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Nederlog


  June
26, 2014
Crisis: Privacy, SCOTUS ruling, Bankers, Snowden, the TISA scam
   "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
















Prev- crisis -Next
Sections
Introduction

1. US to extend privacy protection rights to EU citizens
2. One Court, Indivisible, Votes Liberty and Justice For All
3. Bankers Could Go To Jail
4. Snowden: Citizens Have 'Civic Obligation to Push Back'
     Against Abuses

5. Bill Black: Obama’s Latest Betrayal in Favor of the Big
     Banks: TISA


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of June 26. It is an ordinary crisis log.

This does contain several interesting items, notably item 2, that records a good
decision of the US Supreme Court; item 4, with some news about the latest Snowden testimony (that I could not find a decent video of that I can play); and item 5, that is about TISA, the secret and classified plan that our current political rulers are drafting to help defraud everyone, except the big bankers and the big corporations.

1. US to extend privacy protection rights to EU citizens 

The first item is an article by Ewen MacAskill on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The Obama administration has caved in to pressure from the European Union in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations on surveillance by promising to pass legislation granting European citizens many of the privacy protection rights enjoyed by US citizens.

The proposed law would apply to data on European citizens being transferred to the US for what Washington says is law enforcement purposes.

After the first Snowden revelations appeared in June last year, the Obama administration irritated many by insisting that while US citizens were protected by law from snooping by US spy agencies, this did not apply to non-Americans.

On Wednesday the US attorney general, Eric Holder, promised at a US-EU meeting of home affairs and justice ministers in Athens that legislation would be sent to Congress to extend the US Privacy Act to EU citizens.

I can't say I am overjoyed, and I much doubt that the "Obama administration has caved in to pressure".

Also, all this is are words: I haven't seen a law yet; I simply do not believe that e.g. my data (I am a European citizen) are
"being transferred to the US for what Washington says is law enforcement purposes"; and I just don't trust the Obama government: it has lied very many times, and its lies ("Yes, we can!") often are the opposite of what it does ("Yes, we scan!").

There is quite a bit more in the article, but I only quote the last part of it, because that seems most right to me:

Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International, said: "It is a good step forward. Nonetheless, there are three massive impediments to achieving equivalent protection under law. First, Congress needs to act on this and we haven't seen many positive steps on protecting non-Americans' rights."

Secondly, Hosein described the US Privacy Act as "an unfortunately weak legal regime" and, thirdly, he wanted worldwide privacy protections against what he said was the accumulation of massive amounts of data by US intelligence against non-Americans.

Cynthia Wong, senior internet researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: "It may be a small step in the right direction but much more needs to be done to address data protection in the US and to rein in the sheer scale of what the NSA is collecting."

Now as to extending "the US Privacy Act to EU citizens": First, I very much doubt this will give me more or as much as my European rights do; second, the Privacy Act anyway is a very "weak legal regime"; and third, it seems to me likely that what the US will be really doing is to try to weaken European rights, and make them subject to American laws, which I am against.

Next, as to the transferral of my data to the US "
for what Washington says is law enforcement purposes": I am completely against that. The US has no rights whatsoever to reading my mails or plundering my computer merely because I am not an American (and so can't be "exceptional") and because they can and do break in and steal them, to the best of my knowledge.

So by and large I agree with Cynthia Wong: Much "
more needs to be done to address data protection in the US and to rein in the sheer scale of what the NSA is collecting".

2. One Court, Indivisible, Votes Liberty and Justice For All 

The next item is an article by Robert Scheer on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

This week’s unanimous Supreme Court decision affirming a robust Fourth Amendment protection for cellphone data is an enormously important victory for privacy rights in the digital age. It is also a reminder that support as well as opposition to civil liberty these days can come from unexpected quarters. Or maybe it is no longer much of a surprise that our constitutional law professor turned President cares so little for the protections enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

In an opinion endorsed by all factions on the court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. summarily rejected the assertion of the Obama Justice Department and the liberal Attorney General of California, defending that state’s top court’s view, that a warrantless search of the vast data contained on a cell phone is comparable to looking into a detainees cigarette pack or reading a few pages tucked into his pocket. Limited searches that the court has previously accepted as consistent with the Fourth Amendment.

Indeed, this is legal (unlike - so far - the previous item) and it is good: The police needs a legal warrant to search your cell phone, in the US. In fact, that does seem obvious to me, but it is nice to see that the Supreme Court agrees, especially since this limits some of the attacks on civil liberties by the Obama administration.

And here is another good thing: The whole Supreme Court - all nine judges - rejected the "argument" of Obama's administration that one's cell phone is like one's leather-wallet-of-yore. No, it is not, and is not at all:

Instead of treating “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” as an irrelevant antiquity of the pre-computer age Roberts turned the argument on its head insisting that a cell phone’s data requires greater constitutional protection because the personal information it contains is so vast. As Roberts wrote in dismissing the U.S Justice Department and California’s equation of cell phone data to previously acceptable incidental body searches:

“That is like saying a ride on horseback is materially indistinguishable from a flight to the moon. Both are ways of getting from point A to point B, but little else justifies lumping them together. Modern cell phones, as a category, implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet, or a purse…Before cell phones, a search of a person was limited by physical realities and tended as a general matter to constitute only a narrow intrusion on privacy…Today, by contrast, it is no exaggeration to say that many of the more than 90% of Americans who own a cell phone keep on their person a digital record of nearly every aspect of their lives—from the mundane to the intimate.”

Yes, indeed:"Both are ways of getting from point A to point B, but little else justifies lumping them together" - but that is precisely the kind of conflation and intentional confusion Obama's government excelled in, stretching or redefining perfectly good and clear terms, in order to seem to "justify" its attacks on the privacy of ordinary citizens, its defense of not prosecuting bankers, and indeed also its drone memo, that justifies murder without any judge or court, also of American citizens.

And there is this:

The modern cell phone is a mobile file cabinet of all of the personal data once stored in a home that the Fourth Amendment was designed to protect. Writing of the cellphone Roberts argued for the unanimous majority: “They could just as easily be called cameras, video players, Rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps or newspapers.”

Yes indeed - and the same or more holds for my or your desktop computer. Scheer also remarks, correctly I think:

While it is certainly questionable whether Roberts will lead the court into applying that prohibition to the modern surveillance state logical consistency would demand it.

Yes - and Roberts is also quoted as saying another important thing:
“Our cases have recognized that the Fourth Amendment was the founding generation’s response to the reviled “general warrants” and “writs of assistance” of the colonial era, which allowed British officers to rummage through homes in an unrestrained search for evidence of criminal activity. Opposition to such searches was in fact one of the driving forces behind the revolution itself."

So this is an important step in the right direction, by the US Supreme Court.

It is true it only applies to cell phones (that are still being tapped for all they are worth by the NSA), and it probably is also true that most of the members of the Supreme Court will have cell phones, that may have helped them a lot, but this is a good decision.

3. Bankers Could Go To Jail

The next item is an article by Dean Baker on Common Dreams:

This is about the following possibility:

The imposition of large fines may cause current shareholders to demand the executives who broke the law be fired, but in many cases they will have already moved on to other jobs or retired. In the case of the fraudulent loans that were passed on in mortgage backed securities (MBS) in the housing bubble years, most of the top executives had already left their banks by the time actions were brought by the Justice Department.

In this case, they made enormous amounts of money by breaking the law. The financial crisis may have caused them to retire or leave their banks somewhat sooner than they would have preferred, but almost all of them come out as net gainers from their actions. 

The one sanction that would clearly be effective in deterring bankers from breaking the law would be putting them in jail for breaking the law. It is likely that the prospect of spending several years in prison, along with fines taking away most of their monetary gains, would provide a serious disincentive to bankers who might otherwise break the law. The Justice Department could have pressed cases by showing that top officials in banks had good reason to believe that many of the mortgages they were passing along in MBS were fraudulent.

It is likely that top executives at major investment banks had some knowledge that many of the loans they were securitizing were fraudulent, since there were numerous accounts in the business press about bad loans. There were also widely circulated jokes about the quality of these loans. (...) (Deliberately passing along fraudulent loans is fraud.)

Yes, but it seems to me to be more urgent and also stronger than stated:

First, many of the bankers got enormously richer: A fraud like Dick Fuld made over 400 million dollars by fundamentally illegal and fraudulent means, that also collapsed his bank. He still has all his money, and something very similar holds for many of his very rich banking friends.

Second, it is not merely "likely" that "top executives at major investment banks had some knowledge that many of the loans they were securitizing were fraudulent": That may be considered certain, since it was a very widespread practice to bet against the very derivatives they sold to ignorant customers (and generally gained a whole lot of money that way).

Third, the only reason many of these mega-rich (former) top bankers are not in jail is that the Department of Justice does not prosecute them "because they lead banks that are too big to fail" - which is simply a major corruption that protects systematic major corruption.

For more on bankers, their "honesty", and there enormous profits, see:

4. Snowden: Citizens Have 'Civic Obligation to Push Back' Against Abuses

The next item is an article by Max Ocean on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows (and I am sorry I could not find a playable copy of the interview):

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden addressed the leading European human rights organization on Tuesday, once again refuting many of the claims made over the last year by members of the national security establishment, journalists, and others.

Speaking to the Council of Europe via videofeed from Russia during a special session on improving the protections of whistleblowers, Snowden denied any connection to the Russian government, and stated that he has stayed in the country not by choice, but as a matter of circumstance.

Yes. He also said:

Snowden also disputed the notion that his disclosures had harmed national security. "It is a subversion of democratic rule for any authorities to use state secrecy law as a means to implement programs that they know the public would never agree to authorize," he argued. A year after the disclosures, "we have never seen the governments in any country point to any specific harm to any individual or any national security priority," he stated in his defense.
(...)
Snowden maintains that more than a year after his initial disclosures rocked the national security establishment, he is satisfied with the results. "Public affairs have to be known by the public to be handled. We can't be said to be a democracy if we've lost our seat at the table of government," he argued.

"When citizens are reduced to the status of subjects...that diminishes us as a free people, as a society, and as a culture, and I believe that we have not just a right, but a civic obligation to push back when we see lawbreaking, when we see abuse, when we see excesses of simple bad policy,"

I quite agree, though I also feel certain (because of my own history and that of my father and grandfather) this is a relatively rare feeling - but yes: there is a civic obligation to try to maintain the rights one does have (especially those in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) even if the government (merely individuals with more power than anyone else in one's society) insists (falsely but factually) that one does not have these rights, or should not have them, or that one should shut up and "behave normally".

5.  Bill Black: Obama’s Latest Betrayal in Favor of the Big Banks: TISA 

The next and last item is an article by Bill Black (<- Wikipedia) on Naked Capitalism:

This is from the beginning - and I am extracting quite a bit, though by far not all, because I think this is very serious:

The three “de’s” – deregulation, desupervision, and de facto decriminalization – has been critical to the three modern U.S. financial crises. The combination is intensely criminogenic and produces the fraud epidemics that drive our crises…..

The obvious question is why, since we know from repeated waves of the three “de’s” how disastrously this ends, we fail to “learn from experience” and finally follow the advice of effective financial regulators, white-collar criminologists, and top economists? The even more pointed question is why President Obama cannot “learn from experience.” It was his appointees to the FCIC who unanimously warned that the three “de’s” played a critical role in causing the crisis.

TISA is designed to replicate, indeed, optimize the criminogenic environment that made fraudulent financial CEOs wealthy by “looting” “their” banks.

As to the first paragraph: Yes, "deregulation, desupervision, and de facto decriminalization" is what it is all about: the ending of democratic government, and the introduction of an authoritarian government that serves the banks and the big corporations and the very rich, at the cost of everyone else's rights. And yes, this is "criminogenic and produces the fraud epidemics that drive our crises".

As to the second paragraph: Well... for one thing, Obama was for the big banks and the very rich from the start, it can be said now, looking back: he talked differently, but did and signed what they wanted. And for another thing: this kind of corruption pays incredibly well, to the few and the rich, and that is also their appeal: the few rich can get a whole lot richer by
deregulation, desupervision, and decriminalization, and that is what they deeply care for, much rather than civilization, and indeed what they mean by "liberty" and "freedom" and "free markets": the freedom of the rich to do as they please, even if this destroys everyone.

As to the third paragraph: Yes, indeed - and that is also why it is secret, classified and even remains secret for five years after it gets installed. It is so criminal that the politicians who helped design it want to have lost their political positions that enabled them to further this criminal scam first, namely before there is any evidence of their enormous betrayals of those who elected them.

Then there is this (and note the five points that follow are Black's: none of them is in the TISA):

In sum, we know not only that the three “de’s” are disastrous, but also that effective reregulation, resupervision, and restoration of effective prosecutions can be exceptionally effective and save tens of trillions of dollars in costs and 10 million American jobs by preventing the most destructive financial crises and resultant Great Recession. (Those savings would have been dramatically greater in the eurozone where one-third of the population is suffering from Great Depression levels of unemployment.)

The EU and Obama, therefore, should have several key areas of complete agreement in drafting TISA:

  1. It is essential, and urgent, to end the global financial regulatory race to the bottom
  2. It is essential, and urgent, to end the existing regulatory structure’s continuing hostility to effective regulation, supervision, and prosecution
  3. The systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs) (the so-called “too big to fail” banks) pose an intolerable global risk of financial crisis and should have been forced to shrink to a size where they no longer endanger the world’s economies and democracies
  4. It is essential, and urgent, to remove the perverse incentives created by modern executive and professional compensation
  5. Rehabilitate private discipline by requiring “independent” experts providing services to financial institutions to be owned in partnership form with joint and several liability and fully restore the fiduciary duties of loyalty and care that have been eviscerated by legislation and hostile judicial interpretations

I’ll discuss a limited aspect of what the draft TISA provides below, but it is sufficient for this paradox to make four points. First, none of the five vital and urgent reforms is contained in the draft. Second, there is not a single provision designed to make regulation, supervision, enforcement, or prosecution of private bankers and those that aid and abet their violations more effective. Third, virtually every provision is designed to make banking more criminogenic by increasing the three “de’s” and locking in the existing pathetically inadequate system. Fourth, the draft is designed as a one-way ratchet under which nations are only allowed to further loosen their already inadequate regulation, supervision, and prosecution systems.

There is also this:
Even more insanely, Obama’s draft is designed to make it far more difficult for competent regulators to respond rapidly to a developing crisis and contain it as was done during the S&L debacle and during the surge of “liar’s” loans in 1990-1991 before it cause any crisis. The goal is to prevent a group of regulators from emulating our successful reregulation of the S&L industry and obtaining over 1,000 felony convictions in cases designated as “major” by the Department of Justice (DOJ). To obtain that result we made over 30,000 criminal referrals. In the current crisis, the anti-regulators who de-supervised banks made, at best, a handful of criminal referrals and the result is that six years after the collapse of the financial system not a single senior banker who led the three most destructive financial fraud epidemics in history has been prosecuted by DOJ. Bank CEOs love the three “de’s” because it allows them to become wealthy by “looting” with impunity. Looting, as Akerlof and Romer aptly emphasized, is a “sure thing” for the leaders of a bank.
Finally, I quote this (from a lot more):

The TISA draft (Article X.16) is very clear about the second great paradox: bankers must be told everything that regulators are thinking about adopting and have ample opportunity to influence the regulators’ drafting of the rule. But TISA is an international secret that will remain an international secret for five years after it is adopted. Like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the drafts are kept secret even from Congress. Indeed, TISA is “classified” so that those who might blow the whistle on the travesty may be prosecuted. The draft’s initial information contains this language:

Declassify on: Five years from entry into force of the TISA agreement….

It must be stored in a locked or secured building, room, or container.

I note this obvious, indefensible hypocrisy because it is illustrative of the entire draft. When the indefensible appears in a document like this it is because the drafters know that there is no one representing the other side and they can afford to be outrageously one-sided. It was clearly drafted by and for lobbyists for the SDIs. Any government officials involved in the drafting are simply scribes who will be rewarded on the other side of the revolving door. There is no pretense that the draft is a reasoned response to differing views. Only one set of views – literally the wish list of the largest, most criminal banks – is presented and it is presented in exceptionally extreme language. There is literally nothing in the draft designed to increase the regulatory protections afforded the public from private banks. There is literally nothing in the draft that increases restrictions on private banks.

Yes: it is deeply criminal and tries to further the looting of the many by the rich few. My own position is this:

Any international treaty that is supposed to rule the economy that is secret or that is to remain secret even while it is active or that is classified is a completely illegal and criminal scam that should not pass in any real democracy nor in any free and open society, and that cannot be accepted.
And those who pretend otherwise - Obama, Cameron, Barosso, the bosses of the EU and so on - are criminals, out to massively enrich themselves after their political jobs have ended.

I do not know whether this point makes much of a real difference, but one important reason is that the mainstream media is completely silent on this greatest scam of all time: You are supposed to want to hear the latest soccer news, and not to know of serious economy, especially not if one's political masters want to have this kept secret and classified, and see in it the means of very much enriching their very rich backers, and themselves, after having finished their political offices.

Anyway - there is a lot more under the last dotted link: it will not make you happier, and it may be a bit difficult, but it is very important and will make you wiser, and it is also not at all dealt with in the main media, that treat you and me and everyone else as if we are stupid fools who are not even fit to know the secrets our masters are preparing at our costs for their own enormous enrichment and that of their already rich friends and backers.

---------------------------------
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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