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Nederlog


  May
19, 2014
Crisis: Revolution, Eurasians, Piketty, Surveillance, NSA, Spying
   "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton
















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Sections
Introduction

1. They Can’t Outlaw the Revolution
2. The Birth of a Eurasian Century
3. Thomas Frank Locates Thomas Piketty’s Blind Spot
4. Can the Surveillance State Be Stopped?
5. NSA Spying Is a Power Grab
6. Should School Records Cost More Than Most Cars?

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of May 19. It is an ordinary crisis issue.

There are six items, that I will not summarize, but that do contain interesting links. Here I want to point out something close to a miracle: I think this is the first time in over 500 crisis items that I have no less than six items the titles of none of which overflows to the next line.

Well...yes, I know that is not big news. It just struck me. Now for the real crisis news:

1. They Can’t Outlaw the Revolution

The first item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
Actually, I think they can, but this is an article about Cecily McMillan, who is 25 and has been considered guilty of elbowing a policeman, who was in ordinary clothes and grabbed her breast, and now risks up to seven years imprisonment for that, which indeed is completely ludicrous.

This is quoted from the beginning:
“I am prepared mentally for a long sentence,” she told me this past weekend when I interviewed her at the Rikers Island prison in the Bronx. “I watched the trial. I watched the judge. This was never about justice. Just as it is not about justice for these other women. One mother was put in here for shoplifting after she lost her job and her house and needed to feed her children. There is another prisoner, a preschool teacher with a 1-year-old son she was breastfeeding, who let her cousin stay with her after her cousin was evicted. It turns out the cousin sold drugs. The cops found money, not drugs, that the cousin kept in the house and took the mother. They told her to leave her child with the neighbors. There is story after story in here like this. It wakes you up.”

McMillan’s case is emblematic of the nationwide judicial persecution of activists, a persecution familiar to poor people of color. Her case stands in contrast with the blanket impunity given to the criminals of Wall Street. Some 8,000 nonviolent Occupy protesters have been arrested. Not one banker or investor has gone to jail for causing the 2008 financial meltdown. The disparity of justice mirrors the disparity in incomes and the disparity in power.

Yes, indeed. There also is given excellent evidence that both the trial and the judge were far from fair, and there is considerable space for Cecily McMillan's opinions.

2. The Birth of a Eurasian Century

The next item is an article by Pepe Escobar on Truthdig, but originally from TomDispatch:

This starts as follows:

A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass—at the expense of the United States.

And no wonder Washington is anxious.  That alliance is already a done deal in a variety of ways: through the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Asian counterweight to NATO; inside the G20; and via the 120-member-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Trade and commerce are just part of the future bargain.   Synergies in the development of new military technologies beckon as well. After Russia’s Star Wars-style, ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense anti-missile system comes online in 2018, Beijing is sure to want a version of it. Meanwhile, Russia is about to sell dozens of state-of-the-art Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters to the Chinese as Beijing and Moscow move to seal an aviation-industrial partnership.

There are three pages of it, and while I do not particularly like the style ("A specter is haunting Washington", adapted from Karl Marx), the idea that the 21st Century may be dictated, especially in Europe, by Eurasian and more specifically Russian and Chinese powers and interests, does not seem to me to be at all unlikely.

I do not know, and nobody does, but especially the Russians have a very large country that still has many supplies of raw materials, that are mostly exhausted in Western Europe.

3.  Thomas Frank Locates Thomas Piketty’s Blind Spot

The next item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Celebrity economist Thomas Piketty’s proposal of an “international IRS” as a means to end rampant wealth inequality falls far short of methods that exist in the American tradition, Salon columnist Thomas Frank writes in a critique of the best-selling “Capital in the Twenty-First Century.”

“Bringing the aristocracy to heel is entirely within our power and our tradition, and American statesmen from Jefferson to FDR (the man on the nickel, the man on the dime) have taken enthusiastic part in the business of leveling,” Frank wrote May 11. “There is nothing utopian about it at all. It is not an opium dream to imagine that Grover Norquist and company might one day be defeated or that the estate tax might be brought back in full Rooseveltian force; both are eminently possible, if only the Democrats would pull their heads out of their butts.”

Really now? Firstly, this seems to me to be extremely unlikely to happen (apart from an economic collapse), and secondly this does not seem to be an adequate criticism of Piketty's proposal of a global tax on the rich: One may not like that, for various reasons, but to counter this with the possibility that "the aristocracy" can be brought "to heel" by an awakened Democratic party seems a bit witless to me.

Next, the blind spot Frank has diagnosed in Piketty is this:

Piketty’s biggest blind spot, Frank contends, is that he has “virtually nothing to say about labor unions.” Except for an anecdote offered at the start and end of the book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is devoid of references to labor unions.

Might the reason not be that Piketty's book is about income inequalities? To be sure, I haven't read it (and indeed suppose I never will: too many pages of economy, devoted to an idea I already agree with, viz. that the rich get too much and the poor too little for the work they do), but it seems to me that labor unions are not directly involved in the riches of the 1% nor in showing that precisely the riches of the rich have grown enormously the last 35 years.

I don't know, but it seems to me that Thomas Frank's critique of Piketty mostly consists of repeating some leftist dreams that simply are not relevant to what Piketty set out to do.

4. Can the Surveillance State Be Stopped?

The next item is an article by Danny Schechter on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

With the publication of Glenn Greenwald’s new book on Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency, the state surveillance issue is back in full force, as if it ever went a way.

Purloined formerly top-secret NSA documents are now there for the downloading, even as the calls for truth and privacy buttressed by irrefutable information, has run up against the institutional armor of the surveillance state that has little respect for public opinion or calls for “reform.”

Yes - it is the old Juvenalian question "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?": Who guards the guards themselves, especially if these have grown corrupt through the enormous powers that they have assigned to themselves?

Next, there is this:
Just as the publication of the Pentagon Papers in l971 did not end the Vietnam War, the leaks from a world of questionable “intelligence” gathering have only made our spymasters more determined. There were more years of carnage after Daniel Ellsberg dropped the hidden history of our intervention in Vietnam showing how officials knew the truth even as they fed the public a litany of lies to keep a profitable if murderous enterprise going.

The charade was finally ended by the Vietnamese liberation army 39 years ago, but the NSA and its handsomely financed partners in the self-styled “Intelligence Community” will go on and on until someone stops them and their spying, and that someone is hard to identify given the way the agencies seem to have the goods on the government as well as the rest of us.

Yes indeed - and that is a problem: That "the agencies seem to have the goods on the government as well as the rest of us".

This indeed may move Dianne Feinstein, as Ray McGovern says in the article, since her husband made billions from defense and other contracts, and there probably is much to hide.

Then again, I do not have much to hide, and there is nothing with which I can be effectively blackmailed, and it seems to me many millions are in the same position, though indeed they do not have my background, and they may be afraid, with reason also, especially if they have children.

But to turn back to the government and Congress: indeed, it would seem to me that an NSA out to find dirt on these folks - which they are - will have rich strikes, and may have found much that makes them quite confident that they will play as the NSA instructs them, and leave the NSA be.

Here is the end of the article:

CIA veteran Ray McGovern says let’s hope there are more Snowdens in the wings: “Now, if you only have 1 out of 100 or maybe even out of 1,000 … technically proficient people like this, that’s all you need to do what Edward Snowden did.

“The governments cannot operate without these very bright people – a lot of these bright people bring consciousness to their expertise, as long as that’s the case, and that will continue to be the case, the governments will not be able to get away with this kind of thing.

“So, that’s the good news – bad news of course is that they’ll keep trying, and as I said before, with the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches all kind of complicit in this … well, and then you have the media, and the corporations and all that – it looks very much like the classic definition that Mussolini gave to Fascism.”

Yes indeed, it does, at least in the sense of: fascism =def an authoritarian and totalitarian government that serves the interests of the corporations. (I do not know whether that is Mussolini's definition, but this kind of definition dates back to leftist circles in the 1930ies.)

And indeed it would seem to me that is where the USA are currently headed:

They have an authoritarian government that makes many of its decisions secret; the government serves the interests of the corporations in letting them do as they please without prosecuting any of the managers (or only by declaring them innocent of any wrong doing if they hand over a part of their profits); and while the USA is not - yet - explicitly totalitarian, much of the ordinary TV is based on extremely partial and very incomplete presentations of "the news".
And finally, the USA has secret services that surveil everyone in regards of everything that he or she does with a computer or a phone.

5. NSA Spying Is a Power Grab

The next item is an article by Washington's Blog on that blog:
This contains the following, where the colors and boldings are in the original:

Why Did They Do It?

Why did the NSA switch from the privacy-protecting system which worked to catch terrorists to one that spied on all Americans in violation of their constitutional rights?

A very high-level congressional committee security staffer – Diane Roark – gave a hint on a Frontline show this month. Roark was the congressional staffer in charge of overseeing the NSA for the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.

Roark explains:

NARRATOR: [Senior House Intelligence Committee staff between 1985-2002 Diane] Roark was summoned to the top deck at the NSA to meet with Director Hayden.

DIANE ROARK: My whole point in going there was to ask him why he had taken off the protections, the encryptions and the automated tracking. I asked this any number of times, and he always evaded answering. And I finally just decided I was not going to leave the room until I got an answer. And so I kept asking.

So about the fifth time, he looked down, and I remember he could not look me in the eye, and he said, “We have the power. We don’t need them.” And he made clear that the power he was referring to was the commander-in-chief’s chief’s wartime authority.

In other words, the Constitution was tossed out the window and all Americans have been subjected to Orwellian surveillance ever since – not because it’s necessary or even efficient – but simply because they decided that they had the raw power to do so.

Yes - although Hayden implemented a plan that existed since 1969, at least: See my Nederlog of October 13, 2012 from which I quote the following bit from 1969:
However Mr Brezezinski does not expect that the Luddite
lovers of freedom and anarchy will seriously obstruct the new
order. For one thing, 'it will soon be possible to assert almost
continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain  up-to-
date, complete files, containing even personal information
about the health and personal behaviour of the citizen, in
addition to the more customary data.' Moreover it will be
possible to anticipate and plan to meet any uprisings in the
future. The police will even be able to forecast crises before the
rioters themselves are conscious of wanting them. 
And again yes - but it is not only that the NSA had the computing power and the political power to do it:

It is that they want to control everyone, and indeed that they do not and have never believed - since 1969, at least - in a real democracy or in a really free and open society. These do not leave sufficient power to either the government, the generals or the corporations, nor do they allow the corporations to enrich the few as they have done from 2001 onwards, at least.


6. Should School Records Cost More Than Most Cars?

The next and final item for today is not article but a video by The Young Turks:

This is nominally about the following, that I quote from the website:
"Nevada father John Eppolito is concerned and curious about the kind of data his state's public schools are collecting on his children. So, he thought, what better way to answer this question than to request his children's data records?

Eppolito did just that. But instead of getting records, he got a huge serving of sticker shock.

$10,194."
But it extends to all kinds of spying, with the following interesting points that I give you at 5 m 49 s into the item:
This is well put and may be what many Americans think.
---------------------------------
Note
[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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