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Posts Tagged ‘USA’

​Debtor nation: Americans pay interest on $163 billion held by top tech firms overseas

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 15, 2014

Reuters/Lee Jae-Won:

google-microsoft-debt-offshore.si

United States taxpayers make large interest payments to the top four technology firms for the $163 billion in US government debt the companies own and shelter in tax-free offshore accounts.

United States taxpayers make large interest payments to the top four technology firms for the $163 billion in US government debt the companies own and shelter in tax-free offshore accounts.

Apple, Cisco Systems, Google, and Microsoft legally hold $124 billion in US Treasury securities and $39 billion in US government agency debt in accounts overseas, allowing them to avoid the 35 percent (maximum) corporate tax rate in the United States, according to Securities & Exchange Commission reports.

Together, the companies would be the 14th biggest overseas holder of Treasury securities, just ahead of countries like Norway, Singapore, and India. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Big lender’ China urges US to avoid bankruptcy

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 8, 2013

China's Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao (Reuters)

China, the US government’s largest foreign creditor, is “naturally concerned about developments in the US fiscal cliff”, as Reuters quoted Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao giving the Chinese government’s first public response to the Oct 17 US deadline for raising the debt ceiling.

China currently holds 22.85 percent of the US $16.7trln debt, which makes it the biggest US creditor.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew calculated the US would run out of money by October 17 and have less than $30 billion cash in hand if Congress fails to agree on its spending plans. Read the rest of this entry »

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Syria urges UN to prevent ‘US-led foreign aggression’

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 2, 2013

UN Headquaters in New York (AFP Photo / Mehdi Taamallah)

UN Headquaters in New York (AFP Photo / Mehdi Taamallah)

The UN is under growing pressure from Syria to do its job and prevent an American “war of aggression,” and the Arab League demanding punishment for “war criminals” in the Syrian government.

  The two identical letters delivered to the UN Secretary General  Ban Ki-moon and President of the UN Security Council, Maria  Cristina Perceval call on the international body to maintain its  role of protector of international legitimacy and prevent US-led  aggression against Damascus, Syria’s permanent representative to  the UN Bashar al-Jaafari told Sana.

The Syrian government continues to deny any use of chemical  weapons on the civilian population, with Jaafari reminding of  Syria’s cooperation with the UN on this issue, which was often  downplayed and twisted in the western media.
“The Syrian government is the first side who asked the UN  Secretary General to form an objective investigation team to  investigate the use of chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal in  Aleppo,” Bashar al-Jaafari said, adding that they warned,   “more than a year ago, against the serious risks of the  possibility of using chemical materials by the armed terrorist  groups in Syria.”      Despite the Syrian government’s swift permission for the UN  investigation team to probe the site of the alleged attack on  August 21, some “foreign countries” launched an anti-Assad  campaign accusing government forces of slaughtering their own  people, Jaafari said.
“Syria has informed, in official letters, the UN Secretary  General and the UNSC about the activities of these groups, which  coincided with a political, diplomatic and media campaign led by  some countries which are directly responsible for shedding the  blood in Syria and preventing the peaceful solution in order to  accuse the Syrian government of using chemical weapon,” he  added.

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on August 24, 2013 shows bags and containers of what the Syrian government claims to be materials used to make chemical weapons discovered in Jobar on the outskirts of the capital Damascus (AFP Photo / HO / SANA)A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on August 24, 2013 shows bags and containers of what the Syrian government claims to be materials used to make chemical weapons discovered in Jobar on the outskirts of the capital Damascus (AFP Photo / HO / SANA) Read the rest of this entry »

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Satellite Wars: China unveils ‘cheaper’ answer to GPS

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 28, 2012

navigation-photo-beidou-facebookcom.nChina’s rapidly-expanding rival to GPS, called BeiDou, has become available to customers across Asia-Pacific for the first time. It aims to claim a fifth of the satellite services market in the region in just three years.

Previously, the satellite constellation was only used by the country’s military and government services. Now, it is being commercialized.

“The services now available include positioning, navigation, timing and short messages for China and surrounding areas. We hope BeiDou conquers 15 to 20 percent of the satellite services market in the Asia Pacific by 2015,”BeiDou spokesman Ran Chengqi announced at a press conference in Beijing, reported by Xinhua news agency.

China says that as it expands worldwide, the state-funded navigation system will bring in revenues of more than $60 billion a year.

At the moment, a user receiving BeiDou’s signal can determine their position to within ten meters. Most civilian GPS users are given positional data that is out by no more than 2 meters, but BeiDou’s makers say their services will be much cheaper than those of the US-government owned GPS.

BeiDou, which is the Chinese term for the Big Dipper star, is also expanding at an impressive rate, meaning it will soon be able to bridge the performance gap. Read the rest of this entry »

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Reaching for the stars or false dawn? Russia says next-gen spacecraft design ready

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 27, 2012

russianspacewebcom-user-zak-image.nRussia’s halting attempts to build a next generation spacecraft have received a boost after a leading constructor announced that it has completed the design of a new prototype. But seasoned space watchers await specifics before popping their corks.

“We have finished the design of the new spaceship. We took into consideration that the new craft has to be able to travel not only to the International Space Station (ISS), but also to the moon,” said Vitaly Lopota, the chief of RSC Energia, the Russian space industry’s primary spacecraft builder.

The proposed spacecraft is commonly known as PPTS (or Prospective Piloted Transport System) and RSC Energia won the tender to build it in 2009. Initially, 2015 was named as the date of the first test flight, but that was then shifted to 2018. Now, Lopota has brought the test date forward again.

“We are currently working on the first full-size model. The first test flights should take place in 2017,” he announced during a press conference in Moscow.

Currently, Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, uses a modernized Soyuz spacecraft, a basic design that flew its first mission in 1967, to deliver cosmonauts to the ISS.

On paper, PPTS sounds like a significant upgrade, although all design information is preliminary and has not been finalized by the designers. Read the rest of this entry »

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US deploying troops to 35 African countries

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 25, 2012

embassy-states-arrive.nThe United States Army will be deploying troops to nearly three-dozen African nations in the coming year.

Soldiers based out of Fort Riley, Kansas’ 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division will begin training in March 2013 in order to prepare for a project that will send troops to as many as 35 African nations, the Associated Press reports.

Citing a growing threat from extremist groups, including those with ties to al-Qaeda, the Department of Defense is hoping to install American soldiers overseas in order to prepare local troops there for any future crises as tensions escalate.

Earlier this month, DoD sources with insider knowledge told the Washington Post that US troops will soon be en route to the nation of Mali in order to thwart the emerging threat of Islamic extremists, including al-Qaeda aligned insurgents. With the latest news from the Pentagon, though, Mali will be just one of many African nations hosting US troops in the coming year.

According to the AP’s update this week, soldiers will be sent overseas in the new year to assist only with training and equipping efforts, and are not necessarily permitted to participate in military operations. Should the Pentagon ask the troops to engage in battle, however, the secretary of defense could sign off on an order that would allow as much. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nepal’s Mustang is third best tourist destination across the world

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 25, 2012

mustang-nepal-top-destination

mustang.jpg.570x570_q85Australia: Nepal’s trans Himalayan district, Mustang has succeeded to be the third best tourist destination across the world.

Of the best ten tourist destinations across the world, Mustang was picked for its untarnished natural beauty and scenarios by the Lonely Planet.

Tagged as “Little Tibet” and “The Last Forbiddent Kingdom”, the organisation said that one should visit Mustang before breathing his/her last breath on this planet.

The agency has said that though being a part of Nepal, the Mustang territory shares culture, language with Tibet and that its topography and climate has similarities. Read the rest of this entry »

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Google starts watching what you do off the Internet too

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 21, 2012

jason-lee-reuters.n

The most powerful company on the Internet just got a whole lot creepier: a new service from Google merges offline consumer info with online intelligence, allowing advertisers to target users based on what they do at the keyboard and at the mall.

Without much fanfare, Google announced news this week of a new advertising project, Conversions API, that will let businesses build all-encompassing user profiles based off of not just what users search for on the Web, but what they purchase outside of the home.

In a blog post this week on Google’s DoubleClick Search site, the Silicon Valley giant says that targeting consumers based off online information only allows advertisers to learn so much. “Conversions,” tech-speak for the digital metric made by every action a user makes online, are incomplete until coupled with real life data, Google says.

“We understand that online advertising also fuels offline conversions,” the blog post reads. Thus, Google says, “To capture these lost conversions and bring offline into your online world, we’re announcing the open beta of our Conversions API for uploading offline conversion automatically.”

The blog goes on to explain that in-store transactions, call-tracking and other online activities can be inputted into Google to be combined with other information “to optimize your campaigns based on even more of your businessdata.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Everyone is fair game: Spy agency conducts surveillance on all US citizens

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 14, 2012

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees (Reuters/Chris Morgan/Idaho National Laboratory)

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees (Reuters/Chris Morgan/Idaho National Laboratory)

The Obama administration overruled recommendations from within the US Department of Homeland Security and implemented new guidelines earlier this year that allow the government to gather and analyze intelligence on every single US citizen.

Since the spring, a little-know intelligence agency outside of Washington, DC has been able to circumvent the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution and conduct dragnet surveillance of the entire country, combing massive datasets using advanced algorithms to search and seize personal info on anyone this wish, reports the Wall Street Journal this week.

There’s no safeguard that says only Americans with criminal records are the ones included, and it’s not just suspected terrorists that are considered in the searches either. The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) has been provided with entire government databases and given nearly endless access to intelligence on everyone in the country, regardless of whether or not they’ve done anything that would have made them a person of interest. As long as data is “reasonably believed” to contain “terrorism information,” the agency can do as they wish.

What’s more is the NCTC can retain that information for years, reviewing it whenever they’d like to take a look.

The update to the agency’s policies, reported by RT at the time and reexamined this week in the Journal, expose any person in the country to invasive and nearly endless government surveillance. Read the rest of this entry »

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Superhumans, supercities and supercomputers: US intelligence’s vision of 2030

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 13, 2012

2030Things are about to get a little weird. This according to the National Intelligence Council, at least, a US-based coalition of spy agencies that has just released its predictions for what’s in store for the Earth in 2030.

The NIC released on Monday “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds,” an 140-page report that brings together the best brains within the intelligence sector to find out what we might expect a few decades down the road. Given the current rate of growth in technology and medicine, the marvels considered in the NIC report shouldn’t come as all too surprising. Only 18 years down the road, however, the ideas being pitched by the people behind the report might not be as much science fiction as soon-to-be-reality. It also might very well be predictive policy making.

“We are at a critical juncture in human history, which could lead to widely contrasting futures,” Council Chairman Christopher Kojm writes in the report.

With the next few years ripe for experiment, the future is “malleable,” Kojm suggests, making no time like the present to start perfecting space-age advances once thought to be out of this world. On the contrary, though, the NIC seems to think cyborg civilians and instant super-cities are thing of the not-so-distant future.

“Our effort is to encourage decision-makers, whether in government or outside, to think and plan for the long term so that negative futures do not occur and positive ones have a better chance of unfolding,” the Council writes. That influence might be a bit impressive for some, though, as it includes suggestions for the world of tomorrow that will be necessary to advance them human race in order to make use of dwindling resources as populations expand around the globe. Read the rest of this entry »

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Senate kills Pentagon’s ‘alternative CIA’

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 12, 2012

Reuters

larry-downing-reuters.nThe US Senate Armed Services Committee has halted the Pentagon’s request to send overseas more spies from the DoD’s Defense Intelligence Agency.

In a surprise addition made last week to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, or NDAA, members of the Senate added a provision to the annual Pentagon spending bill that disrupts recently announced plans to put clandestine officers from the Department of Defense’s DIA overseas.

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that the Pentagon planned to send “hundreds of additional spies”abroad and in doing so would establish an espionage network that would rival in size the CIA. In a harshly worded explanation drafted in Washington last week, though, the Senate Armed Services Committee suggests that the Pentagon has a lot to get right before a request like this can be cleared by Congress.

The DoD “needs to demonstrate that it can improve the management of clandestine HUMINT [Defense Human Intelligence] before undertaking any further expansion,” the Senate Armed Services Committee wrote in drafting S. 3254 of next year’s NDAA. The measure was approved on Capitol Hill only a few days following the Post’s initial report.

The Senate Armed Services Committee “appreciates the fact” that both the undersecretary of defense for intelligence and the director of the DIA “intend to make reforms” within the Pentagon that would “correct longstanding problems,”but lawmakers cite a list of ongoing issues that need to be resolved before their request can be approved. Read the rest of this entry »

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Iran to take US to international court over intercepted spy drone

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 6, 2012

US-TECHNOLOGY-UNMANNED SYSTEMS DEMO-SCANEAGLEIran has threatened international legal action against Washington over its alleged interception of a US spy drone. Tehran claims it has evidence of illegal spying on Iran’s nuclear program to present to an international court.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi announced on Tuesday that Tehran now has proof of the presence of US spy drones over Iranian territory.

“We had formally protested such actions by the US and had announced that we would defend our borders by any means possible,” Salehi told national media. International law forbids the violation of national borders, which Tehran had warned the US against before, “but unfortunately they did not comply,” he said.

“We will use this drone as evidence to pursue a legal case against the US invasion at relevant international bodies,”the Iranian FM said.

In a video broadcast on Iran’s Press TV on December 4, a US ScanEagle drone recently intercepted over the Persian Gulf by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was not visibly damaged. If the drone was manufactured by Boeing subsidiary Insitu, the lack of damage indicates it was not shot down, but was ‘hooked’ intact and brought to the ground.

IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, who made the official announcement on the drone’s capture, did not specify the exact date it had been intercepted.

One year ago, Tehran was reluctant to go to an international court when Iranian electronic warfare specialists managed to take control of the top-secret US RQ-170 ‘Sentinel’ stealth drone on a mission above the northeastern Iranian city Kashmar. The Sentinel was hacked and forced to land on an Iranian airfield, and then captured intact on December 4, 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

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Netanyahu agreed to ceasefire after Obama promised US troops in Sinai next week?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 24, 2012

Israel and Palestine are momentarily at a ceasefire, but the potential reasoning behind the recess could have some real international implications. Israel’s Debka reports that the pause in fighting comes after the US promised to send troops to Sinai.

According to Debka, US troops will soon be en route to the Sinai peninsula, Egyptian territory in North Africa that’s framed by the Suez Canal on the West and Israel on the East. In its northeast most point, Sinai is but a stone’s throw from Palestinian-controlled Gaza, and according to Debka, Hamas fighters there have been relying on Iranian arms smugglers to supply them with weaponry by way of Egypt.

Debka reports this week that Sinai will soon be occupied by US troops, who were promised by President Barack Obama to Israel’s leaders as a condition that a ceasefire be called. Once deployed, the Americans will intervene with the rumored arms trade orchestrated by Iranians, ideally cutting off supplies for Hamas while at the same time serving as a thorn in the side of Iran.

“Once the missile and arms consignments depart Iranian ports or Libyan arms bazaars, Tehran has no direct control of their transit from point to point through Egypt until they reach Sinai and their Gaza destination,” Debka reports. “All the same, a US special forces operation against the Sinai segment of the Iranian smuggling route would count as the first overt American military strike against an Iranian military interest.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Google takes action to support open Internet

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 23, 2012

An upcoming UN-organized conference on global communications aims to hammer out a treaty to safeguard “the free flow of information around the world.” Google is fighting back, saying the treaty threatens the “free and open Internet.”

Representatives from UN member-states will gather in Dubai from December 3 through 14 with the explicit aim of working out a new universal information and communication treaty that would regulate the Internet.

The conference, organized by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) has reignited a fierce debate over who should control the Web.

Google has remained unequivocal in its stance that the closed-door meeting a power grab aimed at ending public control of the Internet and strangling free speech:

“A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice,” Google said on its ‘Take Action’ advocacy website.

Google, which has consistently taken a self-regulatory approach to the Internet, called the Dubai conference the“wrong place” to make decisions on the future of the Internet.

The Internet giant argued that the 42 countries set to decide the future of the Net have already moved to censor it, and that the number of regulations is only growing. Read the rest of this entry »

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700,000 Americans petition the White House to secede from the US

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 15, 2012

The White House (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

The White House (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

In the one week since US President Barack Obama won his bid for re-election, representatives from all 50 states have filed petitions with the White House asking to secede from the United States.

Just seven days after a citizen of Louisiana asked for the state’s peaceful secession from the rest of the country, hundreds of thousands of electronic signatures from around the United States have been submitted to WhiteHouse.gov for review as Americans from all corners of the country ask the president to grant them amicable separation from the union.

According to the White House’s own rules on the ‘We the People’ portal of the Executive Branch’s official website, a staffer from within the walls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will respond in a timely manner to any petition that can garner more than 25,000 signatures. As of the morning of Nov. 14, pleads out of Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee have all crossed that threshold, with petitions from the rest of the country quickly accumulating enough signatures to soon require a reply as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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