is a crisis blog.
There are 7 items today: Item 1 is about a Glenn
Greenwald article that shows how extremely corrupt Obama's government
is, in terms of "revolving doors"; item 2 is about
a long read on The Guardian on the - indeed -
intentionally obscure "legal" system that helps the big corporations to
get even richer; item 3 is an update on Obama's
desire to spy, spy and spy on everyone,
including the setting aside of judgments by the federal court; item 4 is about the first of three interviews with
Robert Scheer on cyberwarfare; item 5 is about an excellent
piece by Ralph Nader about the TPP; item 6 is about
a fine article + video by Robert Reich; and item 7
is a brief bit about Edward Snowden, who
indeed is an extra-ordinary man. (This item would have been
longer had there been fewer crisis items.)
1. The Noble Post-White House Career Path of
Obama’s Core Team
item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
In fact, the article is
mostly made up of pictures of sites that announce that yet another (and
another, and another, and another) of Obama's core team got some very
millions per year paying job that will enable them to get very, very
rich in a few years.
But it is quite convincing and worth seeing, especially for the
naive folks who still believe Obama is a Democratic president who meant
and means well.
Here is a paragraph from Glenn Greenwald that illustrates very well
what I started seeing myself in 2009: What Obama says is
generally not what Obama does: He is a very good liar
and an excellent deceiver:
As The Guardian
noted, “when he took office, Obama signed an
order that the White House said ‘closes the revolving door that
allows government officials to move to and from private sector jobs in
ways that give that sector undue influence over government.'” Moreover,
“in the campaign before the 2008 election, Obama said: ‘I am in this
race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the
agenda in Washington are over.’”
That was quite precisely
100% totally false, as you may find out paging through
Glenn Greenwald's article (but yes, lies and propaganda did get
Here is the last paragraph:
revolving door has worked in the other way, too: so many early
from Goldman Sachs that it was hard to keep track of them all. And,
of course, the greatest enrichment of American political officials is
reserved for those who
are president or otherwise
achieve full political celebrity. But the remarkably homogeneous
post-White House career path of Obama’s top tier of aides and
advisers is notable in all sorts of ways.
Yes, indeed. He was the
chief of the corporate finance that under his administration enriched
the corporations and their managers while destroying democracy.
"Change! Change! Change! Yes, We Can - scam, defraud, steal and lie,
lie, lie, and lie again."
The obscure legal system
that lets corporations sue countries
item is an article by Claire Provost and Matt Kenard on The Guardian:
This is a so-called long
read on The Guardian. I found it quite interesting, but one reason may
be that, meanwhile, I know a fair amount (in so far as that is
possible) about the TTP and TTIP, that propose the same quasi-legal
mechanisms for big corporations to twist all governments' decisions
that the big corporations claim might hurt any of their
that makes each and any of the governments who signed
such a treaty subject to the overruling of any of its democratic
decisions of any kind simply because these democratic
decisions might have hurt the (expectations of) profits of
As I see it, this is the institution of a fascist "court", but you may
disagree - although that seems a bit hard given the definition of the
American Heritage Dictionary:
"A system of government that exercises a
dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of
state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."
For this is a supra-governmental
new "legal" institution that very
strongly favors the big corporations (and no one else, except
and makes theirexpectations of profit trump any
human right, any rightfully taken governmentaldecision,
simply on the
ground that these decisions might hurt the expected profits of some
foreign big corporation.
The decisions of these "courts" are secret; the laws themselves
are secret for at least five years after they started
"courts'" decisions cannot be opposed or appealed to, nor are
subject to other courts; they are taken by lawyers who work for the
corporations; and they involve billions and billions
of dollars, also
involving alleged "lost profits", and lesser "expected future profits",
while the billions that must be paid, must be paid in the end by the ordinary
taxpayers of the countries that loose their cases in these "courts".
But - of course - you may not believe this, for one thing because it
all has been kept as secret as was possible. Well... here is
investment treaties and free-trade deals grant foreign investors the
right to activate this system, known as investor-state dispute
settlement (ISDS), if they want to challenge government decisions
affecting their investments. In Europe, this system has become a
sticking point in negotiations over the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
(TTIP) deal proposed between the European Union and the US, which would
massively extend its scope and power and make it harder to challenge in
the future. Both France and Germany have said that they want access to investor-state
dispute settlement removed from the TTIP treaty currently under
Investors have used this
system not only to sue for compensation for alleged expropriation of
land and factories, but also over a huge range of government measures,
including environmental and social regulations, which they say infringe
on their rights. Multinationals have sued to recover money they have
already invested, but also for alleged lost profits and “expected
future profits”. The number of suits filed against countries at the
ICSID is now around 500 – and that figure is growing at an average rate
of one case a week. The sums awarded in damages are so vast that
investment funds have taken notice: corporations’ claims against states
are now seen as assets that can be invested in or used as leverage to
secure multimillion-dollar loans. Increasingly, companies are using the
threat of a lawsuit at the ICSID to exert pressure on governments not
to challenge investors’ actions.
And here is another
bit on how these mock "courts" work:
There are now thousands
of international investment agreements and free-trade acts, signed by
states, which give foreign companies access to the investor-state
dispute system, if they decide to challenge government decisions.
Disputes are typically heard by panels of three arbitrators; one
selected by each side, and the third agreed upon by both parties.
Rulings are made by majority vote, and decisions are final and binding.
There is no appeals process – only an annulment option that can be used
on very limited grounds. If states do not pay up after the decision,
their assets are subject to seizure in almost every country in the
world (the company can apply to local courts for an enforcement order).
There is a whole lot
more in the article,
which is recommended. (And this is the future that Obama wants
so very much he even has passed a law that virtually guarantees these
laws will be accepted without any
amendment and with minimal discussion. Does his
post-presidential pay depend on it?)
3.Obama lawyers asked secret court to ignore
public court's decision on spying
item is an article by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian, that highlights
another of Obama's pro-corporate pro-surveillance feats:
The Obama administration has asked a secret
surveillance court to ignore a federal court that found bulk
surveillance illegal and to once again grant the National Security
Agency the power to collect the phone records of millions of Americans
for six months.
The legal request, filed
nearly four hours after Barack Obama vowed to sign a new law banning
precisely the bulk collection he asks the secret court to approve, also
suggests that the administration may not necessarily comply with any
potential court order demanding that the collection stop.
asked a secret surveillance court to ignore a federal
court that found bulk surveillance illegal and to once again grant
the National Security Agency the power to collect the phone records of
millions of Americans".
It is true that the
statement just quoted ends with "for six months"
- but who can guarantee that if this is
granted, the Obama government will after five months ask its secret
court to extend all spying indefinitely, since then clearly the
federal courts' decisions don't matter anymore, given the
secret FISA courts secret decsions that trumped them?
There is considerably more under the last dotted link. But yes, as I
predicted (and as
William Binney predicted): The NSA will continue to
collect anything and everything, by hook or by crook, legally or
illegally, so far as they or the present government are concerned. The
"Knowledge is power", and this information provides supreme power
to the government's
4.Robert Scheer: Cyberwarfare
Is ‘Where the Real Money Is’ (Part 1 of 3)
item is an article by Kasia Anderson on Truthdig:
This is another series of
excellent interviews with Robert Scheer (the editor of Truthdig),
accompanied by a fine video:
This starts as follows:
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR,
TRNN: Welcome to Reality Asserts Itself on The Real News Network. I’m
In the book by Robert
Scheer They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations
and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy, Robert
Scheer writes, the main price paid by turning the war on terror into a
war on the public’s right to know—a bipartisan crusade—is that it
destroys the foundation of democracy—an informed public. The George W.
Bush administration initiated this dangerous trend, and Barack Obama
has expanded on that horrid legacy by cracking down on the press and
prosecuting whistleblowers under the Espionage Act more than all
previous U.S. presidents combined. The result is that our privacy, and
hence our freedom, has been plundered with abandon. Our most private
moments are now captured in exquisite detail by a newly emboldened
surveillance state, resulting in a shutdown of democracy. But the
game’s not over yet.
Yes, precisely. This
also has an interesting start - or at least I think so:
JAY: So, for those of you
that watch Reality Asserts Itself, before we kind of get into what our
guest thinks, we usually talk about why our guest thinks what they
think—in other words, what helped form the way they look at the world.
And this segment, and also a little more of this series with Bob, is
going to be quite biographical, ‘cause he’s lived somewhat of a
legendary life. He’s one of the most important figures that came out of
the left and out of progressive journalism.
And we’re kind of honored
to have you here today. Thank you.
The reason I think so
is that I agree with Paul Jay - and please also note that Robert
Scheer (<- Wikipedia) meanwhile is 79, although he looks a great
Then again, this
first part is mostly about Scheer himself, which I liked, but am not
going to reproduce in the crisis series. So from this part I will
select just two bits, and the first is this:
once said, keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.
I quote that because this is good
advice (and I have seen quite a few, including good friends, who
did not heed this advice or probably did not know it, and indeed got
eventually quite lost ).
Robert Scheer had a rather special mother, who came from Russia, and
who was there a member of the Jewish Socialist Bund, that was
persecuted by the bolsheviks, which made her move to the U.S.A. in
1921. Scheer also says about his parents (as indeed I can do about
But my mother—and
this goes to formative experience—my mother and my father—well, I’ll
tell you about—these were really working class people. Neither of my
parents had graduated from high school in their own country. And yet
they were what I can call working-class intellectuals.
This is mostly true
of both of my parents as well, although my mother - whose
parents were anarchists - succeeded in getting through three out of
five years of Dutch highschool, during the crisis of the 1930ies. But
she had to start working at 15, simply because there was no more money,
just as my father started working at 14.
There is considerably more in the interview, but as I said: Most is not
crisis material, and so I will not review it, though I liked reading it.
5.Nader’s 10 Reasons That the
TPP Is Not a ‘Progressive’ Trade Agreement The
item is an article by Ralph Nader that I found on Truthdig:
This is an excellent
article, that starts as follows:
“We have an opportunity
to set the most progressive trade agreement in our nation’s history,”
it states on BarackObama.com, the website of the president’s
“Organizing for Action” campaign.
One must seriously
question what President Obama and his corporate allies believe to be
the definition of “progressive” when it comes to this grandiose
statement. History shows the very opposite of progress when it comes to
these democratic sovereignty-shredding and job-exporting
corporate-driven trade treaties—unless progress is referring to
fulfilling the deepest wishes of runaway global corporations.
The North American Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) set our
country’s progress back through large job-draining trade deficits,
downward pressure on wages, extending Big Pharma’s patent monopolies to
raise consumers’ medicine prices, floods of unsafe imported food, and
undermining or freezing consumer and environmental rules.
Partnership (TPP) is formally described as a trade and foreign
investment agreement between 12 nations—Australia, Brunei, Canada,
Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the
United States and Vietnam. The White House is now pressuring Congress
to Fast Track through the TPP. Fast Track authority, a Congressional
procedure to limit time for debate and prohibit amendments to proposed
legislation, has already passed in the Senate, although only after an
unexpectedly rough ride.
And here is a summary
of the points Nader makes (there is more text in the article):
1. “Fast Track is an
abrogation of not only Congress’ constitutional authority, but of its
responsibility to the American people. "
2.“The other two dozen chapters amount to a devilish ‘partnership’ for
corporate protectionism. They create sweeping new ‘rights’ and escape
hatches to protect multinational corporations from accountability to
our governments… and to us.”
3. Fast Track prevents challenges to any issues about how America
conducts business with the countries included in the TPP. Some of the
countries in the TPP—Brunei, Malaysia, Mexico and Vietnam, for
example—have terrible human and labor rights records. Those conditions
attract big companies looking for serf labor and their accommodating
4. Millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost due to NAFTA and
WTO being railroaded through Congress. The TPP would only expand these
offshoring incentives. (...) According to a report for the Center for Economic and Policy
Research (CEPR), the TPP would result in wage cuts for all but the
5. The American people have yet to see the full text of the TPP—it has
been negotiated in secret and shown to members of Congress under
demeaningly strict secrecy. We only know about some of its terms
because of leaks. But Wall Street and industry operatives, who seek to
benefit enormously from the TPP, do have access to the text. Why so
selectively secretive? Supporters of the deal outright told Senator
Elizabeth Warren, “[trade talks] have to be secret, because if the
American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed.”
6.The TPP allows corporations to directly sue
our country if federal, state or local laws, government actions or
court rulings are claimed to violate new rights and privileges the TPP
would grant to foreign firms. (...) These decisions then cannot be
challenged in U.S. courts—and U.S. taxpayers will get stuck with the
bill. So much for our precious sovereignty!
8. TPP will further weaken America’s regulatory watchdogs—we can’t use
our own government to over-rule TPP tribunal decisions that over-rule
our health, safety and economic protections as non-tariff trade
9. Prescription drug costs will increase.
10. The TPP could potentially undermine reforms of Wall Street and
threaten U.S. financial stability by providing the institutions that
caused the 2008-2009 financial crisis a path to circumvent U.S.
This is an article that I strongly
recommend you to read.
6.#9. MAKE POLLUTERS PAY US The
item is an article by Robert Reich on his site, in his series "Ten
Ideas To Save The Economy". This is number 9:
We can clean our
environment and strengthen the economy if we (1) divest
from carbon polluters, (2) make the polluters pay a price to
pollute, and (3) then collect the money.
Please see the
accompanying video, and share.
And here is the video:
This will take only 3
minutes of your time, and the argument is both fine and clear.
Incidentally, here is one point I should make on the whole series of
ten ideas that Robert Reich proposes: No, the above idea and most
others are not compatible with the ways the economy is
But then that is just the point: The economy can be
changed, and indeed it must be changed, quite radically also,
if it is to serve the interests of the 99% well, for as the economy is
being run right now, and especially in the United
States, Great Britain and Australia, it is being run almost exclusively
in the interests of the 1% of the rich.
Yesterday, I wrote that today
"the crisis news will probably be about Edward
Snowden, simply because it is then precisely two years since I learned
I also said this would depend on what there is for today, and in fact
it is too much.
Then again, here is the reference to the piece I wrote about Snowden
precisely two years ago:
And I can say that I
still agree to all of that (and I am very glad that
Snowden never got arrested, at least so far).
Edward Snowden clearly is an extra-ordinary man, and has meanwhile
caused quite a lot of changes, even though it also will need a lot more
struggle to undo the surveillance of all or most, by some moral
degenerates - I am not sorry: that is what they are -
who work for the governments or indeed some rich corporation and who spy
on everyone, simply because they can (for much of the spying
the Americans do is done by private corporations, like Booz
Allan Hamilton, that also employed Edward Snowden).
 Here I am thinking especially about a
group of friends I had when I was 18-20, who introduced me to soft
drugs (which I liked, but not to be stoned all day: I really
wanted to study much more) and some of whom also got hooked a
little later on hard drugs (which I never used), which killed
at least one of them.