This starts as
Just as the United States
is taking a first step toward placating European privacy concerns about
U.S. surveillance, several European countries are passing laws
dramatically expanding their own spy programs.
The House last month
passed the Judicial
Redress Act, intended to extend some privacy protections to foreign
citizens. Meanwhile, the French Senate just passed one of the broadest
international surveillance bills in the world and several other
European countries are moving in a similar direction.
Yes, indeed - and I don't
think this is an accident. Also, as people who read considerably more
of my site know, I lost my faith in Dutch politicians in 1969 (based on
reading what Dutch parliamentarians had said in parliament) and I
haven't voted since 1971 (when voting was left free - before it was
I also think these days
that you cannot trust any politician (with a few quite
rare exceptions): They usually are the least honest, the most
greedy, and the most egoistic persons there are in the
country, but yes, they can all lie quite
convincingly and charmingly before TV-camers, while trying to extend
their personal power and incomes. (Also, there are far fewer
politicians than there
were nobles under a monarchy, by the way.)
So this thorough, eager,
willing corruption of the European politicians does not
There is also this on
Snowden and Obama:
Ever since whistleblower
Edward Snowden disclosed the extent of the U.S. National Security
Agency’s sweeping dragnet of surveillance overseas in 2013, the Obama
administration has been working to reassure friendly nations that we
trust them, and aren’t indiscriminately spying on them.
It’s been an uphill
battle. When European diplomatic leaders first learned the extent of
NSA spying, they threatened to renegotiate major trade deals and said
they felt betrayed. President Obama gave a speech stressing
the importance of protecting privacy for people outside the U.S. in
January 2014, saying, “Our efforts will only be effective if ordinary
citizens in other countries have confidence that the United States
respects their privacy, too.” He told European leaders including German
Chancellor Angela Merkel that he’ll “call them” rather than resort to
surveillance in the future.
Anybody who trusts
Obama needs his head examined. Also, as far as I remember what Obama did
tell Merkel, who had been spied upon by Obama's secret service,
was that he would tell her nothing about US spying, but that she
would be called if her phone would be tapped again.
Here is more on the
European politicians (whom you cannot trust, if you are not
a rich European politician yourself, and then you can only
trust - to
an extent -
your own rich European political friends):
But instead of reining in
their own spy agencies as they would have the U.S. do with the NSA,
European countries are doing the opposite.
Privacy activists across
the EU see a “race to the bottom” going on. “While the U.S. has been a
bad example, EU countries have been adopting similar or worse measures
in the past years,” writes Estelle Masse, a policy analyst for
digital rights organization Access Now.
Governments in 14
the world have passed new laws giving domestic intelligence
agencies increased surveillance powers since June 2014, according to a
new study released last week by Freedom House.
“In response to Snowden’s
revelation, instead of strengthening safeguards against unlawful
surveillance, many European states are weakening privacy protections,”
Tomaso Falchetta, a legal officer for Privacy International, wrote in
an email to The Intercept. “They have enacted laws that
give more powers to intelligence and security agencies to intrude into
Precisely: They all
want more power;
they all want even higher incomes; they know "knowledge is power"; and
they know their secret services can tell them everything about anyone.
Being mostly the
worst, the most corrupt, the most power-hungry and the most lying
people there are (professional politicians are not better but worse
average of their population), what else could one expect,
realistically? Also seeing that most persons are not informed
enough to know what they loose?
Here is more about
While United States
foreign intelligence gathering is supposedly specifically directed
toward “targets” suspected of involvement in terrorism or transnational
crime, the new French law allows for carte blanche spying on any
person, group, or region outside France that might be of foreign
policy, economic, or scientific interest — with very little oversight,
warrants, or judicial review.
“The justification of the
measures is so broad as to be meaningless,” says Kirsten Fiedler,
managing director of European Digital Rights, one of 30 civil rights
groups who sent a
letter to French parliamentarians on September 30 asking them to
reject the law — though many suspected it would easily pass.
This is how the French
prime minister plus a few selected French politicians,
will be able to control everyone in France:
Under the new bill,
France’s prime minister would be the sole authority over the spying
program, which would allow the government to hold onto data for years.
Meanwhile, the legislation leaves room for future spying technology to
quietly proceed without any debate.
And in the U.K., the
government on Wednesday will introduce a new investigatory powers
bill to give police and intelligence agents more leeway to track people
Yes, indeed: The
English also handed nearly everything to the ordinary police.
If you are a European these days, then you are, with very few
exceptions, at best a third rate citizen:
The first rate
citizens are the government and prominent politicians, who may know
what their secret services know; the second rate are the
anonymous secret service men and women who do the spying on everyone
else; and the third rate are the 98% of the rest - powerless,
defenseless, and with fewer and fewer legal rights.
2. The Lesson of CISA’s Success, or How To
Fight a Zombie
next item is by Natasha Lennard on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
IF THE ZOMBIE HORROR
teaches us anything, it is never to celebrate too soon. Beware the
hubris of a character who walks from the graveyard victorious, failing
to anticipate an undead hand pushing up through the soil. And so it was
with defeat of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or
CISPA — a surveillance bill introduced under the pretext of
cybersecurity, which died in the Senate in 2012. “Victory over
cyber spying,” announced the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Too soon.
The bill now stomps through Congress with unswerving resilience toward
the president’s desk, in the form of CISA, the Cybersecurity
Information Sharing Act.
Yes, indeed - and here is
what I said about CISA on October 23:
And by the CISA
(<-Wikipedia) every foreign national who does anything
that touches the profits or the self-perceived rights of American
corporations may get arrested and condemned under American law,
also if there are no such laws in his or her own country, and
risks imprisonment in an American jail, possibly for a very long time.
These are two examples of the spreading of the absolute powers
of the American multi-national corporations: No more
effective national governments or national parliaments - everything
is subjected to the quasi-"courts" manned by the lawyers of
multi-national corporations; no more effective national laws -
all national laws that oppose the dominance of American
multi-nationals are punishable by American "laws" in American
courts, as if the foreigners are Americans, subject to American
Here is how the CISA
was made into "law":
Last week the
Republican-controlled Senate passed CISA by a vote of 74-21. CISPA had
failed in a Democratic Senate. The bills are near-identical, a
disconcerting reminder that if powerful lobbies want legislation
passed, opponents face a Sisyphean task in keeping the laws — with
cosmetic changes and slightly altered names — off the books. When it
comes to cybersecurity legislation, where populist paranoia about
non-specific “cyber threats” is high and technical expertise among
lawmakers is low, corporate lobbyists and government data-mongers have
a persuasive upper hand.
Here is criticism by
Edward Snowden (quite in line with my - Dutch - exposition of October
29, 2005, which reacted against the incredible increase of powers
the Dutch government):
NSA whistleblower Edward
Snowden, among others, unequivocally calls it a “surveillance bill” —
provisions that would have ensured the removal of personal identifying
data from the information companies and the government could share were
struck down. Under the dangerously vague rubric of a potential “cyber
threat,” the bill could allow immediate sharing of our data — including
names, search histories, addresses — between firms and the government.
It is the very meaning of a surveillance state: a corporate-government
nexus under which no personal data is shielded.
Precisely - and "the
corporate state" is simply another name for fascism (in case you
disagree, as you may, see item 5 below): The
government + the corporations
know everything and have all the powers; the "citizens" (who are
bettter called "residents") have to applaud their dictates or risk
arrest for being "terrorists".
There is also this deep and very corrupt and corrupting side to
mysterious about a bill that’s both weak with regard to cybersecurity,
and dangerous with regard to privacy, making congressional headway. To
say it’s bad legislation misses that, for some parties, it’s very good
indeed. CISA offers a great gift to corporations. Companies who
agree to share user data with government agencies would be granted
legal immunity from a whole range of laws, including antitrust and
FOIA. So not only does the bill serve the data-devouring government
surveillance beast, it offers a protective quid pro quo for
corporations who cooperate. This limited liability with regard to
user data could also dangerously de-incentivize companies to improve
their own security systems.
That is: The
companies who steal your private data, generally without
telling you anything, are "granted
legal immunity from a whole range of laws".
And there is also
CISA defenders insist
that this data sharing is voluntary, but Amie Stepanovich at Wired
out that, in practice, data sharing would become de facto
compulsory for businesses. She noted that “the ‘cyber threat
information’ that the government would be allowed to share with
participating companies under the bill may, and foreseeably will,
provide so much of a competitive advantage — the advantage of being ‘in
the know’ — that companies will be forced to participate simply to keep
up with their participating competitors.”
Yes, indeed. This is
a good article, that is recommended reading.
3. The gathering financial storm is
just one effect of corporate power unbound
next article is by George Monbiot on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
What have governments
learned from the financial crisis? I could write a column spelling it
out. Or I could do the same job with one word: nothing.
Actually, that’s too
generous. The lessons learned are counter-lessons, anti-knowledge, new
policies that could scarcely be better designed to ensure the crisis
recurs, this time with added momentum and fewer remedies. And the
financial crisis is just one of the multiple crises – in tax
collection, public spending, public health and, above all, ecology –
that the same counter-lessons accelerate.
No, it is definitely false
that governments learned "nothing" from the crisis:
Step back a pace and you
see that all these crises arise from the same cause. Players with
huge power and global reach are released from democratic restraint.
This happens because of a fundamental corruption at the core of
politics. In almost every nation the interests of economic elites tend
to weigh more heavily with governments than do those of the electorate.
Banks, corporations and landowners wield an unaccountable power, which
works with a nod and a wink within the political class. Global
governance is beginning to look like a never-ending Bilderberg meeting.
That is true: There is
"a fundamental corruption
at the core of politics",
and it seems a safe assumption that anyone who worked as a
and who may
be suspected of earning more than 100,000 euros is corrupt or being
corrupted, and cannot be trusted, simply because they have, knowingly
incredible amounts of "unaccountable
power" to their extremely rich friends, and especially the bank
managers, who can do as they please since 2008, and indeed stole
trillions from the tax-money that the politicians in fact simply gave
There is also this, that is
also true (to the best of my rather extensive knowledge):
On one hand
governments have been removing laws that restrict banks and
corporations, arguing that globalisation makes states weak and
effective legislation impossible. Instead, they say, we should trust
those who wield economic power to regulate themselves.
This was a sodden stinking
very conscious lie: You cannot trust anyone with great power,
and especially not anyone with millions or billions to corrupt
others, nor anyone commanding big chunks of the economy. But the
extremely rich have learned that it pays them a lot if they pay the
politicians, and that is what they
do and have done. (Reminder: All a politician needs to do to
get money is to
lie. You may believe they are honest. I don't.)
And there is this:
On the other hand, the
same governments devise draconian new laws to reinforce elite power.
Corporations are given the rights of legal persons. Their property
rights are enhanced. Those who protest against them are subject to
policing and surveillance – the kind that’s more appropriate to
dictatorships than democracies.
That is also all
true, and will only get much worse until the system collapses, which it
may do for two reasons: Either one of the few politicians that is not
corrupt succeeds in unwinding much of the policies and deregulations
effected the last 35 years, and that kept and keep the 90% as poor or
poorer than they were in 1980, or else the whole economic system
There is also this on the tiny flow of real information that reaches
the more intelligent minority of the public these days:
Only through WikiLeaks do we have any idea of what is being planned. It could be used to force nations to accept new financial products and
services, to approve the privatisation of public services and to
reduce the standards of care and provision. It looks like the greatest
international assault on democracy devised in the past two decades.
Which is saying quite a lot.
Yes, indeed - and in
Europe "the standards of
care and provision" will be
remade to be as inferior as the American standards are
(for else the
multi-national corporations will not get their full estimated
profits, and profits rule everything,
including "democracy" and "law", given the TTIP), and also nearly
everything will be privatized, as have the "health-insurances", that
currently cost more than 6 times as much as they did 15 years
ago (in Holland), and give a lot less service.
Here is Monbiot's
electorate, releasing the powerful: this is a perfectly designed
formula for a multidimensional crisis. And boy, are we reaping it.
Yes - but one of the very
sad things is that the majority of the voters
still don't see it,
still trust the politicians who consented that the bankmanagers stole
trillions, and also don't understand enough about computers to see
their total privacy has been and is being plundered by their corrupt
governments (which are corrupt because they work for the banks
rather than the people, in part because the banks pay more).
As US Dodges
Hospital Bombing Probe, Aid Group Calls Global Silence 'Embarrassing'
next article is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
One month after the U.S.
bombing of a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
hospital in Afghanistan killed at least 30 people and wounded dozens
more, the Obama administration refuses to submit to an independent
inquiry while the aid group charges that the lack of global outcry over
the incident has become deafening.
is embarrassing," MSF executive director Joanne Liu told
the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview on Monday. "We
have seen an erosion over the years of international humanitarian law.
Enough is enough. We cannot keep going like this."
charity has appealed
to 76 governments asking for backing for an impartial investigation to
clarify what went wrong at the facility in Kunduz—one
of the few emergency trauma centers in northeastern Afghanistan—and to
prevent any future such tragedy.
"Yet today, as we mourn
the killing of our staff and patients, none of the 76 countries have
stepped forward to show their support for an independent investigation
by the Humanitarian Commission," said MSF-USA executive director Jason
Cone at a commemoration in New York City's Union Square on Tuesday. "No
state has been willing to stand up for the Geneva Conventions and the
laws of war."
I can only explain
the two - in Afghanistan and in Yemen - attacks by the US on hospitals
of MSF as done on purpose, quite probably because they treat
people the US military does not want to see treated, and the
all of 76 govern- ments refused to lift finger for a
legal and humanitarian investigation shows that 76
been corrupted: Clearly each and any of them should have
and indeed would have supported MSF if only they had been
And here is the end
of the article:
This is all too bitterly
true - and yes, when no less than 76 countries have betrayed
Conventions that are or should be part of their own laws, I think it is
very fair to conclude that there is "a concerted effort to rewrite these rules of
Noting that recent
attacks in Kunduz, as
well as in Yemen, "are not isolated cases," MSF-UK executive
director Vickie Hawkins on Tuesday declared
that "the protection of health facilities in conflict zones has been
This tragic and wanton
destruction not only affects MSF. It affects the millions of people who
are caught up in conflict and all too often, it is patients, doctors,
paramedics and support staff who pay the highest price.
Since 1949, the Geneva
Conventions have obliged warring parties to protect the wounded and
sick, without discrimination and in respect of the rules of medical
ethics. They bring some humanity to an otherwise inhumane situation. Is
there a concerted effort to rewrite these rules of war?
"For me the
key message is about the safeguarding of the humanitarian medical space
in war zones," Liu reiterated. "No one expects to be bombed when they
are in a hospital. Every human being can understand that."
5. Mussolini-Style Corporatism, aka Fascism, on the Rise in the
article today is by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:
This needs a
bit of an introduction, if only because the article I review is only
the introduction to another article, namely one I
reviewed yesterday, "The Sad Truth of
Politics" (the last link is to my review, where you can find a link
to the article).
The main reasons to review this introduction as well (that I only read
today) are that I think fascism is a real possibility, not only
USA but also in England, France and Europe (I said so already in
and repeated it here, in 2014,
which is linked here because it looks a
bit better); that I think I heard far too few who discuss this
possibility in an intelligent way; and that I like Yves
Smith and Naked Capitalism.
The brief article starts as follows:
Yes, though it might
have been added that these redefinitions are seldom honest and seldom
up front: often these are "legal opinions" by some lawyer, who totally
twists the sense of ordinary words - as was done e.g. in
the Citizens United decision, where the Supreme Court supported in
majority a totally false reading of the First Amendment - and
them an utterly new meaning that is also often not
mentioned until some other lawyer says he or she has problems with the
text. (And then it becomes clearer that the text is supposed to mean
something quite different from what it says if one
understands what it
The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their
proper name. Confucius
One of the distressing
things about politics in the US is the way words have either been
stripped of their meaning or become so contested as to undermine
the ability to communicate and analyze. It’s hard to get to a
conversation when you and your interlocutors don’t have the same
understanding of basic terms.
And that is no accident. The
muddying of meaning is a neo-Orwellian device to influence perceptions
by redefining core concepts.
the help of an ordinary good dictionary.)
Next, there is this:
Overton Window to be framed around pet interests, as opposed to a view
of what societal norms are, has allowed for the media to depict the
center of the political spectrum as being well to the right of where it
actually is as measured by decades of polling, particularly on economic
Yes and no: Yes, if one
considers these "decades
of polling", but no if one
considers what the media does, which is what is being read by
most, for which reason they tend to believe it. But this is an aside.
Next, there is this (minus a note):
Similarly, even as
authoritarianism is rapidly rising in the US and citizens are losing
their rights (see a reminder from last weekend, a major New York Times
story on how widespread use of arbitration clauses
is stripping citizens of access to the court system), one runs the
risk of having one’s hair on fire if one dares suggest that America is
moving in a fascist, or perhaps more accurately, a Mussolini-style
corporatist direction. Yet we used that very expression,
“Mussolini-style corporatism,” to describe the the post-crisis bank
bailouts. Former chief economist of the IMF, Simon Johnson, was more
stark in his choice of terms, famously calling the rescues a “quiet
coup” by financial oligarchs.
Yes, indeed: "Am-er-ic-a Is
Ex-Cep-Tio-Nal! How dare you suggest our Exceptional Great
Nation has anything to do with fascism! That's for Spics and
Krauts!". (I know the reaction.)
But the USA has grown much
more authoritarian; the taxes have been plundered by mega-rich
bankers; every American is, in secret, plundered for any
and all information of any kind on his computers or
cell-phones, without any decent legal reason; and the big
multi-national corporations (that may pay no taxes, and anyway
pay now little taxes), and especially the banks, have a
revolving door between their managers and positions in government where
they serve their banks as well as they can.
If that is not “Mussolini-style
corporatism”, the whole senses of "similar", "analogy" and "logic" must
have been redefinied by some corrupt governmental lawyer - or so it
me (and I know their definitions really well).
And indeed another name for “Mussolini-style
corporatism” is "fascism", as defined since the Twenties and
Thirties of the previous cjentury: the state (i.e.
and the big corporations have merged, and the
does what's in the interest of the big corporations, indeed also if
There is also, as the end of this brief article, this:
the new neoliberal economic order is not a replay of fascism, so there
is reason not to apply the “f” word wholesale. Nevertheless, there is a
remarkable amount of inhibition in calling out the similarities where
they exist. For instance, the article by Thom Hartmann below, which
we’ve reposted from Alternet, is bold enough to use the “fascist” word
in the opening paragrah (but not the headline!). But it then retreats
from making a hard-headed analysis by focusing on warnings about the
risks of fascism in America from the 1940s.
I agree. I have seen
the parallel - the similarities, the analogies - I just exposed (here), all by myself, in 2012 (and here), and I agree it is not
"a replay", but it does agree in its defining features.
And I also agree with the criticism of Thom Hartmann - but then I have
so far not seen any intelligent and informed
analysis of the quite fargoing parallelisms between Mussolini's system
and the system of governmental espionage on absolutely
everyone, the very much increased authoritarianism,
joined with the bank's free access to any (or almost
any) governmental position that helps them help themselves, which
allowed them to steal trillions, that has arisen in the United
States, indeed as the fruit - it seems - of 35 years of efforts by the
Finally, I am quite willing to call it by another name - except
that "fascism" simply seems more accurate than any name I
know for the correlation of facts
just mentioned, and that we also may not be quite there
yet. (And see Sheldon