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Nederlog


 October
24, 2014
Crisis: Torture, Canada, MI5, Citizenfour, American Dream, Financialization, Capitalism
  "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.
 Is Obama Stalling Until Republicans Can Bury the CIA
     Torture Report?

2.
Canada, At War For 13 Years, Shocked That ‘A Terrorist’
     Attacked Its Soldiers

3. MI5 spied on leading British historians for decades, secret
     files reveal

4. Citizenfour: Inside Story of NSA Leaker Edward Snowden
     Captured in New Film by Laura Poitras

5. 7 Facts That Show the American Dream Is Dead
6. The Financialization of Life
7. The Zombie System: How Capitalism Has Gone Off the
     Rails

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, October 24. It is a
crisis log.

There are 7 items with 7 dotted links: item 1 deals with Obama's attempts to save Bush and his torturers; item 2 shows the moral degeneracy of the Canadian government; item 3 shows the British MI5 spied for decades on prominent English leftist intellectuals (and I say some things about the spying the Dutch secret services did on my - communist, knighted - father); item 4 is a good review of Poitras latest film on Democracy Now!; item 5 illustrates why the American Dream indeed is dead for everyone who does not belong to the rich 1%; item 6 is a - somewhat technical - article + video on the new economy; and item 7 is a - somewhat journalistic - long article on Spiegel International on how capitalism has gone off the rails (which is - at least - an interesting and indeed true conclusion, in a major European weekly).

Here goes:

1. Is Obama Stalling Until Republicans Can Bury the CIA Torture Report?

The first item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

Continued White House foot-dragging on the declassification of a much-anticipated Senate torture report is raising concerns that the administration is holding out until Republicans take over the chamber and kill the report themselves.

Senator Dianne Feinstein’s intelligence committee sent a 480-page executive summary of its extensive report on the CIA’s abuse of detainees to the White House for declassification more than six months ago.

In August, the White House, working closely with the CIA, sent back redactions that Feinstein and other Senate Democrats said rendered the summary unintelligible and unsupported.

Since then, the wrangling has continued behind closed doors, with projected release dates repeatedly falling by the wayside.  The Huffington Post reported this week that White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, a close ally of CIA Director John Brennan, is personally leading the negotiations, suggesting keen interest in their progress — or lack thereof — on the part of  Brennan and President Obama.

Well... I think the first paragraph sums it up: I think that is the plan. There is considerably more in the article, and indeed things are not certain yet, but this comedy of lies has been going on for over six months now.

But we will find out, or at least find out that no one will know much more about the torturing that the American governors consider necessary, in their supposed fight for "democracy".

2. Canada, At War For 13 Years, Shocked That ‘A Terrorist’ Attacked Its Soldiers  

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

This starts as follows:
In Quebec on Monday, two Canadian soldiers were hit by a car driven by Martin Couture-Rouleau, a 25-year-old Canadian who, as The Globe and Mail reported, “converted to Islam recently and called himself Ahmad Rouleau.” One of the soldiers died, as did Couture-Rouleau when he was shot by police upon apprehension after allegedly brandishing a large knife. Police speculated that the incident was deliberate, alleging the driver waited for two hours before hitting the soldiers, one of whom was wearing a uniform. The incident took place in the parking lot of a shopping mall 30 miles southeast of Montreal, “a few kilometres from the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, the military academy operated by the Department of National Defence.”

The right-wing Canadian government wasted no time in seizing on the incident to promote its fear-mongering agenda over terrorism, which includes pending legislation to vest its intelligence agency, CSIS, with more spying and secrecy powers in the name of fighting ISIS. A government spokesperson asserted “clear indications” that the driver “had become radicalized.”

In a “clearly prearranged exchange,” a conservative MP, during parliamentary question time, asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper (pictured above) whether this was considered a “terrorist attack”; in reply, the prime minister gravely opined that the incident was “obviously extremely troubling.” Canada’s Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney pronounced the incident “clearly linked to terrorist ideology,” while newspapers predictably followed suit, calling it a “suspected terrorist attack” and “homegrown terrorism.” CSIS spokesperson Tahera Mufti said “the event was the violent expression of an extremist ideology promoted by terrorist groups with global followings” and added: “That something like this would happen in a peaceable Canadian community like Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu shows the long reach of these ideologies.”

This is mainly here to show the degenerate lies - the intentional hysterics - done by the Canadian government (after 13 years of self-declared war!) and indeed also the inane falsities with which Greenwald himself is followed by the conformist media. 

3. MI5 spied on leading British historians for decades, secret files reveal 

The next item is an article by Richard Norton-Taylor on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

MI5 amassed hundreds of records on Eric Hobsbawm and Christopher Hill, two of Britain’s leading historians who were both once members of the Communist party, secret files have revealed.

The scholars were subjected to persistent surveillance for decades as MI5 and police special branch officers tapped and recorded their telephone calls, intercepted their private correspondence and monitored their contacts, the files show. Some of the surveillance gave MI5 more details about their targets’ personal lives than any threat to national security.

The files, released at the National Archives on Friday, reveal the extent to which MI5, including its most senior officers, secretly kept tabs on the personal and professional activities of communists and suspected communists, a task it began before the cold war. The papers also show that MI5 opened personal files on the popular Oxford historian AJP Taylor, the writer Iris Murdoch, and the moral philosopher Mary Warnock after they and Hill signed a letter supporting a march against the nuclear bomb in 1959.

I say - except that I am not amazed at all, though indeed I should be. But I suppose my complete lack of amazement is due to my own communist background (but you can skip the rest of this item if you are not interested in Holland):

My father and his father were both communists since the middle or late thirties, and indeed both ended up in the summer of 1941 in an SS-prison in Nazi-occupied Holland (that had six times more SS'ers than resistance fighters, and succeeded in having over 1% of its population - over 100.000 persons - getting murdered "for being of an inferior race"), which my grandfather did not survive. I still have a drawing of my grandfather - whom I of course never knew - made in the concentration camp Amersfoort in 1942 by a fellow prisoner, when he was as old as I am now, that is, 64.

In fact, I do not know of any Dutchman, apart from my brother, who succeeded in escaping Holland some thirty years ago, who has a stronger resistance background (father, grandfather and mother all in the communist resistance, and father and grandfather in the concentration camp as "political terrorists"). They may exist, but I did not learn about their existence in 64 years, and do not know of them. (Clearly whole Jewish families were exterminated, but I am not talking about them: I am talking about people who ended up in the concentration camp as members of the communist resistance, which is what happened to my father and grandfather.)

There is rather a lot more in the article, which rather closely mirrors what I know about the Dutch practices of the secret service, so I will tell a little more about the Dutch practices:

I do not know that my father and his father were followed by the Dutch secret service, then called BVD, now AIVD, before WW II, but my father, who also was in the leadership of the communist party around 1950, was clearly followed, and there very probably was a huge dossier on him. There probably is one on me as well, though I ceased being a communist in 1970, basically because I had read a lot of philosophy, had come to disagree with Marx, and disagreed with totalitarianism - but I kept agreeing with the moral norms of my parents, even though I stopped agreeing with their political ideology. (I still do, and must be one of the very few: most Dutch leftist I've known were quasi-leftists, who in fact only cared about their own careers, and about being popular.)

In any case, when it became clear to me that I could ask for the dossier of my father in the 1980ies I decided not to do this, basically for three reasons.

The first is that I despise spies and snoops. I agree they are necessary in the world we live in, but I never agree with any of their - very diverse - ideologies nor with their very fundamental dishonesty, duplicity and deception. The second is that I was ill and poor, as I still am: it would have meant quite a lot of quite boring work, for which I mostly lacked the energy and the taste, and which also was quite unlikely to be met with real success, which is the third reason: Of those who did - eventually, after very considerable amounts of paper work - get dossiers on their families, from what I've heard they got them back halfly blackened out. I did not want that, because I knew my father: he was mistaken about communism, but he was a very honest and intelligent man, who always meant well, and I did not want to look through pages and pages of halfly blacked out materials collected by snoops about his honest attempts to improve the world.

As regards my self: I suspect there is a secret file on me as well, even though I ceased being a communist 44 years ago, but I clearly don't know - and in fact I am not much interested either, though that fact has much to do with my not having a family nor having children.


4. Citizenfour: Inside Story of NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Captured in New Film by Laura Poitras 

The next item is an article by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

This starts as follows (after the introduction):

AMY GOODMAN: Today, Citizenfour.

LAURA POITRAS: [reading Edward Snowden] "Laura, at this stage I can offer nothing more than my word. I am a senior government employee in the intelligence community. I hope you understand that contacting you is extremely high risk ... From now, know that every border you cross, every purchase you make, every call you dial, every cell phone tower you pass, friend you keep, ... site you visit [and] subject line you type ... is in the hands of a system whose reach is unlimited but whose safeguards are not. ... In the end if you publish the source material, I will likely be immediately implicated. ... I ask only that you ensure this information makes it home to the American public. ... Thank you, and be careful. Citizen Four."

EWEN MacASKILL: Sorry, I don’t know anything about you.

EDWARD SNOWDEN: OK, I work for—

EWEN MacASKILL: Sorry, I don’t know even your name.

EDWARD SNOWDEN: Oh, sorry, my name is Edward Snowden. I go by Ed. Edward Joseph Snowden is the full name.

There is a lot more under the last dotted link and it is all quite interesting.

I will quote just one more piece, because this is William Binney on the reasons mass surveilling is quite illegal, as I have been saying from the moment I knew about it, but as Binney knows in considerable more detail:

WILLIAM BINNEY: After 9/11, all the wraps came off for NSA, and they decided to—between the White House and NSA and CIA, they decided to eliminate the protections on U.S. citizens and collect on domestically. So they started collecting from a commercial—the one commercial company that I know of that participated provided over 300—probably, on the average, about 320 million records of communication of a U.S. citizen to a U.S. citizen inside this country.

AMY GOODMAN: What company?

WILLIAM BINNEY: AT&T. It was long-distance communications. So they were providing billing data. At that point, I knew I could not stay, because it was a direct violation of the constitutional rights of everybody in the country. Plus it violated the pen register law and Stored Communications Act, the Electronic Privacy Act, the intelligence acts of 1947 and 1978. I mean, it was just this whole series of—plus all the laws covering federal communications governing telecoms. I mean, all those laws were being violated, including the Constitution. And that was a decision made that wasn’t going to be reversed, so I could not stay there. I had to leave.

Quite rightly so, also. And consider the extensive reasons Binney gives why mass surveilling is quite illegal, as the American government also knows very well (which makes them do their illegalities in secret, with secret court orders, and makes them very actively persecute whistleblowers: They know they are breaking many laws).

5. 7 Facts That Show the American Dream Is Dead

The next item is an article by Richard Eskow on AlterNet:
This starts as follows: 

A recent poll showed that more than half of all people in this country don’t believe that the American dream is real. Fifty-nine percent of those polled in June agreed that “the American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve." More and more Americans believe there is “not much opportunity” to get ahead.

The public has reached this conclusion for a very simple reason: It’s true. The key elements of the American dream—a living wage, retirement security, the opportunity for one's children to get ahead in life—are now unreachable for all but the wealthiest among us. And it’s getting worse. As inequality increases, the fundamental elements of the American dream are becoming increasingly unaffordable for the majority.

Here is a list of the seven facts Eskow presents, but without the intervening texts, that you can get by clicking the last dotted link:
1. Most people can’t get ahead financially.
2. The stay-at-home parent is a thing of the past.
3. The rich are more debt-free. Others have no choice.
4. Student debt is crushing a generation of non-wealthy 
     Americans.

5. Vacations aren’t for the likes of you anymore.
6. Even with health insurance, medical care is increasingly
     unaffordable for most people.
7. Americans can no longer look forward to a secure
     retirement.

And here is Richard Eskow's conclusion:

Conclusion

Vacations; an education; staying home to raise your kids; a life without crushing debt; seeing the doctor when you don’t feel well; a chance to retire: one by one, these mainstays of middle-class life are disappearing for most Americans. Until we demand political leadership that will do something about it, they’re not coming back.

Can the American dream be restored? Yes, but it will take concerted effort to address two underlying problems. First, we must end the domination of our electoral process by wealthy and powerful elites. At the same time, we must begin to address the problem of growing economic inequality. Without a national movement to call for change, change simply isn’t going to happen.

I agree - and I also think this kind of national movement, against inequality, is much more likely to succeed than environmental movements: By far the most Americans, left, right and center, agree about economical inequalities and about their unfairness.

6. The Financialization of Life

The next item is an article by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:
This starts as follows (and Yves is the editor of Naked Capitalism):

Yves here. One of the efforts the Naked Capitalism community has been engaged in is trying to understand and map our emerging political and economic order. Over the last four decades, massive changes have taken place in social values, in job security, in the importance of communities relative to other networks, like professional associations, and in the role of the state. Economists, social scientists, and laypeople have used various frameworks for describing this period. Understanding the driving process is important not merely for the purposes of description, but also for analysis, since a major question remains open: is this a last gasp of large-scale industrial capitalism, or is this the starting phase of a new economic order? We’ve tended to see this period as a self-limiting finance-led counter-revolution against the New Deal, but that may prove to be too optimistic a reading.

This Real News Network interview with Costas Lapavitsas, a professor in economics at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies, takes a different perspective. Lapavitsas contends that financialization itself constitutes a new form of capitalism, which is supported by neoliberal ideology.

I will leave this to your interests - and the original also gives a link to the talk by Costas Lapavitsas.

All I want to say here and now is that it seems to me that, from 2000 onwards, when Bush was falsely made winner of the American  elections by the Supreme Court, although the preparations go back to the 1970ies, by then a new capitalist system arose, that I call capitalism-with-an- inhuman face but that also may be called deregulated capitalism.

Also, it seems to me it was created intentionally and by a few, but I do not have any proof.


7. The Zombie System: How Capitalism Has Gone Off the Rails

The next item is an article by Michael Sauga on Spiegel International:
This starts as follows - and note this is a long four part series, with a title that seems fairly new in Spiegel, but also adequate:

A new buzzword is circulating in the world's convention centers and auditoriums. It can be heard at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund. Bankers sprinkle it into the presentations; politicians use it leave an impression on discussion panels.

The buzzword is "inclusion" and it refers to a trait that Western industrialized nations seem to be on the verge of losing: the ability to allow as many layers of society as possible to benefit from economic advancement and participate in political life.

The term is now even being used at meetings of a more exclusive character, as was the case in London in May. Some 250 wealthy and extremely wealthy individuals, from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt to Unilever CEO Paul Polman, gathered in a venerable castle on the Thames River to lament the fact that in today's capitalism, there is too little left over for the lower income classes. Former US President Bill Clinton found fault with the "uneven distribution of opportunity," while IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde was critical of the numerous financial scandals. The hostess of the meeting, investor and bank heir Lynn Forester de Rothschild, said she was concerned about social cohesion, noting that citizens had "lost confidence in their governments."

I say. Actually, I don't believe that these folks - Schmidt, Polman, Clinton, Lagarde etc. - really care for the poor, but I grant they may have something to fear for their own riches or power.

As I said, there is a lot more in the article that you can reach by the last dotted link, but it is a bit too journalistic for my taste, although I like the title, and also like quotations like this:

In this sense, the crisis of capitalism has turned into a crisis of democracy. Many feel that their countries are no longer being governed by parliaments and legislatures, but by bank lobbyists, which apply the logic of suicide bombers to secure their privileges: Either they are rescued or they drag the entire sector to its death.

It isn't surprising that this situation reinforces the arguments of leftist economists like distribution critic Thomas Piketty. But even market liberals have begun using terms like the "one-percent society" and "plutocracy." The chief commentator of the Financial Times, Martin Wolf, calls the unleashing of the capital markets a "pact with the devil."

In any case, there is a lot more in the article.
---------------------------------
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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