“Vote 2 if you really want to become part of Russia.” The Three Faces of Barack Obama by Thomas Friedman

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“Vote 1 if you want to become part of Russia,” The Three Faces of Barack Obama by Thomas Friedman
  1. Are you in favor of the reunification of Crimea with Russia as a part of the Russian Federation?

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#Putinfarce The Three Faces of Barack Obama by Thomas Friedman

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Whose currency and stock markets are getting hammered as a result of Vladimir’s Crimean adventure The Three Faces of Barack Obama by Thomas Friedman

Russia’s financial sphere has indeed taken some heavy hits in the midst of Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea. As reported by the Guardian earlier this month:

Researchers at Capital Economics, a London-based consultancy firm, estimate that $50bn (£30bn) of private-sector money has flowed out of Russia since the start of 2014, and if this trend were to continue the economy would be pushed into recession.

If coupled with the mounting sanctions from the EU and United States, Russia may very well find itself in a recession very soon—wiping out whatever economic incentives it had to control Crimea.

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Having ordered the targeted killing by air of hundreds of individuals The Three Faces of Barack Obama by Thomas Friedman

Friedman has made a mistake here; the 5 year old drone program under Obama’s direct control has killed an estimated 2,400 people in some 390 strikes across 3 countries (Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan)

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Merciless, Hobbesian world this really is The Three Faces of Barack Obama by Thomas Friedman

Thomas Hobbes—the 17th century English philosopher responsible for many fundamental ideas within European political thought—argued that the world was chaotic and could only be put in order by a strong, central authority.

In his Leviathan, Hobbes argues that without the state, man’s “state of nature” is “a war of all against all” and as a result, peace and civility can be brought about only by force. To escape this savage nature, man must enter a “social contract” with the Leviathan—a metaphor for the state as the artificial corporeal amalgam of all the bodies of those who become citizens—where they agree to live under this entity—who holds the monopoly on force and violence—in exchange for peace, order, and civility.

As a result, Friedman is simply saying that Obama’s critics think Obama does not understand what is taken to be a priori within Western political thought: without a strong central force—such as the United States—the world will turn violent and chaotic.

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Make this approach workable Statement on Section 215 Bulk Metadata Program by President Barack Obama

One of the requirements for making an approach workable seems to be actually expanding the language and thus powers of agencies to violate the privacy of Americans by weakening many of the already lethargic standards of evidence required of NSA. Trevor Trimm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation voiced concerns in a Guardian article that

[now] telephone companies [will] hold on to phone data. But the government could search data from those companies based on “reasonable articulable suspicion” that someone is an agent of a foreign power, associated with an agent of a foreign power, or “in contact with, or known to, a suspected agent of a foreign power”. The NSA’s current phone records program is restricted to a reasonable articulable suspicion of terrorism.

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Maintaining the tools our intelligence and law enforcement agencies need to keep us safe. Statement on Section 215 Bulk Metadata Program by President Barack Obama

There are, however, two egregiously invasive tools and programs used extensively by our intelligence agencies that will not be affected in any way by Obama’s announced changes:

1) The Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, a GCHQ-NSA venture which allows intelligence agencies to

2) Tailored Access Operations, “the [NSA’s] top secret weapon. It maintains its own covert network, infiltrates computers around the world and even intercepts shipping deliveries to plant back doors in electronics ordered by those it is targeting.”

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April 1st, 2014

Notice also how intelligence and law enforcement agencies are grouped together; this makes sense because the FBI is just as much an intelligence agency as the CIA, but also highlights the general trend toward militarization of police (if only in his language).

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I ordered that a transition Statement on Section 215 Bulk Metadata Program by President Barack Obama

Whether or not Obama’s calls for reform were legitimate are debated by many. As Glenn Greenwald laid out—at great length—Obama’s proposals both in that speech and before or after the speech have been nothing more than “PR attempt[s] to mollify the public”. One compelling reason for this claim is the fact that the only change taken up was the length of time the data is held for: 18 months instead of 5 years.

This situation is not new, however, as we simply need to look back a few decades to the first “scandal” when NSA surveillance originally was publicly revealed to see get an idea of how this “transition” may turn out.

In 1975, at the heels of revelations regarding FBI, CIA, and NSA abuses, the Church Committee (here on News Genius), headed by Senator Frank Church, was established to investigate the secret surveillance programs that were all the rage then. These programs included the FBI’s COINTELPRO program (here on News Genius), its efforts to infiltrate and disrupt dissident organizations, the surveillance of the general population and public figures by multiple organizations (mail opening, wiretaps, shadowing, etc.), abuses by the Internal Revenue Service, and foreign assassination programs.

Stop me when this sounds familiar

It was in the aftermath of these revelations that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts were established, courts designed to place at least some limits on the extreme powers these agencies claimed as necessary for “national security” and so forth. The FISA courts ended up being nothing more than rubber stamps, as was revealed over 30 years later, allowing the NSA and intelligence agencies to adopt practices and abuses even more egregious than those investigated by Frank Church in the 70s.

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Inmarsat, the UK company that provided the satellite data which indicated the northern and southern corridors, has been performing further calculations on the data. Statement on MH370 by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak

Inmarsat actually explains how it was able to utilize its satellite infrastructure to get a better handle on the location of MH370. This magical feat was accomplished thanks to two things:

1) Doppler effect—a phenomena which describes how electromagnetic waves such as light or radio change in frequency

2) The fact that the satellite’s longitudinal position alters the Doppler effect slightly, allowing for a sort of magnification of any shifts in the frequency of “pings”, radio waves reflecting off of the airplane and thus helping construct Inmarsat’s picture of the area

Inmarsat was able to determine what direction the flight went based on these frequency changes, a turn to the north or the south or a sustained path each giving off different frequencies. This information was checked against data from other flights and their own relative frequency changes, confirming indeed that the flight veered from its planned path to somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean.

The Malaysian government was a little more than skeptical of this information and—as the Wall Street Journal revealed recently—this information was actually delayed by the Malaysian government.

The satellite data substantially narrowed down the site of impact-as displayed in the graphic below-from a 5,150 km radius originating in Malaysia to a relatively small area some 2,300 km off the coast of West Perth, Australia.

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