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."
1. Beyond Blackwater Massacre,
Renewed Concern Over
Rise of Mercenary Armies
Union Targets Google with Antitrust Probe
3. Clinton vs. Sanders: Follow the Money
James Goldsmith, An Unlikely Defender of the Common
at University of Amsterdam (now past)
This is a Nederlog of Thursday, April 16,
is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links:
Item 1 is about Blackwater and mercenary
armies; item 2 is about the EU against Google; item 3 is about a radical difference between the
financial supporters of Clinton and of Sanders; item 4
is about - a repeat of - an article about the late Sir James Goldsmith;
and item 5 is about the recent occupation at the
University of Amsterdam (now past).
1. Beyond Blackwater Massacre, Renewed
Concern Over Rise of Mercenary Armies
item today is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Following the sentencing
of four private security guards convicted in the
notorious 2007 massacre of innocent Iraqi civilians, attention has
shifted to the growing role such private mercenaries are having on
battlefields throughout the world.
On Monday, three former
employees of Blackwater Worldwide were given thirty-year prison
sentences while one guard, Nicholas Slatten, who fired the first shot,
was sentenced to life in prison for a shooting spree which resulted in
the deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians in Nissour Square. The accused say
they will appeal.
In a statement
on Tuesday, human rights expert Elzbieta Karska, chair of the United
Nations working group on the use of mercenaries, said that while the
group welcomed the sentencing, such examples of accountability are the
"exception rather than the rule."
"The outsourcing of
national security to private firms creates risks for human rights and
accountability," Karska said. The UN is calling for an international
treaty to "address the increasingly significant role that private
military companies play in transnational conflicts."
This is here mostly because of the "outsourcing of national security to private
firms". There is more in
On Tuesday, New York
Times reporters James Risen and
Matthew Rosenberg published
a story highlighting what they say is the real legacy of Blackwater.
The private security
industry, they write, "has fallen from public view since the height of
the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the two conflicts sped the
maturation of security firms from bit players on the edge of global
conflicts to multinational companies that guard oil fields in Libya,
analyze intelligence for United States forces in Afghanistan, help
fight insurgents in parts of Africa and train American-backed
militaries in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere."
Though solid numbers are
hard to come by, Risen and Rosenberg note that "estimates of industry
revenues range from a few billion dollars to $100 billion."
My guess is that the "revenues" are much closer to $100
billion than to a few billion dollars - but then that is part of the
trouble: There are very few solid numbers.
2. European Union Targets Google with Antitrust
item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
I say. Then again, the
next paragraph shows that the
way Google "does business in Europe" is a bit - hm... - overstated:
If Google executives use
their service to perform an online search for "antitrust
+ European Union" on Wednesday morning, they may not like the
The European Union has
opened a formal investigation and sent a list
of complaints to the U.S.-based internet giant accusing it of
behaving in ways that give it "unfair advantage" over its competitors
in Europe, opening a legal door that may have far-reaching consequences
for one of the world's most lucrative corporations.
In addition to the
broader list of charges regarding Google business practices on the
continent, the EU Competition Commission, which handles such matters,
has also opened a separate antitrust investigation which will look
specifically at Google's mobile operating system, known as Android.
"If the investigation
confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal
consequences and change the way it does business in Europe," said
Margrethe Vestager, the European Union competition commissioner.
According to a statement,
the EU charges Google with "systematically favouring its own comparison
shopping product in its general search results pages. The Commission's
preliminary view is that such conduct infringes EU antitrust rules
because it stifles competition and harms consumers. Sending a Statement
of Objections does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation."
For this is clearly what
Google would do, and the complaints of the EU - "it stifles competition and harms consumers" - seems a bit too strong (and also
can be easily "answered" by some code changes that really change very
I don't like Google, and generally try to avoid it, but I do not expect
much from this action of the EU: Far more is needed to tame Google in Europe (if
that is possible, which I don't know).
vs. Sanders: Follow the Money
item is an article by Abby Zimet on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Clinton the Democratic frontrunner
for President, nobody's ready to cut her any slack,
least of all Bernie Sanders. Citing America's "grotesque level of
income and wealth inequality," he said Wednesday he seriously questions
if Clinton is "prepared to take on the billionaire class,” adding,
"It's not what she says,
it's what she does." Newly published
- and stunningly revealing
- records of the top 20 contributors for both Senators bear him out.
Clinton's money comes solely from Wall Street and other fat cats, with
Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan at the top of the heap; Sanders'
money comes solely from unions, except for two teachers' groups and the
American Association for Justice.
I said yesterday that I
would try to avoid non-news in which journalists reflect on their
opinions on the chances of Hillary Clinton on basically zero
But this is an example of news that is fit to print, and - in
case you are interested - you should take a look at "published" which is a jpeg file that shows the
top 20 contributors to both Clinton and Sanders.
The differences are indeed enormous:
Simply judged by the organizations that give contributions, Hillary
Clinton is the candidate of the big banks, and Bernie Sanders the
candidate of the unions. Besides, the contributions to Hillary Clinton
are around eight times as high as the contributions to Bernie Sanders.
And I think that this is a clear indication what both candidates - if
Sanders is going to be a candidate, that has not been decided yet -
stand for: the rich few and the non-rich many.
As to Sanders' candidacy:
Sanders says he'll
by the end of April whether he can mount a credible campaign to run. If
not, and Hillary's the candidate, he says our "only hope (is) a very
strong grassroots movement that says 'enough is enough'...The country
belongs to all of us, and not just the billionaire class.”
I do not know what
Sanders will decide, but it seems to me - at present, at least: this
may radically change if there is a next crisis, as there very well may
be - that the "only hope" on "a very strong grassroots movement" is at present pretty void.
And I much wish it were otherwise, but it isn't.
4. Sir James Goldsmith, An Unlikely
Defender of the Common Man
item is an article by Don Quijones on Raging Bull-Shit, who repeats an
article he first printed in 2012:
I did not read it then and did not know of
Raging Bull-Shit (it was before Edward Snowden's revelations) but I
picked it up in 2014 - and I will also repeat that, with a few
additions, such as a link to the
interview of 1994.
This starts as follows:
Incidentally, here is a Wikipedia
died in 1997, slightly younger
than I am now (but looking much older than I look now,
Here’s an oldie
but a goodie:
“The economy is there
to serve the fundamental needs of society, which are prosperity,
stability and contentment… If you have a situation whereby the economy
grows but you create poverty and unemployment and you destabilise
society, you’re in trouble.”
The above quote comes
from the least likely of sources: the late Sir James Goldsmith,
one of the wealthiest and most influential business magnates of the
late 20th century. The year was 1994, the occasion an
interview with Charlie Rose on the potential impact of the
soon-to-be-signed General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade(GATT).
and also in 1994).
The main part of this article is in fact a
link to an interview Sir
James Goldsmith had twenty years with Charlie Rose, in 1994: This
works today - April 16, 2015 -
and from there the other 4 parts of the interview are also easily
I do strongly recommend you to watch it, although it covers
nearly an hour,
split into six parts of video, simply because Sir James's warnings
- from 1994 - are, as Don Quijones put it, "eerily prescient".
Indeed, here are some of his quotes from the interview that were
gathered by Don Quijones:
If you can see those
things, in 1994, you indeed are rather special. Also, there are more
good points in the interview.
Tackling issues as broad
and diverse as unemployment, agribusiness, and financial innovation,
Goldsmith’s warnings are eerily prescient:
On the impact of
GATT: “What will happen is that more American products will be
sold abroad which have been manufactured in low-cost areas. Therefore
they will carry a U.S. name, they will have a U.S. manufacturing
company, the corporations that make them will make tremendous profits
but workforces will be eliminated.”
On the jobless
recovery: “In France the economy has grown by 80
percent. The number of unemployed has gone from 420,000 to 5.1 million…
What is the good of having an economy that grows by 80 percent if your
unemployed – the people excluded from active economic life – goes from
420,000 to 5.1 million.”
liberalization of agriculture: “If GATT succeeds
and were able to impose modern methods of agriculture worldwide so as
to bring them to the levels, say, of Canada and Australia, 2 billion
people out of 3.1 billion people would be uprooted from the land and
chased into the towns… It would be a far greater disaster than any war.”
financial industry and derivatives: “I think
our financial system is extremely fragile. You can see it in the
volatility of currencies, you can see all sorts of weaknesses. There’s
an incredible amount of danger in things like derivatives. I think we
are moving towards the outer limits of acceptable risk taking… I think
the world GNP is somewhere in the figure of 30 trillion dollars and I
believe the derivates outstanding are at 90, which to a large degree
are purely speculative.” (The derivatives market is now estimated to be
worth anywhere in the region of 600 trillion to 1 quadrillion dollars).
So, this is something you really should not miss, if only because he
been amply shown to have been quite right in the intervening 21 years. 
5. Occupation at University of Amsterdam
item today is an article by James Anderson on Truth-out from a week ago
(April 9, 2015). I abbreviated the title some, and added that the
occupation belongs now to the past:
This starts under a photo from March 13,
2015, in which students are shown who carry the following slogan in a
And it starts as follows:
We are not asking for a free university
We are asking for a free society
Because a free
in a capitalist society
is like a lecture hall
in a prison
When students kicked in
the door of the main administrative building, the Maagdenuis, at the
University of Amsterdam on February 25, the "New University" - or "De Nieuwe Universiteit" -
movement introduced a new aesthetic dimension of protest.
occupation, a protest against the financialization of higher education
and against the concentration of decision-making power at the
university, disrupted the everyday flow of doing, changing the normal
organization of human sense experience on campus. By taking a building
and reorganizing human activity inside, with emphasis on dialogue,
deliberation and shared decision-making, occupiers created new
aesthetic conditions necessary for a new politics, as philosopher
Jacques Rancière, who recently visited the Maagdenhuis to show
solidarity with UvA students, suggests.
"aesthetic in principle," Rancière, once wrote.
By blurring boundaries between the expressible and ineffable, Rancière
argues that aesthetics affirms antagonisms that the administrative
order would rather see reconciled under its own imposed expectations.
You see? The French
maitre-penseur (completely unknown to me) - who is meanwhile in his
mid-seventies - clearly said that "Politics remains "aesthetic in principle"" which it does by "blurring boundaries between the expressible
and ineffable".... o lord!
The reason this is
here is because I am Dutch and do live in Amsterdam. As
I've indicated, the occupation now belongs to the past. The article by
is quite long, and you can study it by clicking the last dotted link.
In case you have
difficulties understanding it - and here is a bit from near the end
that conceivably may be just a tiny bit difficult to
The occupation, following
Rancière, realized an aesthetic universe replete with new pedagogies
that imply production of new social relations and even new kinds of
Scholz said part of the
struggle is never to ignore the "human complexity in everything that we
do" and acknowledge the always-present interconnection between "logical
thinking and emotions" that makes meaning - or the struggle over it -
"It brings collective
action to a new level of - you could say, even - humanness," she said
about evolving Maagdenhuis aesthetics.
I must admit I have -
at least - the very same problems, and I live
in Amsterdam and I have one of the best M.A. degrees (in
psychology) ever awarded there, which I got after having been removed
briefly before taking my M.A. in philosophy, because I honestly, as an
invited speaker, spoke the
truth (which did not exist at that time in that
university, for then nearly everyone (!!) proudly maintained that "everyone
knows truth does not exist"), and therefore I
was removed as a student from the faculty of philosophy and
denied the right to take an M.A. in philosophy, also while I was
ill, to the great
sadistic joy of the University's Board of Directors.
But no - I do not feel capable right now to explain in a few
I could and cannot take anything about this occupation seriously. (I
can, but it takes too long.)
 Incidentally: Sir James Goldsmith was
a capitalist and a
billionaire, but he was for regulated capitalism, while those he
opposed were and are for unregulated