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Nederlog

October 5, 2015
Crisis: Revolution (?), Mass Shootings, War Crime, France, Corporate Powers

 "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















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Sections
Introduction

1.
Local Resistance Can Overthrow Our Political Masters
2. Stuff Happens, Like - WTF? - A Mass Shooting in the U.S.
     Almost Every Day

3. Pulling Staff from Kunduz, MSF Labels US Airstrike a War
     Crime

4. France's Government Aims to Give Itself - and the NSA -
     Carte Blanche to Spy on the World

5.
Corporation vs. Nation: The Ultimate Showdown


This is a Nederlog of Monday, October 5, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is by Chris Hedges and - in fact - on revolution (I like it but am also skeptical); item 2 is - finally - a cogent answer to the question: How many Americans are killed by guns operated by other Americans since 2001: 120 times as many as there are Americans killed by terrorists (and altogether over 400.000 persons, since 2001); item 3 is about what happened in Kunduz, Afghanistan: two medical groups say it was a war crime, and I agree; item 4 is about France's government to go - "Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!" - the American & English way vis-à-vis all ordinary Frenchmen: In order "to prevent terrorism" all Frenchmen loose all privacy; and item 5 is about what the TTP and the TTIP are really about: The subjection of all governments and all people to the - expected, projected, asserted, future - profits of the international corporations.

1.  Local Resistance Can Overthrow Our Political Masters

The first item today is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:
All resistance will be local. We will have to dismantle the corporate state, piece by piece, from the ground up. No leader or politician is going to do it for us. Every community that bans fracking, every university and institution that embraces the boycott, divest and sanctions (BDS) movement, every individual who becomes vegan to thwart the animal agriculture industry’s devastation of the planet and holocaust of animals, every effort to build self-sustaining food supplies, every protest to halt the use of lethal force by police against our citizens, especially poor people of color, every act of civil disobedience against corporate power and imperialism will slowly transform our society.
Hm... no, not really, though this is mostly because of the repeated "all" and "every". More specifically, there are two reasons why this is a bit - well... - romantic.

First, not "all resistance" nor "every protest" will be well-founded, well-argued, well-supported or indeed sane. And in fact most leftists - let us say - will agree with this, though they may disagree about which protests and resistance are not - let us say - worthwile.

Second, Chris Hedges also disagrees or forgets about his own protests against Bernie Sanders, who surely is protesting a lot, but who does so not in accordance to Hedges' socialist ideas, for which reason Chris Hedges does not support him, and denies Sanders is a socialist.

Next, there is this:
Those who rebel, once they rise up, will build alliances with other rebels. This will give birth to a new political expression, one that will be fiercely anti-capitalist and will seek to sustain rather than destroy life. Rebellion will come from the bottom. I do not know if we can succeed. The forces arrayed against us are monstrous and terrifying. The corporate state has no qualms about employing savage and violent repression, wholesale surveillance, the criminalizing of dissent, and its propaganda machine to demonize us all. But I know this: We are the only hope. We are the people we have been waiting for. And if we do not act to save ourselves, the climate crisis and the corporate state that caused it will continue to ravage the ecosystem and human societies until catastrophic collapse occurs. Indeed, we are already frighteningly far down that road.
I think that is mostly correct: Rebels need alliances, and the forces opposed to them indeed are "monstrous and terrifying". Also, those who are presently alive must stand up to save themselves and their children, for indeed the corporate state has been extending for 35 years now, and has had many successes and few failures since the 1980ies, and also has been much helped by quasi-leftists like Clinton, Blair and Obama.

There is this on the Democrats and Republicans, and the lack of any other major party:
Nationally, because the United States lacks powerful radical, grass-roots organizations, the hegemony of corporate power is largely unassailable. The Republicans and the Democrats, beholden to corporate money and subservient to corporate power, have effectively conspired to shut out the possibility of a viable third party.
I mostly agree (and think the two parties that dominate all are not very democratic, from a European point of view, where there are many more parties).

Then there is this, which I think quite interesting:
But Stein and McLaughlin concede that the political, economic, environmental and cultural unraveling may also embolden powerful proto-fascist groups, often bankrolled by the most retrograde forces of corporate capitalism. These right-wing groups do what all fascists do—demonize and attack the vulnerable. Undocumented workers, Muslims, African-Americans, homosexuals, liberals, feminists, intellectuals, artists, dissidents and radicals are vilified as the cause of national decay. The Christian right, the tea party, nativists, white supremists, neo-Confederates and militias celebrating the sickness of gun culture call for internal purges in the name of vengeance, patriotism and moral renewal. Many in the police and other organs of internal security harbor similar sentiments. As those of us who seek the overthrow of the corporate state gain strength, these proto-fascist groups, tolerated or even blessed by the state, will along with the state employ violence against us. Corporate power will not give up its grip easily.
Here is a a quotation from Christopher Browning's excellent "Ordinary Men". It is on p. 166 in my edition, and is about the authoritarian personality, as charted in the late 1940ies:
Their investigations led them to compile a list of the crucial traits (tested for by the so-called F-scale) of the "authoritarian personality": rigid adherence to conventional values; submissiveness to authority figures; aggressiveness towards out-groups; opposition to introspection, reflection and creativity; a tendency to superstition and stereotyping; preoccupation with power and "toughness"; destructiveness and cynicism; projectivity ("the disposition to believe that wild and dangerous things go on in the world" and "the projection outward of unconscious emotional impulses"); and an exaggerated concern with sexuality.
I would say - and did not see this quotation the last 8 years - that this is a pretty good description of the present GOP presidential candidates and their support groups.

Then there is this:
“The enthusiasm around Bernie Sanders’ campaign is like the enthusiasm around Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign,” Stein said. “And in the Obama campaign, people were betrayed. We have to lift up an alternative, outside a corporate party, that will not be about betrayal.”
Well, no. I do not know whether Sanders will win the presidential candidacy, and I also do not completely agree with him but one major difference between him and Obama is that Sanders is an authentic leftist since ca. 1970, whereas Obama was in 2008 an unknown senator who mostly had steered a very middle course, also often abstaining from voting, and was not known for any authentic leftishness.

Obama and Sanders are quite incomparable as regards proven leftishness, and to jump from "Obama betrayed the left, and his own promises" to "therefore Sanders will" is simply very bad and fallacious reasoning.

Besides, any "
alternative, outside a corporate party" will not be heard by most voters, so even if he or she is a 100% credible socialist-according-to-Chris-Hedges (which Sanders isn't), he or she will not win the elections (seeing also that a well-known person like Ralph Nader scored 2.4% of the vote in 2000 - and that was his best outcome).
It is time to break free. It is time to refuse to cooperate. It is time to do what is right. If we follow our consciences, if we dismantle corporate power in community after community, perhaps we have a chance.
Perhaps. But it seems more people need to be activated, and one way this may be happening is by Bernie Sanders, but he is rejected because he campaigns as a Democrat
and is not socialist enough according to some other leftists, including Chris Hedges...

2.
Stuff Happens, Like - WTF? - A Mass Shooting in the U.S. Almost Every Day

The next article today is by Abby Zimet on Common Dreams:
This is from the beginning (and "he" is Obama):

Noting that as a country we spend over a trillion dollars and pass countless often terrible laws to prevent terrorist attacks, he also challenged the media to post figures for those killed by guns and those killed by terrorists. Several did. Unsurprisingly, they tell a demented tale: Well over ten thousand gun deaths a year, almost zero terrorist deaths. The Guardian came up with even more appalling numbers: 994 mass shootings in 1,004 days, or almost one a day.

Still, the madness continues.
I tried to get the data about the number of gun deaths since 2001 several times now, but at long last Abby Zimet has the answer, and it is in the following graph:


Clicking the image leads to the source

Incidentally: the American deaths by firearms : the American deaths by terrorism =
                                                 406496 :
3380 = 120.26

That is, for every single American killed by a terrorist, 120 Americans are killed by other Americans (who rarely are called "terrorists").

(Incidentally, the picture in the original is a bit clearer and bigger than the above one.)

3. Pulling Staff from Kunduz, MSF Labels US Airstrike a War Crime
 
The next article today is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Sunday called the U.S. military's Saturday airstrike on its charity hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan a war crime and announced it was withdrawing all staff from the beleaguered area.

MSF said 22 people, including medical workers and patients, were killed in the bombing, which occurred around 2:10 am local time and reportedly lasted for at least half an hour.

"Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body," said MSF general director Christopher Stokes in a statement on Sunday.

The U.S. military, which initially described the hit as "collateral damage," is now claiming that Taliban fighters had been hiding in the medical center.

Stokes rejected those charges, stating unequivocally, "Not a single member of our staff reported any fighting inside the MSF hospital compound prior to the US airstrike on Saturday morning. The hospital was full of MSF staff, patients and their caretakers. It is 12 MSF staff members and ten patients, including three children, who were killed in the attack."

I agree: Clearly this was a war crime, and the statement by the " U.S. military" that it
"
is now claiming that Taliban fighters had been hiding in the medical center" makes it a lot more likely that the hospital was targeted on purpose, and - in my opinion - not because there were any Taliban fighters in it, but simply because the hospital was helping people on what is presently Taliban territory.

Here is a statement by another group of medical doctors:

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a medical and science advocacy organization, also referred to the targeting of a hospital as a war crime and similarly called for an independent investigation into the bombing.

"This is truly horrific and inexcusable," said PHR director of international policy and partnerships Susannah Sirkin. "Targeting a hospital is a war crime and warring parties are obligated to take every measure possible to avoid attacking health facilities."

MSF said Saturday that it had given its coordinates to both sides involved in the fighting, including Washington and Kabul.

I agree, though I am quite skeptical that there will be any real answers from the US side.

4.  France's Government Aims to Give Itself - and the NSA - Carte Blanche to Spy on the World

The next article today is by Danny O'Brien on Truth-out:
This starts as follows:

The United States makes an improper division between surveillance conducted on residents of the United States and the surveillance that is conducted with almost no restraint upon the rest of the world. This double standard has proved poisonous to the rights of Americans and non-Americans alike. In theory, Americans enjoy better protections. In practice there are no magical sets of servers and Internet connections that carry only American conversations. To violate the privacy of everyone else in the world, the U.S. inevitably scoops up its own citizens' data. Establishing nationality as a basis for discrimination also encourages intelligence agencies to make the obvious end-run: spying on each other's citizens, and then sharing that data. Treating two sets of innocent targets differently is already a violation of international human rights law. In reality, it reduces everyone to the same, lower standard. 

Now France's government is about the make the same error as US practice with its new "Surveillance des communications électroniques internationales" bill, currently being rushed through the French Parliament. As an open letter led by France's La Quadrature du Net and signed by over thirty civil society groups including EFF, states, France's legislators' must reject this bill to protect the rights of individuals everywhere, including those in France.

I say. And no, I do not think that "France's government", from its own perspective, "is about the make the same error as US practice".

This is not an "error". It is simply what the governors want very, very much: Everybody's data, so that everyone can be controlled in secret, and quite manipulatively, for anyone may be, in secret of course, be "Denied/Disrupted/Degraded" and/or "Deceived", by the very few in government.

Also, I have been saying this since 2005. Then there is this:

Under the new proposed law, France's intelligence agencies still have an incredibly broad remit. The  law concentrates the power to grant wide-ranging surveillance permission in the office of the Prime Minister, who can sign off on mass surveillance of communications sent or received from overseas. Such surveillance can be conducted when in the "essential interests of foreign policy" or "[the] essential economic and scientific interests of France", giving the executive the widest possible scope to conduct surveillance.

Of course they try to get everything they can get, but in fact I do not even think they need this, for they can do just the same as the GCHQ does: Insist that they "are doing everything legally" and refer to the "European Convention of Human Rights", that in fact is no such thing at all, but is an allowance for any government to spy on anyone in its territory for virtually any possible reason: See September 24, last.

There is also this:

The original surveillance law included limits on data retention when spying on French nationals (30 days for the content of communications, four years for metadata, six years for encrypted data). The new international limits are much longer - one year, six years, and eight years respectively. The law's authors do not justify this longer period, nor do they explain how the intelligence agencies will be able to separate data from each class of target without collecting, analyzing and filtering them all.

Why should I believe this? I really don't. What I do believe is that the French secret service will do the same as the American and English secret services do, in my opinion, but indeed almost no one knows what secret services do: They keep everything they think they may need forever, and indeed are also willing to defend this on the basis that these are materials about "suspects".

In any case: The French seem to go the same way as the Dutch, who went the same way as the Americans and the English. The governments want all the data they can get on everyone, and certainly in their own territory, so as to be able to deal with any possible threat to their extreme powers before it happens, so that their spies can deal with it, in secret.

5. Corporation vs. Nation: The Ultimate Showdown

The last article today is by Don Quijones on Wolfstreet:

This starts as follows:

A secluded private courthouse in Washington DC is currently the scene of a gargantuan legal battle that could have serious ramifications for all of us. Yet virtually nobody knows about it.

On one side of the battle is the tiny, poverty-crippled Central American nation of El Salvador; on the other is Pacific Rim, a Canadian mining company that was acquired by the Australian corporation Oceana Gold in 2013. At stake is the basic issue of who owns what in tomorrow’s world.

Here are some specifics:

In 2009, Pacific Rim filed a private lawsuit – what is referred to in the impenetrable jargon of modern globalism as an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) – against the government of El Salvador for $301 million, equivalent to just over 2% of the country’s $24 billion GDP. As BBC World reports (in Spanish), the amount is equivalent to three years’ combined public spending on health, education and security.

The company argues that El Salvador unfairly denied its mining permit after it began an exploration process for gold mining, costing it hundreds of millions of dollars of “potential future profits.”

ISDS was originally intended to insulate investors from the costly consequences of expropriation, but it is now increasingly being used by companies to claim future profits foregone as a result of government legislation aimed at protecting the public, as well as to intimidate governments into changing or abandoning such legislation.

Precisely: The ISDS - which is not even a court - will be used " to claim future profits foregone as a result of government legislation aimed at protecting the public, as well as to intimidate governments into changing or abandoning such legislation".

There is considerably more in the article, which is recommended reading.


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