July 15, 2015
Crisis: Privacy, Tories, Tsipras, Jay&Scheer 10/10, Hillary Clinton
  "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. Chatting in Secret While We're All Being Watched
Tories launch biggest crackdown on trade unions for 30

3. Alexis Tsipras: bailout a ‘bad deal’ but the best Greece
     could get

4. VIDEO: Robert Scheer on American Power and
     Arrogance: ‘It’s a Toxic Cocktail’ (Part 10 of 10)

5. Hillary Clinton’s Glass-Steagall

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday July 15, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a good and long article that explains how you can improver your privacy; item 2 is about
an article in The Guardian on another of Cameron's sick degeneracies; item 3 is about an article that says, probably correctly, Tsipras got the least evil deal he could get; item 4 is about the last part of the 10-part series Paul Jay did on The Real News Network with Robert Scheer; and item 5 is about Robert Reich about
the Glass-Seagall act and Hillary Clinton.

1. Chatting in Secret While We're All Being Watched
The first article today is by Micah Lee on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

When you pick up the phone and call someone, or send a text message, or write an email, or send a Facebook message, or chat using Google Hangouts, other people find out what you’re saying, who you’re talking to, and where you’re located. Such private data might only be available to the service provider brokering your conversation, but it might also be visible to the telecom companies carrying your Internet packets, to spy and law enforcement agencies, and even to some nearby teenagers monitoring your Wi-Fi network with Wireshark.

But if you take careful steps to protect yourself, it’s possible to communicate online in a way that’s private, secret and anonymous. Today I’m going to explain in precise terms how to do that. I’ll take techniques NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden used when contacting me two and a half years ago and boil them down to the essentials. In a nutshell, I’ll show you how to create anonymous real-time chat accounts and how to chat over those accounts using an encryption protocol called Off-the-Record Messaging, or OTR.

If you’re in a hurry, you can skip directly to where I explain, step by step, how to set this up for Mac OS X, Windows, Linux and Android. Then, when you have time, come back and read the important caveats preceding those instructions.

One caveat is to make sure the encryption you’re using is the sort known as “end-to-end” encryption. With end-to-end encryption, a message gets encrypted at one endpoint, like a smartphone, and decrypted at the other endpoint, let’s say a laptop. No one at any other point, including the company providing the communication service you’re using, can decrypt the message.
There is a whole lot more and it is quite good: It does explain what it sets out to explain, and also does this clearly. Recommended!

2. Tories launch biggest crackdown on trade unions for 30 years

The next article today is by Patrick Wintour on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:
The biggest crackdown on trade union rights for 30 years will be unveiled on Wednesday, including new plans to criminalise picketing, permit employers to hire strike-breaking agency staff and choke off the flow of union funds to the Labour party.

The scale of the reforms goes far wider than the previously trailed plan for strikes to be made unlawful unless 50% of those being asked to strike vote in the ballot.

In a set of proposals on a par with those introduced by Norman Tebbit in 1985, Sajid Javid, the business secretary, is also to require that at least 40% of those asked to vote support the strike in most key public services. In the case of 100 teachers asked to strike, the action would only be lawful if at least 50 teachers voted and 40 of them backed the strike.

The double threshold would have to be met in any strike called in health, education, fire, transport, border security and energy sectors – including the Border Force and nuclear decommissioning.

There is a lot more under the last dotted link. There really are going to be two kinds of people in Great Britain: The few rich and the many poor a.k.a. as the masters and the slaves. (You may see it differently.)

Alexis Tsipras: bailout a ‘bad deal’ but the best Greece could get

The next article today is by Reuters on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has defended the bailout agreed at Sunday’s eurozone summit and ruled out resigning, saying it was a bad deal but the best available under the circumstances.

“I am fully assuming my responsibilities, for mistakes and for oversights, and for the responsibility of signing a text that I do not believe in, but that I am obliged to implement,” Tsipras told Greek public television on Tuesday.

In an hour-long interview that mixed a defence of his abrupt change of course over the bailout deal with barbs aimed at Greece’s European partners, Tsipras said he had fought a battle not to cut wages and pensions.

He said Greece must stick to the deficit reductions agreed in the deal, which he said were milder than previously agreed cuts.

Tsipras said that even though some countries had resisted giving Greece “fresh money” – Finland and the Netherlands in particular – they relented in the end.
There is more there, but it seems this will be accepted, since it seems that the majority of the Greeks accept this evil choice over the bigger evil of being cast out of the EU. (There also are no preparations to help Greece survive outside the EU, that I know of, and I agree that in any case that would be very hard.)

4. VIDEO: Robert Scheer on American Power and Arrogance: ‘It’s a Toxic Cocktail’ (Part 10 of 10)

The next article today is by Jenna Berbeo on Truthdig:

We have arrived at the last part of the interview Paul Jay of The Real News Network had with Robert Scheer. I have reviewed the 9 earlier ones, and you will find the 9th one here, while you can find the other ones by looking in the index of 2015 for "Jay&Scheer". (It seems as if this originally started out as a three-part series. The first part of that series is here.)

And as before, I will jump straight in.

JAY: (...)

So you’re 79.


JAY: You’re going to be 80 soon. You don’t seem—.

SCHEER: I’ve got another year [crosstalk]

JAY: Another year. Alright. You don’t seem to, like, have stopped at all or slowed down much. What keeps you going?

SCHEER: Well, it’s funny, ‘cause my wife asks that. People ask me that question all the time. And I say, if I didn’t have outlets, I would still have outrage. I would still have concern. I would tear up. I care.

I think there is another reason as well: Robert Scheer still has most of his health and strength at 79. This is different from most 79-year olds (and neither of my parents, for example, got to be 79).

Also I will be a bit more selective in this last part. First, there is this:

SCHEER: (..) Maybe it’s my upbringing, but I always had the idea that everybody matters.

And I was not raised in an elite environment. My parents were garment workers, and I knew they mattered, I knew their friends mattered, I knew the people in my neighborhood mattered. And they didn’t make a lot of money. They worked hard. And some fell off and became what we used to call bums. You know, my father would take me down the bowery, show me people who were waiting, lined up to get food. You know, I was a kid during the Depression. And I never—no one around me, no one ever gave me a reason to think that these people were not equal to me and to anyone else. I never—I was always raised with the idea there was an inherent value to human life.

I was raised similarly, but I did not quite accept it: While my parents were very decent and helpful, quite a few Dutchmen were not, and my parents were - completely falsely - charged with being "traitors to Holland" because they were communists.

My own reaction to that was and is that I can only explain this by the stupidity and egoism that seem the dominant values or properties of many. (And no, I am not sorry: My parents were discriminated a lot, and they were discriminated by people who almost always were their moral and intellectual inferiors, and who discriminated them basically out of a combination of sadism and ignorance.)

And there is this, that also holds for my parents:

SCHEER: And I think—and it certainly was not based on religion. I think it was enhanced by not being religious. I had to find meaning in the secular life. You know, I couldn’t be waiting for another life. And I couldn’t find it just in scripture or something. My parents had both basically rebelled against the life of scripture. They saw its downside.

In fact, my mother and her family never were religious in any sense, and my father lost his religion (Protestantism) in his early twenties, indeed like his father (in his fifties). In both cases, the main reason was the crisis of the Thirties.

Then there is this:

JAY: You mentioned Germany descending into barbarism. It didn’t take very long in terms of the number of years. Do you think that can happen here?

SCHEER: I not only think—.

JAY: Or do you think it’s happening here?

SCHEER: No, I don’t think it’s happening here. But I do think it can happen here. I think—and one of the really disappointing things about Germany for me, ‘cause I’ve gone back there quite a few times, found my father’s brother and all that sort of thing—he was nice guy, a good guy—is how they can return to normalcy so quickly, almost like it didn’t happen.
I agree that it is quite possible that the USA will sink into barbarism, and I also agree it isn't there yet, though it is moving in the direction.

As to Germany, I think I may differ about the explanation for the fact that "Germany" could "
return to normalcy so quickly, almost like it didn’t happen":
My own explanation is that most ordinary men are fundamentally - first and foremost - conformers: They "really" believe what the majority believes, as long as this is the solid majority, and they "really" believe what a new majority believes if that gets the upper hand, and they also do not see many problems
with their attitudes, and possibly quite radical changes, in part because they don't
know much about the backgrounds, economics, politics or philosophy.

Next, there is this about Robert Scheer's optimism:

SCHEER: And then, so, later we were fighting about things like the right of farmworkers or the right of immigrants or the right of gay people or women’s rights, equal pay. So to my mind it very clearly was better to struggle over these things and celebrate what might seem small victories, but they added up.

And I guess my optimism is that I’ve seen quite a bit of positive change in this world. You know? I mean, I’ve seen in many ways things get better.
I look differently upon the world, but it is quite possible that part of the reason is that I did not live through the Depression nor through WW II.

Then again, my own point of view is that human beings remain mostly the same (now, a hundred years ago, or two thousand years ago) but that technology rapidly changes, and indeed gives many more possibilities.

But I am not optimistic about technology either, especially not because it is through technology that the climate has changed, and through technology that
there soon will be very little oil and other raw materials, and both facts will introduce enormous problems that have to be solved, and indeed quite soon.

Here is Robert Scheer's reflection on being 79:
But I suspect that’s true of almost every 79-year-old in the history of the world, right? Oh, I saw all of that. But you saw one period of history from one vantage point with one set of experiences. So who’s to say that the next 79 years aren’t going to be more interesting? I would expect they’d be a lot more interesting. I mean, we’ll probably extend life and all sorts of ways.
I am not 79 (and suspect that my chances of reaching that age are small) and I also am a lot less optimistic, especially because of climate change, the end of oil and many other raw materials, there being over 7 billion people, and the stupidity and crudeness of many political leaders and many of their followers. And there also is the real chance of an atomic war, that will end civilization.

Next, there is this on what is important:

JAY: Alright. Final word to young people watching this piece.

SCHEER: History matters. And you have to understand the history of other people as well as yourself.
I agree. But who is seriously interested in history? Or indeed in any real science? Only a small minority, always and everywhere.

And there is finally this on the USA:
SCHEER: (...) But when you come from the most powerful country in the world that is also the most arrogant because of its claim to be the depository of human freedom, etc., it makes for—it’s a toxic cocktail. You get drunk on the power of this culture and its military, its wealth, and you can become incredibly destructive. And we have been incredibly destructive.

True - but again, the only two reasons I can think of for this arrogance are a combination of stupidity and power. And I think there will be a lot more of both, unfortunately.

5. Hillary Clinton’s Glass-Steagall

The final article for today is by Robert Reich on Truthdig (and originally on Reich's site):

This starts as follows

Hillary Clinton won’t propose reinstating a bank break-up law known as the Glass-Steagall Act – at least according to Alan Blinder, an economist who has been advising Clinton’s campaign. “You’re not going to see Glass-Steagall,” Blinder said after her economic speech Monday in which she failed to mention it. Blinder said he had spoken to Clinton directly about Glass-Steagall.

This is a big mistake.

It’s a mistake politically because people who believe Hillary Clinton is still too close to Wall Street will not be reassured by her position on Glass-Steagall. Many will recall that her husband led the way to repealing Glass Steagall in 1999 at the request of the big Wall Street banks.

It’s a big mistake economically because the repeal of Glass-Steagall led directly to the 2008 Wall Street crash, and without it we’re in danger of another one.

I agree, but I don't see Hillary Clinton - who knows Robert Reich quite well, as does Bill Clinton - will follow this advice, were it only because much of her campaign funds are from the big banks, that all very much desire no Glass- Steagall act.

There is also this on the background:

“The idea is pretty simple behind this one,” Senator Elizabeth Warren said a few days ago, explaining her bill to resurrect Glass-Steagall. “If banks want to engage in high-risk trading — they can go for it, but they can’t get access to ensured deposits and put the taxpayers on the hook for that reason.”

For more than six decades after 1933, Glass-Steagall worked exactly as it was intended to. During that long interval few banks failed and no financial panic endangered the banking system.

But the big Wall Street banks weren’t content. They wanted bigger profits. They thought they could make far more money by gambling with commercial deposits. So they set out to whittle down Glass-Steagall.

I agree. But I would be very amazed to see Hillary Clinton change her position - and if she does, I still won't believe she is sincere.


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