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Nederlog

August 11, 2015
Crisis: Google to Alphabet, Greek deal (?), Nuclear Japan, Spiegel, Thomas Drake

"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

Sections
Introduction

1.
Google to restructure into new holding company called
     Alphabet

2.
Greece and lenders agree new bailout deal, finance
     minister says

3. Despite Majority Opposition, Japan About to Hit 'Go' on
     Nuclear Restart

4.
Berlin's NSA Fears: Treason Investigation Reveals
     Anxiety at the Top

5. From 9/11 to Mass Surveillance, The Man Who Knew Too
     Much - Thomas Drake on RAI (5/5)


 
This is a Nederlog of Tuesday August 11, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about Google's becoming part of Alphabet (though the article seems mostly propaganda); item 2 is about Greece on The Guardian: it seems there is -
nearly, perhaps - a bailout deal; item 3 is about Japan, where the first - of possibly 23 more - nuclear reactors has been restarted; item 4 is an article
by the Spiegel (On Line) about a possibly major conflict between Spiegel and
the German government about the NSA's spying; and item 5 is about an
interesting interview The Real Network made with Thomas Drake.

I am reporting a bit more briefly than usual, because there was earlier today another NL (a Dutch autobiographical one), and because I didn't sleep well.

1. Google to restructure into new holding company called Alphabet

The first article of today is by Dominic Rushe and Sam Thielman on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Google is dead. Long live Alphabet.

The tech company announced on Monday that it would rebrand itself as Alphabet – a new holding company whose largest wholly owned subsidiary will be Google.

In a surprise blog post made public after the stock markets closed Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founders, announced a radical shake-up of the company’s corporate structure and management, handing control of its core search engine business to rising star Sundar Pichai.

The new company, Alphabet, will preside over a collection of companies, the largest of which will be Google. Even the site’s new address also eschewed convention, https://abc.xyz/

I say. Well... Google isn't dead, it merely moved to another corporate structure, quite possibly to pay even less taxes. Also, the first "news" was merely corporate propaganda:

“As Sergey [Brin, co-founder] and I wrote in the original founders letter 11 years ago, ‘Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one’,” wrote Page.

“As part of that, we also said that you could expect us to make ‘smaller bets in areas that might seem very speculative or even strange when compared to our current businesses’. From the start, we’ve always strived to do more, and to do important and meaningful things with the resources we have.”
O Lord! Blah, blah, blah (and we avoid paying taxes as much as we can, but you won't hear us about that).

Anyway, so far it is merely bullshit, but I have it because Google is important (though avoided by me, insofar as this is possible).

2. Greece and lenders agree new bailout deal, finance minister says

The next article is by Ian Traynor on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The Greek government announced it has struck an ambitious bailout deal with creditors aimed at securing around €86bn (£61bn) over three years in return for radical economic reforms to be pushed through parliament as early as this week.

News of the agreement following a marathon 24-hour negotiating session at Athens’ Hilton hotel was not immediately confirmed by the eurozone creditors and promptly triggered scepticism in Berlin, where the deputy finance minister said the talks were not yet concluded and that fundamental questions on Greece remained to be answered.

So actually the title of the article is mistaken? I don't know, and the article itself doesn't give much clarification other than that the Greeks admitted "a few points" still needed to be settled, while the Germans let it be known that they want to look closely at "the fine print".

More will follow, undoubtedly.

3. Despite Majority Opposition, Japan About to Hit 'Go' on Nuclear Restart

The next article is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Despite widespread public opposition and lingering safety concerns, Japan on Tuesday will switch on a nuclear reactor for the first time since the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The restart of Reactor No. 1 at the Sendai nuclear plant, about 620 miles southwest of Tokyo, comes four and a half years after an earthquake-triggered tsunami caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, leading to the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. In the aftermath of the Fukushima crisis, which led to the displacement of more than 100,000 people, all 43 of the country's operable commercial nuclear reactors were taken offline.

Last fall, the Sendai reactors became the first to clear safety hurdles imposed by a revamped Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), established after Fukushima. More than two dozen other reactors have applied for a restart. All are now subject to the NRA's safety checks before they can come back online.

What about the other 42 Japanese nuclear reactors? 25 of them have applied
for permissions to be restarted. Then again, this may be problematic:

There are concerns, too, about restarting such a large fleet of mothballed reactors. Bloomberg reports:

Mothballed reactors have been turned back on in other parts of the world, though not on this scale—25 of Japan’s 43 reactors have applied for restart permits. One lesson learned elsewhere is that the process rarely goes smoothly. Of 14 reactors that resumed operations after being offline for at least four years, all had emergency shutdowns and technical failures, according to data from the International Atomic Energy Agency and regulators in the U.S. and Canada.

That is a 100% failure score. But not to fear, for Japan needs the nuclear energy for its economy...

4. Berlin's NSA Fears: Treason Investigation Reveals Anxiety at the Top

The next article is by Klaus Brinkbäumer on Spiegel On Line:

This starts as follows with a summary (in bold in the original):

Germany's federal prosecutor was just forced out of office after launching a treason investigation against journalists. The scandal, just like the "SPIEGEL Affair" 50 years ago, reveals a growing state of anxiety among the country's political elite.

Also, this article seems to continue a previous article on Spiegel On Line, that I reviewed here.

The article itself starts as follows:

It's not the content that was decisive. That was true back then just as it is today. Back then, in 1962, our SPIEGEL predecessors put together an important investigative report, but it was also awkwardly written. And it certainly wasn't treasonous. It nevertheless went on to become the most famous story SPIEGEL has ever published. The 8,000-word, 16-page cover story begins: "The chancellor left his capital of Bonn. Just like the Führer at the beginning of the Battle of France in the early morning of June 10, 1940, he reported to a control bunker in the Eifel."

The piece focused on a NATO exercise called Fallex 62, which demonstrated, according to the story, that in the event of war, Germany's food supply system would collapse just as rapidly as its medical services. Furthermore, up to 15 million West Germans wouldn't survive a nuclear war. Germany has only a "limited ability to defend itself," was NATO's conclusion, as quoted by the SPIEGEL story.
(...)
German authorities, however, were among those interested readers. And SPIEGEL quickly found itself on the business end of a treason investigation -- an investigation that rapidly became the biggest political scandal in Germany's short, post-World War II history. It is known as the SPIEGEL Affair
.

Therefore, now we may have another Spiegel Affair, and indeed Klaus Brinkbäumer may well be right, although it depends.

I quote just one more bit:

Today, the German government knows that it has become involved in an affair of which it was originally a victim. It knows that it is unable to protect its own citizens from (nominally) allied intelligence services. The German government doesn't have the courage -- still doesn't have the courage -- to stand up to the NSA and the USA. It doesn't acknowledge any mistakes, it explains nothing, it keeps silent and doesn't govern.

I say. There is more in the article, and this will not be the last article written about the Spiegel and the German government.

5. From 9/11 to Mass Surveillance, The Man Who Knew Too Much - Thomas Drake on RAI (5/5)

The last article is by The Real News:

This is an interesting interview with an interesting man, Thomas Drake (<- Wikipedia). I will quote two bits of it.

The first is from the beginning, and outlines briefly why the US government went after Thomas Drake, who did have a high position in the NSA:
DRAKE: They went after me because I knew too much about several things, and I shared it within channels, and ultimately went to the press anonymously, and over the course of a number of years. But I was confronted by the dark side shortly after 9/11. So the first thing was the secret surveillance programs that were put into place as a result of 9/11 and unleashed on the Petri dish called the United States of America, turning the United States of America into the equivalent of a foreign nation for dragnet electronic surveillance. To this day, we still don't know the full extent of that.
JAY: And we're going to dig into all this.
DRAKE: Yeah. And then there was also the 9/11 knowledge, what NSA actually knew, what they should have known, what they didn't share, what they kept hidden, and information that they never even discovered until later.
JAY: But you have said that if it had been acted on, it might have been able--that information might have led to preventing the 9/11 events.
DRAKE: Well, I consider NSA quite culpable. In fact--well, we'll get into the detail as to why, but extraordinarily culpable. And they've been covering up their culpability ever since.
The second bit is Thomas Drake's assessment of Bush's government:
DRAKE: (...) I never quite imagined that the period in which I grew up as a very young teenager in the 1970s, that I would end up not only revisiting, but I would be reliving it on a far vaster scale in terms of government criminal wrongdoing, crimes, you know, high crimes and misdemeanors as defined by the Constitution.
JAY: Reliving it meaning Nixon.
DRAKE: Reliving the Nixon era, reliving the Watergate and then some. It makes the Nixon era look like pikers, what happened in 9/11, in terms of the government simply unchaining itself from the rule of law and operating under extraordinary emergency conditions, the equivalent of martial law in the country, but in secret. Virtual martial law is actually what was instituted in the United States of America, truth be told.
There is a lot more in the article (and in the video, which I didn't see: I prefer to read, because that goes much faster than listening).

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