18, 2014
Crisis: Slavery, NSA surveillance, CIA, Morgan Chase, U.S., The Richest 0.01%
  "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

Modern slavery affects more than 35 million people,
     report finds

Facebook, Google and Apple lobby for curb to NSA

3. If you thought the Isis war couldn't get any worse, just
     wait for more of the CIA

4. The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase's Worst

5. America Is More Terrifying Than Orwell’s Fiction
6. And Now the Richest .01 Percent

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, November 18. It is a
crisis log.

There are 6 items with 6 links: Item 1 is about modern slavery: 1 in 50 human beings effectively is a slave, today; item 2 is about Facebook, Google etc. trying to lobby to curb the NSA surveillance; item 3 is about the CIA and its many excesses and failures; item 4 is about Morgan Chase's policies; item 5 is about the present day America (more terrifying than Orwell could imagine); and item 6 is Robert Reich about the richest 1 in 10.000 Americans, with two notes by me.

Also, there is a small earlier Nederlog of today that is only about a change in supplements I am taking now for 3 or 4 days, that will probably interest very few.

And here goes:

1. Modern slavery affects more than 35 million people, report finds

The first item today is an article by Larry Elliott on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

More than 35 million people around the world are trapped in a modern form of slavery, according to a report highlighting the prevalence of forced labour, human trafficking, forced marriages, debt bondage and commerical sexual exploitation.

The Walk Free Foundation (WFF), an Australia-based NGO that publishes the annual global slavery index, said that as a result of better data and improved methodology it had increased its estimate 23% in the past year.

Five countries accounted for 61% of slavery, although it was found in all 167 countries covered by the report, including the UK.

India was top of the list with about 14.29 million enslaved people, followed by China with 3.24 million, Pakistan 2.06 million, Uzbekistan 1.2 million, and Russia 1.05 million.

Mauritania had the highest proportion of its population in modern slavery, at 4%, followed by Uzbekistan with 3.97%, Haiti 2.3%, Qatar 1.36% and India 1.14%.

Note that 35 million is 1/2 % of the current human world population (here taken as 7 billion), which is to say that (roughly) 1 in 50 are slaves (or at least: "trapped in a modern form of slavery"). I say - that is over twice the total current Dutch population.

There is more in the article, but the above are the facts, at least according to the report.

2. Facebook, Google and Apple lobby for curb to NSA surveillance

The next item is an article by Samuel Gibbs on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

A coalition of technology and internet companies is lobbying to curb US National Security Agency surveillance powers and for more transparency on government data requests.

The Reform Government Surveillance coalition, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Apple, added its support for the race to pass a bill through the US Senate before the end of the year, which would inhibit mass data collection from emails and internet metadata.

“The Senate has an opportunity this week to vote on the bipartisan USA Freedom Act,” said the coalition in an open letter sent to the Senate. “We urge you to pass the bill, which both protects national security and reaffirms America’s commitment to the freedoms we all cherish.”

The bill would also allow technology companies to disclose the number and types of data demands from government as part of the continued transparency push from the industry.

I say. On the one hand, this is good, but on the other hand at least Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple make part of their profits by spying on their users, though again it might be said at least Microsof and Apple might make a case that they have been forced into that (which I probably will doubt, in part, but OK).

And there is this:
Privacy advocates and technology groups championed the bill originally but many revoked their support after compromises expanded the definition of what data the government can collect.
But I suppose that as things are, on the whole this is better than doing nothing or waiting for the next Congress. And it all is as yet in the planning stage, though there will be a vote today.

3. If you thought the Isis war couldn't get any worse, just wait for more of the CIA

The next item is an article by Trevor Timm on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
As the war against the Islamic State in Syria has fallen into even more chaospartially due to the United States government’s increasing involvement there – the White House’s bright new idea seems to be to ramping up the involvement of the intelligence agency that is notorious for making bad situations worse. As the Washington Post reported late Friday, “The Obama administration has been weighing plans to escalate the CIA’s role in arming and training fighters in Syria, a move aimed at accelerating covert U.S. support to moderate rebel factions while the Pentagon is preparing to establish its own training bases.”
Trevor Timm - the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation - is extremely sceptical that "the White House’s bright new idea" is a sensible one, and his arguments are good, and you can read them under the last dotted link.

Will it make a difference? Probably not, but we will see. 

4. The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase's Worst Nightmare

The next item is an article by Matt Taibbi on Rolling Stone:

This starts as follows:
She tried to stay quiet, she really did. But after eight years of keeping a heavy secret, the day came when Alayne Fleischmann couldn't take it anymore. 

"It was like watching an old lady get mugged on the street," she says. "I thought, 'I can't sit by any longer.'" 

Fleischmann is a tall, thin, quick-witted securities lawyer in her late thirties, with long blond hair, pale-blue eyes and an infectious sense of humor that has survived some very tough times. She's had to struggle to find work despite some striking skills and qualifications, a common symptom of a not-so-common condition called being a whistle-blower.

Fleischmann is the central witness in one of the biggest cases of white-collar crime in American history, possessing secrets that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon late last year paid $9 billion (not $13 billion as regularly reported – more on that later) to keep the public from hearing.

Here is some more on Fleischmann, Chase and Holder:

Six years after the crisis that cratered the global economy, it's not exactly news that the country's biggest banks stole on a grand scale. That's why the more important part of Fleischmann's story is in the pains Chase and the Justice Department took to silence her.

She was blocked at every turn: by asleep-on-the-job regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission, by a court system that allowed Chase to use its billions to bury her evidence, and, finally, by officials like outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, the chief architect of the crazily elaborate government policy of surrender, secrecy and cover-up. "Every time I had a chance to talk, something always got in the way," Fleischmann says.

This past year she watched as Holder's Justice Department struck a series of historic settlement deals with Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America. The root bargain in these deals was cash for secrecy. The banks paid big fines, without trials or even judges – only secret negotiations that typically ended with the public shown nothing but vague, quasi-official papers called "statements of facts," which were conveniently devoid of anything like actual facts.

There is a whole lot more under the last dotted link. It indeed shows massive fraud and corruption, but with a Department of Justice headed by Eric Holder the situation is as the last statement in the article says:
Truth is one thing, and if the right people fight hard enough, you might get to hear it from time to time. But justice is different, and still far enough away.
5. America Is More Terrifying Than Orwell’s Fiction 

The next item is an article by Tom Engelhardt on Alternet, that in fact is a part from his latest book, "Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World":

This is a long article of which I will quote only one bit:

Washington entered stage three of delusional life in a single-superpower world.  Its main symptom: the belief in the possibility of controlling the planet not just through staggering military might but also through informational and surveillance omniscience and omnipotence.  In these years, the urge to declare a global war on communications, create a force capable of launching wars in cyberspace, and storm the e-beaches of the Internet and the global information system proved overwhelming.  The idea was to make it impossible for anyone to write, say, or do anything to which Washington might not be privy.

For most Americans, the Edward Snowden revelations would pull back the curtain on the way the National Security Agency, in particular, has been building a global network for surveillance of a kind never before imagined, not even by the totalitarian regimes of the previous century. 

I agree with the first paragraph, but disagree with the second, in that I do not believe that "most Americans" really understand or care for the great dangers Edward Snowden revealed, and that are summarized in the first quoted paragraph. (I may be mistaken, and indeed hope I am, but I don't think so: Most Americans seem to think that as they haven't done anything, they have nothing to fear - which is as stupid in the present U.S. as it would have been in 1964 "socialist" Eastern Germany, where the Stasi tried to control everything.)

Anyway... there is a lot more under the last dotted link.

6. And Now the Richest .01 Percent

The next and last item today is an article by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

The richest Americans hold more of the nation’s wealth than they have in almost a century. What do they spend it on? As you might expect, personal jets, giant yachts, works of art, and luxury penthouses.

And also on politics. In fact, their political spending has been growing faster than their spending on anything else. It’s been growing even faster than their wealth.  

According to new research by Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics, the richest one-hundredth of one percent of Americans now hold over 11 percent of the nation’s total wealth. That’s a higher share than the top .01 percent held in 1929, before the Great Crash.

We’re talking about 16,000 people, each worth at least $110 million.

One way to get your mind around this is to compare their wealth to that of the average family. In 1978, the typical wealth holder in the top .01 percent was 220 times richer than the average American. By 2012, he or she was 1,120 times richer.

Which means that the super rich added over 5 times to their already enormous wealth compared with "the average American" in a mere 36 years. Why?
Because of Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama, is the - very short - answer: They all governed for the rich much more than the poor or the middle class, and did so in part because they got their money from the rich.

Here is another figure, that supports this - simple but basically adequate - answer:
In the mid-1980s, the bottom 90 percent of Americans together held 36 percent of the nation’s wealth. Now, they hold less than 23 percent.
And here is the ending of the piece, that repeats what I and others have been saying - though I also will have two critical comments:

If you want to know what’s happened to the American economy, follow the money. That will lead you to the richest .01 percent.

And if you want to know what’s happened to our democracy, follow the richest .01 percent. They’ll lead you to the politicians who have been selling our democracy. 

Yes - BUT here are two comments:

First, "
.01 percent" is in fact 1/100 of 1/100, which is 1 in 10.000. It is true that they have really vast amounts of money, which quite a lot also invest in poiitics to buy more privileges and tax evasions for themselves.

But even so, I'd rather construe the opposition between the rich and the poor - which now is a real opposition in the U.S. - as between the richest 1% or 10% and the remaining 99% or 90%, rather than concentrate on the
".01 percent", even though I agree with Reich these are the richest of the rich and give a lot of money to buy politicians to get even richer.

Second, the main reasons why I am rather a lot more in favor of drawing the distinction between the top 10% and the remaining 90% is quite simply that the very rich and the rich do comprise some 10% - and these 10% form a large army that generally works for the rich: the journalists, the academics, the politicians, the CEOs, the top bureaucrats etc. who themselves may not make a $ 110 million or even $ 10 million or $1 million a year, but who are very busy to see to it that their incomes are good, and that the incomes of those richer than them also are protected.

There surely are reasons to also look into the 0.01% but their social power exists mainly because of the rich 10% that mostly work for them.

[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)

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)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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