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."
Corbyn’s victory has already transformed politics
2. Bernie Sanders live-tweets
Republican debate – with
plenty of opinions
3. Populations of Marine Life
Have Declined by Half Since
Commission Accused of 'Putting Lipstick on a
5. Why the Rich Are So Much
Virtual Machines, Getting Hacked Doesn’t Have To
Be That Bad
This is a Nederlog
September 17, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1
is about an article by Seumas Milne on some wider implications of
Corbyn's victory; item 2 is about a Bernie Sanders
move (not very important but nice); item 3
is about a very steep fall in the oceans' marine life in a mere
42 years: it seems half of what it was in 1970 (NB: there's far
more sea than land); item 4 is about the extreme
dangers of the TTIP; item 5 is about a decent
article about why the rich have gotten so much richer, while
everyone else remained the same or got less: political lies and
deceptions, and deregulations; and item 6 is about
a quite interesting article about how you can considerably
your computer's safety from being completely cracked by the NSA or the
GCHQ: installing a virtual machine.
victory has already transformed politics
The first article today is by Seumas Milne on The Guardian:
This starts as
follows (and I'll say straight away that Seumas Milne is a supporter of
Yes, that is true, to
the best of my knowledge. And while I don't mind the Blairite
resignations at all (1) I very much dislike the propaganda of
the Conservatives and (2) I hold them responsible for most of the
hysteria, the bullshit and the lies.
It must have been the
shortest political honeymoon ever. Barely had the landslide election of
Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader been announced
than the backlash began in earnest. The 100-1 outsider might have
pulled off the most extraordinary democratic leadership victory. But
when it came to the political and media establishment, the usual
niceties were dispensed with entirely.
Within minutes, the first
of a string of Blairite resignations from shadow cabinet jobs they had
not yet been offered had begun. The Conservatives issued bloodcurdling
warnings about the threat posed to the security of the country and
every family in the land. And the media campaign was raised to new
levels of hysteria – with Corbyn and his allies depicted as deranged
They are falsifying things and they are lying, and not for the
many but for the rich few. (And see item 5.)
The following seems to me to be a (mostly) fair summary of what did
happen in the Labour Party:
By any reckoning,
Corbyn’s election and the movement that delivered it represent a
political eruption of historic proportions. Whatever now happens, such
a fundamental shift cannot simply be reversed. Eight years after
economic crisis took hold of the western world, the anti-austerity revolt has found its voice in
Britain in an entirely unexpected way. The political conformity
entrenched during the years of unchallenged neoliberalism has been
For the first time in
decades, an unapologetic socialist is at the head of one of Britain’s
two main parties.
Yes, indeed, and that
itself is very important, although how it will work out remains
to be seen.
There is also this on
Corbyn's present problems:
serious challenge, aside from a frenetically hostile media, will come
from his own MPs. After years of New Labour control, the parliamentary
Labour party was far to the right of the membership even before the
influx of new recruits. Disinherited Blairites are already plotting to
bring him down or, if they fail, in some cases to defect to the Conservatives.
I am not at all amazed,
and indeed the Blairites still hold many positions of power in Labour.
There is also this, as the last of the article:
reaction against austerity is now taking place in one country after
another. The challenge is to translate that insurgency into political
power. We don’t know how far Corbyn’s election can take Labour, or how
long his leadership can survive. But one thing is clear: there will be
no going back. It has already changed Labour, and British politics, for
I think that is too
optimistic, at least for now. What seems fair is: Defeating
all expectations, a real leftist is leading the Labour Party
now, but what will
emerge from this is mostly hidden in the future.
live-tweets Republican debate – with plenty of opinions
next article is
by Adam Gabbatt on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
That was a good idea. Here is
One of the surprise stars
of the GOP debate on Wednesday night was the Vermont senator and
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.
Sanders announced he
would be live-tweeting the debate just after 8pm. It turned out to be a
winning decision as the self-described Democratic socialist’s barbed
remarks racked up thousands of retweets and favourites.
Yes, indeed: While it is
true I have not seen or heard very much from Trump, mostly because I
avoid him, which I do because most of his ideas are nonsense,
Donald Trump had begun
his debate performance with an attack on Kentucky senator Rand Paul.
After Paul reminded the audience that Trump had repeatedly criticised
people for their appearance – including fellow Republican presidential
candidate Carly Fiorina – Trump shot back.
“I never attacked him on
his look, and believe me there’s plenty of subject matter right there,”
the business mogul said.
Right on cue, there was
Sanders, seemingly capturing the thoughts of many:
Trump. What a pleasant and humble person. Can't stop saying kind and
generous things about his fellow Republicans. #DebateWithBernie
but what I have seen from him always was unpleasant and
also rather megalo- maniac: it seems as if Donald Trump cannot
make any mistakes in Donald Trump's eyes.
That makes him - apart from his many nonsensical ideas - quite
dangerous as a president.
3. Populations of Marine Life Have Declined by
Half Since 1970
next article is
by Roisin Davies on Truthdig:
This starts as follows
(and is quite frightening):
Many of the world’s marine species, including
populations of fish crucial to human food security, are in potentially
catastrophic decline, according to an updated study of marine mammals,
birds, reptiles and fish by the World Wildlife Fund.
The findings of the “Living Blue Planet” report,
published Wednesday, reveal a decline of 49 per cent in the size of
marine populations between 1970 and 2012. Not only are the
consequences disastrous for ecosystems, they spell trouble for all
nations, especially those in the developing world whose people are
heavily dependent on the ocean’s resources.
Yes, indeed. This is from a
quote from the World Wildlife Fund in the article:
Many species essential to
commercial and subsistence fishing – and therefore global food supply –
are significantly depleted due to overfishing. Global population
sizes of the Scombridae family of food fish that includes tunas,
mackerels and bonitos have fallen by 74 per cent. Declining
stocks of bluefin and yellowfin are of particular concern. Some species
found in UK waters, including the vulnerable porbeagle shark and the
critically endangered leatherback turtle, have also undergone
While over-exploitation is identified as the major
threat to ocean biodiversity, the study finds that climate change is
causing the ocean to change more rapidly than at any other point in
millions of years. Rising temperatures and increasing acidity levels
caused by carbon dioxide are further weakening a system that is already
severely degraded through overfishing, habitat degradation and
Dr Louise Heaps, Chief Advisor on Marine Policy at
“As well as being a source of extraordinary natural
beauty and wonder, healthy seas are the bedrock of a functioning global
economy. By over-exploiting fisheries, degrading coastal habitats
and not addressing global warming, we are sowing the seeds of
ecological and economic catastrophe.
“But there are clear steps that all governments can take
to restore our oceans.
I am sorry, but from the last bit onwards - "there are clear steps that all governments
can take to restore our oceans" - that seems to be mostly
false to me:
I grant quite a few things can be done to improve
the situation, but once you
have discovered a decline of nearly half of "the size of marine populations"
a mere 42 years, in 6/7th of the earths surface
also, any plan "to restore our
oceans" seems to have missed George Carlin"s "Saving the Planet", from which I quote: "The planet is fine.
The people are fucked."
And while you may disagree with some of the things Carlin is saying in
that line definitely is correct. And it will take at least as many
years to turn it around, if that is possible.
(No, I am not saying it should not be tried. I am
only saying that "to restore the oceans" will take at least as long as
42 years, and that is very optimistic as well.)
4. European Commission Accused of 'Putting Lipstick on a Pig'
next article is
by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams (and I have shortened the very long
This starts as follows, and
is in fact on the TTIP:
These fears seem to me to be
wholly correct, especially since having seen that Barack Obama pushed
through the TTP while it has hardly been read by almost every Senator
or member of Congress, and while those few who did see it are not even
allowed to take notes on it, or discuss what they have seen with
A social justice
organization has accused the European Commission of "putting lipstick
on a pig" with its plan for a new court system for a pending EU-US
trade deal the group says still affords "corporations frightening new
powers at the expense of our national democracies."
The proposed system, the
Investment Court System, would replace the controversial
investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS)
mechanism, which allows corporations to bypass domestic courts to sue
governments over policies that could affect their profits.
Talks on the trade deal,
the Transatlantic Trade
and Investment Partnership (TTIP), "have been dogged by
disagreements, particularly over Washington's insistence that as part
of the pact, private companies be allowed to sue governments before
special tribunals," Agence France-Presse reports.
Fears that U.S.
multinationals could use private arbitration rules in the proposed
trade pact to challenge European food and environmental laws have
overshadowed a transatlantic project meant to ease business and compete
with China's economic might.
That is not democratic politics, it is completely insane authoritarian
politics - which also is meant to destroy democracy precisely because
these secret and classified plans that will influence
the lives of billions of ordinary people when made into "laws"
(by senators and congressmen who hardly know anything about them!), "allows corporations to bypass domestic
courts to sue governments over policies that could affect their profits."
That is an insane and truly fascistic schema 
meant to destroy
democracy, and replace it by supranational uncontrollable corporate
power, served by their very own "courts".
Here is Global Justice Now, who are quite right in my opinion:
UK-based Global Justice
Now, however, says the proposal offers mere cosmetic changes to the
ISDS mechanism, to which the European public has voiced overwhelming opposition.
Nick Dearden, director of
the organization, called the proposal "essentially a PR exercise to get
around the enormous controversy and opposition that has been generated
by ISDS. The Commission can try to put lipstick on a pig, but this new
proposal doesn’t change the fundamental problem of giving corporations
frightening new powers at the expense of our national democracies."
"The real issue at hand
here is that of corporate power," Dearden added. "Commissioner
Malmström says she wants to 'establish a new system built around the
elements that make citizens trust domestic or international courts'—but
she hasn’t explained why those courts are not good enough for
multinational corporations to use."
Also - once again -
the TTP and the TTIP are secret and classified, and
they are secret and classified because they are too awful and too
clearly completely anti-democratic to be discussed in parliaments
by the chosen representatives of their peoples.
Here are the Friends
of the Earth:
Commission's proposal for an 'International Court System' is tarred
with the same old corporate friendly brush," stated Natacha Cingotti,
trade campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe. "Despite a new
name and some reforms on the functioning of the system, it reaffirms
the granting of VIP rights for corporate investors without giving them
any obligations that would protect citizens and the environment."
"As long as companies can
sue governments if they act in the public interest, the ability of
governments to regulate is undermined," Cingotti stated. "It should be
resisted at all costs."
Yes, indeed: It is an
extremely dangerous, fundamentally secret and
classified program meant to destroy democracy, and to give most
power to the inter- national big corporations, for they can stop anything
by saying it does, would or might decrease their profits.
5. Why the Rich Are So Much Richer
next article is
by James Surowicki on The New York Review of Books:
This starts as follows:
truth about American economic growth today is that while the work is
done by many, the real rewards largely go to the few. The numbers are,
at this point, woefully familiar: the top one percent of earners take
home more than 20 percent of the income, and their share has more than
doubled in the last thirty-five years. The gains for people in the top
0.1 percent, meanwhile, have been even greater. Yet over that same
period, average wages and household incomes in the US have risen only
slightly, and a number of demographic groups (like men with only a high
school education) have actually seen their average wages decline.
That is completely correct.
Also, the gains of the rich few have been made possible by politics
and political changes initialized in 1979/1980 when Thatcher
and Reagan were elected, and started to make the rich richer by making
the poor poorer, for that is how the economy works... except
according to the majority of academic economists:
has happened in economics. Historically, inequality was not something
that academic economists, at least in the dominant neoclassical
tradition, worried much about. Economics was about production and
allocation, and the efficient use of scarce resources. It was about
increasing the size of the pie, not figuring out how it should be
Which means that neoclassical
economists were playing a merely intellectual game, that did not even
address the basic economical fact that the many poor get little
and the few rich get much, nor even what may be the economical reasons
for how that mechanism works.
Next, there is this on
the ideas of Joseph
Stiglitz (<- Wikipedia), who won the Nobel Prize in economics:
(...) Stiglitz has
made the case that the rise in inequality in the US, far from being the
natural outcome of market forces, has been profoundly shaped by “our
policies and our politics,” with disastrous effects on society and the
economy as a whole. In a recent report for the Roosevelt Institute
called Rewriting the Rules, Stiglitz has laid out a detailed
list of reforms that he argues will make it possible to create “an
economy that works for everyone.”
That seems to me to be completely
correct. And here is the main reason why
got so much richer:
As a collection of columns, The
Great Divide is somewhat fragmented and repetitive, but it has a
clear thesis, namely that inequality in the US is not an unfortunate
by-product of a well-functioning economy. Instead, the enormous riches
at the top of the income ladder are largely the result of the ability
of the one percent to manipulate markets and the political process to
their own benefit.
But the main
reason people at the top are so much richer these days than they once
were (and so much richer than everyone else) is not that they own so
much more capital: it’s that they get paid much more for their work
than they once did, while everyone else gets paid about the same, or
less. Corporate CEOs, for instance, are paid far
more today than they were in the 1970s, while assembly line workers
aren’t. And while incomes at the top have risen in countries around the
world, nowhere have they risen faster than in the US.
Yes, indeed - and these enormous
and obscene raises in payments of the very rich have been
produced by a combination of many deregulations,
and political lies and
false promises (e.g. about "trickle down economy"). And they have
taken from the many poor, to increase the riches of the few rich: it's
as simple as that, and indeed is more due to politics than to economics.
Finally, here is an analysis of the very rich, who were the only
to profit the last 35 years:
When we talk about the
one percent, we’re talking about two groups of people above all:
corporate executives and what are called “financial professionals”
(these include people who work for banks and the like, but also money
managers, financial advisers, and so on). These are the people that
Piketty terms “supermanagers,” and he estimates that together they
account for over half of the people in the one percent.
The emblematic figures
here are corporate CEOs, whose pay rose 876 percent
between 1978 and 2012, and hedge fund managers, some of whom now
routinely earn billions of dollars a year. As one famous statistic has
it, last year the top twenty-five hedge fund managers together earned
more than all the kindergarten teachers in America did.
OK - that was a useful
clarification. And this is a good article that deserves full reading.
6. With Virtual Machines, Getting Hacked
Doesn’t Have To Be
final article today is
by Micah Lee on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
This is a very good
article that clearly explains how you can prevent getting seriously
hacked by installing an virtual machine. I will try this, and let you
know what I learned.
All major consumer
operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, are way too
easy to hack. One mishap — opening the wrong email attachment,
installing malware that pretends to be Flash, not updating your
software quickly enough — and you’ve given the keys to the kingdom to
If that attacker
gets the ability to run programs of their choice on your computer, as
they often aim to do, they have access to all of your files. They
can start logging your keystrokes, taking screenshots, and even
listening to your microphone and watching through your webcam.
But it’s possible to
isolate the most risky files and programs from other parts of your
computer. Using virtualization software, the same technology that
powers much of so-called “cloud computing,” it’s possible for you
to protect your system even as you open attachments that might be
sketchy, visit websites that you’re not too sure about — porn sites,
torrent sites, pirated TV and sports sites — or test out software
downloaded from random websites. You can also use this technology to
ensure that your anonymous online activity remains anonymous,
safeguarding the privacy protections offered by Tor by ensuring that
absolutely all internet traffic gets routed through it — even if your
software, like Tor Browser or Pidgin, gets hacked specifically to
In this column, I’m going to
start with a simple primer on virtual machines, including how to
install the Ubuntu distribution of Linux in one of them, and I
encourage you to follow along.
I presume this definition from the American Heritage
"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."