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."
Claims U.S. Abides by Cluster Bomb Treaty: The
Exact Opposite of Reality
2. Financial Support for the
People: The U.K. Labour
3. Why are the baby boomers
desperate to make
millennials hate ourselves?
4. Dangerous Redefinition of ‘Terrorism’
Bill Maher videos
This is a Nederlog of Friday
September 4, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 5 items: Item 1 is about an article
by Glenn Greenwald about cluster bombs and the veracity of the NYT; item 2 is about a quite interesting proposal
by Jeremy Corbyn; item 3 is about an - in my
(logically and statistically trained) eyes - very bad article
on baby boomers vs millenials on The Guardian; item 4
is about several definitions of "terrorism" (with help from Parry and
the Wikipedia); and item 5 consists of three good
videos by Bill Maher, which I added to amuse you and because I like
1. NYT Claims U.S. Abides by Cluster Bomb Treaty: The Exact
Opposite of Reality
The first article today is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
I say. First, about the
question what are cluster
bombs (<- Wikipedia): You can check this out yourselves, but I
will quote one bit of it:
The New York Times
today has a
truly bizarre article regarding the U.S. and cluster bombs. The
advocacy group Cluster
Munition Coalition just issued its annual report finding
that cluster bombs had been used in five countries this year: Syria,
Libya, Yemen, Ukraine and Sudan. This is what The Paper of Record, in
its report by Rick Gladstone, said this morning about the
international reaction to that report (emphasis added):
The use of these
weapons was criticized by all 117 countries that have joined the
treaty, which took effect five years ago. Their use was also criticized
by a number of others, including the United States, that have not yet
joined the treaty but have abided by its provisions.
As Americans, we should
feel proud that our government, though refusing to sign the cluster ban
treaty, has nonetheless “abided by its provisions” — if not for
the fact that this claim is totally false. The U.S. has long been and
remains one of the world’s most aggressive suppliers of cluster
munitions, and has used those banned weapons itself in devastating
bombs release many small bomblets over a wide area, they pose risks to civilians both during attacks and afterwards.
During attacks, the weapons are prone to indiscriminate effects,
especially in populated areas. Unexploded bomblets can kill or maim
civilians and/or unintended targets long after a conflict has ended,
and are costly to locate and remove.
Here is what 108 countries
decided to do against them:
And this is part of the
reasons 108 countries signed the convention:
Countries that ratify the
convention will be obliged "never under any circumstances to":
(a) Use cluster
(b) Develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer
to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions;
(c) Assist, encourage or
induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party
under this Convention.
The impetus for
the treaty, like that of the 1997 Ottawa Treaty to ban landmines, has been concern over the severe
damage and risks to civilians from explosive weapons during and long after attacks. A
varying proportion of submunitions dispersed by cluster bombs fail to
explode on impact and can lie unexploded for years until disturbed. The
sometimes brightly colored munitions are not camouflaged, but have been
compared to toys or Easter
eggs, attracting children at play.
That sounds convincing
enough to me (there is a whole lot more in the Wikipedia lemmas) - and
no, the USA is not amongst the 108 countries that ratified the
In fact, as Glenn Greenwald writes:
Yemen for Rolling Stone in May, Matthieu Aikins described
the ample evidence that U.S.-supplied cluster bombs are being used
indiscriminately against civilians. Last month, Mother Jones’ Bryan
Schatz wrote an
excellent summary of all the ways the U.S. has been central to
the horrific Saudi slaughter of Yemeni civilians, including the
supplying of cluster munitions.
Here is the conclusion
of Glenn Greenwald's article:
The U.S. has long been
supplying cluster bombs to the Saudis. In August 2013, Foreign
a Defense Department press release proudly announcing that
“the U.S. military [is] selling $640 million worth of
American-made cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, despite the
near-universal revulsion at such weapons.”
The U.S. does not
occasionally violate one of those provisions. It continually violates
all of them, systematically and as a matter of policy doing exactly
that which the treaty expressly bans. For the NYT to
tell its readers that the U.S. — one of the leading cluster bomb states
on the planet — is actually one of the countries that “have not
yet joined the treaty but have abided by its provisions” is
nationalistic propaganda of the most extreme kind.
I agree this is propaganda,
though I doubt this is "of the most extreme kind".
2. Financial Support for the People: The U.K.
Labour Front-Runner’s Controversial Proposal
next article is
by Ellen Brown
(<- Wikipedia) on Truthdig. Originally, the article appeared on
Ellen Brown's site Web of Debt:
This starts as follows:
That seems a fair idea
to me: Quantitative
easing (<- Wikipedia), which is essentially money supplied by
the government against very low interests, but this time for the 90%
instead of for the 1%.
Dark horse candidate
Jeremy Corbyn, who is currently leading in the polls for UK Labour
Party leadership, has included in his platform “quantitative easing for
people.” He said in a July 22nd presentation:
The ‘rebalancing’ I
have talked about here today means rebalancing away from finance
towards the high-growth, sustainable sectors of the future. How do we
do this? One option would be for the Bank of England to be given a new
mandate to upgrade our economy to invest in new large scale housing,
energy, transport and digital projects: Quantitative easing for people
instead of banks.
Also, according to the Positive Money group (I am quoting from Ellen
Ideas in a similar
vein have been advocated or at least suggested by notable economists
including J M Keynes (1), Milton Friedman (2), Ben
Bernanke (3), William Buiter (4) and Martin Wolf (5). Most recently,
Lord Adair Turner (6) has proposed similar ideas, highlighting that ‘there are no technical reasons to reject
Not only that: Here is the
last paragraph but one of the lemma on quantitative easing from
Wikipedia (minus note numbers):
And here is economist Dr. Asad
Zaman quoted by Ellen Brown:
QE for the people
In response to concerns that
QE is failing to create sufficient demand, particularly in the
Eurozone, a number of economists have called for "QE for the people".
Instead of buying government bonds or other securities by creating bank
reserves, as the Federal Reserve and Bank of England have done, some
suggest that central banks could make payments directly to households.
Economists Mark Blyth and Eric Lonergan argue in Foreign Affairs that this is the most
effective solution for the Eurozone, particularly given the
restrictions on fiscal policy.
They argue that based on the evidence from tax rebates in the United
States, less than 5% of GDP transferred by the ECB to the household
sector in the Eurozone would suffice to generate a recovery, a fraction
of what it intends to be done under standard QE. Oxford economist, John
Muellbauer, has suggested that this could be legally implemented using
the electoral register.
is based on a very simple idea that conduct of the ordinary business of
an economy requires a certain amount of money. If the amount of money
is less than this amount, then businesses cannot function — they cannot
buy inputs, pay labourers or rent shops. This was the fundamental cause
of the Great Depression. The solution was simple: increase the supply
of money. Keynes suggested that we could print money and bury it in
coal mines to have unemployed workers dig it up. If money was available
in sufficient quantities, businesses would revive and the unemployed
labourers would find work. By now, there is nearly universal consensus
on this idea. Even Milton Friedman, the leader of the Monetarist School
of Economics and an arch-enemy of Keynesian ideas, agreed that the
reduction in money supply was the cause of the Great Depression.
Instead of burying it in mines, he suggested that money could be
dropped from helicopters to solve the problem of unemployment.
Here is the last statement in
the article by
is needed, it will work, and it is an idea whose time has come.
I do hope so,
but I'm afraid it needs strong political support, for I live in
were most politicians see no objection to sluice more and more money to
while quite a few politicians object to doing the same for the poor.
But yes, it might help.
3. Why are the baby boomers desperate to make
millennials hate ourselves?
next article is
by Eleanor Robertson on The Guardian:
I should start by saying
that I found this a very strange article - but it may be
that there are quite a few (so-called) "millenials" who believe
something like this.
They shouldn't, as I will explain.
This starts as follows:
Back in 1999 Chris
Sidoti, then-head of the Australian Human Rights Commission, called the baby boomers “the most selfish
generation in history”.
To start with, I first heard
the term "baby
boomer" in 2001, from Pim Fortuyn.
“I don’t think there’s
been a generation like this that has been so unwilling to pay a fair
share of taxation,” he said.
This week the Pew Research Centre released a report showing
that just 24% of millennials, defined as those born between 1981 and
1997, considered themselves responsible, compared to 66% of boomers.
This pattern is repeated
across a number of self-reported virtues: 27% of millennials consider
their generation self-reliant, just 17% consider themselves moral, and
29% think we’re compassionate.
For baby boomers, those
figures are much higher: 51%, 46% and 47%.
Before that, if I had been asked, I would probably have (very
defined myself, e.g. for the purposes of a survey, along lines like
these: I am a man who is a post WW II Amsterdammer, and who is an
intellectual from a proletarian background - which provides sufficient
detail to make me about 1 in 10,000 of similar Dutch males.
There were seventy-six million children born in the USA
1945 and 1964, which is about a quarter to a fifth of the present
Taking that as a key, there must be nearly 2 billion baby boomers in
But according to Chris Sidoti and Eleanor Robertson these (very
roughly) 2 billion persons are "the most selfish generation"
there ever was...
I say. All of the 2 billion? Most of the 2 billion? How
many of the 2 billion did you talk with in your life (a 1000 at
most, is my suggestion)? Or are you perhaps "merely" talking of
baby boomers? (A mere 500 million or so?)
That is to say: Why should I take the opinions derived from
averaging the opinions of a small selection (of "self reported
moreover) from a very large arbitrary group as
relevant to me? It totally escapes me, but according to
Ms Robertson the following is the case:
(...) a clear
picture emerges: western millennials believe that we’re failures –
immoral and irresponsible. We believe we’re not proper adults. We
believe we’re lazy and self-absorbed. Basically, we believe what the
baby boomers have told us. We’ve drunk their Kool-Aid.
So I am supposed to
believe that the majority of around 1 billion persons
regard themselves as "immoral and irresponsible", as "lazy and
self-absorbed failures" - and all because they - the majority
of the 1 billion - believed what
the majority of two billlion baby boomers have told them?!?!
make it much better when restricting oneself to "western" "millenials"
I don't think so at all, and this seems just fallacious
trash to me. But it's easy to trace the
steps that created it: (1) believing arbitrary groups are as real as
persons ["Polacks are real. You're a Polack."] (2) attributing some
statistically derived properties to the individuals in the group
["(Most) Polacks (I've seen) are lazy."] (3) accusing all (or most)
in the group of having these attributes ["You are lazy (like most other
This is Archie
Bunker's favorite type of argument, except (perhaps) that it is
dressed up as if it were statistics - which is why I am a bit amazed to
find it in The Guardian.
Ms Robertson also quotes herself:
No wonder a quarter of
young people are struggling with mental illness. Born into a bizarro
world controlled by baby boomers who have comprehensively shafted us,
it’s a credit to our resilience and adaptability that we’ve managed to
get this far at all.
That is: she believes "baby
boomers" "control" and "comprehensively shafted" her (not: the
rich or the powerful - no, no: "baby boomers"] and she also believes
propagandistic rot she reads in papers which insist that no less than a
quarter of her group are mentally ill.
Here is the last quotation
from Ms Robertson:
Yet this is what
boomers want us to think, and we oblige. Never mind that none of it is
true. Never mind that believing these toxic fictions is making young
people sick, sad and hopeless. Never mind that this is exactly the same process that causes poor
people of all ages to believe they are at fault for their poverty.
Well... I am a baby
boomer but I do not want
you to think so, and I don't think "millenials" are like that either -
though I only speak for myself. (But I would recommend a good
course in logic and a good course in statistics, for
the prose Ms Robertson writes is quite fallacious.)
4. Dangerous Redefinition of ‘Terrorism’
next article is
by Robert Parr on Consortium News:
This starts as follows:
I don't think "terrorism" -
defined by me as: "Attempt
to get one's way in
politics or religion by violence and murder" - needs to be restricted to intentional killings
The classic definition of
terrorism is the intentional killing of civilians to make a political
point, as in planting bombs near the finish line of a marathon or
crashing commercial jetliners into buildings filled with office
workers. Yet, the mainstream U.S. media has broadened the definition to
include killing U.S. soldiers or allied troops even those
operating in foreign lands.
of civilians, but I agree
Parry's definition is - broadly speaking - correct, as indeed is his
(implied) argument that this is different from the intentional
killings (etc.) of soldiers (engaged in a war). The reason for
the difference is that civilians are
not out to kill or wound others, themselves, and
soldiers (engaged in a war) are
(in both cases: generally speaking).
But let us consider things a bit closer. This is quoted from the lemma Terrorism on
Wkipedia (minus note numbers):
describes terrorism as: violent acts (or the threat of violent acts)
intended to create fear (terror), perpetrated for an
economic, religious, political,
or ideological goal, and which deliberately target or disregard the
I agree with the first
defitinion, but I disagree with the second: People who tell me
that the persons working for states are innocent of terrorism are
fundament- ally confused  or have forgotten the many
millions of civilians terrorized or murdered in
Nazi or Soviet
non-combatants (e.g., neutral
military persons or civilians). Another common definition sees
terrorism as: political, ideological or religious violence by non-state actors. (...) In the international community, terrorism
has no legally binding, criminal-law
The word "terrorism" is
politically loaded and emotionally charged,
and this greatly
compounds the difficulty of providing a precise definition. (...) In some cases, the same group may be
described as "freedom fighters" by its supporters and as "terrorists"
by its opponents, a phenomenon giving rise to the cliché, "one man's
freedom fighter is another man's terrorist."
Indeed, there also is this pair of definitions:
The Encyclopædia Britannica Online
defines terrorism generally as "the systematic use of violence to
create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring
about a particular political objective", and states that "terrorism is
not legally defined in all jurisdictions." The encyclopedia adds that
"[e]stablishment terrorism, often called state or state-sponsored
terrorism, is employed by governments -- or more often by factions
within governments -- against that government's citizens, against
factions within the government, or against foreign governments or
I agree with these
definitions, on the understanding that "population" and "citizens" do
refer to persons not engaged actively and on purpose in fighting in a
war (as I think is implied). 
To get back to Robert Parry:
But attacks aimed at
military forces – not civilians – are not “terrorism” in the classic
definition. And this is an important distinction because the word
carries deservedly negative moral and legal implications that can
put those nations accused of “terrorism” in the cross-hairs of economic
sanctions and military attacks that can kill hundreds of thousands and
even millions of civilians.
In other words, abuse of
the word “terrorism” can have similar consequences as terrorism itself,
the indiscriminate deaths of innocent people — men, women and children.
Much of the case for sanctions and war against Iraq in the 1990s and
2000s was based on dubious and even false claims about Iraq’s alleged
support for Al Qaeda and other terrorists.
I mostly agree, although I
think that "abuse of the word
“terrorism”" is not
5. Three Bill Maher videos
the same as "terrorism", however defined, even though I agree words are
used when justifying terrrorism. But a (falsely derived, false) belief
the same as an act of terror(ism).
The last items of
today are not articles, but are three videos with Bill Maher.
Incidentally, the last
is quite funny in explaining the hypocrisies of Christian rightists who
refuse to do anything for poor people, and the first contains the
I like him (without agreeing with him on everything) and here are three
none very recent, that make good points in a funny way:
statement that 60% (!) of Americans believe the story of Noah's Ark.
 The arguments I have read that exclude persons
working for states as terrorists tend to be based on the idea that
states have the monopoly of violence.
That simply confuses "having a monopoly" with "making a correct use".
 I would consider the bombing of
civilians in a war - Guernica, England, Germany - as terrorism, indeed also
if these civilians (as was the case in both England and
Germany in, say, 1942) work for or support their armies, and
my reason is that they are civilians, and do not engage
themselves as soldiers.