payments are run through Alipay and WeChat Pay, rival platforms backed by the country’s two largest internet conglomerates, Alibaba and Tencent Holdings. Alibaba is the Amazon of China, while Tencent Holdings is the owner of WeChat, a messaging and social media app with more than a billion users.

Alibaba created Alipay in 2004 to let millions of potential customers who lacked credit and debit cards shop on its giant online marketplace. Alipay is free for smaller users of its platform. As total monthly transactions rise, so does the charge; but even at its maximum, it’s less than half what PayPal charges: around 1.2 percent. Tencent Holdings similarly introduced its payments function in 2005 in order to keep users inside its messaging system longer.

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‘Craziness Becoming Strategic’ – NATO Leaders in Panic Mode Ahead of Trump Visit

‘Craziness Becoming Strategic’ – NATO Leaders in Panic Mode Ahead of Trump Visit

11-07-18 06:19:00,

The Washington Post asks ‘Will NATO survive Trump?’ ahead of a summit with NATO leaders this week as bureaucrats in Brussels voice concern over his potentially disruptive ‘America first’ rhetoric, and as the president is set to meet with Vladimir Putin only days later in their first one-on-one meeting.

In a characteristically over-dramatic tone, WaPo answers concerning NATO leaders, “Now they’re worried about something bigger: a full crackup of the alliance, or at least such a weakening of Washington’s security commitments that NATO would emerge deeply damaged.”

“It’s one thing if he goes to the G-7 and is rude to people,” a senior NATO diplomat told the Post while speaking on condition of anonymity. “It’s another thing to derail NATO.”

Among the foremost driving concerns that might “derail NATO” is the possibility that Trump could seek to mend relations with Russia and deescalate tensions when he sits down with Putin for their July 16 meeting in Helsinki, Finland. According to the Post, “European leaders worry that Trump could bargain away their security in the name of better relations with the Kremlin.”

This, after Trump continued his theme in recent 
remarks of 
NATO allies “freeloading” for not paying their dues and 
treating the US like “schmucks” and further that NATO is “as bad as NAFTA”. Lately he’s repeatedly berated other member states for not living up to a 2014 pledge to reach two percent of GDP on defense by 2024 — only three European countries have reached the mark. He’s expected to urge other governments of the alliance to dramatically increase military spending and lower import tariffs.

“I’m going to tell NATO: You’ve got to start paying your bills. The United States is not going to take care of everything,” Trump confidently told a rally in Montana last week. “We are the schmucks that are paying for the whole thing,” and added: “They kill us on trade.”

U.S. officials have long touted that Washington spends 70 percent of its defense budget on NATO; however, European leaders dispute this, with one senior unnamed EU official telling Reuters  “the number is more like 15 percent.”

Last month Trump issued formal warnings in letters sent to leaders whose countries are not living up to their NATO defense spending pledges,

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