Google Secretly Expands Tech Empire Across the U.S., Getting Millions in Tax Breaks

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19-02-19 08:47:00,

Amazon spent much of the last three months in the media spotlight, with its search for a second headquarters outside Seattle leading both to bidding wars between cities fighting for its affections, and extensive backlash from residents and elected officials in New York City, one of the winning locations. The protests against the new development were loud enough to cause Amazon to cancel the deal last week.

While Amazon received both suitors and scrutiny, another tech behemoth was quietly expanding its footprint across the United States. At the end of 2018, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced expansion plans leading to a presence in 24 out of 50 states. The Verge reported in December that “So far, most of Google’s facility development plans in the US have been met with little opposition outside of the Bay Area.” According to a new report in The Washington Post, however, that might be because the public wasn’t aware of them.

Post Reporter Elizabeth Dwoskin writes that Google’s “development spree has often been shrouded in secrecy, making it nearly impossible for some communities to know, let alone protest or debate, who is using their land, their resources and their tax dollars until after the fact.”

In Midlothian, Texas, Google, under the name Sharka LLC, received over $10 million in tax breaks from local government for developing a data center in the town. Larry Barnett, president of Midlothian Economic Development, one of the agencies that negotiated tax breaks, told Dwoskin that he knew Sharka LLC was really Google, but the company had asked for secrecy, and didn’t reveal itself publicly until the deal was finalized. Travis Smith, managing editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light, a local paper, said, “I’m confident that had the community known this project was under the direction of Google, people would have spoken out,” adding, “We didn’t know that it was Google until after it passed.”

The process repeated itself in multiple cities.

In San Jose, Calif., where Google is planning its second-largest campus after its original home in Mountain View, the company has used nondisclosure agreements with local officials and developers to keep its plans under wraps. Records of this, going back to 2006,

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Who Was Secretly Behind America’s Invading and Occupying Syria?

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27-12-18 10:51:00,

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation:

The invasion and occupation of Syria by tens of thousands of jihadists who were recruited from around the world to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, was financed mainly by US taxpayers and by the world’s wealthiest family, the Sauds, who own Saudi Arabia and the world’s largest oil company, Aramco. America’s international oil companies and major think tanks and ‘charitable’ foundations were also supportive and providing propaganda for the operation, but the main financing for it came from America’s taxpayers, and from the Saud family and from the Government that they own.

One of the best articles that the New York Times ever published was by Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo, on 23 January 2016, “US Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels”. They reported that, “the C.I.A. and its Saudi counterpart have maintained an unusual arrangement for the rebel-training mission, which the Americans have code-named Timber Sycamore. Under the deal, current and former administration officials said, the Saudis contribute both weapons and large sums of money, and the C.I.A takes the lead in training the rebels. … From the moment the C.I.A. operation was started, Saudi money supported it.” Furthermore, “The White House has embraced the covert financing from Saudi Arabia — and from Qatar, Jordan and Turkey.” But “American officials said Saudi Arabia was by far the largest contributor to the operation.” The invasion and occupation of Syria by jihadists from around the world was primarily a Saud operation, though it was managed mainly by the US Government.

Prior to the failed US-backed coup-attempt on 15 July 2015 to replace Tayyip Erdogan as Turkey’s President, Turkey was part of the U.S-Saudi alliance to overthrow and replace Syria’s Government. But afterwards, Turkey increasingly switched against the US and Sauds, and toward instead supporting the target of the Sauds and of America’s aristocrats: Syria. And, so, Turkey has increasingly joined Syria’s alliance, which includes Iran and Russia. That’s one of the major geopolitical changes in recent decades.

The NYT continued: “The Saudi efforts were led by the flamboyant Prince Bandar bin Sultan, at the time the intelligence chief, who directed Saudi spies to buy thousands of AK-47s and millions of rounds of ammunition in Eastern Europe for the Syrian rebels.

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Canada Secretly Collected Banking Information From 500,000 Canadians Without Their Knowledge

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29-10-18 10:16:00,

As it turns out, Silicon Valley tech giants aren’t the only institutions surreptitiously collecting massive troves of sensitive data from unsuspecting consumers. On Friday, Canada’s the Global Times published a report exposing a recently launched data collection program adopted by StatCan, the Canadian government’s economic research agency, that the agency introduced to help it collect more accurate data about consumers’ spending habits. The agency has asked Canada’s nine largest banks to turn over all the transaction records and sensitive identifying financial information (including customer’s social insurance numbers) for 500,000 randomly selected Canadians. The agency will collect and crunch this data as part of its statistical research and then, at the end of the year, it will produce a new list of 500,000 Canadians, and perform all of the same operations with their data.

Statcan

After being called out by Global News, the agency explained that the data would be anonymized shortly after being compiled (meaning that all identifying information, like consumers’ SINs, would be removed).

“Canadians should know we are not accessing all of the payments data for all Canadians. It’s a small sample relative to the total number of households,” he said. “Our access to this data is permitted through both the Privacy Act and the Statistics Act.”

But that’s not exactly true. The fact that it didn’t publicly disclose the plan has left some Canadians feeling uneasy. Given that Canada has a population of roughly 20 million people, the likelihood that any one individuals’ information will be collected. To be sure, the agency said in a letter to Canada’s privacy commissioner that the data would only be used for statistics purposes. But a former privacy regulator who spoke with GN said she was “shocked” to learn of the program.

Ontario’s former privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, said she was shocked by the initiative and said the ability for a government agency to build a massive database of personal banking information raises serious privacy concerns.

“Most people would be surprised and devastated if they thought all of their financial information and bills and activity were being accessed in identifiable form by Statistics Canada or any branch of government,” she said. “Medical and financial records are the most sensitive personal data that exists.”

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