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Nederlog


  December
21, 2014
Crisis: Cheney, Torture, Cuba, Wall Street, Weekly Crisis
  "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.
Greenwald: Dick Cheney Should Be in 'Federal Prison' Not
     on 'Meet The Press'

2.
CIA Torture? For the Arab World, That's No Surprise
3. A Win for the Cuban People
4. Just in Time for the Holidays, Another Wall Street
     Giveaway

5. On making a weekly crisis report

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, December 21. It is a crisis log, and it is the first weekly one, which also means it is a bit experimental. This will be considered briefly in item 5, for it may be a bit of a problem.

There are 5 items today, with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about Greenwald on Cheney; item 2 is about how the CIA's torturing people is received in the Arab world; item 3 is about Cuba; item 4 is about yet another big giveaway by Obama's government to the bankers; and item 5 is about the present file
and the making of weekly surveys of the crisis (which you do not need to read).

Also today I uploaded the last crisis index, which now is updated till December 19, and - in case you missed it - it happens to be the shortest day today in the northern part of the earth: from now on days will lengthen again until June 21.

And here goes:

1. Greenwald: Dick Cheney Should Be in 'Federal Prison' Not on 'Meet The Press'

The first item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Journalist Glenn Greenwald did not mince words on Thursday when asked to respond to comments made by former vice president Dick Cheney when he appeared on NBC's Meet The Press last Sunday.

"The reason why Dick Cheney is able to go on 'Meet The Press' instead of being where he should be—which is in the dock at The Hague or in a federal prison—is because President Obama and his administration made the decision not to prosecute any of the people who implemented this torture regime despite the fact that it was illegal and criminal," Greenwald said in an interview with HuffPost Live's Alyona Minkovski.

In Sunday's interview with host Chuck Todd, Cheney claimed that CIA torture "worked" and announced he would "do it again in a minute" if given the opportunity.

Yes, indeed. Is there any chance Cheney will ever be prosecuted while alive? Not realistically, although there is a great amount he should be asked about.

2. CIA Torture? For the Arab World, That's No Surprise 

The next item is an article by Rachel Shabi on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows (and is a good article):

The headlines scream of shock and revulsion. Described in UK newspapers as a "stain on America" and "the shaming of the West", and in the US as a "grim portrait" and "litany of brutality", the damning Senate report on CIA torture has, not surprisingly, evoked horror across the world's media.

Few cannot be shocked by the nightmarishly grotesque details of how the CIA tortured, and how often it lied about it. And who knows how much more is contained in the bulk of the just-released, 6,000-page document of savage abuse, only some 500 pages of which were declassified.

But woven into some of the media reaction is another theme, too. It's in the Washington Post's editorial, which states: "This is not how Americans should behave. Ever."

It's in the many references, within the US, to the CIA torture as the antithesis of "national" and "American" values. And it is in Vox editor-in-chief Ezra Klein's observation: "We betrayed our values. We betrayed who we are."

Across the Arab and Muslim world this kind of response from the West might come over as somewhat belated and, well, maybe a little bit delusional, too. After all, "who we are" has been going on since 2001, at the very least (let's not get into the torture that was such an integral part of colonialism, or even the torture training that the CIA gifted a variety of brutal regimes during the 1970s). And "who we are" has for some time been painfully clear to those at the receiving end of it.
Yes, indeed. There is also this:
"The use of torture is an exercise in terror," says Rizwaan Sabir, a counterterrorism specialist at the UK's Edge Hill University. "So it's terror in the name of fighting terror - and you can't defeat something by becoming the very thing you are trying to defeat."
Quite so - and as I have been writing since 2005: it "justifies" Western state terrorism against anyone and everyone who is not a direct servant of the government, all on the pretext that the population is supposed to get protected from "terrorists", which is mere baloney: the government only protects itself,
and only can protect itself, with any chance on success.

Anyway: This is a good article that you should read all of.


3. A Win for the Cuban People

The next item is an article by Eugene Robinson on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

President Obama’s historic opening to Cuba is long overdue—and has a chance of hastening the Castro dictatorship’s demise. Critics of the accord should explain why they believe a policy that has failed miserably for half a century could ever work.

What is it about Cuba that makes reasonable people take leave of their senses? The United States maintained full diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, hardly a couple of peaceniks, opened the door to China. History argues powerfully for engagement as the best way to deal with repressive, adversarial regimes. Yet hard-liners insist Cuba must be treated differently.

Visiting the island might change some minds. I went to Cuba 10 times between 2000 and 2004 while researching a book, “Last Dance in Havana.” Each trip gave me more regard for the Cuban people—and less for the Castro regime.

I say. There is considerably more in the article, that also is not bad and that you might read for yourself.

All I have to add here are my own impressions of Cuba plus a speculation about its future.

First my own impressions of Cuba.

I was quite interested and quite in favor of Cuba in 1968, when I was 17 or 18, and also still a marxist (like my parents, though not of their faith, for I did - among quite a few other differences - not believe anymore since 1964 that "the socialist countries" were really socialistic, or were not dictatorships), but these were the times not many felt like me and a few leftists.

Then in 1970 I completely gave up marxism and most of my interest in politics, and hardly cared about Cuba anymore - except that somewhere in 1990ies, or maybe even in the 1980ies, Kooobaa - as it was always called - became quite suddenly very near to Socialist Heaven in the opinion of Dutch social democrat politicians (usually second or third rankers), who generally went there not on their own costs, and who nearly all returned with very much verbal enthusiasm about all the miracles of Kooobaa
(for they all said Kooobaa: this seemed to make it more real, more definite, and - of course - a lot more revolutionary), but never with any details of any kind, and also never with any real actions.

In brief, I was not much impressed by Cuba after 1968, and also did not get much reliable information about it. What about the future?

There is no certainty, but I expect that after the Castros will have died, "socialism" will soon
die as well, when the Cubans will get their share of the American economical propaganda, that will propagandize the Big Human Ideal of becoming A Consumer with A Credit Card - which will probably succeed.

I hope I am mistaken, for it would be nice to have a somewhat socialist republic without repression, if that is possible, but I fear I am not, if only because Castro's system, while it was not as bad as that of the Soviet Union, did repress most of the people, and also kept them quite poor, though that was certainly not only Castro's fault.

4. Just in Time for the Holidays, Another Wall Street Giveaway

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

In what is being criticized as yet another capitulation to Wall Street—and just in time for the holidays—the Federal Reserve on Thursday announced it will give investment banks a one-year extension to implement a key aspect of the Dodd/Frank financial reform act, known as the Volcker Rule, enacted in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis.

As Bloomberg reports:

Banks added to their wins in Washington this month by getting a reprieve from the Volcker Rule that will let them hold onto billions of dollars in private-equity and hedge-fund investments for at least two more years.

The Federal Reserve granted the delay yesterday after banks said selling the stakes quickly might force them to accept discount prices. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has $11.4 billion in private-equity funds, hedge funds and similar investments, while Morgan Stanley has $5 billion, securities filings show.

“This is a great holiday present by the Fed,” said Ernest Patrikis, a former Federal Reserve Bank of New York general counsel who is now a partner at White & Case LLP.

The Volcker Rule, named after former Fed chair Paul Volcker, was designed to curb some of the practices which led to the '08 collapse and demands that banks refrain from using their clients' deposits to engage in risky, speculative investment activities. Though the rule as written and enacted was full of loopholes inserted at the behest of Wall Street lobbyists, the banks have continued to claim they need more time to "unwind" their investments to conform with the law. Thursday's order by the Fed was a consent to the banks' demands, but critics worry that the year extension is not about giving financial firms more time to comply with the rules, but rather, more time to kill it off entirely.

Yes, quite so. Here is the last paragraph of the article, that is well worth reading in full:
"The Wall Street Casino is alive and well," said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who co-authored the Volcker Rule statute with Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.). "Last week it was Congress granting the big banks the right to keep trading on banned risky derivatives with government backing. Today it is the Fed granting big banks two more years to make big bets through direct ownership of private equity and hedge funds. It all amounts to the same thing – spineless accommodation of the big banks’ desire to run taxpayer-subsidized hedge funds. This is wrong for taxpayers and it is wrong for the stability of our banking system. We expect more of the Federal Reserve."
Note the really bad thing: This - once again - gives enormous freedoms to the banks "to run taxpayer-subsidized hedge funds" (my bolding, for the profits go to the bankmanagers, but the losses are for the taxpayers).

5. On making a weekly crisis report

This is the first weekly crisis report, after I gave up doing a daily one earlier this week. I gave up mostly because it is a lot of work; my eyes and general health are now a bit better than they were for resp. 2 1/2 years and 20 years; I need some space to do other things; and because I am a bit disappointed about the total lack of any response by - literally (!) - hundreds of thousands of readers, and
also about the pro torture spirit of the majority of the American population, and the lack of much anger about being universally surveilled by the secret services and the government (which are the beginnings of fascism).

However, the main reasons are really the first two:

I want to have time available to do some other thing than writing a daily column on the crisis, and as long as I am ill - which I am since 1.1.1979 - the only way to make time is to give up doing the daily column (which took rather a lot).

This may cost me readers, but since these never seem to reach me anyway, I can't care much, and also, whether it costs readers or not, I want to write in Nederlog about some other things than the crisis, and to have some more time for doing other things.

One relevant problem is this: What shall I put in the weekly crisis series? Here the main point is that I have had on average around 6 items every day, mostly taken from daily publications, while I will not take more than around 8 items each week, and preferably 6 or less. Also, the items I will choose need to have more than a merely daily appeal.

I don't really know and will have to find out, but it will probably be like today, though with different subjects.

I think the choice today is adequate.

---------------------------------
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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