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Nederlog

January 20, 2015
Crisis: Inequality, GCHQ, America's Wealthy, Chomsky, "Surveillance"
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "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. Inequality isn’t inevitable, it’s engineered. That’s how the
     1% have taken over

2. GCHQ captured emails of journalists from top
     international media

3.
How America's Wealthy Stole the American Dream and
     Cashed It at an Offshore Bank

4. 
Noam Chomsky: Obama's Drone Program 'The Most
     Extreme Terrorist Campaign of Modern Times'

5. Surveillance Is Just First Phase as NSA Plans 'Guerilla'
    Tactics for Global Cyberwar
 


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, January 20, 2015.

This is a crisis log. It has 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a nice article by Suzanne Moore on inequality (economic); item 2 is on how the GCHQ captures journalists' materials; item 3 is a fairly long article on the many billions effectively stolen by the wealthiest Americans (mostly); item 4 is about Noam Chomsky on terrorism and Obama; item 5 is about "surveillance", and how everyone risks being abused and exploited and misled by the Western secret services.

Also, I uploaded the last index of the
crisis series, that is now updated until January 18, 2015.

1. Inequality isn’t inevitable, it’s engineered. That’s how the 1% have taken over

The first item today is an article by Suzanne Moore on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Who will look after the super-rich and think about their needs? It’s not easy for them: the 1% of the world’s population who by next year will own more global wealth than the 99%. Private security costs a fortune, and with the world becoming an increasingly unequal place a certain instability increases. It could be dangerous!

Very smartly, Oxfam International is raising such questions at the World Economic Forum at Davos, where the global elite gather to talk of big ideas and big money. Oxfam executive director, Winnie Byanyima, is arguing that this increasing concentration of wealth since the recession is “bad for growth and bad for governance”. What’s more, inequality is bad not just for the poor, but for the rich too. That’s why we have the likes of the IMF’s Christine Lagarde kicking off with warnings about rising inequality.
I like this article, and part of it is also ironical satire, like the first question:
Who will look after the super-rich and think about their needs?
But I will answer this as if it is a real question: Here are some of the people who do look after the super-rich, usually also in very false, dishonest, deceiving ways, that also very much and very intentionally abuse language [1]:
  • their employees
  • their lawyers
  • their lobbyists
  • their propagandists aka "public relationists"
  • their Congressmen
  • their politicians ("left", "right" and "center")
  • their media
  • their journalists
  • most economists
  • most judges
  • most policemen
In contrast, the poor and the ill (like me) have no one who talks for them, not in an honest way (I earn too little) and not in a dishonest way (they earn to little by working for me) - and thus it is for most of the poor: You can't get in, and you can't even get a hearing, because you are too poor to rent a halfway decent lawyer, and since you are not well-known to start with, and anyway criticize the rich, you will very probably not even be received by any journalist. [2]

Incidentally: I do not trust either Lagarde or the IMF. They have been silent for 35 years, and the only reason I can see for their present concern about inequality is because they want it to be their topic so that they can lie about it as much as they please, while the directed - hardly "free" - main media does not print or speak about most other criticisms, e.g. because that noble IMF is concerned about it, and these people should know and should be trusted by the poor. No: the IMF is there to protect the interests of the rich, and has done so quite successfully.

One reason to like this article is the following quotation:
The rich, via lobbyists and Byzantine tax arrangements, actively work to stop redistribution. Inequality is not inevitable, it’s engineered. Many mainstream economists do not question the degree of this engineering, even when it is highly dubious. This level of acceptance among economists of inequality as merely an unfortunate byproduct of growth, alongside their failure to predict the crash, has worryingly not affected their cult status among blinkered admirers.
Not only is it "engineered": The level of inequality that arose since 1980 was started by Thatcher and Reagan, with the aim of making the rich richer and the poor poorer, in which they also were very successful, and it was implemented by deregulating most of the laws that protected the poor against exploitation.

The lie this was spread by was "Freedom" (for the few rich to exploit the many poor, without any legal protection for the poor, without minimal wage, and without unions); "Free Market" (a variant of "Freedom"); and lots of lies about the goodness of greed and egoism, that were also bought into by many of the poor, mostly because they are stupid and have been trained to be unfair, and also by nearly all of the rich, because they know they are greedy and egoistic, and consider that very good, these days. (Ayn Rand said so! So it must be true!)

As to most of the economists: Because they could not even predict the crash (a few did; nearly all did not) clearly they are not real scientists (for real scientists with a real science could at least have predicted such a major event), and in fact most behave, talk and write - especially if tenured - like ideologues, and these days nearly all like ideologues of the right (singing about all the goods "the free market" and "freedom" brings, while the inequalities have kept rising and rising and rising the last 35 years).

Another reason to like this article is the following quotation:
When we talk of neoliberalism, we are talking about something that has fuelled inequality and enabled the 1%. All it means is a stage of capitalism in which the financial markets were deregulated, public services privatised, welfare systems run down, laws to protect working people dismantled, and unions cast as the enemy.
Yes, quite so. "Neoliberalism" has fuelled inequalities with the myth of "Freedom" (of the rich, to exploit the poor mercilessly); they "enabled the 1%" by their lies and by deregulations that only served the rich; by privatising public services and making them worse and much more expensive [3] again because the few rich don't need them anyway; they have run down "welfare systems" because this makes the many poor far more easily fully exploitable; and they have made unions the enemy because only unions can stand up against the powers of the rich.

Anyway - it is not a great article, but it is a nice article, by someone who is not taken in by the lies and postures of the many spokesmen for the rich.

2. GCHQ captured emails of journalists from top international media

The next item is an article by James Ball on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

GCHQ’s bulk surveillance of electronic communications has scooped up emails to and from journalists working for some of the US and UK’s largest media organisations, analysis of documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.

Emails from the BBC, Reuters, the Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, the Sun, NBC and the Washington Post were saved by GCHQ and shared on the agency’s intranet as part of a test exercise by the signals intelligence agency.

The disclosure comes as the British government faces intense pressure to protect the confidential communications of reporters, MPs and lawyers from snooping.

There is also this:
New evidence from other UK intelligence documents revealed by Snowden also shows that a GCHQ information security assessment listed “investigative journalists” as a threat in a hierarchy alongside terrorists or hackers.
NB: investigative journalist are regarded as a threat to what the liars lof GCHQ call national interests "alongside terrorists": How evil can one get at the GCHQ while still being welcomed there and covered by the government's lies?!

And there is this:

More than 100 editors, including those from all the national newspapers, have signed a letter, coordinated by the Society of Editors and Press Gazette, to the UK prime minister, David Cameron, protesting at snooping on journalists’ communications.

In the wake of terror attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices and a Jewish grocer in Paris, Cameron has renewed calls for further bulk-surveillance powers, such as those which netted these journalistic communications.
(...)
Under Ripa, neither the police nor the security services need to seek the permission of a judge to investigate any UK national’s phone records – instead, they must obtain permission from an appointed staff member from the same organisation, not involved in their investigation.

Clearly, the Ripa is like asking your friend and colleague whether you may do as he thinks he may do: Without a real and independent judge it is a mere game of completely undemocratic deception and lies.

And no, under Cameron this will go on and on, until no dissenting voice dares to question anything any British government does or wants or proposes.

3. How America's Wealthy Stole the American Dream and Cashed It at an Offshore Bank

The next item is an article by Les Leopold on Alternet:
This starts as follows:

America is the most unequal country in the developed world. We also pay the lowest taxes among all developed nations. Is there a connection?

Runaway inequality and declining taxes are linked together through a set of economic policies called the "Better Business Climate" model which came to America around 1980. (By then Margaret Thatcher had already put her version to work in England.)

After the turbulent 1970s, which featured oil boycotts, high unemployment and even higher inflation rates, the policy establishment was hungry for a new simple plan that promised renewed prosperity. The Better Business Climate model had two key components: cutting taxes on corporations and the super-rich, and reducing regulations, especially on Wall Street. This potent combination was to encourage the rich to invest, which in turn would lead to more jobs and increasing incomes for all. A massive boom would then ensue to make all boats rise. But as we painfully learned, tax cuts and the unleashing of Wall Street led to luxurious yachts for the few and leaky rowboats for the rest of us.

There is rather a lot more that is a decent explanation of the title. I do recommend you read all of this. Also, the writer seems fairly realistic, for
his last paragraph is this:
The combination of deteriorating government services, tax avoidance by the rich, and unresponsive elected officials form a combustible mix. Nothing short of a massive movement that builds a new political organization will be needed to right these many wrongs. But it will have to be more than another Occupy Wall Street. We will need to do the painstaking work of spreading the word, and then organizing the 99 percent into a new political force to be reckoned with. It took 30 years to get us here. Expect it to take that long for us to effectively get our act together.
I agree with most of this, but not with "30 years": I will be 95 (which I by far the most probably will not make) and there will be (at least) 9 billion people... so no: if it takes that long, it very probably will not happen at all. Or indeed - considerably more probably - some major crisis or major war will interfere, which will change everything, as indeed did WW I and WW II.

In any case, one of the lessons of history I learned is that no one is capable of predicting well how things will be politically in 25 years, so I cannot take the "30 years" seriously (though I am willing to agree that with a mostly manipulated press, and with secret services that are capable of breaking into any computer, and with 50% having an IQ of at most 100, the chances for a major peaceful revolution or for a major mostly peaceful change, even though this would be helpful to and wanted by 90% of the people, are quite small indeed).
 
4. Noam Chomsky: Obama's Drone Program 'The Most Extreme Terrorist Campaign of Modern Times'

The next item is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

World-renowned linguist and scholar Noam Chomsky has criticized what he sees as Western hypocrisy following the recent terror attacks in Paris and the idea that there are two kinds of terrorism: "theirs versus ours."

In an op-ed published Monday at CNN.com, Chomsky notes how the deadly attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a supermarket last week sparked millions to demonstrate under the banner "I am Charlie" and prompted inquiries "into the roots of these shocking assaults in Islamic culture and exploring ways to counter the murderous wave of Islamic terrorism without sacrificing our values."

No such inquiry into western culture and Christianity came from Anders Breivik's 2011 attack in Norway that killed scores of people.

Nor did NATO's 1999 missile strike on Serbian state television headquarters that killed 16 journalists spark "Je Suis Charlie"-like demonstrations. In fact, Chomsky writes, that attack was lauded by U.S. officials.

In fact, Anders Breivik (<- Wikipedia) killed 77 people. Also, I have protested (1) against the whole notion of terrorism: it appears to me - since 2005! - to function as a pretext for introducing Western state terrorism of many kinds, including spying on everybody without any independent judicial oversight or agreement, as if any democratic government has that right, which it has not and cannot have without ceasing to be a democracy [4], and (2) against the notion that We Of The Free West always kiill without any terrorism, whereas the people we killl are generally guilty of terrorism, for which end I quoted Orwell (who also regarded this as a kind of despicable totalitarianism):

"Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no outrage - torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonments without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians, which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side." (The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, vol 3, p. 419, written in May 1945.)

Then again, I do not know whether Obama's drone program is 'The Most Extreme Terrorist Campaign of Modern Times': For one thing, I do not know about all terror programs there are (and most of these are as secret as the NSA and the GCHQ are, whatever their source).

But yes: If murdering people without judicial approval is terror, then both Obama and some of the people he kills are guilty of terror - and see Orwell's quote above: You must judge actions on their own merits, if you want to be rational and impartial, and not
according to who does them.

5. Surveillance Is Just First Phase as NSA Plans 'Guerilla' Tactics for Global Cyberwar

The last item today is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
New revelations eminating from the documents leaked to journalists by Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA has a far more developed and sinister approach to cyberwarfare than previously known.

Based on new and separate reporting from the New York Times and Germany's Der Spiegel, the National Security Agency is engaged in what amounts to "guerilla warfare" in which its clandestine hacking operations are designed to be undetectable, untraceable, and therefore, totally unaccountable.

As the team of journalists reporting for Der Spiegel describe it, "the US government is currently undertaking a massive effort to digitally arm itself for network warfare." And, they report, the NSA—along with its intelligence partners around the world—"have adopted 'plausible deniability' as their guiding principle for Internet operations."

This is a fine report, also quite long, that I recommend you read all of, and especially if you did not read either my review or the original of the Spiegel's "The Digital Arms Race: NSA Preps America for Future Battle" (reviewed here two days ago).

It ends as follows:

The Der Spiegel journalists described the NSA's tactics as a kind of digital "guerilla warfare" in which "little differentiation is made between soldiers and civilians."

"It's a stunning approach," they write, "with which the digital spies deliberately undermine the very foundations of the rule of law around the globe. This approach threatens to transform the Internet into a lawless zone in which superpowers and their secret services operate according to their own whims with very few ways to hold them accountable for their actions."

Yes indeed - and this, namely that "the digital spies deliberately undermine the very foundations of the rule of law around the globe" is so serious that either it will succeed, and most human beings will completely cease to be free in any useful sense, for they will be controlled and manipulated by secret state organs, who may as well and as plausibly lie in court as they lie to those they mislead anyway, for no one effectively controls them, or it will completely collapse.

There does not seem much chance of any development inbetween, simply because the majority of the politicians consent anyway (and/as they generally also are quite well paid, and mostly are conformists), and indeed they also do not know much about the secret services that may spy upon all, simply because some governmental lawyer said so, and the government prevents all investigations into their very own secret services.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes

[1] The abuse of language is quite serious, quite subtle, and happens in many ways. For one thing, and since Reagan and Clinton, virtually the whole liberal and progressive vocabulary has been plundered by the right and by the government, to be used falsely for their own purposes. (The "Freedom" baloney is just one example: "freedom" now means "freedom to plunder, to exploit, to abuse, and to lie, all for profit, which is holy and sacrosanct, and the only holy and sacrosanct thing there is" - but no one (of the propagandists) ever told the plundered, the exploited, the abused and the lied to that this was the point of praising "freedom, Freedom, FREEDOM!".)

Also, one the major abuses of language is the power of the always lying and always deceiving "public relations" offices: By now, most that ordinary people read may well be advertisements, especially in the U.S.

[2] All of this happened to me: No Dutch journalist ever wanted to receive me to talk about the incredible corruptions crafted by Ed van Thijn, Rob Oudkerk, Lodewijk Asscher and Job Cohen (all supposedly "Jewish" mayors or aldermen of Amsterdam, though none has the faith) who instituted a sickeningly corrupt way of selling illegal drugs in Holland that turns over at least 10 billion euros a year in merely hashish and marijuana (according to the Parliamentary Report of 1996!!), and of some 50 billion euros yearly with other drugs (cocaine, speed, ecstasy, heroin).

For this reason - and I also was literally gassed and threatened with murder 5 times by the drugsdealers Amsterdam mayor Van Thijn had permitted to deal drugs from the bottom floor of the house where I lived, instead from his home - (1) this completely corrupt set-up has been continued now for 30 years without any protest in Holland, by no one, including all judges, while (2) I refuse to believe that the Dutch press is free in any useful sense:

If even evident gross corruption that turns over some 50 billion euros a year is not talked about for 30 years in the Dutch press, the Dutch press consists of sick servants of the rich, who in turn in part are so very rich because they profit from the drugs dealings (all of which is both completely illegal and completely protected by the Dutch mayors and the Dutch police, who refused to take any complaint I made about being gassed and threatened with murder).

[3] For example: The Dutch had a really good health insurance system, that protected most people (some didn't want it) and that cost me about 20 euros a month for some 35 years. It worked quite well all these years, and did not lead to any losses.

Then "the Free Market" entered, and now (1) everyone is legally forced to have health insurance (or risk prison) while (2) I have to pay now more than 170 euros a month, that is over 6 times as much, and pay my own sleeping pills, and pay the first 350 euros of any costs, and I get a letter every month from the fascists who pay their director 450.000 euros a year that I have - as yet - not to pay them any money...

This was not
"the Free Market": It was forced degenerate health fascism, that costs me more than 6 times as much as it cost before, while it delivers a lot less. (Who profits? The sellers of health insurances, and the medical people. Everybody else - that is: all other Dutchmen - got seriously and intentionally screwed, though indeed most Dutchmen earn a lot more than I do (and pay the same premiums).)

[4] My reasons - already in 2005 - were and are that the - so-called - terrorist opponents of Our Free West are without territory, without money, without trained professional armies, without atomic bombs and altogether very much weaker than the power of the U.S., while also from the 1950ies to the late 1980ies the West ran very much more risk from the socialist countries, that had large territories, a lot of money, large and well-trained professional armies and thousands of atomic bombs, while none of the supposed "anti-terrorist measures" were in place then, or were even considered (!!).

I still think this is a perfectly rational argument: "Terrorism" is a pretext for Western state terrorism, which is far more serious and far more dangerous than any "terrorism" which it is supposed to defend the West from (for that all goes without huge powers of entering any one's computer, in secret, and take anything from it, and also is without state powers, without territory, without atomic bombs etc.). And no: I am against any kind of terrorism, whether by states, by Islamists, by Christians or any other group.


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