who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
Geopolitical Tremors: America, Nuclear Talks and the
New Middle East
2. Trans-Pacific Partnership
Proves Rules Are Rigged in
Favor of the 1 Percent
3. Why Doesn't the
Intelligence Community Care Whether
Its Security Programs Work?
Censorship and Surveillance Initiatives Lack
This is a Nederlog of
Wednesday, April 1, 2015.
This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item
1 is a Spiegel article that considerably disappointed me; item 2 is a fine article on Common Dreams about the
horrors of the TPP and its very dishonest anti-democratic secrecy; item 3 is about the NSA etc. but has a very wrong and
mistaken title; item 4 is about how France is
moving in the direction of an anti-democratic
authoritarian state; and item 5 is about the huge
dangers that may be involved
in taking a psychiatric anti-depressant (which may have brought down
the German plane that was crashed by its co-pilot).
Geopolitical Tremors: America, Nuclear Talks and the New Middle East
item is an article by Nicola Abé, Dieter Bednarz,
Erich Follath and Holger Stark on the SpiegelOnline International:
This has the following
subtitle (bold in the original):
The US is
rethinking its approach to the Middle East and has even found
commonalities with erstwhile archenemy Iran. Meanwhile, relations with
traditional American allies, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, are
cooling. A nuclear deal could further the shift.
To me that sounds mostly like
speculation dressed in clichés ("erstwhile
It starts as follows:
Really now?! How
come these four Spiegel journalists know what Obama wants?
Barack Obama wanted to do
everything differently than his predecessor, also in the realm of
foreign policy. He wanted to bring an end to America's role as global
police officer and to lead from the background rather than pursue
one-sided dominance. His vision was that of becoming a moderator of
international politics and finding allies for new coalitions.
It seems to me that they do not know him much better than I do,
who has followed him rather closely since 2009, when I lost
what little faith I had in him, and made a discovery that the
journalists of Spiegel seem to have missed:
What Obama says to the public is very much dictated by what he
or his propaganda
staff thinks the public likes to hear (which
is completely as the political game is played: please the
electorate; say what they want to hear; so you can do
as you please); what Obama does is to do most (not all:
merely most) things as his predecessors - Clinton and Bush Jr - did
Banks and their managers can do as they please, and are not prosecuted
at all; whistleblowers are fanatically prosecuted as if they are spies;
the wars started by Bush have all continued; the American poor are
still getting poorer and the rich are still getting richer - in short:
Obama is an ordinary U.S. president who got the power by pretending he
was different and by doing so quite successfully and charmingly, but
who failed to keep most of his pretenses (and indeed never
seems to have any intentions to keep them: they were merely the things
he had to say to become elected, and he was, and since then he keeps
Also, I am not a radical in saying what I said in the two
So while I have read the whole article this seems to have been written
by four journalists who still believe in what Obama says rather
than in what he does, and who indulge in some very facile
I found little of real interest in it, but leave this to you, and turn
to the next article.
Partnership Proves Rules Are Rigged in Favor of the 1 Percent
starts as follows:
item is an article by Katrina vanden Heuvel on Common Dreams (and
originally on the Washington Post):
“China wants to
write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region … We should
write those rules,” President
Obama declared in his State of the Union address. To sell Congress
on giving him authority to “fast track” consideration of the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade and investment treaty with 12
nations that has been under negotiation for five years, the president
argues it is vital that “we” write the rules. The real question, of
course, is what does he mean by “we”?
Yes indeed - and it cannot
be "we, the American people", for Obama wants to keep the rules of the
TPP secret until four years have passed after
they are introduced or voted down. That is not as this ought to
be done in a real democracy; this is how authoritarian
regimes and presidents operate: They decide, and what they decide you
may not even know (though you pay for the consequences) until at least
four years have passed.
Our global trade
and tax policies have been and still are controlled by corporate and
financial interests. They, not workers or consumers, write the rules.
In the early post-World War II years, trade treaties were focused on
lowering tariffs. In theory at least, workers in both nations might
benefit from larger markets and increased trade. But now a significant
portion of our trade is intra-corporate trade, an exchange between one
branch of a multinational and another. Multinationals have different
interests than national companies. They profit even if U.S. workers
There is also this:
The TPP is a
classic expression of the way the rules are fixed to benefit the few
and not the many. It has been negotiated in secret, but 500
corporations and banks sit on advisory committees with access to
various chapters. The lead negotiator, Michael Froman, was a protege of
former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin, and followed him from Treasury
to Citibank, the bank whose excesses helped blow up the economy before
it had to be bailed out. Although corporations are wired in, the
American people are locked out of the TPP negotiations. And, as
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said, “Members of Congress and their
staff have an easier time accessing national security documents than
proposed trade deals, but if I were negotiating this deal I suppose I
wouldn’t want people to see it either.”
negotiations of the TPP haven’t been about tariffs but about
protections and regulations. Last week, the
draft chapter concerning the “Investor-State Dispute Settlement”
mechanism was leaked to Wikileaks and the New York Times.
Essentially, the chapter allows a company to sue for taxpayer damages
if a government (federal, state or local) passes laws or take actions
that the company alleges will impinge on future expected profits. The
“tribunal” is a panel of lawyers, drawn from a small group of
accredited international lawyers who serve both as judges and
advocates. If successful the companies can collect millions in damages
from governments. The provisions are so shocking that the TPP mandates
that the chapter not be declassified until four years after the TPP
goes into force or fails to pass.
In brief: This is a
very good piece you should read all of if you want to know about the
TPP or Obama's real politics.
3. Why Doesn't the Intelligence Community
Care Whether Its Security Programs Work?
item is an article by Michael Brennan that I found on Truth-out, but
that appeared originally on The Brennan Center for Justice:
This starts as follows:
The House and Senate
Intelligence Committee just passed a cybersecurity bill that critics
argue isn't likely to improve cybersecurity. In fact,
because it undermines the privacy of electronic communications by
encouraging companies to broadly share private data with the government
and each other, it may actually damage cybersecurity.
For anyone who follows
intelligence policy, this shouldn't be a surprise. The intelligence
community all too often launches grand new programs without conducting
the appropriate research and evaluations to determine whether they will
work, or simply create new harms.
And not only that: There is
hardly any decent oversight of the doings of what is
here described as the "intelligence community", for their programs are
all deep secrets, that are kept deep secrets by classifying
them as "national security", even though this so-called "intelligence community" tries to lap up, by
hook or by crook, everything anyone puts on line or
says on a phone, thereby totally destroying almost any privacy of - it
seems - all American inhabitants.
Besides, it seems to me
pretty sick and wildly inappropriate to ask the so-called "intelligence community" to conduct "the appropriate research and evaluations to
determine whether" their own programs work or create new harms:
That should be done by other people, and notably by Congress
(but Congress is denied the right to know most of what the so-called "intelligence community" is up to).
Indeed, there are rather crazy
outcomes like these:
The FBI and
National Security Agency had long told Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Court that the bulk collection of all domestic telephony metadata was "vital" to its counterterrorism efforts. But once
Edward Snowden leaked the program to journalists, these claims crumbled
under public scrutiny. The government now admits it didn't help
interdict any terrorist attacks, a conclusion backed by a
group of experts the President charged with reviewing it.
Yet a bill that would not even have ended the program, but merely
narrowed the government's use of the data, failed last year.
supports my own contention (of 2005!)
that what the FBI and the NSA are really doing is setting up a
program of the whole American population, that will allow them to
know everything anyone thinks or said; to secretly
manipulate any organization; and to arrest people before they commit
whatever is deemed "a crime" by the government.
It is a sick, degenerate, anti-democratic, authoritarian schema of
control and secret knowledge that only fits an anti-democratic and authoritarian
There is a lot more in the article, including three videos, and while
the article is interesting, at least the title seems completely
One should not ask the so-called "intelligence
community" to find out themselves whether their programs work. This should be done by a
completely independent entity, that does get all the data, and is
overseen by Congress.
Censorship and Surveillance Initiatives Lack Judicial Review
item is an article by Sophia Cope and Jilian York that I found on
Raging Bull-Shit but that first appeared on the Electronic Frontier
This starts as follows:
Note that this depends
on what "the government deems" - and since when
terrorist attacks in Paris in January, including the murder of several
journalists at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, we
anticipated that the French
government would overreact. Sure enough,
recent reporting has revealed that France is censoring websites and
pushing for broader surveillance powers.
According to the
reporting, France has invoked a recently enacted law and censored five
websites that the
government deems incite or glorify terrorism, and the government plans
to censor dozens more. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was quoted
as saying, “I do not want to see sites that could lead people to take
up arms on the Internet.” He added, “I make a distinction between
freedom of expression and the spread of messages that serve to glorify
terrorism. These hate messages are a crime.”
can one trust any government?!
As I.F. Stone said:
"All governments lie and nothing they
say should be believed."
- which incidentally
does not say that all governments always lie, but
merely warns that the most powerful few in any country are rarely
the intellectually or morally best (but often second or third rate
professional politicians) and even if they are intellectually and
morally first rate (as they rarely are), they are prone to lying, while
also, as Lord Acton said:
"Power tends to
corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men
are almost always bad men."
And there is this in the
If true, this means
France is developing into an authoritarian non-democratic state: In a democratic
state everything important is subject to judicial review and to
On the surveillance
front, the French government is trying to make it easier to hack into
citizens’ computers and mobile devices, and to conduct
surveillance with the help of
ISPs and telecommunications companies.
Both of France’s
censorship and surveillance initiatives lack any judicial oversight.
French judges apparently cannot authorize blocking, takedown, or
surveillance orders, or review government requests to ensure that they
are legal and otherwise appropriate.
item for today is an article by 1 boring old man (in fact: an
intelligent mostly pensioned American psychiatrist) on his site:
Actually, this time the article is related to the news
and to what may seem like terrorism, for the subject is the plane crash
of the German airplane that killed over a hundred persons, that seems
to have been engineered intentionally by its
co-pilot, who did have a history of depression, and who may have been
using SSRIs, which are known to lead in some cases to extremely violent
of which this may have been one.
I do note that the previous paragraph contains "may seem", "seems" and "may have been" (twice) for the simple
that these supposed facts are, at present, not yet
fully known (and some may never be).
Here is the beginning of the article:
David Healy has
[put - MM] up a post about the Pilot Suicide/Murder last week [Winging it: Antidepressants and
Plane Crashes]. There’s also one on his Rxisk
site by Julie Wood [Pilots and
Antidepressants]. Meanwhile, the Psych Listserves and Twitter feeds
have been abuzz with speculations that this was an SSRI [or other Psych
Med] reaction. David, who has done more than anyone to bring these
reactions to our attention, does a yeoman’s job of laying out how this
is likely to play out.
Dr. Healy is one of the
few other psychiatrists I can take intellectually and morally serious
(and I am a psychologist who wrote a
about the present pseudoscience
of psychiatry, and probably best (and longest)
here: DSM-5: Question 1 of "The
most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis") and the above two links are
In brief, I will not be amazed if this turns out to be a case of a
suicide mediated by some SSRI (a psychiatric anti-depressant that is
taken by tens or hundreds of millions), although I will also not be
amazed if - even if this is the case - it will
be kept a secret.
For the moment, no one knows. But there is another interesting bit in
the above dotted article. This consists of a quote by (prof.dr.) David
Healy, that gets repeated here by the mostly pensioned psychiatrist 1
boring old man:
actually read those bolded
parts said that way – their primary
effect is to emotionally numb – but that’s exactly
what I have also concluded on my own that the SSRIs do – emotionally numb. It’s just
confirming to read it in print. And I sure agree that We know almost nothing about what antidepressants
Precisely - and these
are facts, and especially the last bolded part.