Penguin: The CIA About To Sign $600 Million Deal With Amazon — Six Years After Robert Steele Proposed Amazon as the Hub for (an Open) World Brain

Advanced Cyber/IO, Architecture, Cloud, Government
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Have no idea what this means:

The CIA Is About To Sign A Game-Changing $600 Million Deal With Amazon

The CIA is on the verge of signing a cloud computing contract with Amazon, worth up to $600 million over 10 years, reports Frank Konkel at Federal Computer Week.

If the details about this deal are true, it could be a game-changer for the enterprise cloud market.

That’s because Amazon Web Services will help the CIA build a “private cloud” filled with technologies like big data, reports Konkel, citing unnamed sources.

The CIA is pretty closed-lipped about its business, as spies are apt to be. This is no exception. It won’t confirm the deal or comment on it, so details are sketchy. But the contract is expected to be for a “private” cloud, which is not what AWS is known for.

AWS is the largest “public” cloud provider. In general, the term “private cloud” means using cloud computing technologies in a company’s own data center. Public clouds are in hosted facilities, where the hardware is shared with many users. Sharing the hardware saves money.

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Penguin: Banks Confiscating Percentage of Depositors Cash in Cyprus, Collapse of Banking Across Europe Possible

03 Economy, 07 Other Atrocities, 10 Transnational Crime, Commerce, Corruption, Government
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Facing Bailout Tax, Cypriots Try to Get Cash Out of Banks

ATHENS — In a move that could set off new fears of contagion across the euro zone, anxious depositors drained cash from automated teller machines in Cyprus on Saturday, hours after European officials in Brussels required that part of a new 10 billion euro bailout be paid for directly from the bank accounts of ordinary savers.

The move — a first in the three-year-old European financial crisis — raised questions about whether bank runs could be set off elsewhere in the euro zone. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the group of euro area ministers, declined early Saturday to rule out taxes on depositors in countries beyond Cyprus, although he said such a measure was not currently being considered.

Although banks placed withdrawal limits of 400 euros, or about $520, on A.T.M.’s, most had run out of cash by early evening. People around the country reacted with disbelief and anger.

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Penguin: US Drones, US Ignorance of Tribes, & Endless War in the Briar Patch

Corruption, Cultural Intelligence, Government, Ineptitude, Military
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A template for the story of our mis-steps as it will be told for generations.

Phi Beta Iota:  The complete story has been posted below.  Technology is not a substitute for thinking.  US policymakers, driven by the arm sales imperative and its 5% kick-backs, have refused to be educated by intelligence professionals that do know what they are doing, but cannot be heard.  It is time we begin serving the public with public intelligence — an Open Source Agency (OSA) whose finished decision-support cannot be ignored precisely because it is public.

The Thistle and the Drone

By Akbar Ahmed

the Globalist | Thursday, March 14, 2013

For the United States and its allies, the tribes across the Muslim world remain a mystery. Because they were outside the realm of globalization, they were easy to see as natural allies of al Qaeda. Without an understanding of these tribes’ social and religious values, writes Akbar Ahmed, the U.S.-led war on terror will not end in any kind of recognizable victory.

 Drone launched from the USS Lassen in September 2010. Credit: Roberto Ruvalcaba/US Navy-Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Drone launched from the USS Lassen in September 2010.
Credit: Roberto Ruvalcaba/US Navy-Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

By 2012, the United States, in a move typical for its propensity to opt for excess in any matter of security, had commissioned just under 20,000 drones. About half of these are in use.

Ignoring the moral debate, drone operators are equally infatuated with the weapon and the sense of power it gives them. It leaves them “electrified” and “adrenalized.” Flying a drone is said to be “almost like playing the computer game Civilization,” a “sci-fi” experience.

A U.S. drone operator in New Mexico revealed the extent to which individuals across the world can be observed in their most private moments. “We watch people for months,” he said. “We see them playing with their dogs or doing their laundry. We know their patterns, like we know our neighbors’ patterns. We even go to their funerals.”

Another drone operator spoke of watching people having sex at night through infrared cameras. The last statement, in particular, has to be read keeping in mind the importance Muslim tribal peoples give to notions of modesty and privacy.

The victims of all drone attacks are, in effect, treated like insects. That description is not my invention, but a reflection of the military slang for a successful strike. The victim that is blown apart on the screen in a display of blood and gore is called “bug splat.”

Muslim tribesmen were reduced to bugs or, as David Ignatius put it in a Washington Post op-ed, cobras to be killed at will. Any compromise with the Taliban in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan, officially designated as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), is “like playing with a cobra,” he wrote. And do we “compromise” with cobras? Ignatius rhetorically asked. “No, you kill a cobra.”

Bugs, snakes, cockroaches, rats — such denigration of minorities has been heard before, and as recent history teaches, it never ends well for the abused people.

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Penguin: Examination of Lockheed Lobbying and the C-130 Hercules

Commerce, Commercial Intelligence, Corruption, Government, Military
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The stories are getting simple enough and ridiculous enough for the average American to start getting it.

The Disturbing History of One of the Pentagon’s Most Expensive Flying Turkeys

Meet the C-130 Hercules.

EXTRACT

The C-130 Hercules, or Herk for short, isn’t a sexy plane.  It hasn’t inspired hit Hollywood films, though it has prompted a few photo books, a beer, and a “Robby the C-130” trilogy for children whose military parents are deployed. It has a fat sausage fuselage, that snub nose, overhead wings with two propellers each, and a big back gate that comes down to load and unload up to 21 tons of cargo.

The Herk can land on short runways, even ones made of dirt or grass; it can airdrop parachutists or cargo; it can carry four drones under its wings; it can refuel aircraft; it can fight forest fires; it can morph into a frightening gunship.  It’s big and strong and can do at least 12 types of labor — hence, Hercules.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Here’s where the story starts to get interesting.  After 25 years, the Pentagon decided that it was well stocked with C-130s, so President Jimmy Carter’s administration stopped asking Congress for more of them.

Click on Image to Enlarge
Click on Image to Enlarge

Lockheed was in trouble.  A few years earlier, the Air Force had started looking into replacing the Hercules with a new medium-sized transport plane that could handle really short runways, and Lockheed wasn’t selected as one of the finalists.  Facing bankruptcy due to cost overruns and cancellations of programs, the company squeezed Uncle Sam for a bailout of around $1 billion in loan guarantees and other relief (which was unusual back then, as William Hartung points out his magisterial Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex).

Then a scandal exploded when it was revealed that Lockheed had proceeded to spend some $22 million of those funds in bribes to foreign officials to persuade them to buy its aircraft.  This helped prompt Congress to pass the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

So what did Lockheed do about the fate of the C-130?  It bypassed the Pentagon and went straight to Congress.  Using a procedure known as a congressional “add-on” — that is, an earmark — Lockheed was able to sell the military another fleet of C-130s that it didn’t want.

To be fair, the Air Force did request some C-130s.  Thanks to Senator John McCain, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) did a study of how many more C-130s the Air Force requested between 1978 and 1998.  The answer: Five.

How many did Congress add on?  Two hundred and fifty-six.

As Hartung commented, this must “surely [be] a record in pork-barrel politics.”

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