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."
1. The One
Thing Pope Francis Could Say That Would Truly
2. U.S. State Department
“Welcomes” News That Saudi
Arabia Will Head U.N. Human
for the Nuclear Option: Raining Money on Main
4. History Doesn’t Go In a
5. 'The Snowden Treaty': Pact
to End Mass Spying Would
Honor NSA Whistleblower
case may force European firms to change data
This is a Nederlog
September 24, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1
is about pope Francis, but I don't agree with the article; item 2 is on an article by Glenn Greenwald about Saudi
Arabia being head of the UN Human Rights Panel; item 3
is about "helicopter money"; item 4 is about a
recent interview with Noam Chomsky; item 5 is about
"The Snowden Treaty"; and item 6 is about a
possible European decision that European data may not be stored on
American servers anymore, because the latter break the privacy
conventions Europe upholds.
The One Thing
Pope Francis Could Say That Would Truly Stun
article today is by Jon Schwarz on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
There are many
things Pope Francis could say in his Thursday address to Congress
that would make its members uncomfortable. Rep. Paul Gosar, a
Republican Catholic from Arizona, has already
announced that he’s refusing to attend because the Pope may
urge action on global warming. The Pope could also strongly criticize
capitalism, as he did in great detail in his 2013 apostolic
Joy of the Gospel.
I say. But in fact I
don't think I believe it. Here are two reasons.
But the Pope’s critique
of the world has an even more radical component, one that’s gotten
little notice in the United States — maybe because it’s so radical
that many Americans, members of Congress in particular, might not even
understand what he’s saying.
And what Francis is
saying is that capitalism and our growing environmental disasters are
rooted in an even older, larger problem: centuries of European
colonialism. Moreover, he suggests this colonialism has never really
ended, but merely changed forms — and much of U.S. foreign policy
that’s purportedly about terrorism, or drugs, or corruption, or “free
trade,” is actually colonialism in disguise.
First, "our growing
are - it seems to me - not rooted on "centuries of European
colonialism". I don't say they are wholly independent of it,
but it seems to me global warming is more recent than
"colonialism": it started happening in the second half of the 20th
century, not in the second half of the 18th century.
Second, I'd say "U.S. foreign policy" that is "purportedly about terrorism, or drugs, or
corruption, or “free trade”"
is better uderstood as being in fact a kind of unrestrained
profit-oriented capitalism than as "colonialism in disguise". And
again I don't say colonialism has nothing to do with it, but I
do say that the contexts and the mechanisms are capitalistic
rather than colonialistic (without making the motives or the
rates of exploitation any better, indeed).
Then again, I
don't think the pope suggested that "colonialism never really ended",
which also sounds incoherent to me: The British and the Dutch - for
example - were forced
to give up enormous territories they had conquered and owned
for centuries around WW II, and also disappeared as colonial
exploiters. The capitalism that replaced colonialism was not
more friendly nor less profit oriented, but it was not
anymore, simply because these colonies ceased to be.
Indeed, here is a part of what the pope wrote:
The Earth, entire
peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished. And behind
all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil
of Caesarea called “the dung of the devil.” … Once capital becomes
an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides
over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and
enslaves men and women. …
He is talking about capital
and capitalism, and also about "new
forms of colonialism", that he in
fact presents as forms of exploitative capitalism.
We see the rise of new forms
of colonialism, which seriously prejudice the possibility of peace and
justice. … The new colonialism takes on different faces. At times it
appears as the anonymous influence of mammon: corporations, loan
agencies, certain “free trade” treaties, and the imposition of measures
of “austerity,” which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor.
But I don't want to defend the pope. I do want to say, though, based on
a brief survey of Wikipedia, that it seems to me that at least part of
the reason that
Jon Schwarz made this mistake may be due to postmodernism.
2. U.S. State
Department “Welcomes” News That Saudi Arabia Will Head U.N. Human
article today is
by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
starts as follows:
That seems rather like nominating Hitler around 1940 as chief protector
of the Jews. Here is Wikipedia: "Human
rights in Saudi Arabia": It is pretty damning, and correctly so.
Last week’s announcement
that Saudi Arabia — easily one of the world’s most
brutally repressive regimes — was chosen to head a U.N. Human
Rights Council panel provoked indignation
around the world. That reaction was triggered for obvious
reasons. Not only has Saudi Arabia executed more than 100
people already this year, mostly by beheading (a rate of 1
execution every two days), and not only is it serially
flogging dissidents, but it is reaching new levels of tyrannical
depravity as it is about to behead
and then crucify the 21-year-old son of a prominent
regime critic, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was convicted at the age of 17
of engaging in demonstrations against the government.
Most of the world may
be horrified at the selection of Saudi Arabia to head a key U.N.
human rights panel, but the U.S. State Department most certainly is
not. Quite the contrary: its officials seem quite pleased about
Then again, this also seems to me
a herald of a much wider process: The indifference of
rulers of the U.S. to democratic opinions. They know that the main
media have been largely taken over by editors and journalists who can
be trusted only to inform the public about the things the government
agrees the public may know, and therefore they do as they please,
included making "the worst of the worst" regimes (Wikipedia, quoted)
the head of the human rights panel.
Here is the end of Glenn Greenwald's article:
yes and no: Yes, for the relatively few who read outside the main
media, but no for the rest: They will still accept that the "the U.S. government" is "some sort of
crusader for freedom and
because that is the story the main media do plug.
It’s not hard to
understand why so many of the elite sectors of the West
want everyone to avert their eyes from this deep and close
relationship with the Saudis. It’s because that alliance
single-handedly destroys almost every propagandistic
narrative told to the Western public about that region.
As the always-expanding
“War on Terror” enters its 14th year, the ostensible target — radical,
violent versions of Islam — is fueled far more by the U.S.’s
closest allies than any of the countries the U.S. has been
fighting under the “War on Terror” banner. Beyond that, the
alliance proves the complete absurdity of believing that the U.S.
and U.K.’s foreign policies, let alone their various wars, have
anything to do with protecting human rights or subverting tyranny
and fanaticism. And it renders a complete laughingstock any attempts to
depict the U.S. government as some sort of crusader for freedom and
democracy or whatever other pretty goals are regularly attributed to it
by its helpful press.
I agree it is completely false, but it is widespread.
Time for the
Nuclear Option: Raining Money on Main Street
next article today is
by Ellen Brown on Truthdig (originally on Web of Debt):
This starts as
Predictions are that we
will soon be seeing the “nuclear option” — central bank-created money
injected directly into the real economy. All other options having
failed, governments will be reduced to issuing money outright to cover
budget deficits. So warns a September 18 article on ZeroHedge titled
“It Begins: Australia’s Largest Investment Bank Just Said ‘Helicopter
Money’ Is 12-18 Months Away.”
Note that this is
based on "governments will
be reduced to issuing money
outright to cover
budget deficits", together
The Zerohedge prediction
is based on a release from Macqurie, Australia’s largest investment
bank. It notes that GDP is contracting, deflationary pressures are
accelerating, public and private sectors are not driving the velocity
of money higher, and central bank injections of liquidity are losing
their effectiveness. Current policies are not working.
And it is also based
on this (and Willem Buiter is a leading economist, also recently quoted
by Paul Krugman, who also got some fame for being the ex-
lover of Heleen Mees ):
Willem Buiter, chief
global economist at Citigroup, is also recommending
“helicopter money drops” to avoid an imminent global recession,
A global recession
starting in 2016 led by China is now our Global Economics team’s main
scenario. Uncertainty remains, but the likelihood of a timely and
effective policy response seems to be diminishing. . . .
Helicopter money drops
in China, the euro area, the UK, and the U.S. and debt restructuring .
. . can mitigate and, if implemented immediately, prevent a recession
during the next two years without raising the risk of a deeper and
longer recession later.
I say. There is
considerably more in the article. (I doubt there will be any
real helicopter-money, but it may happen in Europe through providing
loans to the many rather than to the few, as Jeremy
Corbyn has proposed.)
Doesn’t Go In a Straight Line
next article today is
by Noam Chomsky:
In fact, while this
article is attributed to Chomsky it is based on an interview
Tommasso Segantini had with him. I think it is a good interview, but
will only quote parts of Chomsky's answers in this review.
First, there is this on Europe and the euro:
In fact, recovery
from the Great Depression was actually faster in many countries than it
is today, for a lot of reasons. In the case of Europe, one of the main
reasons is that the establishment of a single currency was a built-in
disaster, like many people pointed out.
Yes, indeed: I get now
more than twice the amount of money I got before the euro was
introduced, but all prices went up by more than that amount, so
less and less money. (Who pocketed the difference? The rich.) 
Next, there is this on Syriza
There are people
who criticize the Syriza tactics and the stand that they took, but I
think it’s hard to see what options they had with the lack of external
Yes, I agree.
Then there is this on Bernie Sanders, in two parts. First:
Sanders won, which is pretty unlikely in a system of bought elections.
He would be alone: he doesn’t have congressional representatives, he
doesn’t have governors, he doesn’t have support in the bureaucracy, he
doesn’t have state legislators; and standing alone in this system, he
couldn’t do very much. A real political alternative would be across the
board, not just a figure in the White House.
I agree, but then again he
wants to change the system. And secondly, Chomsky said:
In fact, the
Sanders campaign I think is valuable — it’s opening up issues, it’s
maybe pressing the mainstream Democrats a little bit in a progressive
direction, and it is mobilizing a lot of popular forces, and the most
positive outcome would be if they remain after the election.
Again I agree - and he is
waking up people. Then there is this on Corbyn:
in England: he’s under fierce attack, and not only from the
Conservative establishment, but even from the Labour establishment.
Hopefully Corbyn will be able to withstand that kind of attack; that
depends on popular support. If the public is willing to back him in the
face of the defamation and destructive tactics, then it can have an
impact. Same with Podemos
I agree - and it will not
be easy. Finally, there is this on "neoliberalism"
certainly a regression. For the majority of the population in the US,
there’s been pretty much stagnation and decline in the last generation.
And not because of any economic laws. These are policies. Just as
austerity in Europe is not an economic necessity — in fact, it’s
economic nonsense. But it’s a policy decision undertaken by the
their own purposes.
And I agree again, and note
that 35 years - since 1980 - is a long time, that shows the
"neoliberal" forces, which are the forces of the very rich, have mostly
5. 'The Snowden Treaty': Pact to End Mass
Spying Would Honor NSA Whistleblower
next article today is
by Nadia Prupis on Commen
starts as follows:
Two years after NSA
Snowden's revelations made global headlines, a new international
pact for privacy rights is being launched—the Snowden Treaty, an
agreement that would "curtail mass surveillance and protect the rights
"Protecting the right to
privacy is vital not just in itself but because it is essential
requirement for exercise of freedom of opinion and expression, the most
fundamental pillars of democracy," the drafters—Snowden, journalists
Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, and Greenwald's partner David
Miranda—explain in their proposal, which will be formally introduced at
a press conference on Thursday and encourages both individual citizens
and global governments to sign up.
The proposal states:
- We demand for privacy
on the internet.
- We demand that the
government grant us the right to privacy in our homes.
- We demand that the
government protect our personal privacy online.
Launched along with the
the pact is officially titled the International
Treaty on the Right to Privacy, Protection Against Improper
Surveillance and Protection of Whistleblowers (pdf).
completely agree, as I do to the following:
"This breach of
people’s privacy is in direct contravention of international human
right law. In particular, the right to privacy is enshrined in Article
12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 17 of the
International Convention on Civil and Political Rights," the drafters
- No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference
with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon
his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of
the law against such interference or attacks.
I reject the "European Convention of Human Rights", for that
seems to have been written by lawyers working for the GCHQ or other
secret services. See note .
It has been signed already by Noam Chomsky, Oliver Stone and others.
may force European firms to change data storage practices
article today is
by Owen Bowcott on The Guardian:
This starts as
I say. This is
interesting - and yes: European private data (like mine) are
European companies may
have to review their widespread practice of storing digital data with
US internet companies after a court accused America’s intelligence
services of conducting “mass, indiscriminate surveillance”.
The influential opinion by the European court of
justice’s advocate general, Yves Bot, yet to be confirmed by the
Luxembourg court as final, is a significant development in the battle
over online privacy. The court normally follows the advocate general’s
opinion; ECJ judgments are binding on EU countries.
The finding is a fresh
victory for the Austrian campaigner Maximilian Schrems, who initially brought a claim against Facebook in Ireland in
the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the
activities of the US National Security Agency (NSA).
swallowed up by the NSA simply because these data tend to be stored on American
servers, while non-Americans have even less rights than Americans.
I agree (but see  below: I can't take the "rights" sanctioned by the
EU seriously as rights).
If any EU country
considers that transferring data to servers abroad undermines the
protection of citizens, the advocate general’s finding said, it has the
power to suspend that transfer “irrespective of the general assessment
made by the [EU] commission in its decision”.
“The access of the United
States intelligence services to the data transferred covers, in a
comprehensive manner, all persons using electronic communications
services, without any requirement that the persons concerned represent
a threat to national security,” Bot’s opinion noted in one of its most
indiscriminate surveillance is inherently disproportionate and
constitutes an unwarranted interference with the rights guaranteed by
articles seven and eight of the charter [of fundamental rights of the
And as to Facebook (currently used by 1.5 billion persons who are too
stupid or too lazy to write their own sites), there is this:
Everyone on the
network in the EU signs a contract with Facebook Ireland, audited by
the data protection commissioner in that country. Under the US-EU data
transfer all their details can be accessed by the NSA.
You can trust
Facebook as a European! All your data go straight to the NSA!
 I have pointed out before that Buiter and Mees (both of
whom started out as Dutch) were sexually involved, but that this cannot
now be seen from Buiter's Wikipedia file, while it is prominent in
Mees's Wikipedia file. I don't like Mees, but this seems to be
a little unfair to me.
 In fact, I would not be amazed at
all if the main point of making a European Union and creating a euro
was to make Europe much more like the United States (which is
much backward in protecting the poor).
For example, in 1995 I paid 55 guilders for a complete
health-insurance. These days I have to - legally enforced - pay
155 euros, more than 6 times as much, to have an insurance
which is much less complete than the health-insurance I had;
twenty years ago I paid 320 guilders in rent; these days I pay 330
euros (more than 2.2 times as much) for precisely the same house.
And so on, and so forth.
 This is article 12 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights:
is article 8 from the "European Convention of Human Rights" which is
asserted to replace it:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy,
family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and
reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against
such interference or attacks.
Article 8 –
Right to respect for private and family life
means that, completely unlike the Universal Declaration, the
"European Convention" insists there are two types of persons:
Ordinary people, and the supermen (German: Übermensche) who
belong to a government, a police force, a military apparatus, or a
secret service, and in fact it is regulated as follows:
1. Everyone has the right
to respect for his private and family life, his home and his
2. There shall be no
interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right
except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a
democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety
or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of
disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the
protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
If the supermen who are in the government, the
military, the police, or the secret service find it in the interests of
well-being of the country, or
or disorder, or
of crime, or
of health, or
of morals or for
of the rights and freedoms of others
then no ordinary citizen has any right
of respect for his or her human rights (on privacy), but if the
supermen from the government, the military, the police, or the secret
service find none of these eight conditions apply, then
everyone to whom this applies does still not have the right to
be protected from "arbitrary interference with his privacy,
family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and
reputation", but does enjoy the enormous luxury that - for
these cases, and these cases alone - they have a right on respect
for their (otherwise unspecified) "rights" to "a private life".
Gestapo would have gladly signed that article, so it is no miracle that
the GCHQ continuously insists that they abide by "European Convention of
Human Rights": These do not exist as soon as one of the
supermen who govern us decide they are inconvenient for them.