April 21, 2015
Crisis: Scheer, "Flex Economy", TTIP, Corruption, Shoah
  "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


1. Robert Scheer: ‘Disturbing the Government Is an
     Obligation of Citizenship’

2. How the New Flexible Economy is Making Workers’ Lives

Newly Leaked TTIP Draft Reveals Far-Reaching Assault
     on US/EU Democracy

4. CORRUPTION Is What’s Making Us Vulnerable to

5. Why We Keep Reading About the Shoah


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 6 dotted links: item 1 is about Robert Scheer with a brief article and a good video about spying on everyone; item 2 is about an article of Robert Reich on  "flex working"; item 3 is about further horrors of the still secret TTIP, that threatens to destroy Europe by destroying its national laws; item 4 is about an important force that drives the NSA (in part): money + corruption; and item 5 is about a review of a new large book on the Shoah (that seems good).

1. Robert Scheer: ‘Disturbing the Government Is an Obligation of Citizenship’

The first item today is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer discusses privacy, cybersecurity and the civil liberty matters at the heart of his new book, “They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy,” with C-SPAN at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Watch Scheer deliver his remarks, beginning at the 36-second mark, here.

In fact, here is that last link, which I did watch:
This is a very good interview that takes 28 m 35 s in all. The video I saw is decent, but the sound was not quite in synch with the images, though not by
very much.

Because I do think this is a very good interview, here is part of the text as quoted by Alexander Reed Kelly (and it is a good selection):

“The real issue here,” Scheer begins, “is the warning of books like—we’re at a book festival—‘Brave New World’ or ‘1984’: Totalitarianism hardly ever comes with just the jackboot. It comes with your not having privacy, your doing self-censorship. They know what you’re up to. And we’ve entered a very, very dangerous world.

“Our whole government is based on the idea of individual sovereignty. We cede power to the government, not the other way around. After 9/11, we got this crazy idea that somehow government should have all the power and we should beg for some crumbs off the table. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. We also have this idea we were founded under: Freedom makes you stronger, that freedom is not a luxury you have in only the best of times, but you need freedom in the worst of times.

“George Washington in his farewell address warned us about the ‘impostures of pretended patriotism.’ It was the founders of our government that gave us checks and balances, that gave us the different parts of the Bill of Rights. Why? They said, ‘Even though we’re gonna be the government … you have to watch us. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. You have to have your zone of privacy, individual space.’

“The Roberts court, in one of their better—in fact I think their best decision—last June on cellphones, smartphone case, said that if the police arrest you and you have your smartphone on you, they can’t crack your code and use that information. That’s a violation of the Fourth Amendment. And that’s exactly what the American Revolution was fought about: Agents of the king could not come in to your house. OK? That’s why the tea was dumped in the Boston Harbor. And we’ve forgotten that notion, and we’ve surrendered this power, and it’s increasingly held by private agencies that the CIA has funded … and there are no checks and balances. We have been lied to routinely. The head of our whole security apparatus, James Clapper, told the Senate ‘We were not doing this mega-spying, we were not getting this information.’ We now know he was just lying through his teeth. He still has his job. So we don’t have accountability, and my whole point is, the word is not ‘privacy,’ it’s really ’sovereignty.’ That’s what our Fourth Amendment is about.”

Scheer continues, “The key thing is there’s no evidence that any of this has made us more secure. The evidence is overwhelming: It’s made us more fearful, it intimidates the population, so people engage in self-censorship. That’s what I find with my students here; they say, “Oh, what do I have to worry about?” I say, “That means you don’t think you’re going to do anything that’s pushing the edge. You don’t think you’re gonna take any risk. You’re not gonna trouble the government.” Well, that’s not what our government’s about. We’re supposed to trouble the government. We’re supposed to challenge the government. We’re supposed to have some wild thoughts. We’re supposed to think differently. And we’re supposed to be able to get together with our fellow citizens and then assemble for a redress of grievances in ways that—as long as we’re peaceful—in ways that might disturb the government.

“Disturbing the government is an obligation of citizenship. That’s what we’ve forgotten.”

Quite so! And very well worth seeing, I think.

2. How the New Flexible Economy is Making Workers’ Lives Hell 

The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his blog:

This starts as follows:

These days it’s not unusual for someone on the way to work to receive a text message from her employer saying she’s not needed right then.

Although she’s already found someone to pick up her kid from school and arranged for childcare, the work is no longer available and she won’t be paid for it.

Just-in-time scheduling like this is the latest new thing, designed to make retail outlets, restaurants, hotels, and other customer-driven businesses more nimble and keep costs to a minimum.

Software can now predict up-to-the-minute staffing needs on the basis of  information such as traffic patterns, weather, and sales merely hours or possibly minutes before.

Yes, indeed. And you might think this is another technological advance that will help people. If so, you are at least partially mistaken: It will help the bosses to earn more and spend less on labor costs; and it will be a major pain for everyone doing the work, and will cost them money and make their lives much more uncertain and difficult:

The business media considers such flexibility an unalloyed virtue. Wall Street rewards it with higher share prices. America’s “flexible labor market” is the envy of business leaders and policy makers the world over.

There’s only one problem. The new flexibility doesn’t allow working people to live their lives.

The main reason is that employees thus become part of the variable costs of the firms they work for, who may be texted to come work or not work depending on the needs of their bosses, whereas most of their lives are given to making enough
money to pay the invariable daily, weekly and monthly costs that determine most of their lives: rents or mortgages, food, energy, and fuel:

American workers can’t simultaneously be variable costs for business yet live in their own fixed-cost worlds.

They’re also husbands and wives and partners, most are parents, and they often have to take care of elderly relatives. All this requires coordinating schedules in advance – who’s going to cover for whom, and when.

But such planning is impossible when you don’t know when you’ll be needed at work.

Whatever it’s called – just-in-time scheduling, on-call staffing, on-demand work, independent contracting, or the “share economy” – the result is the same: No predictability, no economic security.

And more money for the bosses, which they get by paying less money for the workers.

There is considerably more in the article, that is good.

3. Newly Leaked TTIP Draft Reveals Far-Reaching Assault on US/EU Democracy

The next item is an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

A freshly-leaked chapter from the highly secretive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, currently under negotiation between the United States and European Union, reveals that the so-called "free trade" deal poses an even greater threat to environmental and human rights protections—and democracy itself—than previously known, civil society organizations warn.

The revelation comes on the heels of global protests against the mammoth deal over the weekend and coincides with the reconvening of negotiations between the parties on Monday in New York.

The European Commission's latest proposed chapter (pdf) on "regulatory cooperation" was first leaked to Friends of the Earth and dates to the month of March. It follows previous leaks of the chapter, and experts say the most recent iteration is even worse.

"The Commission proposal introduces a system that puts every new environmental, health, and labor standard at European and member state level at risk. It creates a labyrinth of red tape for regulators, to be paid by the tax payer, that undermines their appetite to adopt legislation in the public interest," said Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth Europe in a press statement released Monday.

Regulatory cooperation refers to the "harmonization of regulatory frameworks between the E.U. and the U.S. once the TTIP negotiations are done," ostensibly to ensure such regulations do not pose barriers to trade, the Corporate Europe Observatory explained earlier this month.

I - again - start with noting that the TPP and the TTIP are extremely close to Barack Obama's heart, who tries to pass these laws to Congress on a fast track schema that will not allow most Congress men to read these laws or discuss these laws before they are introduced or to propose amendments to them.

Next, here is why this is very important:

Regulatory cooperation refers to the "harmonization of regulatory frameworks between the E.U. and the U.S. once the TTIP negotiations are done," ostensibly to ensure such regulations do not pose barriers to trade, the Corporate Europe Observatory explained earlier this month.

However, analysts have repeatedly warned that, euphemisms aside, "cooperation," in fact, allows corporate power to trample democratic protections, from labor to public health to climate regulations, while encouraging a race to the lowest possible standards.

The newest version of the regulatory cooperation chapter reveals that the European Commission is angling to impose even more barriers to regulations.

The chapter includes a "regulatory exchange" proposal, which will "force laws drafted by democratically-elected politicians through an extensive screening process," according to an analysis from CIEL.

"Laws will be evaluated on whether or not they are compatible with the economic interests of major companies," the organization explains. "Responsibility for this screening will lie with the 'Regulatory cooperation body,' a permanent, undemocratic, and unaccountable conclave of European and American technocrats."

Which is to say these will be fascist laws that are designed to serve only the rich - and I am saying to because I think so; because my father and grandfather were
part of the very small Dutch resistance
, arrested in 1941, convicted by collaborating Dutch judges to the concentration camp as "political terrorists", where my grandfather was murdered; and also because I was in 1988 removed from the faculty of philosophy as a student, briefly before doing my M.A. in philosophy, and also as a seriously physically ill student, because I  was said to be (and also wildly screamed at) .... "a dirty fascist" and "a terrorist", according to at least 16 degenerate academic whores of reason none of whom ever published any thing since 1988 and all of whom enjoyed the best legal incomes Holland had. [1]

Here is some more on the TTIP:

Analysts warn that the TTIP alone is poised to dramatically expand corporate power.

"Both the [E.U.] Commission and US authorities will be able to exert undue pressure on governments and politicians under this measure as these powerful players are parachuted into national legislative procedures," warned Kenneth Haar of Corporate Europe Observatory in a press statement. "The two are also very likely to share the same agenda: upholding the interests of multinationals."

Which supports my earlier judgment: When the governments are taken over or run by the big corporations this was called fascism since the 1930ies, simply because this is how fascism was defined (together with nationalistic and racist additions, that these days may be less).

4. CORRUPTION Is What’s Making Us Vulnerable to Terrorism

The next item is an article by Washington's Blog on his blog:
This starts as follows (colors in the original):

Americans’ Safety and Security Is Being Sacrificed On the Altar of Corruption By the Military-Industrial Complex

America is vulnerable to terrorism because our government officials have been more concerned with building an empire more than stopping terrorism:

A senior officer on the Joint Staff told State Department counter-terrorism director Sheehan he had heard terrorist strikes characterized more than once by colleagues as a “small price to pay for being a superpower”.

And we’re vulnerable to terrorism because we keep backing corrupt foreign dictators and launching wars to grab other countries’ resources.

And because our counter-terror efforts – including mass surveillance, drone strikes and torture – only increased terrorism.

And the Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and former Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee – Bob Graham – says that the Paris terror attack, ISIS, and other terrorist developments are a result of American officials covering up the truth about 9/11.

And here is part of the evidence that motivates the "CORRUPTION" in the title:

Top security experts agree that mass surveillance is ineffective … and actually makes us MORE vulnerable to terrorism.

For example, the former head of global intelligence for the NSA – Bill Binney – says that the mass surveillance INTERFERES with the government’s ability to catch bad guys, and that the government failed to stop the Boston Bombing because it was overwhelmed with data from mass surveillance on Americans.   And see this.

Binney says government officials and contractors actually don’t want to solve the terrorism problem … Because once they solve it, they don’t have the “problem” to use as a basic justification to get more money (note … the video clips below are very brief clips which are well worth watching):

And there are indeed 6 brief videos where these points are made by William Binney (<- Wikipedia) who was one of the top mathematical men of the NSA, until he resigned in 2001.

5. Why We Keep Reading About the Shoah

The last item today is an article by David Mikics on Tablet:

This is a fairly long piece from an American Jewish magazine.

I mention it is Jewish because they do, and in order to make a remark about the title:

I take it that many Jews indeed keep reading about the Shoah, and indeed so do I (although I read many other things as well), because my father and my mother were in the Dutch resistance (as two of the very few: In Holland 6 times more went into the SS than went into the resistance, and over 100.000 Jews - more than 1% of the Dutch population - got brutally murdered), as was my father's father, while both my father and my grandfather were arrested in the summer of 1941 and convicted as "political terrorists" to the concentration camp, where my grandfather also was murdered.

This remark was by way of introduction to the statement that personally I know of very few - non-Jewish - men and women who keep reading about the Shoah, in 2015. The main  reason seems to be that the stories are truly horrible; another important reason is that it is meanwhile long ago; and a third important reason is that history is no longer taught to all, but has been made a subject of choice.

And yes, of course there are many more persons than I know, and some of these, Jews and non-Jews, do read about the Shoah, WW II, German concentration camps, etc.

Anyway - here are the details of the book that is being reviewed in the article:

Nikolaus Wachsmann’s new book KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps delivers a comprehensive history of an unendurable subject. KL stands for Konzentrationslager: concentration camp.

This gets a fine review by David Mikics, and also by some others (I meanwhile saw). Here is some about the book:

Wachsmann has absorbed an enormous amount of recent research on the KL. From this mountain of material he has crafted a fluent and gripping history. In the past few decades thousands of books and articles have been published on the camp system, especially in Germany. Wachsmann builds on recent accounts of the KL like the comprehensive one by the German historian Karin Orth. Two encyclopedias on the camps, in German and English, have lately appeared: The German one (edited by Wolfgang Benz and Barbara Distel) is over 4,000 pages long. A number of new survivor testimonies have also come out, like Edgar Kupfer’s vast Dachau diaries, published in 1997. Wachsmann integrates all this work in an accomplished manner. He mostly avoids philosophical and ethical controversy, sticking to the facts of history.

I take it that the English encyclopedia is "The Holocaust Encyclopedia" that was edited by Walter Laqueur (and bought by me on August 3, 2004), but this book wasn't mentioned.

There is this:

Wachsmann gives a step-by-step account of how the camps developed. The KL appeared on the scene with astonishing swiftness, just weeks after Hitler took over power in late February 1933. The Nazis originally used the KL against the German people, as a way to warn dissenters that the new order demanded total obedience. Dachau was the flagship of the early KLs, and it had the worst conditions. The Nazi staffers, exultant at the defeat of the left-wing militias they had battled in the streets during the waning years of Weimar, cudgeled political prisoners without mercy.

Along with Dachau, the camps in the Emsland moors in Saxony, close to the Dutch border, were particularly horrifying. One prisoner, Ernst Heilmann, was beaten with table legs, buried alive, and then led on a chain like a dog by an SS man who made him bark and yell, “I am the Jewish Parliamentary deputy Heilmann from the SPD” (the Social Democratic Party). Heilmann was then mauled by guard dogs. Shunted for years from one camp to another—at Oranienburg he found himself covered head to toe in excrement—Heilmann finally died a broken man in the early months of the war.

And there is this on the supposed ignorance of "the German people":

Many camps were located in the middle of towns, and most Germans knew they existed. Tourists in Nuremberg castle could hear the screams of prisoners from the KL in the cellar. In the mid-1930s the Nazis actively publicized the camps. The chief targets, Germans were told, were (in Wachsmann’s words) “primarily Communist ‘terrorists,’ followed by SPD ‘fat cats’ and other ‘dangerous characters.’ ” Released prisoners spread the news about the tortures they had endured, though they often suppressed the worst details from fear of a second arrest. Camp guards boasted about their deeds in local bars.

There is a lot more in the article, that is well done and recommended.

P.S. Apr 22, 2015: I removed three arrows that were put in the text by mistake.

[1] The facts I mention in this paragraph are facts. You do not need to agree to my judgment that the movement of the few rich and their very well paid assistants to control the whole world (by means of the NSA etc.) and to design an authoritarian oligarchy - for that is what they are doing, and not at all only according to me - for the exclusive benefit of the few very rich, is fascistic, but I think it is simply because I have been reading and thinking about politics, society and economics for fifty years now, and because I also have a stronger anti- fascistic background than anyone I know of in Holland, with my family- background, and know a lot about it. And no, this does not please me at all: I say it because it seems true (to me, with my knowledge, that few have).

O, and besides: I am not warning to help myself. I am nearly 65, and I have lived my life in relative freedom, without wars, and with sufficient money, although this probably was the lowest in Holland. I am warning because many of the things I do see will cause great misery for very many in this century if they come to fruition.

       home - index - summaries - mail