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Nederlog


  October
3, 2014
Crisis: NSA, Greenwald, Tories, Thatcher, Censorship, Holder, Inequality, Growth, Merkel
  "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.
 The NSA and Me
2.
 After Feigning Love for Egyptian Democracy, U.S. Back
     To Openly Supporting Tyranny

3. Tories pledge powers to ignore European court of human
     rights rulings

4. Thatcher was to call Labour and miners ‘enemy within’ in
     abandoned speech

5. Open Letter on Censorship
6. Eric Holder is the Reason Robert Rubin Isn't Behind Bars
7. Global Inequality Reaches Levels Not Seen in Nearly 200
     Years

8. Rising Tides Lift All Yachts – Why the 1% Grabs all the
     Gains From Growth

9. The Merkel Effect: What Today's Germany Owes to Its
     Once-Communist East


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, October 3. It is a
crisis log.

There are 9 items with 9 dotted links. There are quite a number of interesting articles, such as item 1, item 3, item 4, item 6 and item 8. Also, this is uploaded a bit earlier than normal (for it is very nice weather in Amsterdam, and I want to go cycling).

Here goes:

1. The NSA and Me

The first item is an article by James Bamford (<- Wikipedia) on The Intercept:
James Bamford (see the Wikipedia link above) is the first or one of the first journalists to write about the NSA. In fact, he wrote six books about the NSA, of which the first - The Puzzle Palace - was published in 1982.

This article is an interesting background article. This is the fourth paragraph of the article:
For several years I had been working on my first book, The Puzzle Palace, which provided the first in-depth look at the National Security Agency. The deeper I dug, the more troubled I became. Not only did the classified file from the Justice Department accuse the NSA of systematically breaking the law by eavesdropping on American citizens, it concluded that it was impossible to prosecute those running the agency because of the enormous secrecy that enveloped it. Worse, the file made clear that the NSA itself was effectively beyond the law—allowed to bypass statutes passed by Congress and follow its own super-classified charter, what the agency called a “top-secret birth certificate” drawn up by the White House decades earlier.
For the rest, you'll have to click the last dotted link above.

One of the things you will learn (more about) is the extent to which the NSA has been kept secret,  which in my opinion, and those of quite a few whistleblowers, is really incompatible with a democratic state: Yes, one can spy, and a state like the USA clearly must spy, but to remain democratic, especially with billions of personal computers, the spying must be overseen by Congress, and it must be overseen well and properly - which to this day has never happened.


2. After Feigning Love for Egyptian Democracy, U.S. Back To Openly Supporting Tyranny  

The next item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

It is, of course, very difficult to choose the single most extreme episode of misleading American media propaganda, but if forced to do so, coverage of the February, 2011 Tahrir Square demonstrations in Egypt would be an excellent candidate. For weeks, U.S. media outlets openly positioned themselves on the side of the demonstrators, depicting the upheaval as a Manichean battle between the evil despot Hosni Mubarak’s “three decades of iron rule” and the hordes of ordinary, oppressed Egyptians inspirationally yearning for American-style freedom and democracy.

Almost completely missing from this feel-good morality play was the terribly unpleasant fact that Mubarak was one of the U.S. Government’s longest and closest allies and that his ”three decades of iron rule” — featuring murder, torture and indefinite detention for dissidents — were enabled in multiple ways by American support.

Throughout Mubarak’s rule, the U.S. fed his regime an average of $2 billion each year, most of which was military aid.
There is a lot more under the last dotted link.

3. Tories pledge powers to ignore European court of human rights rulings

The next item is an article by Owen Bowcott on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Rulings by the European court of human rights (ECHR) would no longer be enforceable in the UK under radical plans by the Conservatives.

Under proposals to be included in the party’s general election manifesto, the Tories would reverse more than half a century’s tradition of human rights authority residing in Europe by giving parliament the right to veto judgments. The authority of the court in Strasbourg would be severely curtailed, with parliament given the final say in deciding whether or not to adopt ECHR decisions.

A document setting out the plans promised to “restore sovereignty to Westminster” through a parliamentary override that would prevent politically unacceptable Strasbourg rulings being enforced in UK law. The far-reaching changes would enable a future Tory government to limit human rights to only the “most serious cases”, deport more “terrorists and serious foreign criminals” and defy policies such as the ECHR’s requirement that some prisoners be given a vote.

I have written about this before, and I mentioned then Dominic Grieve, who is a conservative. Here he is again:
Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general who was removed at the last reshuffle, told the Guardian the proposals were “almost puerile”. He added: “I also think they are unworkable and will damage the UK’s international reputation.”
And here is a brief survey of the impact of the new Tory policies:

The impact would be wide-ranging. The UK armed forces would cease to be subject to human rights legislation overseas, and Labour’s 1998 Human Rights Act would be scrapped to be replaced by a “British bill of rights and responsibilities”, the policy document states.

Civil liberties groups reacted with alarm to the plans, which Grayling mentioned briefly in his speech to the party conference earlier this week and David Cameron also referred to.
There is considerably more under the last dotted link, and the alarm of civil liberties groups is well justified: This is Tory - not: "British" -  "Human Rights", that mostly
avoids them.


4. Thatcher was to call Labour and miners ‘enemy within’ in abandoned speech

The next item is an article by Alan Travis on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The 1984 Brighton bomb forced Margaret Thatcher to tear up what would have been the most divisive speech of her premiership, in which she planned to accuse not only militant miners but the entire Labour party of being “the enemy within” and part of an “insurrection” against democracy.

Thatcher’s personal papers reveal that when the IRA bomb exploded in her Brighton hotel, at 2.54am on 12 October 1984, her secretaries were still retyping the final draft of her party conference speech, in which she was to accuse Neil Kinnock of being a “puppet” leader of a Labour party that had been “hijacked” by the “enemies of democracy”.

There is a lot more in the last dotted link.

The main reasons this is in the crisis series are that Thatcher's version of the Tory ideology is still dominant in Cameron, and it is, as this article shows, fairly mad, simply because she intended to accuse "the entire Labour party of being “the enemy within” and part of an “insurrection” against democracy":

Thatcher was to go on to put Labour’s refusal to condemn the picket-line violence of the militant miners at the very heart of the problem, with influential men prepared to repudiate the ideas of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.

That is and was just utter nonsense - and it also would have been dangerous had it been published (it wasn't because of the bombing in 1984).

5. Open Letter on Censorship

The next item is an article by Zuade Kaufman on Truthdig:

Zuade Kaufman is the co-founder and publisher of Truthdig. Her article starts as follows:

George Orwell was right: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

Such power isn’t limited to rewriting history. It extends to defining what we hear, what we read, what we say—and ultimately what we think. It affects all of us, especially those who believe in the potential of words to shine a light on hidden agendas, hold the powerful to answer, and express ideas that shape our values.

The threat is both from governments, which feel a need to control their people, and from companies that have an unceasing urge to increase their power and their wealth.

Google is one of those companies. It is everywhere, so it is the premier gatekeeper. To a large extent, it dictates not only what information “gets in” but defines what is unacceptable and what is to be kept out.

And indeed, the article is about Google and Truthdig, and Zuade Kaufman is right about Google's being everywhere and its using rules that are quite unclear, which it also does
not clarify.

Here is the ending of the article:

The danger for all of us is Google dictating what is and isn’t permissible and feeling it’s free to explain its reasons or not because it is the sole arbiter. This affects not only the media but also readers who comment online. Do we really want anyone—companies, governments, neighbors, religious institutions—to have that sort of power? The restrictions on freedom of expression could be enormous.

Today, we are the target. What happens tomorrow when it’s you?

As to the last question: I tend to avoid both Microsoft and Google. I am running
Linux-Ubuntu now since over two years, and have used Microsoft just two times, quite briefly, and without internet connection, and I am avoiding Google since ca. 2008. Instead, I use Yahoo or - mostly - DuckDuckGo. (But Google still tracks me, and also gets me via Youtube: It is very difficult not to meet it at all.)

As to what happens: Clearly, being poor and ill, I don't stand a chance - but then I am also not a prominent publisher.

And no, I do not want anyone to have the power Google has, but I am most opposed to the NSA's illegal surveilling of everyone, though indeed Google and Facebook are quite unsympathetic and dishonest dataminers with far too much power as well.

6. Eric Holder is the Reason Robert Rubin Isn't Behind Bars

The next item is an article by Dean Baker on AlterNet:
This starts as follows: 

The big news item in Washington last week was Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to resign. Undoubtedly there are positives to Holder's tenure as attorney general, but one really big minus is his decision not to prosecute any of the Wall Street crew whose actions helped to prop up the housing bubble. As a result of this failure, the main culprits walked away incredibly wealthy even as most of the country has yet to recover from the damage they caused.

Yes, and for me that is complete corruption - it was Holder's duty to prosecute the bankers, and namely for fraud - and it weighs out any good Holder may have done.

Here is a short sketch of the crimes Holder refused to prosecute:

Mortgage issuers like Countrywide and Ameriquest knowingly issued mortgages based on false information. They then sold these mortgages to investment banks like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs who packaged them into mortgage backed securities. These banks knew that many of the mortgages being put into the pools for these securities did not meet their standards, but passed them along anyhow. And, the bond-rating agencies rated these securities as investment grade, giving many the highest possible ratings, even though they knew their quality did not warrant such ratings.

All three of these actions -- knowingly issuing mortgages based on false information, deliberately packaging fraudulent mortgages into mortgage backed securities, and deliberately inflating the ratings for mortgage backed securities - are serious crimes that potentially involve lengthy prison sentences. Holder opted not to pursue criminal cases against the individuals involved.

It is also true that Holder lately reached some settlements with banks, which forced them to pay back part of what they gained in exchange for clearing anyone in the banks of any charges, but to me that was merely corruption: He should have prosecuted the bankers, and he should not have settled; the settlements he reached did neither punish those who did the crimes, nor were they sufficient; and he should never have cleared them of charges.

Here is the end of the article:

We can never know this pattern of prosecution would have nailed big fish like Goldman's Lloyd Blankfein or Citigroup's Robert Rubin. We do know that Holder never even tried. As a result the Wall Streeters who profited most from illegal acts in the bubble years got to keep their haul. This is the message that bankers will take away going forward. This virtually guarantees ongoing corruption in finance.

Yes, indeed. (The only comparative "good" continued corruption will probably do is to cause another crisis, that will be considerably bigger than the 2008 one, simply because Holder did not prosecute, and the bankers - new ones, mostly - have continued the corrupt practices that started the 2008 crisis.)

7. Global Inequality Reaches Levels Not Seen in Nearly 200 Years

The next item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Global income inequality has returned to levels recorded in the 1820s—when the Industrial Revolution produced sizable wealth gaps between the rich and poor—according to a new report released Thursday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The sweeping study, "How Was Life? Global Well-Being Since 1820," uses historical data from eight world regions to present for the first time "systematic evidence" of trends in areas such as health, education, inequality, the environment, and personal security over the past 200 years.

I say - but note this is on "global inome inequality".  In fact:

But while income inequality, as measured by pre-tax household income among individuals within a country, fell between the end of the 19th century until around 1970, it began to rise markedly at that point, perhaps in response to globalization.

"The enormous increase of income inequality on a global scale is one of the most significant—and worrying—features of the development of the world economy in the past 200 years," the authors write. "It is hard not to notice the sharp increase in income inequality experienced by the vast majority of countries from the 1980s. There are very few exceptions to this."

Yes - except that it is not "globalization", as such, that is the main cause, but much rather deregulation, that indeed accompanied globalization.

8. Rising Tides Lift All Yachts – Why the 1% Grabs all the Gains From Growth

The next item is an article by Randall Wray (who is a professor of economics) on Naked Capitalism:

This is a good article by the colleague and former teacher of Pavlina Cherneva, whose statistic was earlier mentioned by me (and see below). This is from the beginning:
Going all the way back to the Kennedy days, it has been conventional wisdom that if you can boost economic growth, everyone wins.

Actually, as I’ve long argued, that is remarkably naïve and counterfactual. In good times, the powerful grab the spoils. In bad times, they get government bail-outs.

Why on earth would you want to be powerful if you could not protect and even enhance your well-being no matter what the economy does?

Why do elites everywhere always clamor for economic growth? Every policy advocated by them is justified on the argument that it will boost growth. Cut taxes on the rich! Eliminate regulations! Free trade! Slash welfare! Balance the budget! Save Wall Street!

Every policy they hate is said to hinder growth: raising minimum wages; environmental protection; school lunches for poor kids; vacations and sick leave for workers.

Where such policies do enhance growth, the rich will get more than their fair share. Where the policies do not boost growth, they will increase the share of the rich. Heads they win and tails they win too.

Who would be surprised by that? Well, just about every economist and policymaker on the planet. Why? Because they refuse to consider POWER. While our economy is often referred to as “market-driven”, it is actually driven by power. P. O. W. E. R.

In fact, this is rather a lot like my own thinking, in the early 1970ies: I gave up Marxism (my parents were real marxists, so I had been educated in it) aged 20, in 1970, in part because of totalitarianism, in part because I had discovered serious problems with Marx's labor theory of value, and in part because I thought power was much more important than Marx allowed it to be (for he made it as well depend on economics, which I thought and think a serious mistake).

But this is a good article, and it gives some more background to this chart, which is surprising enough - and for a little more on it see my Nederlog of 25 september last -
and the thick blue lines are those of the bottom 90%, while the thick red lines are those
of the top 10%, while in both cases the average income growth of the two groups gets measured:




9. The Merkel Effect: What Today's Germany Owes to Its Once-Communist East

The next and last item is an article by Dirk Kurbjuweit on the Spiegel International site:
This has a subtitle or epigraph that is as follows (bolding in the original):
East Germany ceased to exist following the 1989 revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall. But did the former communist country help shape today's Germany? The answer is yes, and Chancellor Merkel is a big reason why.
That is also the reason it is in the crisis series. In fact, this is a background article on the modern Germany that emerged from West and East Germany in 1989.
---------------------------------
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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