is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links:
Item 1 is about how the heart of America's
drone wars is in fact in Germany (mostly because the U.S. is too far
removed from the Middle East), which means that German territory seems
heavily involved in war-efforts; item 2 is about
The Guardian's position on the (English) economy (that seems to be
discussed - at least in the political debates about the coming English
elections - from an almost pure propaganda point of view, far
removed from reality); item 3 is about the TPP and
TTIP, which are - quite secret - horribly anti-democratic pro-big
corporation bills Obama aggresively supports; item 4
is about a good speech by Senator Elizabeth Warren; and item
5 is about philosophy, and briefly discusses a major
mistake on which much of modern philosophy is founded.
is the Tell-Tale Heart of America’s Drone War
item today is an article by Jeremy Scahill on The Intercept:
TOP-SECRET U.S. intelligence document
obtained by The Intercept
confirms that the sprawling U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany
serves as the high-tech heart of America’s drone program. Ramstein is
the site of a satellite relay station that enables drone operators in
the American Southwest to communicate with their remote aircraft in
Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and other targeted countries. The
top-secret slide deck, dated July 2012, provides the most detailed
blueprint seen to date of the technical architecture used to conduct
strikes with Predator and Reaper drones.
There is more:
The slides were provided
by a source with knowledge of the U.S. government’s drone program who
declined to be identified because of fears of retribution. According to
the source, Ramstein’s importance to the U.S. drone war is difficult to
overstate. “Ramstein carries the signal to tell the drone what to do
and it returns the display of what the drone sees. Without Ramstein,
drones could not function, at least not as they do now,” the source
The new evidence places
German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an awkward position given Germany’s
close diplomatic alliance with the United States. The German government
has granted the U.S. the right to use the property, but only under the
condition that the Americans do nothing there that violates German law.
This means that American personnel stationed at Ramstein could, in
theory, be vulnerable to German prosecution if they provide drone
pilots with data used in attacks.
While the German
government has been reluctant to pursue such prosecutions, it may come
under increasing pressure to do so. “It is simply murder,” says Björn
Schiffbauer of the Institute for International Law at the University of
Cologne. Legal experts interviewed by Der
Spiegel claimed that U.S. personnel could be charged as war
criminals by German prosecutors.
I say. Here are two
First, the evidence that the American drones that kill people in the
Middle East are being supported from Ramstein is quite strong.
is a lot more in the last dotted article.)
Second, I do not consider it likely, at the moment, that the
will be prosecuted, simply because of the strong ties between the
German and the American governments.
There is a lot
the article and also more in a - German - article in Der Spiegel
(linked in the here not quoted summary that starts the article), but I
will leave these to your interests.
2. The Guardian view on Britain’s choices:
item is an article by Editorial on The Guardian:
This was meant to
be an election about the economy. It has been nothing of the sort. At
most, it has been an election about the deficit. The two men in the
running to be Britain’s next prime minister have vied with each other
to show off their fiscal toughness. Ed Miliband pledges to “balance the
books”, while David Cameron promises a healthy budget
surplus by 2019. Both courses depend upon painful cuts; both leaders
boast of their ability to make them.
Undoubtedly, this is
true - but then it means that both the Tories and Labour
economy" based on the austerity bullshit that was started by the
conservatives and neoliberals, which is bullshit, as can be
from the U.S. (where billionaires get tax-cuts while poor people are
cut in many ways).
And I am not amazed at all, but this shows the level of propaganda and
While both political leaders stand on the same,
mostly nonsensical, "economical" ground, that is mostly political
propaganda rather than economics anyway, they
only hassle each other on their equally false or even falser abilities
(for they are engaged in propaganda very much rather than fact,
alone economics, and it are also all pre-election promises,
forgotten after the elections) to commit "fiscal toughness". O Lord!
Here is how The Guardian sees the English economy at present:
The coalition’s economic
record can be summed up simply. First, ministers snuffed out a weak
recovery bequeathed them by Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling; then
they launched a historic programme of cuts that put Britain into a
historic slump; by 2012, with his own backbenchers in revolt, Mr
Osborne abandoned austerity; from then on, aided by a steadier world
economy, the UK has enjoyed moderate growth.
Whenever ministers should
have zigged, they zagged. When they should have invested, they cut.
When they should have been pragmatic, they were, especially at first,
dogmatic. The result has been the slowest recovery since the South Sea
Bubble of 1720, according to former Bank of England rate-setter
David Blanchflower. The coalition’s economic record has been as
abysmal as its self-presentation has been triumphant.
Yes, indeed - and that
last fact (that propaganda trumps the facts, even to the
the leader of the opposition starts from the same
propaganda as the economically failed coalition of Tories and
make the English
elections such an unpredictable mess (that will be decided by an
electorate that has been seriously misled).
Warning that passing Fast
Track legislation would amount to rubber-stamping corporate trade pacts
like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, progressives are vowing to hold
members of Congress accountable for their votes on the compromise bill announced
Thursday—and reminding them of how dangerous such trade policies are
for the public, workers, and the planet.
"[T]he big deal is that
Fast Track sets the stage for new flawed trade deals including the TPP
and a deal with the European Union (known as the Transatlantic Trade
and Investment Partnership, or TTIP)," wrote
Patrick Woodall, research director and senior policy advocate for Food
& Water Watch, in an op-ed published Friday at Common Dreams.
"These two mega-trade deals would impose the global trade rules
benefiting transnational companies on the majority of the global
Also, both trade
are very anti-democratic, and would deny most governments the
exercise of many rights to protect their own national economies
and inhabitants, while guaranteeing "the rights" of the multinational
start special proceedings in special courts against
on the grounds that the governments made laws to protect
their own populations rights, health or chances, on the ground that
these laws may have endangered the expectations of profits
of the multinational corporations.
Here is an estimate of the differences between the pro and the anti TPP
(and also TTIP) people in Congress:
The measure needs
218 votes to pass in the
House, which means winning the support of anywhere from 10 to 50
Democrats, depending on how many of the 247 Republicans in the House
vote against the trade bill. Estimates of Republican defections—some
conservatives oppose handing over so much authority to Obama, others
worry that the TPP chips away at national sovereignty—vary widely from
two dozen to as many as 60.
And here is the last part of
Both houses of Congress
are expected to take up the Fast Track bill next week. In the meantime,
grassroots activists are calling on constituents to contact their
representatives and urge them to vote No.
On Monday, a wide swath
of social justice organizations and organized labor unions will gather
for an anti-TPP "Don't
Trade Away Our Future!" rally in Washington, D.C.
As Patrick Woodall, of
Food & Water Watch, put it: "Only engaged citizens will be able to
derail the corporate free-trade juggernaut that is coming."
Perhaps, but in any case, if
the TTP and the TTIP are pressed through, it will be the end of
democracy as we know it: Everything your national
government decided, can then be attacked by multinational corporations
on the - very sick and quite immoral - ground that theirexpectations
of profits got endangered by governmental laws.
Throws Down Gauntlet, Calls for Genuine Financial Reform
item is an article by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:
At the Levy Conference,
Elizabeth Warren launched a new
campaign for tough-minded, effective financial regulation. This ought
to be a straightforward call for restoring banking to its traditional
role of facilitating real economy activity. Instead, in this era of
“cream for the banks, crumbs for everyone else,” common-sense reforms
to make banks deal fairly with customers and remove their outsized
subsidies will no doubt be depicted by pampered financiers as an unfair
plot to target a successful industry. But as we’ve stressed, Big
Finance gets more government support than any line of business, even
military contractors. They are utilities and should be regulated as
such. Thus even Warren’s bold call to action falls short of the degree
to which the financial service industry need to be curbed.
Below is the video of her
speech; I’ve also embedded the
text at the end of the post.
This is - again -
about philosophy. It is rather relevant to non-philosophers, but one
would not say so from the beginning, which is as follows:
John R. Searle, the
Slusser professor of philosophy at the University of California,
Berkeley, is a philosopher in the tradition of Wittgenstein. He wants
to clarify things. That is, he thinks there are two big mistakes
philosophers have made throughout history, and Descartes popularized
Mistake Number One is the
idea “that there is some special problem about the relation of the mind
to the body, consciousness to the brain, and in their fixation on the
illusion that there is a problem, philosophers have fastened onto
different solutions to the problem.” Mistake Number Two “is the mistake
of supposing that we never directly perceive objects and states of
affairs in the world, but directly perceive only our subjective
I leave it there,
because I am not much interested in Wittgenstein
and never was a Wittgensteinian (even though I was considerably
influenced by Wittgenstein's Tractatus at age 17, when I first read the
And I also leave
Searle there (and you can check out a little more about him in the
article, in case you want to).
What I do
want to quote is this, which is quite important, and goes
beyond philosophy-for-academically-employed-philosophers, which is what
nearly all "philosophy" these days is:
But then, the Scholastic
philosophy I learned (Aristotle by way of Thomas Aquinas) says that
metaphysics—the study of being, including why there is anything at
all—must come prior to epistemology, the study of knowledge, of how we
can know anything at all.
So the Bad Mistake, from
my point of view, was this seismic shift from metaphysics to
epistemology as the foundation of philosophy. Searle does not address
that issue here.
I reached precisely
the same conclusion (well: with "ontology" for "metaphysics") - in
1972, but my source wasn't Searle or Wittgenstein (although I
had read some of both by then), nor the Scholastics (about whom I knew
very little then), but was most probably a combination of having read
Russell and Kant, together with my own thinking.
For this "seismic
shift" was in fact engineered by Kant (<-
Wikipedia) and his attempt to save philosophy from Hume's (<-
Wikipedia) criticisms, and this basic major mistake, together with his
truly awful German, is the reason I dislike Kant so
much: Clearly, since knowledge is knowledge of what there is, one must
start from a conception of what there is (which is hypothetical, and
may be quite mistaken) to be able to say what counts or would count as
It really comes to
this "Bad Mistake" (as I have also verified since 1972), although
indeed there are plenty more mistakes in philosophy. But this is really
one of the fundamental mistakes on which very much (not: everything, for there are
exceptions, of whom Russell is the main one) of modern philosophy since Kant got
And the reason to
discuss this article is that it clearly states the mistake. 
 Since I think few of my readers are philosophers,
let alone philosophers-with-a-degree, I do not think this is very
important for most of my readers. But I am a philosopher, and
in case you ever come to read "modern philosophy" - not
recommended for most - this is one of the mistakes you should be aware
because it rarely gets discussed clearly.