MPs spied on by police demand to see secret files
held on them
item is an article by Frances Perraudin on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Labour MPs have demanded to see secret files
that were gathered on them by undercover police in the 1990s even after
they had been elected to parliament.
The calls were made in a
Commons debate prompted by claims in the Guardian by Peter Francis, a
former undercover police officer, that he read secret files on 10 MPs
during his 11 years working for the Metropolitan police’s special
Francis said that
Scotland Yard held files on MPs Harriet Harman, Peter Hain, Jack Straw, Diane
Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn, and the late Bernie Grant, as well as Ken
Livingstone, the late Tony Benn, Joan Ruddock and Dennis Skinner.
The deputy Labour leader,
Harriet Harman, asked the minister of state for justice, Mike Penning,
to assure her that the government would allow her to see a full copy of
the information gathered on her.
“The security services do
an important job and the government of course should support them, but
if they overstep the mark the government must hold them to account,”
I have reported
yesterday on the same subject, and it seems I am right: What is awful
and reprehensible is not that the English people are
pirated and plundered for any information they put on line or have on
their computers and cell phones; it is that the English elected
parliamentarians are given a similar treatment by the
English secret services as the English people get.
As you see in the
above quotation, it is not as if Ms Harman does not support the
English secret services: she merely wants to see her own files
(which she probably will not: Mike Penning has already said the
MPs can see only "redacted" parts of their files).
Anyway - there is
more in the article, but since I am an opponent of breaking the privacy
of the English people much rather than of breaking the privacy of English MPs
"even after they had been
elected to parliament" I am loosing interest (indeed also because I
don't believe in most English parliamentarians).
Money at War Everywhere
item is an article by William D.
Hartung (<- Wikipedia) that I found on Truthdig but that
originated on tomdispatch:
This starts as
President Obama and
Senator John McCain, who have clashed on almost every conceivable
issue, do agree on one thing: the Pentagon needs more money. Obama
wants to raise the
Pentagon’s budget for fiscal year 2016 by $35 billion more than the
caps that exist under current law allow. McCain wants to see
Obama his $35 billion and raise him $17
billion more. Last week, the House and Senate Budget Committees
attempted to meet Obama’s demands by pressing to
pour tens of billions of additional dollars into the uncapped
supplemental war budget.
What will this new avalanche
of cash be used for? A major ground war in Iraq? Bombing the Assad
regime in Syria? A permanent troop presence in Afghanistan? More
likely, the bulk of the funds will be wielded simply
to take pressure off the Pentagon’s base budget so it can continue to
pay for staggeringly expensive projects like the F-35 combat aircraft
and a new generation of ballistic missile submarines.
This seems a balanced
article. It consists of three pages, and is well informed. Here are
four bits I did not know, quoted for that reason. First, there is this:
U.S. Special Forces
operatives were, for instance, deployed
to 134 nations, or almost 70% of the countries in the world, in fiscal
year 2014. So even as the size and shape of the American military
footprint undergoes some alteration, the Pentagon’s goal of global
reach, of being at least theoretically more or less everywhere at once,
is being maintained.
This is in the
context of the general thesis that there is "the Pentagon’s goal of global reach", which indeed is well supported by
this quote and the next three:
The Pentagon budget is 12 times
larger than the budgets for the State Department and the Agency for
International Development combined. As former Secretary of
Defense Robert Gates has noted,
it takes roughly the same number of personnel to operate just one of
the Navy’s 11 aircraft carrier task forces as there are trained
diplomats in the State Department.
This fact also means - as
is pointed out in the article - that a military response, or at
least a response designed by military men, is presently much
more likely than a diplomatic response. As to "arms and
training": the U.S. military is almost everywhere:
According to data
provided by the Security
Assistance Monitor, a project designed to systematically track U.S.
military and police aid, the Pentagon now delivers arms and training
through 18 separate programs that provide assistance to the vast
majority of the world’s armed forces.
Note "the vast majority of the world’s
armed forces". More specifically:
More than 160
nations, or 82% of all countries, now receive
some form of arms and training from the United States.
I say. This is a good article
that deserves complete reading.
vs. Democracy: Leaked Draft of Secretive Trade Deal
Spells Out Plan for Corporate Power Grab
item is an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:
This starts as
Newly leaked classified
documents show that the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, if it
goes through as written, will dramatically expand the power of
corporations to use closed-door tribunals to challenge—and
supersede—domestic laws, including environmental, labor, and public
health, and other protections.
The tribunals, made infamous
under NAFTA, were exposed in the "Investment Chapter" from the TPP
negotiations, which was released
to the public by WikiLeaks on Wednesday.
"The TPP has developed in
secret an unaccountable supranational court for multinationals to sue
states," said Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor. "This system is a
challenge to parliamentary and judicial sovereignty. Similar tribunals
have already been shown to chill the adoption of sane environmental
protection, public health and public transport policies."
Responding to the leak,
Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch,
declared: "With the veil of secrecy ripped back, finally everyone can
see for themselves that the TPP would give multinational corporations
extraordinary new powers that undermine our sovereignty, expose U.S.
taxpayers to billions in new liability, and privilege foreign firms
operating here with special rights not available to U.S. firms under
Yes indeed - and it
would not only "expose
U.S. taxpayers to billions in new liability, and privilege foreign
firms operating here with special rights not available to U.S. firms
under U.S. law": it would
expose the taxpayers of each of the nations that sign the TPP
to the interference by multinational corporations, that may
prosecute governments (in special "courts", without appeals) for
upsetting their expectations of multinational profits,
namely by national laws that would have protected their inhabitants,
and were intended to do so.
Here are some details:
The language included in
this draft is even worse than previously thought, because it excludes a
minor safeguard included in a version leaked in 2012.
Public Citizen noted in a
press statement that the latest draft "abandons a safeguard proposed in
the 2012 leaked TPP investment text, which excluded public interest
regulations from indirect expropriation claims, stating,
'non-discriminatory regulatory actions... that are designed and applied
to achieve legitimate public welfare objectives, such as the protection
of public health, safety and the environment do not constitute indirect
Such ISDS tribunals have
become a cornerstone of so-called "free trade" deals and are included
in 3,000 accords world-wide, according
to The New York Times. They have been used to attack
toxic bans, environmental regulations, access to medicines, and safety
In brief, and as the
article's title indicates: The TPP and the TTIP, that is threatening
Europe, are farewells to democracy, to rights, to decency, and to
morality, all because these are hard or impossible to combine with
the expected profits of multinational corporations, which trump
Count Report Reveals At Least 1.3 Million Lives Lost to US-Led War on
There is considerably more in the article, that is good.
item for today is another article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:
This starts as
follows - and addresses a fundamental question:
How do you calculate the
human costs of the U.S.-led War on Terror?
On the 12th anniversary
of the invasion of Iraq, groups of physicians attempted to arrive at a
partial answer to this question by counting the dead.
In their joint report— Body Count:
Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the 'War on Terror—Physicians
for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival, and the
Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of
Nuclear War concluded that this number is staggering, with at least 1.3
million lives lost in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone since the
onset of the war following September 11, 2001.
However, the report
notes, this is a conservative estimate, and the total number killed in
the three countries "could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a
figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely."
I say - and note this
report is limited to "Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone". Also
(...) the report states
the figure "is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the
public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the
media and major NGOs.
In Iraq, at least 1
million lives have been lost during and since 2003, a figure that
accounts for five percent of the nation's total population. This does
not include deaths among the estimated 3 million Iraqi refugees, many
of whom were subject to dangerous
conditions during this past winter.
And the fact that "the figure is approximately 10 times greater
than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of" is mostly due to the combined
propagandistic forces of the government and the mass media (as is also
stated in the report).
Again, there is
considerably more in the article, that is good.
 I am convinced by now that the
six major banks, and especially Goldman Sachs, are "too big to fail" because
it are the bank's managers, who for the moment are serving in
government (where they have more power), that determine at least the
economic policies of the government, and probably much more
(including wars, since these are so profitable to the six major banks).
Also the former bank's managers generally return to their far
more paying managers' positions through the revolving doors.