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Nederlog


  November
14, 2014
Crisis: Wall Street, Google, The Right, Boots, U.S. Nukes, Kissinger
  "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.
Wall Street Takes Over More Statehouses
2.
More Cracks in Google's 'Don't Be Evil' Mantra as Data
     Collection, Political Power Soar

3. The right has won control of the English-speaking world -
     thanks to the weakness of the left

4. Chairman of Joint Chiefs: We Are 'Certainly Considering'
     US Combat Troops for Iraq

5. Breaking: Pentagon Review Says America's Nukes Are
     FUBAR

6. Interview with Henry Kissinger: 'Do We Achieve World
     Order Through Chaos or Insight?'


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, November 14. It is a
crisis log.

There are 6 items with six dotted links: Item 1 is about a consequence of the Republican win: The takeover of 100 billion dollars in pension funds to "higher-
risk alternatives"; item 2 is about Google; item 3 is about the right that now controls the English-speaking world; item 4 is about boots on the ground in Iraq; item 5 is about the U.S. nuclear missiles (that are FUBAR); and item 6 is about Henry Kissinger now.

This gets uploaded a bit earlier than is normal.


And here goes:

1. Wall Street Takes Over More Statehouses

The first item is an article by David Sirota on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

No runoff will be needed to declare one unambiguous winner in this month’s gubernatorial elections: the financial services industry. From Illinois to Massachusetts, voters effectively placed more than $100 billion worth of public pension investments under the control of executives-turned-politicians whose firms profit by managing state pension money.

The elections played out as states and cities across the country debate the merits of shifting public pension money—the retirement savings for police, firefighters, teachers and other public employees—from plain vanilla investments such as index funds into higher-risk alternatives like hedge funds and private equity funds.

Critics argue that this course has often failed to boost returns enough to compensate for taxpayer-financed fees paid to the financial services companies that manage the money. Wall Street firms and executives have poured campaign contributions into states that have embraced the strategy, eager for expanded opportunities. The election results affirmed that this money was well spent: More public pension money will now likely be entrusted to the financial services industry.

I say - and note this is about "public pension money" that is now made available - "more than $100 billion" - to "higher-risk alternatives like hedge funds and private equity funds". Whether this means that at age 77 you will have to find a job to survive after the "hedge funds and private equity funds" broke, as it very well may, I don't know, but it does seem likely.

Clearly, I am against it, indeed in part for this reason:

Former Securities and Exchange Commission attorney Edward Siedle said campaign cash from the financial industry is fundamentally shaping the debate over how to manage state pension systems.

“Why have all pension reform candidates concluded that workers’ retirement benefits must be harshly cut, but, on the other hand, fees to Wall Street be exponentially increased?” said Siedle, who has published a series of forensic reports critical of politicians shifting ever more pension money to Wall Street. “The answer, of course, is that more money than ever is being spent by billionaires to support a public pension Wall Street feeding frenzy.”

Yes indeed.

2. More Cracks in Google's 'Don't Be Evil' Mantra as Data Collection, Political Power Soar  

The next item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Google is amassing huge amounts of personal user data while simultaneously accruing big-time political clout, a new report from Public Citizen confirms.

"Mission Creep-y: Google Is Quietly Becoming One of the Nation’s Most Powerful Political Forces While Expanding Its Information-Collection Empire" (pdf) looks at the ways Google is accumulating political power—through high-powered lobbying and sizable campaign donations—as well as massive amounts of personal information that make the company a "treasure trove for agencies like the NSA."

"Google is becoming exponentially more powerful in federal and state governments," said Sam Jewler, author of the report and communications officer for Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch. "At the same time, it’s pushing boundaries in technology, and it has shown that it can’t always be trusted to do the right thing with people’s information. When we see such massive influence, it raises the question, will regulators and lawmakers be reluctant to rein in Google?"

Clearly, judging by the past, the answer to the last question is "yes": Google is quite unlikely to be reigned in, and indeed few really know what it does. And there is this:
Meanwhile, the company's "qualms about peering into people’s lives seem to have steadily diminished," the report says. In September, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Google's practices are "almost identical" to those of the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, the GCHQ. The company's business model "is to spy," Assange said.
I'd say their business model indeed is to spy - which I think is and ought to be illegal, also regardless of what "the law" says - but I guess (!) that Google is more interested in "helping to sell things" (with part of the money going to them) than in framing dossiers on political reliability of people.

And indeed I cannot trust a company that hides behind a stupid propaganda slogan like "Don't be evil!": That is so vague - your evil may be my good, after all, and conversely - as to say precisely nothing.

3. The right has won control of the English-speaking world - thanks to the weakness of the left

The next item is an article by Jason Wilson on The Guardian:

This starts as follows (and this is a long article):

Besides the 5-Eyes spying agreement, the English-speaking democracies of the North Atlantic and the South Pacific are frequently said to have a few things in common. British prime minister David Cameron recited them perfectly before the Australian parliament on Friday: “open economies and open societies”, a free press, and “real democracy and the rule of law” safeguarded by liberal institutions.

These fantasies underpin the canonical history of what the rightwing calls the Anglosphere. Conservative thinktankers get misty-eyed when they hear speeches like these (...)

I agree these are mostly "fantasies" now, and I explain (briefly) why:

There is an "open economy" but it mainly supports the rich and robs the poor, especially by tax evasions by the big corporations; there is less and less of an "open society" left in countries where fraudulent bank managers are protected to fraud on, whereas poor people end up in jail for virtually nothing; the "free press" is mostly dead through lack of paper advertisements; there is some democracy left, but most has been lost; and the rule of law acts for the few rich and against the many poor.

Yes, this was a short summary, and I should add that this seems to be the case especially in the English-speaking world, though Europe is fairly closely following it.

There is also this:

Right now the Anglosphere nations share another institution: everywhere, the political right is in charge, despite the times offering us reasons to vote for parties emphasising leftwing notions of environmental responsibility, equality, and military restraint.

This is followed by a long analysis or description of various leading persons in the English-speaking world, which I leave to your interests. I pick up the thread here (skipping rather a lot):

Since the end of the Cold War (or even slightly before in Australia) centre-left parties have become essentially defensive, while the social democracies they helped build are eroded, sometimes by their own hand. In the view of the Blair-Clinton-Keating “third way”, the hangover from which still informs our centre-left parties, markets can only ever be negotiated with – never controlled. Economics is understood to be the authentic language of politics.

This orthodoxy is reinforced in the schools of government, economics and law that serve as political finishing schools for professional politicians, cut off from the social movements that once nourished their parties.

I am more pessimistic: I think that especially Bill Clinton and Tony Blair have - quite intentionally also: it gave them power - destroyed the social democratic left by the mythological crap they called the Third Way. This happened in the nineties, especially the second half (and was immediately copied elsewhere, notably in Holland).

They really destroyed it precisely by insisting on the
Third Way crap, for this was explicitly a quite different ideology from the (weak) socialism or social democracy that it replaced, and it replaced both by insisting "social democracy"
must cooperate with the rich, and indeed by working for that end.

As William Black (<- Wikipedia) put it:

"Third Way is this group that pretends sometimes to be center-left but is actually completely a creation of Wall Street--it's run by Wall Street for Wall Street with this false flag operation as if it were a center-left group. It's nothing of the sort."

But the Third Way succeeded in making Blair and Clinton and Kok rich men, "so it was quite successful..."

4. Chairman of Joint Chiefs: We Are 'Certainly Considering' US Combat Troops for Iraq

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

General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Obama’s top military adviser, told members of Congress on Thursday that the U.S. is actively considering deploying a limited number of U.S. combat troops to fight alongside Iraqi soldiers moving to retake Mosul and other areas under the control of Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Iraq.

"I’m not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by U.S. forces, but we’re certainly considering it," Dempsey told the House Armed Services Committee.

The statement comes just days after Obama authorized doubling the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, further indicating that U.S. forces will have the "boots on the ground" presence that Obama initially pledged against. Thus far, Obama has authorized the deployment of 3,100 U.S. advisers, trainers, and support personnel for Iraq, but has promised American forces would not be used in direct combat roles.

Critics point out that by most measures, the U.S. has already returned to ground combat in Iraq.

Yes, unless of course Obama meant by "no boots on the ground" that he would have boots on the ground. In any case, he has.

There is more in the article, but the main lesson is in the title, and the rest is, so far, quite unclear (through no fault of Deirdre Fulton, who reports well).

5. Breaking: Pentagon Review Says America's Nukes Are FUBAR 

The next item is an article by Josh Harkington on Mother Jones:

In case you don't know or forgot what "FUBAR" means:

FUBAR stands for fucked up beyond all recognition/repair/reason

This starts as follows:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is ordering a massive overhaul of America's nuclear weapons program after finding it to be plagued with "fundamental flaws," the AP reported this evening. Pentagon-commissioned reviews of the nuclear forces have found outdated equipment, weak leadership, and abysmal morale among the men and women responsible for maintaining and launching some of the most destructive weapons on the planet. Many of the problems were already well known, but the language the Pentagon is using to describe them is uncharacteristically strong. "Hagel's reviews concluded that the structure of US nuclear weapons forces is so incoherent that it cannot be properly managed," noted the AP, which got a briefing on the highlights from two senior defense officials.

I say. There is more in the article - Hagel wants to invest 1 to 10 billion in the U.S. nuclear facilities - and there is more detail on mistakes, but the quoted bit is the main message.

6. Interview with Henry Kissinger: 'Do We Achieve World Order Through Chaos or Insight?'

The next and last item for today is an article by Juliane von Mittelstaedt and Erich Follath on Spiegel on line:

This starts as follows:

Henry Kissinger seems more youthful than his 91 years. He is focused and affable, but also guarded, ready at any time to defend himself or brusquely deflect overly critical questions. That, of course, should come as no surprise. While his intellect is widely respected, his political legacy is controversial. Over the years, repeated attempts have been made to try him for war crimes.

From 1969 to 1977, Kissinger served under President Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, first as national security advisor and then as secretary of state. In those roles, he also carried partial responsibility for the napalm bombings in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos the killed or maimed tens of thousands of civilians. Kissinger also backed the putsch against Salvador Allende in Chile and is accused of having had knowledge of CIA murder plots. Documents declassified just a few weeks ago show that Kissinger had drawn up secret plans to launch air strikes against Cuba. The idea got scrapped after Democrat Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976.

Nevertheless, Kissinger remains a man whose presence is often welcome in the White House, where he continues to advise presidents and secretaries of state to this day.

I like the beginning and I also read all of the interview, from which I will quote only one bit:

SPIEGEL: Dr. Kissinger, when we look at the world today, it seems to be messier than ever -- with wars, catastrophes and chaos everywhere. Is the world really in greater disorder than ever before?

Kissinger: It seems that it is. There is chaos threatening us, through the spread of weapons of mass destruction and cross-border terrorism. There is now a phenomenon of ungoverned territories, and we have seen in Libya, for example, that an ungoverned territory can have an enormous impact on disorder in the world. The state as a unit is under attack, not in every part of the world, but in many parts of it.

That seems mostly right.
---------------------------------
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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