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Nederlog

October 29, 2015
Crisis: English Malnutrition, CISA, Censorship Increases, Socialism, TTIP in Europe
"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.
Malnutrition and ‘Victorian’ Diseases Are Soaring in
     England ‘Due to Food Poverty and Cuts’

2. The Senate, ignorant on cybersecurity, just passed a bill
     about it anyway

3. Censorship on Rise as Global Internet Freedom Continues
     Downward Spiral
 
4.
What is Democratic Socialism, American-Style?
5.
EU Toughens Against TTIP as Top German Lawmaker
     Blasts Anti-Democratic Deal


Introduction

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, October 29, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links (and - in case you are abnormally slow - today I am sometimes indulging in a style that some may say is "ironic"):

Item 1 is about how the heroic Tory politicians Cameron and Osborne are starving tenthousands or hundreds of thousands of British in order to guarantee the rich Tories the highest incomes; item 2 is about the proud and honest American parliamentarians who passed, in great democratic majority, the fascist CISA, and I rejoice with them; item 3 shows that the American parliamentarians are not alone: in more than half of the countries the goverments and majorities of parliamentarians are firmly for less and less freedom and more and more punishments for anyone who dares to express disagreement with the government; item 4 is about what "socialism" means in the USA, and is a good article; and item 5 touts the reputations of two top European politicians, about whom I am
considerably more skeptical.

I also updated the latest part of the crisis index up to yesterday and I cleaned the Nederlogs of 2015 and 2014 of useless pastings of Zim. 2013 still has to be done for the greatest part.

1. Malnutrition and ‘Victorian’ Diseases Are Soaring in England ‘Due to Food Poverty and Cuts’ 

The first item today is by Roisin Davies on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Since 2010, cases of malnutrition have doubled and other “Victorian” diseases are soaring in England as a result of cuts to social services and rising food poverty.

Statistics from Britain’s National Health Service reveal that 7,366 people were admitted to hospital with a primary or secondary diagnosis of malnutrition between August 2014 and July, compared with 4,883 cases during the same period from 2010 to 2011—an increase of more than 50 percent in just four years.

In addition, cases of diseases rife in the Victorian era, including scurvy, scarlet fever, cholera and whooping cough, have also increased since 2010.

I say. Well... I think this must be explained as the ideals of Cameron's and Osborne's Tory party: The more of the stupid assholes die, the more horses they can give to their children, or the children of other millionair-Tories, to soothe the pains of having to go to Eton. Starve the stinking British poor! Help the noble millionairs who vote Tory!

Here is more on the noble plan to enrich the English rich further and faster:

Chris Mould, chairman of the Trussell Trust, which runs a nationwide network of foodbanks, said they saw “tens of thousands of people who have been going hungry, missing meals and cutting back on the quality of the food they buy”.

“We meet families from across the UK struggling to put enough food on the table and, at the extreme end, you get people who are malnourished,” he said. “We often see parents who are going without food so that they can feed their children, and these parents often struggle to afford enough nutritious food for their children, too. We don’t think anyone should have to go hungry in the UK, which is why we’re working to engage the public, other charities and politicians across parties to find solutions to the underlying causes of food poverty.”

As I just said: These are triumphs of Tory politics! The more the English poor starve, the richer the Tories get! And that is Tory policy!

Here is Dianne Jeffrey, of the Malnutrition Task Force (in England, in 2015):

“Much malnutrition is preventable, so it is totally unacceptable that estimates suggest there are at least one million older people malnourished or at risk of malnourishment. Cuts to social care mean many older people are being left to cope on their own.” Admissions for malnutrition nationally were highest among men in their sixties, followed by those aged over 80, and among women in their fifties, followed by those in their forties."

What do these poor suckers need "social care" for?! Social care for 500 or a 1000 of these non-Etonite starving bastards would take the fourth horse, the third house or the second Ferrari from a deserving Tory millionair! Shame!

Trust David Cameron! Trust George Osborne! They will give every penny they steal from the starving poor to some noble and deserving Tory millionair!

2. The Senate, ignorant on cybersecurity, just passed a bill about it anyway

The next item is by Trevor Timm on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Under the vague guise of “cybersecurity”, the Senate voted on Tuesday to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (Cisa), a spying bill that essentially carves a giant hole in all our privacy laws and allows tech and telecom companies to hand over all sorts of private information to intelligence agencies without any court process whatsoever. Make no mistake: Congress has passed a surveillance bill in disguise, with no evidence it’ll help our security.

Well... as I have been saying for precisely ten years today (in Dutch) "terrorism" and "cybersecurity" were mere pretexts to surveil everyone in everything (excepting the members of government and of secret security, of course), so I am not one bit flustered: This was the end from the very beginning of 9/11.

Here is how it will happen:

All that is needed for companies to hand over huge swaths of information to the government is for it to contain “cyber threat indicators” – a vague phrase that can be interpreted to mean pretty much anything. Your personal information – which can include the content of emails – will be handed over to the Department of Homeland Security, the agency supposedly responsible for the nation’s cybersecurity. From there the information can be sent along to the NSA, which can add it to databases or use it to conduct even more warrantless searches on its internet backbone spying (which once again, a judge ruled last week could not be challenged in court because no one can prove the NSA is spying on them, since the agency inevitably keeps that information secret).

It not only can but will be sent to the NSA (they want everything) and as to the judge, whose verdict enormously strenghtened my faith in Amerian Justice: I wonder why he did not convict these lawyers, who were blackening the reputations of the supermen and superwomen of the NSA, to life + 150 years. To say that the NSA is spying on Americans is sickening slander! After the honest words of the superhonest Clapper! Who can distrust such a noble superman?!

There were barely any actual cybersecurity experts who were for the bill. A large group of respected computer scientists and engineers were against it. So were cyberlaw professors. Civil liberties groups uniformly opposed consumer groups. So did the vast majority of giant tech companies. Yet it still sailed through the Senate, mostly because lawmakers – many of whom can barely operate their own email – know hardly anything about the technology that they’re crafting legislation about. (and were appalled by) the bill. So did

No, I am sorry: ignorance or stupidity are no adequate defenses of Senators or Congressmen. It is over 2 years and 4 months ago that Edward Snowden revealed himself, and even the most stupid and most ignorant members of the Senate or Congress have had plenty of time to learn all they need to know.

They voted against the computer scientists, against the lawyers, against the consumer groups, against the tech companies, and against their voters because they belong to the very few who want to control absolutely everyone in absolutely everything, and see to it that no American betrays American Exceptionalism and American Superiority. They knew very well what they did, and they desired to do so.

In proof of which, there is this:

Along the way, the Senate decided to reject a handful of commonsense privacy amendments that could’ve protected that information. One by one, privacy and transparency amendments that would’ve at least made the bill less awful were voted down on Tuesday.

As I just implied: The American Senate and the American Congress - if they did not think so in the first place - voted as their personal lobbyists told them: For total surveillance of everyone, so that - at least - the Senators and Congressmen remain secure and safe.

3. Censorship on Rise as Global Internet Freedom Continues Downward Spiral

The next article is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

For the fifth year in a row, global internet freedom continued its downward trend in 2015, with more governments censoring information of public interest while simultaneously expanding surveillance and thwarting privacy tools, according to the annual assessment by the U.S.-based Freedom House released Wednesday.

Since June 2014, 32 of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net (pdf) saw internet freedom deteriorate, according to the nonprofit, which monitors digital rights and advocates for democracy. Notable declines were documented in Libya, France, and—for the second year running—Ukraine, amid what Freedom House describes as "its territorial conflict and propaganda war with Russia." 

I am not at all amazed. Also, I have two observations:

First, Edward Snowden did not make much of a difference, it seems - which is not his fault.

For second, the only way I can explain this completely anti-democratic policing is because the majorities of the parliamentarians in each of the 32 countries where internet freedoms declines wanted that internet freedoms declined.

That may indeed not be what they say in public, but then one can never trust a politician without good and independent evidence.

And there is this:

According to the report, authorities in 42 of the 65 countries assessed required private companies or internet users to restrict or delete web content dealing with political, religious, or social issues, up from 37 the previous year. Criticism of the authorities was most likely to attract censorship or punishment, while news about conflict, corruption allegations against top government or business figures, opposition websites, and satire were also subject to online censorship in over one third of the countries examined.

In fact, the study found that over 61 percent of all internet users live in countries where criticism of the government, military, or ruling family has been subject to censorship online, and over 58 percent live in countries where bloggers or other internet users were jailed for sharing content on political, social, and religious issues.

That is: In over half of the countries "criticism of the government, military, or ruling family has been subject to censorship online" and in over half of the countries "bloggers or other internet users were jailed for sharing content on political, social, and religious issues".

This is also the internet the NSA and the GCHQ want very much:

An internet cleansed from anyone with leftist, liberal, or progressive ideas; an internet that is free - from any deviance, any criticism, and any opposition to any government; an internet where the anonymous heroes and heroines of the NSA and the GCHQ are fully admired for their great courage and infinite talents; and an internet where the admirers of Thatcher, Reagan, and Bush Jr. can safely surf without finding a word or picture they disagree with. Heaven on earth!

Finally, there is this:

Meanwhile, even as governments in 14 of 65 countries passed new laws to increase surveillance, and many more upgraded their surveillance equipment, encryption and anonymity tools crucial to securing freedom of expression were subject to restrictions worldwide.

For all governments and all parliamentarians know that full surveillance and
total subjection of the people they lie that they "serve" is strongly in their own
interests in power, money, and a very rich career, just as they also know full well that in every country there are just about 500 persons with real governmental or parliamentary power.

4. What is Democratic Socialism, American-Style?

The next article is by Peter Dreier on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Now that Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign is generating lots of media attention, the word "socialism" is in the news. But few Americans know what it is or what Sanders means when he describes himself as a "democratic socialist."

Yes, indeed, although most Americans also seem to have a strong negative prejudice against anyone who says that he is a socialist, even while they cannot say what a socialist is.

Then again, Peter Dreier, who teaches politics, is quite right that the question in the title is worth asking, indeed also because American political terminology can be quite confusing to non-Americans, like me.

Here is part of his explanation (all of which is kinown by me for a very long time):

In the early 1900s, socialists led the movements for women's suffrage, child labor laws, consumer protection laws and the progressive income tax. In 1916, Victor Berger, a socialist congressman from Milwaukee, sponsored the first bill to create "old age pensions." The bill didn't get very far, but two decades later, in the midst of the Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt persuaded Congress to enact Social Security. Even then, some critics denounced it as un-American. But today, most Americans, even conservatives, believe that Social Security is a good idea. What had once seemed radical has become common sense.

Much of FDR's other New Deal legislation -- the minimum wage, workers' right to form unions and public works programs to create jobs for the unemployed -- was first espoused by American socialists.

Indeed, already in the 19th Century, usually. There is also this on some of the Americans who called themselves socialists:
Throughout our history, some of the nation's most influential activists and thinkers, such as Jane Addams, John Dewey, Helen Keller, W.E.B. DuBois, Albert Einstein, A. Philip Randolph, Walter Reuther, Martin Luther King, Paul Robeson, Eugene V. Debs, and Gloria Steinem, embraced democratic socialism.
In some cases the adjective "democratic" may not be quite justified, but this is mainly due to the Soviet propaganda that the Soviet Union was a "people's democracy".

And here is one part of the explanation why "socialism" means something different in the United States and in Europe, where there are or have been many
socialist parties, some quite large, and socialist politicians, of various shades of
socialism also:

During the Cold War, many Americans confused democratic socialism with communism. In fact, democratic socialists opposed the totalitarian governments of the Soviet Union, China and their satellites. That's because democratic socialism is about democracy -- giving ordinary people a greater voice in both politics and the workplace.

Although Sanders says that America needs a "grassroots political revolution," he is actually a reformer, not a revolutionary. His version of democratic socialism is akin to what most people around the world call "social democracy," which seems to make capitalism more humane.

The first paragraph is a bit misleading, in my - quite learned - European eyes:

There were quite a considerable number of socialists (apart from the communists) in Europe who, at various times, e.g. in the thirties and in the sixties, were somewhat sympathetic to "the totalitarian governments of the Soviet Union, China and their satellites".

I do not think they ever formed a majority amongst West-European socialists (apart from communists) but they certainly formed a considerable minority at some points of history.

The second paragraph seems quite justified to me: I have always looked upon Bernie Sanders as a social democrat (Anerican style, to be sure) rather than a democratic socialist, simply judging his program (with European eyes).

In fact, this is also why I would consider it wise if he avoids the term "socialism", not because he has no right to use it, but because using it lessens his chances of his becoming a presidential candidate and a president, simply because many Americans have strong negative - usuallly quite uninformed - prejudices against anything called "socialist".

Here is the last bit by Dreier:

Sanders' socialism means reducing the political influence of the super rich and big corporations, increasing taxes of the wealthy to help pay for expanded public services like child care, public transit, and higher education, reducing barriers to voting, and strengthening regulations of business to require them to be more socially responsible in terms of their employees, consumers and the environment. That means a higher minimum wage, paid sick days and paid vacations, and safer workplaces.

Because the word "socialism" has been demonized, few Americans call themselves socialists or even social democrats. But public opinion polls -- including the Pew Research Center, Hart Research Associates and The New York Times/CBS -- show that a vast majority of Americans agree with what Sanders actually stands for.

That is quite adequate, though it might have been mentioned in the first paragraph that all of Sanders' program is quite compatible with capitalism,
and indeed is not against capitalism, except inhuman forms of it.

5. EU Toughens Against TTIP as Top German Lawmaker Blasts Anti-Democratic Deal

The last article today is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Adding yet another voice to the growing chorus of European activists and government officials who oppose the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the U.S. and EU, the president of the German Bundestag, or parliament, has threatened to vote against the so-called "trade" agreement due to its lack of transparency and democratic legitimacy.

"I see no chance that the Bundestag would ratify a trade agreement between the EU and the USA without involvement in how it came together or any say regarding alternatives," Norbert Lammert said in an interview with Germany's FUNKE Media Group on Wednesday.

I say.

I also must say that I find it quite difficult to believe him, since it is totally self-evident to me that the TTIP, which still is quite secret, is an authoritarian anti-democratic "law" that will only benefit the rich, and will break down all or nearly all of the protections that the poor, the old, the ill and the working people
have acquired in Europe since 1900, because these acquisitions hurt profit, and profit (of the rich, for the rich) is the only thing that really matters in the TTIP (to the best of my imperfect knowledge).

Mr Lammert may say that he does not know this about the TTIP. I reply that
one does not have to consider whether one votes against the TTIP if one is a democrat: Secret laws (supposed to remain secret till 4 years after being made into law also!) are undemocratic regardless of their contents.

There is also this:

Lammert agreed with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that all the relevant documentation "must be available to the governments and parliaments of all members of the EU." He said he "will insist on that."

Currently German MPs can only see key TTIP negotiation documents by going personally to the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. The secrecy surrounding the mammoth trade deal has engendered scathing criticism as well as a €100,000 reward for the full text.

And if you are allowed to read the TTIP in the U.S. Embassy, then - almost certainly, for the same demands were imposed on U.S. Senators - you are
not allowed to make notes on it, nor are you allowed to discuss whatever
you remember with anyone else. De-mo-cra-cy!

Since I certainly do not trust Juncker (he may make the documents available a day before the voting, for example), this adds nothing to Lammert.

Finally, there is this:

Amid controversy, the latest round of TTIP discussions concluded last week in Miami. Based on the agreement's faltering progress and dwindling support, the UK-based social justice group War on Want declared that TTIP may not be completed by the end of the Obama presidency. As War on Want trade campaigner Mark Dearn explained, "TTIP negotiations are not going as planned—neither in terms of satisfying what each side wants, meeting deadlines, nor in fulfilling supposed 'outreach' with civil society groups."

"Millions of people across Europe [are] calling for an immediate end to TTIP negotiations," Dearn said. "EU governments would be better off listening to their constituents than continuing with these secret negotiations the people of Europe do not want."

I completely agree with that.

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