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. The Key War on Terror Propaganda Tool: Only Western
Victims Are Acknowledged
2. Cities and States Pay
Massive Secret Fees to Wall Street
3. Surveillance reform bill returns with concessions to NSA
on data collection
4. Obama’s ‘Openness’ and Deceit
5. 11 Signs That We Are
Entering The Next Phase Of The
Global Economic Crisis
This is a Nederlog of Saturday, April 25,
is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links:
Item 1 is about an article by Glenn
Greenwald about the present system of Western propaganda; item 2 is about how the American banks are bleeding
the American pensions; item 3 is about the proposed
American new surveillance "reform bill", that probably will not
reform much, if it is accepted; item 4 is about an
article by Robert Parry that explains that Obama's government isn't
open and democratic but closed and authoritarian; and item
5 is about an article by Michael Snyder that
outlines grounds to believe there will be another major economic crisis
Also, there is another Nederlog of today,
about me+M.E. This will probably interest few, but it is noteworthy
that now there is medical scientific evidence
that the protocol I use does help people with M.E., and
sometimes quite a
lot. (This is pleasant, but indeed mostly for me and those who
use the protocol: Yes, it does help, and has been tested, for
the first time, by medical scientists.)
1. The Key War on Terror Propaganda Tool:
Only Western Victims Are Acknowledged
item today is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
starts as follows:
In all the years
I’ve been writing about Obama’s drone killings, yesterday
featured by far the most widespread critical discussion
in U.S. establishment journalism circles. This long-suppressed but
crucial fact about drones was actually trumpeted as the lead
headline on the front page of The New York Times yesterday:
York Times - April 23, 2015
U.S. Is Often Unsure About Who Will Die in Drone Strikes
reason for the unusually intense, largely critical coverage of drone
killings yesterday is obvious: the victims of this strike were
Western and non-Muslim, and therefore were seen as actually human.
indeed - and indeed it probably also was important that one of the
victims of this strike (i) had an American passport and (ii)
actually was quite white. (In case you think I am laying it on
quite thickly: I am, but then these are two very
relevant facts - for today's mainstream "news" editors).
Greenwald articulates the main difference as follows:
This highlights the
ugliest propaganda tactic on which the War on Terror centrally depends,
one in which the U.S. media is fully complicit: American and Western
victims of violence by Muslims are endlessly mourned, while Muslim
victims of American and Western violence are completely disappeared.
When there is an attack
by a Muslim on Westerners in Paris, Sydney, Ottawa, Fort Hood
or Boston, we are deluged with grief-inducing accounts of the
victims. We learn their names and their extinguished life aspirations,
see their pictures, hear from their grieving relatives, watch
ceremonies honoring their lives and mourning their deaths, launch
campaigns to memorialize them. Our side’s victims aren’t just
humanized by our media, but are publicly grieved as martyrs.
somewhat later on:
the toxic tribalism that repeats itself over and over throughout the
West. Western victims are mourned and humanized, while victims of
Western violence are invisible and thus dehumanized. Aside from being
repugnant in its own right, this formula, by design, is deeply
deceptive as propaganda: It creates the impression among Western
populations that we are the victims but not the perpetrators of heinous
violence, that terrorism is something done to us but that we never
commit ourselves, that “primitive, radical and inhumanely
violent” describes the enemy tribe but not our own.
It is also true - I agree - that this is the usual recipe that
also corresponds to the usual Western mind set: "We Are Right
And They Are Wrong!" and indeed you find it treated in my "On "The Logic of Moral Discourse"" that I wrote in 2004.
And yes, as soon as the world is somehow divided into Us and Them, this is
the pattern that results - "We Are Right And They Are Wrong!"; "We Are Excellent
And They Are Horrible!" etc. etc. - that is played by both sides.
So in that sense there is little that is new - but it seems also
true that these days, and especially in the American mainstream media,
pattern that glorifies Our Side and damns Their Side is being played
(quite consciously: the editors are not stupid even if they
also are not moral) in a new way: it is far
more widely spread; it is mainstream, both in writing and on
TV; and part of its effectiveness is precisely that the victims Our
Side makes - including many small children and women - are hardly ever
even mentioned at all.
Here is Glenn Greenwald's last paragraph:
It shouldn’t take
the drone-killing of an American citizen to enable a mainstream
discussion of how much deceit and recklessness drives these killings.
But it does. And that fact, by itself, should cause a serious
examination of the mindset behind all of this.
Yes. But I fear little
can be done against it (outside a few progressive magazines and
internet publications): the masses are neither learned nor intelligent,
support their Our Side, more or less regardless from the evils
it does (it doesn't
matter who "Our Side" is), and indeed especially so if Our Side's
mainstream media simply disregards the victims Our Side makes
(as long as the victims are not white and do not have American
2. Cities and States Pay Massive Secret Fees to
item is an article by David Sirota on Truthdig:
This starts as
California’s report said
$440 million. New Jersey’s said $600 million. In Pennsylvania, the
tally is $700 million. Those Wall Street fees paid by public workers’
pension systems have kicked off an intensifying debate over whether
such expenses are necessary. Now, a report from an industry-friendly
source says those huge levies represent only a fraction of the true
amounts being raked in by Wall Street firms from state and local
“Less than one-half of
the very substantial [private equity] costs incurred by U.S. pension
funds are currently being disclosed,” says the report from CEM, whose
website says the financial analysis firm “serve(s) over 350 blue-chip
corporate and government clients worldwide.”
And there is this:
Currently, about 9
percent—or $270 billion—of America’s $3 trillion public pension fund
assets are invested in private equity firms. With the financial
industry’s standard 2 percent management fee, that quarter-trillion
dollars generates roughly $5.4 billion in annual management fees for
the private equity industry—and that’s not including additional
“performance” fees paid on investment returns. If CEM’s calculations
are applied uniformly, it could mean taxpayers and retirees may
actually be paying double — more than $10 billion a year.
Public officials are
overseeing this massive payout to Wall Street at the very moment many
of those same officials are demanding big cuts to retirees’ promised
There is more in the
article, and part of the problem is that the American banks are
currently allowed to invest pension funds as they please (which may
them in a crisis).
Surveillance reform bill returns
with concessions to NSA on data collection
item is an article by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
on behalf of the National Security Agency have paved the way for the
return of a major piece of surveillance reform legislation, the
Guardian has learned.
I say. And I
also note - as Ackerman says - that "the Guardian has not seen the final text" (which is
relevant, for there is currently a lot of trickery being done
with proposed laws, that often are rewritten at the latest moment
and/or get attached to other bills that must pass, without
having anything to do with these bills).
congressional sources, the architects of the USA Freedom Act, a bill that seeks to stop
the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, have agreed to
grant the surveillance giant temporary abilities to continue monitoring
foreign targets who enter the US while agents seek domestic warrants;
and to permit the agency to do the same for domestic targets for whom
it has a probable-cause warrant who subsequently travel overseas.
Both additions, discussed
for weeks but intensified in the past several days, were described as
measures to gain support from pro-surveillance legislators on the House
Here is a brief survey of three different positions (straight
expiration, straight continuance of spying on everyone, and the
The bill would
trade the end of bulk domestic phone data collection for the retention
of the rest of Section 215 through 2019. It is a controversial swap.
Several privacy groups prefer a straight expiration, while the Senate
majority leader, Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has introduced
his own straight reauthorization of the
provision, including the retention of the phone records program that
was exposed by the Guardian thanks to
whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Here is the ending of the
Yet significant divides
remain on surveillance between the administration and the privacy and
tech communities, many of whose members consider a cybersecurity bill
passed on Wednesday by the House with tentative administration support
to be little more than a surveillance bill under another name.
The Mozilla Foundation’s
privacy chief, Chris Riley, denounced McConnell’s effort to retain bulk
surveillance within his Section 215 reauthorization proposal.
“Our call records are
more than just numbers and metadata, they are intimate portraits into
our lives, and should be kept private. Mozilla and thousands of
internet users urge Congress to pass real surveillance reform,” Riley
said in a statement.
Yes. But I fear that the
spying will continue until 2019 (at least), were it only because it
gives incredible powers to the government (and denues them to
the people - the true sovereigns! - who are spied upon by the
government for the goods of the government, and not the
4. Obama’s ‘Openness’ and Deceit
The next item is an article
by Robert Parry on Consortium News:
This starts as follows:
In disclosing the deaths
of two Western hostages in a U.S. drone strike on an Al-Qaeda compound,
President Barack Obama said on Thursday that
he had ordered the declassification of the secret operation because
“the United States is a democracy committed to openness in good times
and in bad.”
But the reality of the
past six years has been that his administration has enforced wildly
excessive secrecy, selectively declassified material to mislead the
American people, and failed to correct erroneous information
on sensitive international issues.
This failure to trust the
people with accurate information has arguably done great harm to U.S.
democracy by promoting false narratives on a range of
foreign conflicts. With all its talk about “public diplomacy” and
“information warfare,” the Obama administration seems intent on using
half-truths and falsehoods to herd the people into a misguided
consensus rather than treating them like the true sovereigns of the
Republic, as the Framers of the Constitution intended with the explicit
phrase “We the People of the United States.”
Yes, indeed. And
clearly the "arguably" in the third paragraph is rather weak:
If you deceive
the people, as Obama's administration does as a matter of course,
you are not acting as a democratical state would, but as an
authoritarian state does.
But the case is made
well in the rest of the article, that ends thus:
This pattern of
perverting U.S. intelligence information to bolster some U.S. foreign
policy agenda has become a trademark of the Obama administration –
along with an unprecedented number of prosecutions of U.S. government
whistleblowers who release real information that exposes government
wrongdoing or waste. This double standard belies President Obama’s
assertion that he values openness in a democracy.
Yes, although the
"double standards" go back much further than Obama's
What is radically
new, and is due to Obama and his team are these:
5. 11 Signs That We Are Entering The Next
Phase Of The Global Economic Crisis
(1) the persecution of whistleblowers and
(2) their portrayal as "spies" and "enemies", together with
(3) unlimited spying on everyone.
item today is an article by Michael Snyder on Washington's Blog (and
originally on The Economic Collapse Blog):
This starts as
Well, the Nasdaq
finally did it. It has climbed all the way back to where it was
at the peak of the dotcom bubble. Back in March 2000, the Nasdaq
set an all-time record high of 5,048.62. On Thursday, after all
these years, that all-time record was finally eclipsed. The
Nasdaq closed at 5056.06, and Wall Street greatly rejoiced. So if
you invested in the Nasdaq at the peak of the dotcom bubble, you are
just finally breaking even 15 years later. Unfortunately, the
truth is that stocks have not been soaring because the U.S. economy is
fundamentally strong. Just like the last two times, what we are
witnessing is an irrational
financial bubble. Sometimes these irrational bubbles can last
for a surprisingly long time, but in the end they always burst.
And even now there are signs of economic trouble bubbling to the
surface all around us. The following are 11 signs that we are
entering the next phase of the global economic crisis…
Here are three of these
eleven signs (in my rendering):
- While coal
produces around 40% of the electric energy, the price of coal is lower
than it was at any point since 2008.
- The price of iron ore
(for steel) has been crashing 35% down the last nine months.
- Chinese exports
(the biggest economy) fell in March by nearly 15%, while it was
expected to rise by more than 8% (a 23% difference).
There is more, such as
twice as many bankruptcies in the first three months of 2015, as
compared to the the first three
months of 2014, and a steep decline in US home sales, and more.
Does this prove the next
financial crisis starts tomorrow or in a week? No, but here is
Michael Snyder's assessment of the real situation:
I believe that
what we are experiencing right now is the proverbial “calm before the
storm”. There is all sorts of turmoil brewing just
beneath the surface, but for the moment things seem like they are
running along just fine to most people. Unfortunately, this
period of quiet is not going to last much longer.
Yes, that seems
correct to me, also because of something Snyder didn't mention:
of the potential market inside the U.S., that is, 90% of the
American inhabitants are growing poorer rather than richer,
which means that there is far less demand than there was and
than there could be in case their incomes would rise instead of fall.
But OK - we shall see.
Actually, the text has a photograph here, which I replaced by text.