who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. British banker pleads
guilty to Libor rigging
2. IMF says economic growth
may never return to pre-crisis
3. The National Crime Agency would take us back
4. Our bullying corporations are the new
5. Twitter Takes Aim at Federal
6. Ben Affleck Confronts
Bill Maher’s Muslim Problem
This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, October 8. It is a crisis log.
There are six items with six dotted links. I think at least item 1, 2, 5
and 6 are interesting, and item 6
is here mostly because I outlined a position like Affleck did, but a
lot clearer and more complete, in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
And no, it did not change much or anything then, it seems mostly
because the kind of arguments I use, which are perfectly correct, are too
complicated to discuss on Talk TV, that nearly always reduces
points to either a white or else a black, that in turn are supported by
pundits, with fake statistics (as does Sam Harris) and glib arguments
that rarely address any real subtlety that is not either fully white or
But judge for yourself. Here goes:
1. British banker pleads guilty to Libor rigging
item is an article by Simon Bowers on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
First, what is Libor and how was it
rigged? Here is some more precision from Wikipedia (with note numbers
A senior employee from a
leading UK bank has pleaded guilty to a Libor-fixing conspiracy charge
brought by the Serious Fraud Office.
The man, who cannot be
named for legal reasons, faces up to 10 years in jail. On Friday he
became the first banker to plead guilty to criminal manipulation of
Libor in Britain. Reporting restrictions were partially lifted on
Trillions of dollars of
loans and credit derivatives are priced with reference to benchmark
interest rates, published every day in London and known as Libor, or
the London interbank offered rate.
Suggestions that this
rate – which purports to represent the price banks would be prepared to
lend to one another – had been manipulated by some of the world’s
biggest lenders was a major blow to the reputation of London as a
leading financial centre.
Interbank Offered Rate is the average interest rate estimated by
leading banks in London that the average leading bank would be charged
if borrowing from other banks.
Which leads us to the Libor scandal,
also on Wikipedia (and clearly I am not
Libor rates are calculated
for 10 currencies and 15 borrowing periods ranging from overnight to
one year and are published daily at 11:30 am (London time) by Thomson Reuters.
Many financial institutions, mortgage lenders and credit card agencies
set their own rates relative to it. At least $350 trillion in derivatives and other financial
products are tied to the Libor.
In June 2012, multiple
criminal settlements by Barclays Bank revealed significant fraud and
collusion by member banks connected to the
rate submissions, leading to the Libor
quoting most of the articles):
Which means that these
bankers indeed committed a major fraud, that involved many other banks
and many investors.
The Libor scandal
was a series of fraudulent actions connected to the Libor
(London Interbank Offered Rate) and also the resulting investigation
and reaction. The Libor is an average interest rate calculated through
submissions of interest rates by major banks in London. The scandal
arose when it was discovered that banks were falsely inflating or
deflating their rates so as to profit from trades, or to give the
impression that they were more creditworthy than they were. Libor underpins approximately $350
trillion in derivatives. It is administered by NYSE
Euronext, which took over running the Libor in January 2014.
The banks are supposed to
submit the actual interest rates they are paying, or would
expect to pay, for borrowing from other banks. The Libor is supposed to
be the total assessment of the health of the financial system because
if the banks being polled feel confident about the state of things,
they report a low number and if the member banks feel a low degree of
confidence in the financial system, they report a higher interest rate
number. In June 2012, multiple criminal settlements by Barclays Bank revealed significant fraud and
collusion by member banks connected to the rate submissions,
leading to the scandal.
I expect there will be considerably more on the subject. At present,
all I say is that it is at least a bit amazing to see a guilty
plea by a banker, or indeed by several bankers, for two former
employees of the Dutch Rabobank also pleaded guilty. Then again, this
is in England, not in the U.S.A.
says economic growth may never return to pre-crisis
item is an article by Larry Elliott on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
It is clear, in my
opinion, that (1) the crisis continues, because (2) there is not enough
demand, because (3) the bank managers and the rich have effectively
taken care that the middle class and the poor got almost nothing extra
the last 35 years, whereas the rich 1% got nearly everything (which
also was a lot), while (4) you really need a middle class's spending to
keep the economy afloat - which will not happen if they have
almost nothing to spend.
Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut its global growth forecasts for 2014 and
2015 and warned that the world economy may never return to the pace of
expansion seen before the financial crisis.
In its flagship
half-yearly world economic outlook (WEO), the IMF said the failure of
countries to recover strongly from the worst recession of the postwar
era meant there was a risk of stagnation or persistently weak activity.
The IMF said it expected
global growth to be 3.3% in 2014, 0.4 points lower than it was predicting in the April WEO
and 0.1 points down on interim forecasts made in July. A pick-up in the
rate of expansion to 3.8% is forecast for 2015, down from 3.9% in the
April WEO and 4% in July. But the IMF highlighted the risk that its
predictions would once again be too optimistic.
And yes, I am willing to agree that the crisis is mostly over for those
who were not really hit by it in the first place: the banks (after
Obama agreed to save them rather than prosecute them) and the rich 1%
(after it was clear there would be no complete collapse, ca.
October/November 2008, and the banks would be bailed out).
It should also be noted that the IMF said itself that its shifted down
predictions are more likely to be too optimistic than too pessimistic,
and that this indeed effects the whole world:
The IMF said the
slowdown in growth was affecting not just the west but also emerging
markets such as China, Russia and Brazil.
3. The National Crime Agency would take us back
to Soviet-style surveillance
item is an article by Simon Jenkins on The Guardian:
This starts as follows
(and I reported on this yesterday, in the same sort of way):
In fact, the real
situation is this:
Whenever I hear the words
national security, I reach for my subscription to Liberty. According to
the director general of the National Crime Agency, Keith Bristow, in today’s Guardian, the police need new
powers to hack private phone calls and emails. The requested “snoopers’
charter” is needed to find out who is talking to whom so as to catch
“serious and organised criminals”, not to mention terrorists. While
Bristow accepted that this needed selling to the public, he assumed
that the public would agree, once “sold”.
I hope not. There is now
a mass of evidence that the police are using, or rather abusing, the
ever wider surveillance powers given by successive home secretaries. As
with phone tapping of old, the claim is that each intrusion is
“personally authorised” by a home secretary or a judge. Every police
officer knows this is rubbish.
One of the many
services performed by Edward
Snowden was to show that nothing beyond constant press vigilance
will curb “big security” from trampling on civil liberty, even in a
democracy. In Britain, the coalition’s appeasement of such trampling
means that no whistleblower is safe in talking to a friend, a lawyer, a
journalist or, for that matter, anyone via a phone or the internet.
Anything said may be available to a potential prosecutor or opponent’s
law firm. We are back to the Soviet Union, with private conversation
confined to public parks.
First note that this
correctly says "no whistleblower is safe", much rather than
"will be". Next, not even the park may be safe these days, for there
are at least two more provisos: Provided none of those
partaking in this private conversation carry cell phones, for these may
be switched on and off by the GCHQ and work as receivers and senders,
and also provided there have not yet been planted sufficiently
many surveillance cameras in the trees of the park. (These may
not - yet - be able to listen, but surely they can help to
recognize whoever walks there.)
This is the ending of Simon Jenkin's article:
There is no threat
to British national security that justifies the current bid to erode
normal civil liberties. Criminals may be getting more cunning, as they
always were, and the police and security services may have to work hard
to catch them. But authority seems to have no concept of what
constitutes going too far. It has no definition of civil liberty. The
powers that be need only mouth “war on terror”, and democracy crumbles
Actually, I think it is
The authorities do have a concept of civil liberties, and that
may be quite clear and nominally adequate as well, since almost all
members of government went to a university. The point is that they do
not want real civil liberties and are busy with reducing these to
nought that has any chance of being effectively used by the many poor.
And as to the last sentence "The powers that be need only mouth “war on terror”, and
democracy crumbles before them": It is Goering's Principle that is being used:
(I am sorrry - in a way
- of having to show this over and again, but it seems to me quite clear
and quite valid. Also, I do not think most of the present leaders have
never heard of Hermann Goering, though indeed they may not all know
they are applying his advice as well as they can. But they are.)
Our bullying corporations are the new enemy within
item is an article by George Monbiot on The Guardian:
This is its second
On Friday, the
chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, claimed that business is under political attack on a
scale it has not faced since the fall of the Berlin Wall. He was
speaking at the Institute of Directors, where he was introduced with
the claim that “we are in a generational struggle to defend the
principles of the free market against people who want to undermine it
or strip it away”. A few days before, while introducing Osborne at the
Conservative party conference, Digby Jones, former head of the
Confederation of British Industry, warned that companies are
at risk of being killed by “regulation from ‘big government’” and of
drowning “in the mire of anti-business mood music encouraged by
vote-seekers”. Where is that government and who are these vote-seekers?
They are a figment of his imagination.
It is all complete propaganda lies: Neither Osborne
nor Jones are defending "the
principles of the free market";
there is no "generational
struggle"; and there is
hardly even "anti-business
mood music", for the free
market is plain bullshit (there is no "free market" without
state regulations, and state regulations have been broken down, very
intentionally also); the "generational struggle" is pure baloney (in
fact, Osborne and Jones's camp of the rich won: almost all
money that is being made goes to the few rich that form the 1%), and
there is even hardly any "anti-business
mood music", for in fact all
political leaders of all British parties have converted to the
it seems basically because that is good for their kind of
people, who are mostly rich and well-educated.
They lie and lie and lie, because that works for them, and few
will contradict them these days in the main media, which also are
controlled by the corporations.
What is really happening is this:
consensus is enforced not only by the lack of political choice, but by
an assault on democracy itself. Steered by business lobbyists, the EU
and the US are negotiating a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This
would suppress the ability of governments to put public interest ahead
of profit. It could expose Britain to cases like El Salvador’s, where an Australian company is suing the government before a
closed tribunal of corporate lawyers for $300m (nearly half the
country’s annual budget) in potential profits foregone. Why? Because El
Salvador refused permission for a gold mine that would poison people’s
Yes - and please mind
that the TTIP is secret, and meant to remain secret for
7 or 10 years after it gets introduced: It is totally
anti-democratic, and indeed seeks to undermine most states and their
inhabitants, and make these responsible even for "potential profits foregone".
And what is really happening is this:
(...) think of the
billion pounds the government threw into the air when it sold Royal Mail, or the massive state subsidies quietly being channelled to the
private train companies. When Cameron told the Conservative party
conference “there’s no reward without effort; no wealth without work;
no success without sacrifice”, he was talking cobblers. Thanks to his
policies, shareholders and corporate executives become stupendously
rich by sitting in the current with their mouths open.
Quite so - and the
corporations, as it stands now, have won, even though they are in fact
a tiny minority of the populations they exploit, and they have won
basically through propaganda lies like the above:
Ours is a toll-booth
economy, unchallenged by any major party, in which companies which have
captured essential public services – water, energy, trains – charge extraordinary fees we have no choice but to pay.
If there is a “generational struggle to defend the principles of the
free market”, it’s a struggle against the corporations, which have replaced the market with a state-endorsed oligarchy.
As if they are fighting for "freedom" (which turned
out: freedom from regulations, freedom for the few to exploit the many
quite mercilessly); as if anyone can be rich (totally false:
the rich always are the few); as if everything can be
measured and valued by "profit" (which are almost totally taken by the
few rich that form the 1%, and anyway is a completely crazy and quite
uncivilized idea ); as if making the
rich pay more taxes restrains their liberties (which it doesn't, while
in fact paying less taxes, as they do now, restrains the incomes, the
liberties and the rights of the many).
And finally this is really happening:
And still they
want more. Through a lobbying industry and a political funding system,
successive governments have failed to reform, corporations select and
buy and bully the political class to prevent effective challenge to
their hegemony. Any politician brave enough to stand up to them is
relentlessly hounded by the corporate media. Corporations are the enemy
Yes - and the two only
hopeful things I can discover are that (1) the corporations won
fundamentally with lies, lies, and more lies, which are also really
necessary for them, because they do not want it to be widely
known that 90% of the people have failed to make almost any economical
progress the last 35 years because almost all the profits went to the
1%, and (2) the corporations will almost certainly fail in
preventing the next major crisis because, while they can control very
much, they cannot control their own greed.
Twitter Takes Aim at Federal Government With Surveillance-Related
item is an article by Kasia Anderson on Truthdig!:
starts as follows:
Twitter is taking out the
big guns in Silicon Valley’s ongoing tussle with Washington over
The microblogging megacorp
is joining ranks with other tech giants by taking legal measures to
counter and expose the extent of the U.S. government’s demands that the
companies hand over information about their users.
Well... it is
something, but how much remains to be seen. There is also this, quoted
from San Jose Mercury News:
Twitter’s lawsuit, filed
in San Francisco federal court, alleges that top U.S. Justice
Department officials have rejected the company’s request to fully
reveal how much the government is seeking through its national security
companies—Apple, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and LinkedIn—earlier this
year reached a settlement that allowed them to disclose some level of
information in twice-a-year “transparency reports,” but Twitter argues
that the limits violate free speech rights and are unconstitutional.
Twitter is going further
than the rest of the tech industry, seeking broader rights to expose
how much government surveillance, if any, is going on in the
constitute an unconstitutional prior restraint and content-based
restriction on, and government viewpoint discrimination against,
Twitter’s right to speak about information of national and global
public concern,” Twitter argues in its lawsuit.
It seems clear to me
Twitter is correct in these claims, but otherwise I don't know (in part
also because I never used Twitter: it seems a pretty ridiculous idea to
me, once you have e-mail, to have also a kind of e-mail that is
restricted to 140 characters, that is, it seems to me as if once you
have a car, you want to travel by a horsedrawn waggon, but OK...it's
not for me, but it may be the ideal instrument for communicating
thoughts others have).
6. Ben Affleck Confronts Bill Maher’s Muslim
item is an article by Juan Cole on Truthdig! (that was originally on
starts as follows:
Yes. There is a
considerably more under the last dotted link, including an essay by
Cole on Maher of two years ago that I do not quite agree with, but
which does contain a passage that seems correct to me and that sheds
Bravo to Ben Affleck and
Nicholas Kristof for telling Bill Maher off about his chronic case of
Muslim-hating bigotry. (He would say he doesn’t hate Muslims,
only their religion, but then those who hate gays say much the same
sort of thing).
Maher and Sam Harris like
to demonize Islam and by association Muslims. Ben Affleck
de-demonized them by appealing to the banalities of everyday
life. Most Muslims, he said, just want to have a sandwich and get
through their lives. This is true.
In most of the
world, crowd actions are common over all kinds of issues, beyond the
ones of race, class and college sports teams that routinely provoke
them here. When I was living in India there were always items in
the newspaper about a bus driver accidentally running over a
pedestrian, and then an angry mob forming that killed the bus
driver. Neighborhood nationalism. The same sort of crowds
gather when a blaspheming author drives his discourse into the sanctity
of their neighborhood. It is appalling, but I’m not sure what
exactly you would do about that sort of thing. It certainly isn’t
confined to Muslims…
Yes, and that is indeed
the problem: You cannot rationally judge "the Muslims" by what
some radical Muslim sects claim about "the Muslims" or "the Christians", and
you certainly cannot saddle most or "fifty procent" or "twenty
procent" of Muslims with the responsibility for the extremism of a few.
That is the same problem as I have with Ayaan Hirsi Ali - and
see my mostly English mail on her of
2005, since when she has been excreted from Dutch society, indeed
not because of my activity, but because most Dutchmen in the end
grasped her real size: she is a personal careerist,
quite successfully also, far more than anything else - from which I
As I said, this is from 2005.
What she [Ali - MM]
confuses here, and in the whole open letter,
are the beliefs of the murderer of Theo van Gogh, and the beliefs of
"the" islam, as if the convictions of all believers in "the" islam can
be identified with or reduced to the beliefs of the murderer of Theo
van Gogh. This is no better, logically speaking, than the pretensions
of Osama to speak in the name of "the" islam - and there is no "the"
islam, there is only a collection of faiths and practices more or less
loosely based on the koran, just as there is no "the" christian faith,
but only a collection of faiths and practices more or less loosely
based on the bible.
Next, there is no
"surfeit of evidence that the islam is essentially incompatible with
the western value of freedom". No doubt certain interpretations of it
may be incompatible with "the western value of freedom" (which also is
not a very clear concept, since there are several distinct kinds of
freedom) but the same is true with interpretations of the christian
faith, and yet the western value of freedom arose in the context of
religious faith, largely, it would seem, through the insight that you
can't have much of a human(e) society if you use religion to try to
kill or persecute your religious opponents, and that it is quite
feasible to live peacefully together and yet disagree about many
things, and that indeed peaceful cooperation is in the interest of all,
except perhaps a few fanatics, extremists or disturbed persons.
And no doubt any
religion is difficult to combine with secular freedoms. But "the islam"
undoubtedly, like christianity, is a house with many mansions, and a
creed with many interpretations and versions, and if you want to help
people to see through it or get rid of it, it doesn't help to represent
it as if it coincides with the beliefs and interpretations of its most
extremist proponents, as if all islamists must be extremists, and as if
any believer in "the" islam thereby cannot believe in or practice
freedom or freedom of speech.
There also is a quite good Dutch mail from me from 2003, to a
collaborator of Theo van Gogh (who got murdered on November 4, 2004 by
a Dutch Islamic fanatic), and to which I never received a real
reply, neither by the person I wrote to, nor by Theo van Gogh, with
whom I had been friendly from 1984 till 1989, and who admired me. (I
did get a brief 'reply' but no reaction to my mail, though that was
quite fundamental and quite clear.)
I published that mail in 2004, the day after Van Gogh's murder, and for
those who can read Dutch, this is it, from November 3, 2004 (while the
mail was originally from August 2, 2003): Van Goghiana. (The mail
starts somewhere in the text, but the last link leads you to it.)
Finally, also because I
saw quite a lot searched for it but did not find it: Quite a few of the
backgrounds to my opinions are explained in my On a fundamental problem in ethics and morals,
 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
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
It is more
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
from is quite pertinent.)
 That is: You do not appraise,
measure or value any civilization by asking about the profits it makes.
You appraise civilizations by the arts and the sciences it produces, by
the rights it secures, by the proportions that live well and peacefully
in it, and by the diversities - of religion, of politics, of tastes -
that are possible under it, and not by the profits that anyway
are of interest only to a very small part of the population:
Nearly everyone nearly always had to work for a basic income, and did not
profit from others; only the rich need not work for a basic income, and
only the rich live from profiting from others.
(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: