March 22, 2015
Crisis: Israel, Torture, Wild Bees, CIA video, 10 Charts On Decline & Crisis
  "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


1. Will an Emboldened Netanyahu Lead Israel to National

2. Judge Orders US Government to Stop Suppressing
     Evidence of Torture and Abuse

3. Wild Bee Decline A Sign of Europe's 'Ecological Disaster':

This Secret CIA Video Showed Ronald Reagan How the
     Soviets Viewed America

5. 10 Charts Which Show We Are Much Worse Off Than Just
     Before The Last Economic Crisis


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, March 22, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a piece by Max Blumenthal on Israel and Nethanyahu; item 2 is about an American judge who ordered the release of photographs that (would) document the abuse by American military; item 3 is about a considerable decline of the wild bee species in Europe (and no more bees = no more food); item 4 is a historical item that quite amused me: A video made by the CIA in 1985 for Reagan's information, about the ideas the Russians (under Soviet rule) had about the U.S.: interesting about propaganda and deception; and item 5 is about a quite interesting article
on Washington's blog about the great economic declines since 2008.

This also got uploaded a bit earlier than normal - and I also like to point out that
item 5 is considerable support for my own thesis that the West has been in crisis since 2008 and still is - in fact, the West is considerably worse than it was in 2007. (You should read the whole article. And all statistics in it are from official U.S sources.)

1. Will an Emboldened Netanyahu Lead Israel to National Suicide?

The first item is an article by Max Blumenthal (<- Wikipedia) on Truthdig (and originally on AlterNet):

This starts as follows:

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu propelled his Likud Party to victory over the centrist Zionist Union in national elections this week with a vehement rejection of a Palestinian state and warning of “buses full of Arabs” inundating polling places. He understands that most Jewish Israelis do not want to live beside an independent Palestinian state or next door to a Palestinian. He is one of them, after all, and he shares their sensibility. His last minute desperate appeal to racism was an Israeli application of Alabama Governor George C. Wallace’s political rule: “I will never be out-niggered again.”

By making Netanyahu the longest serving prime minister in Israel’s history, Jewish Israeli voters have chosen occupation, apartheid and periodic bouts of warfare.
There is also this:
Meanwhile, millions of Palestinians live under Israeli rule without the right to vote or any legal rights at all. The war that left some 2,200 residents of the Gaza Strip dead last summer and reduced nearly a quarter of the besieged coastal enclave’s urban landscape to rubble was supported by over 90 percent of the Jewish Israeli public, with 45 percent of Israelis complaining that their army had not used enough force. This was the Israel that rewarded Netanyahu with his fourth term.
And there is considerably more under the last dotted link, including some background information on Nethanyahu. Also, I do not know enough from Israeli politics to pronounce confidently on Max Blumenthal's version of if, but I dislike Nethanyahu, because he seems a hysteric, and I also am an opponent of the bombing of Gaza. [1]

2. Judge Orders US Government to Stop Suppressing Evidence of Torture and Abuse

The next item is an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

A federal judge on Friday ordered the U.S. government to release more than 2,000 photographs showing abuse and torture of people detained by the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The decision is the latest development in a more than 10-year-long legal battle, in which the American Civil Liberties Unions has argued that disclosure of the records is critical for public debate and government accountability.

Many of the concealed photographs were taken by U.S. military service members and collected during more than 200 military investigations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some could be on par with, or worse than, those released from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

U.S. district judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled (pdf) that the government "is required to disclose each and all of the photographs" in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request from the ACLU. In the order, Hellerstein argued that the government did not adequately prove that "disclosure would endanger Americans."

The decision gives the Solicitor General two months to decide whether to appeal.

Of course I agree with the judge's decision, for these photographs are simply evidence about what really happened - which is not at all what the U.S. government likes to be known.

Here is the rest of the article, that is brief and good:

The ACLU has pressed for the release of records relating to torture and extrajudicial killings of prisoners in U.S. custody around the world since 2003.

The administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama have vigorously fought to keep these photographs suppressed, and in 2009, the White House collaborated with Congress to secretly change FOIA law to enable the concealment of the images, arguing it is necessary to protect national security.

However, ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer argued in response to Friday's ruling, "To allow the government to suppress any image that might provoke someone, somewhere, to violence would be to give the government sweeping power to suppress evidence of its own agents’ misconduct. Giving the government that kind of censorial power would have implications far beyond this specific context."

"The photos are crucial to the public record," Jaffer continued. "They’re the best evidence of what took place in the military’s detention centers, and their disclosure would help the public better understand the implications of some of the Bush administration’s policies. And the Obama administration’s rationale for suppressing the photos is both illegitimate and dangerous."

Quite so.

3. Wild Bee Decline A Sign of Europe's 'Ecological Disaster': Study 

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

This starts as follows:

Nearly one in 10 European wild bee species is facing the threat of extinction, according to the first assessment of the continent's bee populations, published Thursday.

As environmentalists have long noted, bees and other pollinators are essential to the world's food supply, farming system, and environment. However, both in Europe and the U.S., they have been threatened by industrial agriculture practices, insecticides, and climate change, which causes more heavy rainfalls, droughts, and heat waves that can harm bees and their access to food.

Reuters reports:

Bees are vital to food production but are in decline in many parts of the world. There are 1,965 wild bee species in Europe and 9.2 percent of them are at risk of extinction while another 5.2 percent are likely to be threatened in the near future, according to the international study, funded by the European Commission.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also said its study showed that 57 percent of all European bee species, which include types of bumblebees, honey bees and solitary bees, were so little known that it was impossible to judge whether they were at risk or not.

The reason this is here is that without bees - that is: without pollinators of our crops - we're all dead. There is more in the article.

4. This Secret CIA Video Showed Ronald Reagan How the Soviets Viewed America 

The next item is an article by Dave Gilson on Mother Jones:
This starts as follows:
When President Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, he became the first president to receive Central Intelligence Agency briefings in video format. The CIA produced more than 40 short informational videos for Reagan, ranging from evening-newsy looks at topics like the Chernobyl nuclear accident (below) to profiles of foreign leaders.
The CIA declassified and released several of the videos in 2013, including this look at how the Soviet media portrayed the United States. It's worth a watch as an '80s-tastic Cold War relic, featuring cameos by Michael Jackson and Rambo.
I selected this because it amused me considerably (if you are interested at all, you should watch the video that takes 9 m 33 s: it is quite interesting) and also because this does give considerable - implicit - information about propaganda and deception (once you realize that you are looking at a film prepared by the CIA to inform the U.S. president in secret).

5. 10 Charts Which Show We Are Much Worse Off Than Just Before The Last Economic Crisis

The last item today is an article by Michael Snyder on Washington's Blog (with the original appearing on The Economic Collapse Blog):
This starts as follows:
If you believe that ignorance is bliss, you might not want to read this article.  I am going to dispel the notion that there has been any sort of “economic recovery”, and I am going to show that we are much worse off than we were just prior to the last economic crisis.  If you go back to 2007, people were feeling really good about things.  Houses were being flipped like crazy, the stock market was booming and unemployment was relatively low.  But then the financial crisis of 2008 struck, and for a while it felt like the world was coming to an end.  Of course it didn’t come to an end – it was just the first wave of our problems.  The waves that come next are going to be the ones that really wipe us out. 
I say - but Michael Snyder's charts are rather convincing. I will not reproduce the charts (you can click on the last dotted link to see them - and see below) but I will summarize the argument, and select bits of it (there is considerably more text in the original):

#1 The National Debt

Just prior to the last recession, the U.S. national debt was a bit above 9 trillion dollars.  Since that time, it has nearly doubled.

#2 Total Debt

Over the past 40 years, the total amount of debt in the United States has skyrocketed to astronomical heights.  We have become a “buy now, pay later” society with devastating consequences.  Back in 1975, our total debt level was sitting at about 2.5 trillion dollars.  Just prior to the last recession, it was sitting at about 50 trillion dollars, and today we are rapidly closing in on 60 trillion dollars.

#3 The Velocity Of Money

(...) the velocity of money fell dramatically during the last recession (and) has (...) kept going down since then (...)

#4 The Homeownership Rate

(...) the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen to a 20 year low (...)

#5 The Employment Rate

(...) Just prior to the last recession, approximately 63 percent of the working age population of the United States was employed.  During the recession, this ratio fell to below 59 percent and it stayed there for several years.  Just recently it has peeked back above 59 percent, but we are still very, very far from where we used to be (...)

#6 The Labor Force Participation Rate

(...) the “labor force participation rate” has fallen substantially since the end of the last recession…

#7 The Inactivity Rate For Men In Their Prime Working Years

Just prior to the last recession, the inactivity rate for men in their prime working years was about 9 percent.  Today it is just about 12 percent.

#8 Real Median Household Income

[This dropped, and there is also this quite interesting information - MM:]

In America today, most Americans do not make enough to support a middle class lifestyle on a single salary.  The following figures come directly from the Social Security Administration

-39 percent of American workers make less than $20,000 a year.
-52 percent of American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
-63 percent of American workers make less than $40,000 a year.
-72 percent of American workers make less than $50,000 a year.

#9 Inflation

(...) the cost of living just continues to rise steadily.  For example, the cost of food and beverages has gone up nearly 50 percent just since the year 2000.

#10 Government Dependence

(...) the federal government is now spending about twice as much on food stamps as it was just prior to the last recession.
I did not copy the charts, but they are quite convincing because they all do show large losses and also because they are all taken from the U.S. official statistics.

And this really is an article you should read all of.

[1] Maybe I must remind the reader that my father and his father were arrested by the Nazi's in the summer of 1941 and were convicted by collaborating Dutch judges to concentration camp imprisonment as "political terrorists", which my grandfather did not survive, and that my family name is on some Israeli wall to commemorate the bearer's name's outstanding humanity.

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