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Nederlog


  August
7, 2014
Crisis: Another Snowden?, Treason, Banks*2, Brennan, Gaza, Personal
  "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.
Has the U.S. National Security Apparatus Sprung Another
     Snowden-Style Leak?

2. None Dare Call It Treason
3. 'Too Big To Fail' Banks: Bigger, Badder... and Here To
     Stay
 

4. Obama Defends CIA Chief John Brennan Amid
     Resignation Demands

5.
Amid Gaza's Ruins, Impact on Children Most 'Severe': UN
     Official

6. Too Big to Fail Has NOT Ended … It’s Only Gotten WORSE
7. Personal

 

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, August 7. It is a crisis log.

There is an earlier Nederlog of today, which is not about the crisis but that reproduces some English poetry I wrote nearly thirty years ago, with a few comments. The poetry is fine, but I do not know how many are interested.

The present file has six crisis items of various kinds, and ends with a brief personal note.

And both of today's files are uploaded somewhat earlier than normal.
 
1.  Has the U.S. National Security Apparatus Sprung Another Snowden-Style Leak?

The first item is an article by Ben Mathis-Lilley on Slate:

This starts as follows:

The U.S. government believes that a new Edward Snowden–style leaker is giving national security documents to journalists affiliated with Snowden confidante Glenn Greenwald, a suspicion that Greenwald has hinted at confirming. From CNN:

Proof of the newest leak comes from national security documents that formed the basis of a news story published Tuesday by the Intercept, the news site launched by Glenn Greenwald, who also published Snowden's leaks.
The Intercept article focuses on the growth in U.S. government databases of known or suspected terrorist names during the Obama administration.
The article cites documents prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center dated August 2013, which is after Snowden flew to Russia to avoid U.S. criminal charges.
This is interesting. Incidentally - and as Mathis-Lilley points out - there is no reason why this is a leaker rather than several leakers, but I agree that several is less likely than one.

The reason the government gives - new secret material from August 2013, when Snowden was in Russia - is good, and it is also true that Greenwald does not deny it.

Is it true? I don't know, but I agree the reason is good.

2.  None Dare Call It Treason 

The next item is an article by Richard Reeves on Truthdig:

Actually, the treason that is intended is that of the present GOP, that has almost stopped Congress from functioning:  Congress has passed only 108 substantive bills, which is very much less than normal.

In fact, the title of the article also was the title of a book:

"None Dare Call It Treason," to quote the title of a popular right-wing tract of the 1960s, but the effect of Republican "governance" these last few years is a pretty fair modern equivalent. Back in the day, the ‘Sixties, a right-wing polemicist named John Stormer wrote that enormously popular book—it sold more than 5 million copies—which began by accusing the Congress of the United States, with help from the United Nations, of secretly and directly funding communist militaries dedicated to the overthrow of the United States government.

The case against the present GOP is made as follows:

McConnell and Boehner (...) are public officials sworn to uphold the Constitution and sovereignty of the United States.

They are, of course, not traitors by legal definitions, though they to do fit the classic definition of endeavoring to "harm" the sovereign, and the nation as well. The minority leader and the speaker have done their best to prevent the president from presiding, and they have done even more to prevent the Congress from legislating or fulfilling most of its other constitutional duties.

I think that is true, though I do not see how to change this (without a revolution).

3. 'Too Big To Fail' Banks: Bigger, Badder... and Here To Stay 

The next item is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts with a subtitle, that I reproduce because it gives a fair indication of the contents of the article:

Dodd-Frank regulations have done little or nothing to diminish systemic threat of large financial institutions as FDIC and Fed regulators say "living wills" are inadequate to avoid repeat of 2008 disaster

Yes, indeed. The article starts as follows:

Nearly six years after the financial crisis of 2008 that helped spur a global economic meltdown, federal regulators in the U.S. on Tuesday declared that much-touted reforms designed to curb the threat of so-called 'Too Big To Fail' banks have done not nearly enough to end the prospect that taxpayers will be left holding the bag when the next bubble bursts or a new wave of Wall Street disasters strikes.

Presented in a joint review by the Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the two financial regulatory bodies say that resolution plans (so-called "living wills") submitted by eleven large banks—which included Wall Street titans Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, State Street Corp., and UBS—shared common flaws that make the institutions a continued threat to the overall economy.

One main reason is that the plans that the big banks must have, according to the Dodd-Frank regulations, to ward off the risks of their collapses in case of another crisis, simply fail:

"Each plan being [put forth] is deficient and fails to convincingly demonstrate how, in failure, any one of these firms could overcome obstacles to entering bankruptcy without precipitating a financial crisis," said FDIC vice chairman Thomas Hoenig in a statement. "Despite the thousands of pages of material these firms submitted, the plans provide no credible or clear path through bankruptcy that doesn't require unrealistic assumptions and direct or indirect public support."

Actually, it would seem to me that this is intentional: it keeps them Too Big to Fail, which means that they keep relying on tax money to save them if something goes wrong, and it also means that

the Too Big to Fail status is giving the 10 biggest U.S. banks an annual taxpayer subsidy of $83 billion.

So I would say that now that the bankmanagers have found a way to make the people pay for their losses, while they themselves are paid for their gains, they would be crazy (for a banker, who is out to get as many millions as he can, which is what they all are doing, quite consciously and proudly also) to give up their status as Too Big to Fail.

So in consequence (or so I would say) there is this:

Even more troubling, since 2008, the largest banks in the U.S. have gotten larger, not smaller.

As the FDIC's Hoenig conceded on Tuesday, "These firms are generally larger, more complicated, and more interconnected than they were prior to the crisis of 2008. They have only marginally strengthened their balance sheet to facilitate their resolvability, should it be necessary. They remain excessively leveraged."

This in turn means that the next crisis will be much bigger than the last one, while the people's taxes are still supposed to keep the banks afloat in that next crisis. 

4. Obama Defends CIA Chief John Brennan Amid Resignation Demands

The next item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

As CIA chief John Brennan faces calls for resignation from critics in Washington, President Barack Obama has continued to give him his steadfast support.

According to The Hill, Obama's strategic friendship with Brennan, which began during Obama's first presidential campaign, is likely to withstand the backlash against the CIA director that arose in response to revelations that the agency spied on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"I think the president trusts him 100 percent and that’s the key here," an anonymous government official told The Hill. "He thinks he’s indispensable, and he’s probably right. There are few people who know more than Brennan about the intelligence landscape."

I should say that I find the quoted "anonymous government official" not very credible. First, no one is indispensable. Second, I cannot see any reason why the president should trust the head of the CIA, and third, if he does, as he may, I see no reason why he would trust him "100 percent".

And indeed my question is rather: What does the head of the CIA know about the president that the president doesn't want others to know? I don't know, but it is a possible explanation for a "
strategic friendship".

Here is a potted version of the qualities of Brennan that are evident:

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee accused the CIA of hacking into senators' computers as the committee compiled damning evidence of the agency's illegal detention and torture program. Brennan initially denied the accusations, stating in March that "nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn't do that... that's just beyond the scope of reason in terms of what we would do." But a few months later, an internal investigation determined that the agency had indeed broken into the computer network used by the committee's members. Agents had read through Senate investigators' emails and sent false criminal referrals to the Justice Department, a move that Feinstein said "undermined the constitutional framework essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activities or any other government function."

Brennan apologized privately to the committee and the CIA released a statement saying its employees "acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached" between the agency and senators in 2009, when the investigation began.
Note that Brennan only apologized ("privately") after it had been shown he grossly lied and slandered, and had threatened the Senate with judicial prosecution. So I can quite follow Udall, Heinrich, Wyden and McCain:
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) both called for Brennan's resignation. Udall said the CIA's actions were "unprecedented" noting Brennan's "abject failure to acknowledge any wrongdoing by the agency," while Heinrich said, "I think it would be better for the agency if Director Brennan stepped aside." Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called the spying operation "unconstitutional." McCain said the agency's actions were "worse than criminal."
But the president likes him so much (or has reasons to fear him) that he may stay.

5.  Amid Gaza's Ruins, Impact on Children Most 'Severe': UN Official 

The next item is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts with the following subtitle:
Humanitarian and relief agencies warn that Gaza is on the "brink" of an international health crisis as both water and power infrastructure have been destroyed during Operation Protective Edge
The texts starts as follows:
Addressing a UN conference by phone, Pernille Ironside, who runs the UNICEF field office in Gaza, said the agency estimates that roughly 373,000 Palestinian children have had some kind of direct traumatic experience as a result of the attack and will require immediate psycho-social support. This is in addition to the 408 children reported as killed and the thousands left wounded after three weeks of heavy shelling by Israeli forces.

"How can a society cope with this? This is a deep, deep, deep wound," Ironside said.
Well... it seems to me a society like the Gazan one cannot cope with this, and also there will be little or no help for the great majority of the 373,000 children.

As to the children, there is this (from much more):

"Many have lost one or both parents, or other family members. Some have lost their entire extended families," Watson continues. "All have experienced violence, fear and instability at close quarters."

Relief workers who have spent time with Palestinian children after the wars in 2008-9 and 2012 say that children who lost family members exhibit real physical manifestations of their trauma including: night terrors, inability to sleep, loss of bladder control, as well as refusing to eat, and aversion to eye contact or physical touch.

As to Netanyahu's work in his Operation Protective Edge, there is this report:
According to Mufeed al-Hasayneh, the Palestinian Minister of Public Works, Israel has caused over $5 billion dollars in damage to homes and infrastructure in the Gaza strip. Al-Hasayneh estimates that some 10,000 homes have been completely destroyed, and 30,000 homes partially destroyed.
And this does not mention the destroyed electricity and water.

There is one thing that probably also is foreseen in Netanyahu's plan for
Operation Protective Edge: The Gazans will continue to suffer a lot, but in two or three weeks this will not be big news anymore.

6. Too Big to Fail Has NOT Ended … It’s Only Gotten WORSE

The next item is an article by Washington's Blog:
This starts as follows:

Last week, Paul Krugman said too big to fail is over:

There was indeed a large-bank funding advantage during and for some time after the crisis, but it has now been diminished or gone away — maybe even slightly reversed. That is, financial markets are now acting as if they believe that future bailouts won’t be as favorable to fat cats as the bailouts of 2008.

This news is part of broader evidence that Dodd-Frank has actually done considerable good, on fronts from consumer protection to bank capitalization ….

But as David Dayen notes, Krugman’s stretching the facts:

The report [that Krugman relies on for his claim that too big to fail] doesn’t really say that future bailouts won’t be as favorable to the fat cats, or even that market participants believe that: it does say that large financial institutions would likely continue to enjoy lower funding costs than their counterparts in times of high credit risk (see page 40).
Yes, and Krugman wrote that before the report reviewed in item 3 was published.
Besides, there is this:

David Stockman – Ronald Reagan’s budget director – writes:

The giant regulatory diversion known as Dodd-Frank has actually permitted the TBTF banks to get even bigger and more dangerous. Indeed, JPM and BAC were taken to their present unmanageable size by regulators—ostensibly fighting the last outbreak of TBTF—who imposed or acquiesced to the shotgun mergers of late 2008.

So now these same regulators, who have spent four years stumbling around in the Dodd-Frank puzzle palace confecting thousands of pages of indecipherable regulations, slam their wards for not having sufficiently robust “living wills”. C’mon! This is just another Washington double-shuffle.

The very idea that $2 trillion global banking behemoths like JPMorgan or Bank of America could be entrusted to write-up standby plans for their own orderly and antiseptic bankruptcy is not only just plain stupid; it also drips with political cynicism and cowardice. If they are too big to fail, they are too big to exist. Period.

That seems quite cogent to me. I also note (from a quote by Michael Winship) that Gretchen Morgenson agrees with me (or I with her):
In The New York Times, columnist Gretchen Morgenson writes, “Six years after the financial crisis, it’s clear that some institutions remain too complex and interconnected to be unwound quickly and efficiently if they get into trouble.“It is also clear that this status confers financial benefits on those institutions. Stated simply, there is an enormous value in a bank’s ability to tap the taxpayer for a bailout rather than being forced to go through bankruptcy.”
Precisely! And that is why they want things to remain as they are since 2009: The bankers get the profits if the banks profit; the taxpayers have to pay the bail out if the banks fail to profit or threaten to go under. It's a win-win schema for the bankers, and a loose-loose schema for the people.

Anyway - there is a lot more in the article.

7. Personal

This is just to say that tomorrow there will be a longer piece on my health, which may diminish the coverage of the crisis for a day, since I also must do some other things.

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

Notes
[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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