July 14, 2015
Crisis: Poitras, Greek Deal, Torture, Austerity, Chart Of The Day: Still Crisis
  "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

Prev- crisis -Next


1. Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government to Find Out Why She
     Was Repeatedly Stopped at the Border

The Guardian view on the Greek deal: it solves nothing
     and holds many dangers

3. 'A national hero': psychologist who warned of torture
     collusion gets her due

4. 'Austerity Has Won': Greece Submits to Divisive Reforms
5. Chart of the Day: The Recession Still Isn't Over For Most
     Of Us

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday July 14, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article that explains why Laura Poitras sued the U.S. government; item 2 is about an Editorial in The Guardian about the agreement about Greece's debts; item 3 is about
American psychology and a - rare - psychologist who disagreed with the APA at a time very many psychologists found it safer to conform; item 4 is about an article on Common Dreams that discusses the agreement the Greeks have reached; and item 5 presents a nice chart that shows it still is crisis ("recession", for the more mealy mouthed) for 80 to 90% of the populations in the USA and the EU. (I said so, but it is nice to have some evidence.)

Also, there probably will be another issue of my autobiography tomorrow (in Dutch),
and a treatment of interview 10 in the series of 10 that Paul Jay did with Robert Scheer.

1. Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government to Find Out Why She Was Repeatedly Stopped at the Border  

The first article today is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

Over six years, filmmaker Laura Poitras was searched, interrogated and detained more than 50 times at U.S. and foreign airports.

When she asked why, U.S. agencies wouldn’t say.

Now, after receiving no response to her Freedom of Information Act requests for documents pertaining to her systemic targeting, Poitras is suing the U.S. government.

In a complaint filed on Monday afternoon, Poitras demanded that the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Security release any and all documentation pertaining to her tracking, targeting and questioning while traveling between 2006 and 2012.

“I’m filing this lawsuit because the government uses the U.S. border to bypass the rule of law,” Poitras said in a statement. Poitras co-founded The Intercept with Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill.

She said she hopes to draw attention to how other people, who aren’t as well known, “are also subjected to years of Kafkaesque harassment at the borders.”

I agree with Laura Poitras' lawsuit even though I also guess it will land her in many difficulties and it will probably not get her far. [1]

My reasons for this estimate are, briefly, as follows:

I agree with the lawsuit because she simply is right. American citizens who didn't do anything wrong and against whom there are no legal proceedings should not be held at borders as she was.

Then again, having myself tried to keep the Dutch nation to its own drugs laws, and having totally failed [2], basically because I was massively lied to and bureaucratic- ally hindered in all possible ways, I am doubtful about her legal chances.

And I do not expect her to get very far, mostly because I think the exercise of the law in the United States by now has been corrupted too much, and especially from the inside, by police officers and prosecutors and the Department of Justice.

But since in the end a decent law that is decently maintained is the only civil defense there is, I agree one should try.

2. The Guardian view on the Greek deal: it solves nothing and holds many dangers

The next article today is by Editorial on The Guardian:
This has a summary, which is as follows:
The Greek deal is unfair and unlikely to work. Far from easing the pace of austerity, the agreement embeds it
I agree. Also, it was a successful attempt by the rich bullies - mostly non-elected - who rule the EU to bully and humiliate the Greeks. Then again, realistically speaking this was to be expected: Poor people with debts are abused as a matter of course by bailiffs, in my own experience, and bailiffs are almost always sadists and bullies (for else they would have chosen another profession) - and no, it is not amazing nor surprising that the leading European politicians think and act like bailiffs.

Anyway - here is the beginning of The Guardian's assessment:
Europe after the Greek talks resembles a battlefield the day after the armies have stumbled away – wreckage everywhere, and everyone counting the cost. What are the essential facts about the agreement? First, it has been reached under duress. The Greek government did not want this deal, does not regard it as even remotely reasonable or fair. The Greek people voted overwhelmingly against a less severe package of measures a little over a week ago. Second, it will be a bitter pill to swallow everywhere else in the eurozone, too. The legislation enabling it will be passed in a resentful mood in every national capital concerned. Third, we very nearly did not have an agreement at all, and things could still unravel. Fourth, while critics of austerity economics have already decided it will not work, even those, like the Germans, who believe that it could are far from certain that it will.

An agreement that nobody likes and that may very well fail to achieve its objective of rescuing the Greek economy, and eventually also balancing the European Union’s books as a proportion of Greek debt is paid off, is no triumph.
I mostly agree, although the agreement seems to be a bit of a triumph for those who pushed it: Merkel, Juncker, Draghi, Lagarde and Schaüble, and the bankers they spoke for, did get what they wanted, and also got their full share of humiliating
the Greeks. (And it is not as if they, personally, are in it financially: they are not. Those who pay the loan are the European people; those who have to repay the loan are the Greek people; those who profit are the bankers and the politicians. Everybody else looses.)

'A national hero': psychologist who warned of torture collusion gets her due

The next article today is by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Jean Maria Arrigo’s inbox is filling up with apologies.

For a decade, colleagues of the 71-year-old psychologist ignored, derided and in some cases attacked Arrigo for sounding alarms that the American Psychological Association was implicated in US torture. But now that a devastating report has exposed deep APA complicity with brutal CIA and US military interrogations – and a smear campaign against Arrigo herself – her colleagues are expressing contrition.

“I have been wanting to email you since reading the Hoffman report on Wednesday to let you know how ashamed I am about not believing what you and others had been saying about APA’s actions,” wrote a psychologist Arrigo wished to remain anonymous.

I say - which I say mostly because I don't believe it. More precisely: I do believe that Arrigo's inbox is filling with apologies from American psychologists who earlier attacked her; what I don't believe is that these apologies are really sincere.

The reasons I do not believe in their sincerity are mainly these:

(1) it was from the beginning clear to very many lawyers and scientists that quite a few things in the American military and in the set-ups and procedures for interrogation of prisoners were morally and legally wrong and were torture in many ways. For example, here is the opening of the Wikipedia article
"Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse" (minus note numbers):
During the war in Iraq that began in March 2003, personnel of the United States Army and the Central Intelligence Agency committed a series of human rights violations against detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.These violations included physical and sexual abuse, torture, rape, sodomy, and murder. The abuses came to light with reports published in late 2003 by Amnesty International and the Associated Press. The incidents received widespread condemnation both within the United States and abroad, although the soldiers received support from some conservative media within the United States.

The administration of George W. Bush attempted to portray the abuses as isolated incidents, not indicative of general U.S. policy. This was contradicted by humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. After multiple investigations, they stated that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were not isolated but were part of a wider pattern of torture and brutal treatment at American overseas detention centers, including those in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay.
Documents popularly known as the Torture Memos came to light a few years later. These documents, prepared shortly before the Iraq invasion by the United States Department of Justice, authorized certain enhanced interrogation techniques, generally held to involve torture of foreign detainees. The memoranda also argued that international humanitarian laws, such as the Geneva Conventions, did not apply to American interrogators overseas.
And mind you: I am not quoting this as specifically supporting Jean Mario Arrigo: I am quoting this to make clear that all the psychologists who apologize now could have  (and probably did) know that the American military were engaged in procedures that were widely described and decried as torture in 2005, at the latest.

(2) I have an - excellent - M.A. in psychology, and what I have learned about that supposed science and those supposed scientists is that the science is not a real science (for the most part: outside statistics and a few other mathematical or methodological subjects) and the scientists are not real scientists - but they are extremely good at lying, posturing and pretending, which is indeed what one would expect from a majority of mock "scientists" who build their careers on pretensions they know (or should know) that they can't really hold up.

So I am quite confident that most American psychologists did know that the American military were torturing some of their prisoners; that those who denied so ten years ago were mostly lying, but were lying with the majority opinion; and that those who are now sorry for lying then, are again lying, and also are again lying with the majority opinion. (In fact, the main reason for their attitudes is conformity to what the majority believes.)

Back to Arrigo and the article:

Arrigo herself is fearful that the APA will ride out the wave of bad publicity rather then remove the rot of torture from the root. More personally, she told the Guardian, it has been jarring to see what her colleagues were saying – and doing – about her behind closed doors.

“I think the effect on me, which has intensified, may be more like what happened to people in East Germany when the Stasi records were opened,” she told the Guardian.

I think I agree with her (though the reference to the Stasi may be a bit strong).
In any case, judging from my own - rich - experiences, she is right in this:
What was more troubling to her, she said, were the well-meaning members of APA who did not challenge the attacks.

“Not only did they do nothing, but they allowed themselves to be used,” she said.

Yes. Most psychologists I know are out and out conformists, and one major reason for their conformism is that most know what they publicly deny with disdain: That they are not real scientists (as physicists and chemists are); that their science helps very few - except those who earn their salary as psychologists; and that most psychologists don't know much statistics, and don't have any adequate ideas about science.

And indeed if that is true (which I think it is, and I did have one of the best possible degrees in the supposed "science"), that is a very good reason (if you are a fraud
anyway, as most are) to conform as much as you can to keep your own salary safe.

'Austerity Has Won': Greece Submits to Divisive Reforms

The next article today is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

After 31 hours of tense weekend talks—and five years of crippling austerity—Greece and its foreign creditors have struck a deal: an €86 billion bailout that will keep Greece in the Eurozone in exchange for controversial economic reforms that include tax hikes, pension overhauls, and severe budget cuts if the nation misses fiscal targets imposed and monitored by the so-called Troika.

European Council president Donald Tusk made the announcement of what he referred to as an "agreekment" early Monday morning following a 17-hour round of negotiations in Brussels.

The deal was immediately blasted as a "humiliating" surrender of national sovereignty.

An editorial on the Iskra website, which reflects the views of anti-austerity Syriza hardliners, charges that the agreement reestablishes and extends the guardianship of the Troika and solidifies "social enslavement."

As to the "social enslavement", there is also this (and more):

And Nick Dearden, of Global Justice Now, said the circumstances surrounding the negotiations "rather resemble the imperial politics of the 19th century."

"Is it so unthinkable to put the rights and livelihoods of ordinary people ahead of threatening the interests of the banks?" Dearden asked. "The European governments and institutions seem to think so. The lives and rights of millions of Greeks, and now the very existence of the EU as a democratic union, come a poor second to the economic fundamentalism of Merkel and the Troika."

Yes, that seems to sum it up fairly well.

5. Chart of the Day: The Recession Still Isn't Over For Most Of Us

The final article for today is by Kevin Drum on Mother Jones:
I have been saying several times now that I still believe it still is crisis ("recession") for the majority of the people who live in the USA or the EU, and therefore it is nice to reproduce this chart from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

This may be a bit difficult to read, but the blue and red lines trace the losses or gains in wages and compensations from 2007-2014, and they show that a little less than 20% of those receiving compensation lately gained a little (around 4%), and a little more than 10% of those having wages lately gained a little (around 1.5%) - and everybody else (80% and 90%) still has less money than they had in 2007.

As Kevin Drum says:
The recession might be over for those with high incomes, but not for anybody else. For everyone with modest or low incomes, they're still making less than they made in 2007.
And as I have been saying, but it is nice to have some evidence.


[1] This is based in part on my own court cases, that I mostly won, but which were also made impossible by quite a few Dutch lawyers who all said, against my:
"I have the right not to be gassed and not to be threatened with murder by the illegal drugs dealers Mayor Van Thijn gave his personal permission to deal illegal drugs from the bottom floor from the house where I lived";
"I have the right to protest against being removed from the University of Amsterdam as a "fascist terrorist" because I protested that truth does exist"
with the following phrase: 
"I will do nothing for you because I think your case is too political".
The law in Holland is for at least 99% the willing and eager servant of the interests of the rich, the corrupt, and the sick politicians. And I can say so because I really tried, and I was really rebuffed by conformist legal servants of power.

And I do not have the rights - for 27 years now! - I do have in law, because Dutch lawyers chose for their incomes much rather than for the law.

[2] The real situation, according to the Parliamentary Van Traa report, that no one did anything with after Van Traa "got killed in a car accident in 1997" comes to this:

Major Van Thijn and his lawyers created "personal permissions" that did give "personal permissions by the mayor" to break the law and deal publicly in illegal soft drugs from 1987 onwards, which made at least 10 billion euros a year for those illegal dealers, of which I assume a percentage also went to the lawyers and the mayors who gave their illegal friends these personal permissions to deal in illegal drugs - and that is how it has been from 1987 till 2015, i.e. for 28 years, bringing in at least 280 billion dollars to the Dutch drugs criminals and their political personal friends. (See here if you read Dutch: The numbers are accurate.)

The hundreds of "coffee shops" (in Amsterdam alone) in which illegal drugs can be bought are not evidence that soft drugs are legal in Holland. They are evidence that
drugs are illegal but can be as-it-were-legally sold by personal friends of the Dutch mayors, who all will claim that they did not receive anything from these extremely wealthy friends of them in compensation (and that they never ever lied to anyone).

All in all the schema gives the most profits to the drugs dealers; provides ample chances of getting extremely rich to the personal friends of the dealers, the Dutch mayors, their lawyers, and the district attorneys; provides illegal drugs without problems to a sizable part of the Dutch population; and is a major source of investment in building, housing and banking for the drugs dealers, since these are the most profitable ways of legalizing their drugs money.

It is the triumph of Dutch dealing over the Dutch laws, and is extremely profitable for everyone involved. And it is extremely profitable because it is illegal: It could have been legalized long ago, as the Portugese did, but this would have meant loosing billions of profits each year.

I failed to change anything, and what remained of my health was destroyed. But even if I am the only Dutchman who writes the truth about drugs in Holland, I will keep doing so, for I think it is a fraud and a great shame that Holland provides drugs to all of Europe (for a considerable part of the yearly billions are made by exporting soft and hard drugs).

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