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. Samples of Israeli Horrific
Brutality and War Criminality in
2. Meet the invisibles – the wealthy and
powerful at the
heart of the Tory party
3. Secrecy Over TPP Fuels
Growing Opposition in Congress
4. Mass Incarceration: The
Silence of the Judges
5. America's Willing
Helper: Intelligence Scandal Puts Merkel
This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, May 5,
This is a crisis
blog. There are 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1
is about an article by Glenn Greenwald on the war crimes the Israelis
committed in Gaza;
item 2 is about a visit by Polly Toynbee
to the wealthy heart of the British Tories;
item 3 is about a chance that the secrecy
of the TPP is causing more opposition to it in the American Congress; item 4 is a rather long story by an American judge who
reflect on the U.S. mass incarceration, also in view of the fact that
considerably less crime; and item 5 is another long
article on Spiegel On Line about an intelligence scandal in Germany.
of Israeli Horrific Brutality and War Criminality in Gaza
item today is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as
follows - though maybe I should say first that Glenn Greenwald has a
Jewish background, while my grandfather was murdered in a German
concentration camp (as a resistance fighter a.k.a. - by the Nazis - a
"political terrorist", while my father survived 3 years, 9 months and
15 days of German
concentration camps, again as a "political terrorist" because he
dared to resist the Nazis) :
The Israeli group
Breaking the Silence issued a report this morning containing testimony
from Israeli soldiers about the savagery and criminality committed by
the Israeli military during the attack on Gaza last summer. The
Independent has a
good article describing the report’s findings: “The Israeli
military deliberately pounded civilian areas in the Gaza Strip with
incessant fire of inaccurate ordinance” and “was at best
indifferent about casualties among the Palestinian population.” At
This should surprise
nobody who paid any attention to the brutal Israeli destruction of Gaza
or, for that matter, countless Israeli attacks before that. The U.N. has
said that 7 out of 10 people killed by the Israelis were civilians,
“including 1,462 civilians, among them 495 children and 253 women”; video of
Israelis killing four Gazan boys as they played on a beach sickened
Nonetheless, reading the
accounts from these Israeli soldiers is revolting and important in
equal parts. It shines considerable light on the reality of what Israeli loyalists have long
hailed as “the most moral army in the world,” one unfairly
held to a difference standard that ignores their great “restraint.”
The rest consists mostly of
quotations. Here is the first, that is attributed to a "Staff Sargent,
[A]fter 48 hours during
which no one shoots at you and they’re like ghosts, unseen, their
presence unfelt – except once in a while the sound of one shot fired
over the course of an entire day – you come to realize the situation is
under control. And that’s when my difficulty there started, because
the formal rules of engagement – I don’t know if for all soldiers –
were, “Anything still there is as good as dead. Anything you
see moving in the neighborhoods you’re in is not supposed to be there.
The [Palestinian] civilians know they are not supposed to be there. Therefore
whoever you see there, you kill. . . .
The commander [gave that
order]. “Anything you see in the neighborhoods you’re in, anything
within a reasonable distance, say between zero and 200 meters – is dead
on the spot. No authorization needed.” We asked him: “I see someone
walking in the street, do I shoot him?” He said yes.
Did the commander
discuss what happens if you run into civilians or uninvolved people?
There are none. The
working assumption states – and I want to stress that this is a quote
of sorts: that anyone located in an IDF area, in areas the IDF took
over – is not [considered] a civilian. That is the working assumption.
We entered Gaza with that in mind, and with an insane amount of
Now what I would like to
know is this: How does this differ, morally,
intellectually, and legally from the "Ordinary Men"
who did a large amount of the killings of Polish Jews in 1942?
In case you did not read
"Ordinary Men", here is a quotation from its ending:
What then is one
to conclude? (..) This story of ordinary men is not the story of all
men. (..) Human responsibility is ultimately an individual matter. 
conditions people to respect and defer to authority, and indeed could
scarcely function otherwise. Everywhere people seek career advancement.
In every modern society, the complexity of life and resulting
bureaucratization and specialization attenuate the sense of personal
responsibility of those implementing official policy. Within virtually
every social collective, the great group exerts tremendous pressures on
behavior and sets moral norms. If the men of Reserve Police Batallion
101 could become killers under such circumstanes, what group of men
I don't say there are no
differences. I just would like to know.
And incidentally, here is a
question by the Jewish former Auschwitz prisoner Filip Muller:
it possible, I often asked myself, for a young man of average
intelligence and normal personality to carry out the unspeakable
atrocities demanded of him in the belief that thereby he was doing his
patriotic duty, without ever realizing that he was being used as a tool
by perverted political dictators? 
the invisibles – the wealthy and powerful at the heart of the Tory
item is an article by Polly Toynbee on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
It’s a networking event in one of the City’s
great glass towers. The room is filled mostly with company directors,
hedge funders, bankers and lawyers. Would they vote Labour? “An unmitigated disaster. You can’t be
serious? Have you any idea what would happen? Half the clients of
people in this room would be off, gone, anyone who can.”
Polly Toynbee got there
by accident. Here is her own sum-up of "the good" that
Their world is the beating
heart of the modern Tory party, its financial backers, its influencers
who whisper to David Cameron’s people in private gatherings, country
suppers and the secret salons of Westminster restaurants; the world
where Lord Chadlington, lobbying supremo, chats over
the stone wall between his estate and Cameron’s in Witney.
Murmuring what? We never know. Cameras pry into benefits street but
none invade this private life of the nation.
I had forgotten that
frank look of baffled incredulity. No one they meet votes Labour. “You
mean just as we are repairing the frightful damage done by Labour, you
want to put them back in? Good God!” “What, piss it all up the wall
again? Pardon my French – but you want all those people back on
welfare?” “I don’t think you realise what this government’s done to get
the country back on its feet – and you want to give it back to the
people who bankrupted us?”
the Tories brought to Great Britain:
Yet Cameron has
run the most radical government of our
lifetime – cutting the state, sweeping away support for the weak,
denuding local government, gifting millions to their folk to set up
free schools, selling the NHS to private firms, privatising Royal Mail,
tripling fees to make universities effectively private, replacing a
million lost public jobs with pre-unionised lump labour.
unimpeded inheritance, privilege cemented down the generations, cutting
benefits while giving more to the wealthy – those are the Conservative
Over TPP Fuels Growing Opposition in Congress
item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as
The back-room push for
the corporate-friendly Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact may be
backfiring on its supporters, as more and more lawmakers in U.S.
Congress drop their interest in the deal over its extreme secrecy.
Only members of the House
and Senate are currently allowed to view the text of the deal, and even
they are forbidden from discussing what it contains. As a new report
from Politico published Monday details,
"If you’re a member who wants to read the text, you’ve got to go to a
room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center and be handed it one
section at a time, watched over as you read, and forced to hand over
any notes you make before leaving."
As for the public, a few
unauthorized leaks of the text have previewed
a deal that would "dramatically expand the power of corporations to use
closed-door tribunals to challenge—and supersede—domestic laws,
including environmental, labor, and public health, and other
The lack of transparency
over the trade agenda has become a central argument for a growing
number of opponents, who see the deal as a corporate power grab and
"feel they are being treated with disrespect and condescension," as Politico's
Edward-Isaac Dovere explains.
I hope Nadia Prupis
is right, but I must say I doubt it. Here is some more on Obama:
In March, Obama said TPP
opponents were being "dishonest" in calling the agenda a "secret deal."
But, as Huffington Post senior political economy reporter
Zach Carter wrote
last week, the Warren-Brown letter suggests "that Obama's trade
transparency record is worse than that of former President George W.
Bush. They note that Bush published the full negotiation texts of a
major free trade deal with Latin America several months before Congress
had to vote on giving the deal fast track benefits. The Obama
administration has resisted calls to follow suit with TPP."
Of course it has: As
far as I can tell this is a fascist grab of power by the big
corporations, and it is so sick that even a Republican
dominated Congress would not pass it if these new laws
would have been proposed and discussed honestly
4. Mass Incarceration: The Silence of the
and honorably, instead of being declared a "national security"
item is an article by Jed S. Rakoff on the New York Times:
This starts as follows
(and is written by an American judge):
There is a lot more in
the article, that I found interesting. I have one addition to it,
because that wasn't mentioned in the article:
For too long, too many
judges have been too quiet about an evil of which we are a part: the
mass incarceration of people in the United States today. It is time
that more of us spoke out.
The basic facts are not
in dispute. More than 2.2 million people are currently incarcerated in
US jails and prisons, a 500 percent increase over the past forty years.
Although the United States accounts for about 5 percent of the world’s
population, it houses nearly 25 percent of the world’s prison
population. The per capita incarceration rate in the US is about one
and a half times that of second-place Rwanda and third-place Russia,
and more than six times the rate of neighboring Canada. Another 4.75
million Americans are subject to the state supervision imposed by
probation or parole.
Most of the increase in
imprisonment has been for nonviolent offenses, such as drug possession.
And even though crime rates in the United States have declined
consistently for twenty-four years, the number of incarcerated persons
has continued to rise over most of that period, both because more
people are being sent to prison for offenses that once were punished
with other measures and because the sentences are longer. For example,
even though the number of violent crimes has steadily decreased over
the past two decades, the number of prisoners serving life sentences
has steadily increased, so that one in nine persons in prison is now
serving a life sentence.
And whom are we locking up?
Mostly young men of color.
In Holland as well, and I believe also in the rest of Europe, crime
rates fell rather spectacularly since 2000, and without mass
incarceration. It would seem that crime rates fell especially
because the chances of being caught - what with cameras
everywhere, and also people with cameras everywhere - considerably
But OK - this is about Europe rather than the U.S. and I don't know
this can be generalized.
Willing Helper: Intelligence Scandal Puts Merkel
in Tight Place
item today is an article by Spiegel Staff (in fact: no less than 14
journalists) on Spiegel On Line:
This comes with a summary I
latest spying scandal has created the biggest crisis yet for the
country's foreign intelligence agency. The German government appears to
have been aware of widespread US spying, possibly including economic
espionage, against European targets and yet it did nothing to stop it.
Should I say "I say!"?
Well, perhaps, but I don't because I know secret services are being
kept secret, and therefore can generally do as they please, and
also do do as they please. But I agree this is pretty
scandalous, also because it seems to imply Angela Merkel betrayed her
oath of office, or at least did not live and speak according to it.
The article itself starts as follows:
July 14, 2013 was an
overcast day. The German chancellor was reclining in a red armchair
across from two television hosts with the country's primary public
broadcaster. With Berlin's Spree River flowing behind her, Angela
Merkel gave her traditional summer television interview. The discussion
focused in part on the unbridled drive of America's NSA intelligence
service to collect as much information as possible. Edward Snowden's
initial revelations had been published just one month earlier, but by
the time of the interview, the chancellor had already dispatched her
interior minister to Washington. Having taken action to confront the
issue, Merkel was in high spirits.
Merkel's interviewers wanted
to know exactly what data had been targeted in Germany. Reports had
been making the rounds, they reminded her, of "economic espionage."
Merkel sat quietly. "So, on that," she said, "the German interior
minister was clearly told that there is no industrial espionage against
Only a few hundred meters
away from the red armchair, though, more was known. In Merkel's
Chancellery, staff had long been aware that the information provided by
the United States wasn't true.
By 2010 at the latest,
the Chancellery had received indications that the NSA had attempted to
spy on European firms, including EADS, the European aerospace and
defense company that is partly owned by German shareholders. They also
knew that the Americans were seeking to join forces with Germany's
foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), in
their spying efforts. It would be astonishing if Merkel herself had not
known about these occurrences long before she sat down for the
interview. Indeed, she would look even worse had she not known.
There is also this, a
The chancellor now
faces questions about how these actions can be reconciled with her oath
of office. What is being done to ensure that German law is respected?
Are German interests betrayed when American intelligence services are
able to spy on German companies -- or at least attempt to -- with
impunity? What has gone wrong in a country whose own intelligence
services simply look away or even provide their support as this
happens? And what about the damage the latest scandal has done to
relations between Germany and its neighbors? Is having good relations
with the Americans more important than maintaining the trust of
And considerably later:
But that oath goes much
further, and that has now become her problem. Protecting Germans from
harm also means preventing German targets from being spied on, no
matter who is doing the spying. Allowing a foreign power access to
German data and secrets, silently acquiescing to the same, or declaring
German companies to be a pawn in a larger game is tantamount to
betraying German interests.
There is a lot more
in the article.
today is the commemoration of the 70th year that Holland was freed from
Nazism. I did nothing about it, in part because of the following notes
- and those who doubt my background should know that my father was also
knighted, as one of only two communists to whom this
happened, and that his pwn written testimony is here (in my English translation).
 Whereas I was removed from the faculty of
philosophy in 1988 as "a fascist terrorist", by the fascist terrorists
who ruled the faculty of philosophy, which included the Dutch fascist
terrorist the late sadistic professor dr. Cornelis Verhoeven; the Dutch
fascist terrorist and sadist the late dr. Roel Poppe; and the the late
Dutch fascist terrorist and sadist drs. Jan-Karel Gevers. These were 3
of the "leftist" fascistic sub-humans who ruled the University of
where the only thing I learned that I did not know
before were these three articles of Dutch "leftist" fascistic faith,
that were taught from 1977-1995 to every student and that were
generally welcomed because it gave them - they thought - a
status of equal value to the greatest minds and the most courageous
men, while washing them clean of any personal fault or shortcoming:
Quite so - and since I have the best or at the very least one of the
best anti-fascistic backgrounds in Holland I'd like to say
in the 65 years of my life - in which I was gassed and nearly
and five times threatened with murder, because I protested the illegal
dealers of soft and hard drugs who were personally
Amsterdam's mayors, and since I was removed, while seriously ill (which
gave much sadistic joy to Poppe and Gevers), from
the faculty of philosophy as a "fascist" and a "terroist" by at
least 16 degenerate whores of
reason, which decision was sadistically
affirmed by the fascistic and sadistic beasts
mentioned above (I am sorry, but they were, and I can say so because
they are dead and cannot be offended anymore) - I have found
among Dutchmen at most 1
in a 100 with any palpable human responsibility, which also, as
WW II teaches, get closer to 1 in 1000 in cases of major trouble and
risk. This also explains, up to a point, how and why over 1% of
the Dutch population was murdered between 1940 and
1945, because they were claimed to be of an inferior race and
- "everybody knows
that truth does not exist"
- "everybody knows that all morals are
- "everybody knows
that everybody is the equal in value of everybody else"
 My own answer to this question: This
was really demanding too much from "a young man of average
intelligence and normal personality". Ordinary men
are ordinary for the most part because
they lack any talent, and they manifest their ordinariness, in which
they tend to glorify, by doing as nearly all ordinary men (who are like
them) do, also if this includes killing hundreds of
who did not do anything wrong, simply because of their supposed race.