November 12, 2015
Crisis: Internet, Politics, Torture, TPP, TiSA
 "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


The Internet Needs a New Economy
2. Idiocracy Arrives Five Centuries Early
3. Who’s Afraid of the Torture Report?
4. Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Released - a Look at
     What's Inside

5. Uruguay Does Unthinkable, Rejects Global


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, November 12, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the internet and a supposed new economy, but it seems nonsense to me; item 2 is about a movie an (mostly) about present day politics (which is neither nice nor honest, and the very many lies are directed to the large group of the uninform- ed); item 3 is about the torture report that the American (In)Justice Department now forbids most people to read (!); item 4 is a fine article about the TPP; and item 5 is another fine article about TiSA and Uruguay (that did very wisely by
stepping out of TiSA).

1. The Internet Needs a New Economy 

The first item today is by Nathan Schreiber and Trebor Scholz on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Just a year or so ago, Bitcoin was weird. The digital “crypto-currency” had become fairly notorious as a preferred medium of exchange for hackers, outlaws, and the most strenuous libertarians. The underlying blockchain technology – a secure, distributed database requiring no central server or owner  – was earning the curiosity of radicals and visionaries who saw in it the means of re-engineering the whole social order, of replacing banks and governments with distributed systems that ordinary people could manage together. Nowadays, however, the weirdness seems to be waning, along with the utopian promises.

I say. I do not like this style: I get a whole lot of social prejudices phrased as facts, and I see no need for this at all - unless the writers are professional academics trying to make a buck, of course. (Full Disclosure: I think they are, for they are "professors of media studies", and one also claims he is a "catalyst".)

We go on to this:

A different online economy is possible. Especially since the onset of the Great Recession, we’re living through a renaissance of solidarity economies in the United States and around the world. The flourishing of farmer’s markets, benefit corporations, credit unions, and fair trade demonstrates the longing for enterprise that serves the common good, rather than merely rolling in profits for the few. A bedrock of any solidarity economy is the old idea of cooperativism—sharing ownership among those affected by an enterprise and governing it democratically.

I have a computer since 28 years; a website since 19; I have excellent degrees in philosophy and psychology, but I must say - and I see and saw a lot - that I have not seen anything fairly describable as a "renaissance of solidarity economies".

Then again, a bit later we are told:

But this movement, perhaps because it prioritizes offline essentials like sustainable agriculture, local communities, and alternative energy,  has yet to infiltrate the Internet as it should.

OK - so there is not much of "sustainable agriculture, local communities, and alternative energy" on line, it seems.

Here is the proposal of the writers:

This November, we are convening a two-day event at The New School in New York City about what we call “platform cooperativism.” We’re operating on the hunch that many of the economic challenges we face – wealth inequality, job security, health coverage, pensions – can’t be addressed adequately without the reorganization of how online platforms are owned and governed. Platforms are already reorganizing our economy; let’s reorganize them first, putting solidarity at the center.

I am sorry, but what do you mean by "a platform"? Windows, Apple or Linux? Facebook or Google+? Something else, like Redditt or programmers' communities? How do you "reorganize them"? Without billions in the case of Windows, Apple, Facebook or Google+?

It is not clear to me, not at all.

But I do understand that the two young professors of media studies (?) want some fame and some money, though these are about the only things I am fairly certain of, in this article. (I am a bit sorry, but I did select it on its title. And now and then I do not mind reviewing bits of apparent nonsense. And if you disagree with me, I recommend item 5. Or item 4.)

2. Idiocracy Arrives Five Centuries Early

The second item today is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams: This is from the beginning (and there's a reason for writing about the film Idiocracy, which I did not see):
For those who aren’t familiar with Idiocracy, the movie depicts a society five centuries from now in which the average IQ has plummeted due to the breeding habits of the bright (very few kids, late in life), and the not-so-bright (many kids starting in their teens).  Combined with rampant commercialism, a dysfunctional government, and extreme anti-intellectualism, the world is crumpling, and people are facing starvation because one of the major corporations – Brawndo, the thirst annihilator – has convinced people to use it instead of water to irrigate crops.
In fact, this is the sort of future feared by some intelligent eugenetists, like Keynes, for the sound reason stated here: The bright have on average far
fewer children than the non-bright.

Here is the reason Idiocracy was mentioned - and "this phenomena" ("phenomena" is plural, but OK) is "present day politics":

There’s three mind-boggling things about this phenomena.

First, the policies Republicans have been advocating for the last 30 years have almost universally had the opposite effect their proponents claim.  They haven’t ever worked.  Ever.  They are economic and scientific Brawndo.

Second, the people who are most harmed by this counterfactual, anti-science, empirically disproven, corporate claptrap are the very ones who support the corporate-owned candidates who spew it.  They repeat the sound bites with the same knuckle-dragging conviction as those 26th Century idiots defending Brawndo.

Third, the press simply reports this steaming pile of BS like an idiot stenographer, incapable of exposing the plain truth – this Party has been bought -- lock, stock and barrel -- by corporations and its policy prescriptions are literally killing the patient so the corporations might profit.  Of course, the press has also been bought and paid for.  Welcome to Idiocracy.

I like this, but would like to point out that the Republican propaganda started 35 years ago, and was quite intentionally designed to flimflam the large group of the stupid or undereducated, and has mostly succeeded all these years - as indeed the second point says.

And the third point is also true and important: Most of the once more or less free press has been bought by a few extremely rich men, who could do so in part because they have the money and in part because the papers lost most of their advertisements from ca. 2000 onwards, and this meant a very great weakening of democracy (which indeed presupposes a free press).

There is quite a bit more in the article, including an enthusiastic recommendation of Bernie Sanders, that I will leave to your interests, but here is one bit on Hillary Clinton, who has taken lessons from Obama:

Hillary Clinton has a long record of supporting center right policies such as trade agreements in general and the TPP in particular; the XL pipeline, fracking, off-shore drilling and an all-of-the-above energy policy; and hard right, hawkish wars including support for the Iraq invasion.  Bottom line, Ms. Clinton has a record that puts her squarely in the corner of the Brawndo bunch, Wall Street, Corporatists and Plutocrats.

But within the last several months she’s taken such a hard left turn on these issues, she should be suffering from severe whiplash.  Democratic voters certainly should.

But they’re not. She’s calling herself a progressive, shedding long held positions as if they were nothing more than an overcoat, and for the most part, folks don’t raise a peep. Not the voters, not the press, not the Party.

One of the lessons Clinton learned from Obama is that you can say virtually anything that your voters want to hear and - hey presto: wishful thinking - they will believe you. ("Change!", "Change!", "Yes, we can!".)

The other lesson she may have learned from Obama is that when you break most of the promises that helped elect you, then still the average voter will admire and support you (though you are doing precisely what you said you would not) simply because "he is our president".

I agree with the writer that this gives very little reason to trust "present day politics".

3. Who’s Afraid of the Torture Report?

The third item today is by Ashley Gorski and Noah Yachot:

This starts as follows:
Multiple government agencies are doing their best to ignore a 6,900-page elephant in the room: a mammoth report, authored by the Senate Intelligence Committee, detailing the horrors of the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program.
I have written about this before, and quite a few times as well, so I will presume that my readers know some of the background. (You can find more in the crisis  indexes, mostly under "Torture".)

What interests me in this article is especially this:
Despite the Senate’s clear intent at the time, the Justice Department has prohibited government agencies from even opening the full torture report. Yes, the agency responsible for federal law enforcement is forbidding officials across the Obama administration from reading the most detailed account in existence of the CIA’s past torture program as well as the agency’s related evasions and misrepresentations to Congress, the White House, the courts, the media, and the American public .
If that is true - that the Justice Department is prohbiting "government agencies from even opening the full torture report" - all I can say is that, if so, the American Justice Department is indulging in fascistic methods.

I'm sorry, but that is the only correct term to describe these vastly illegal methods (illegal in a democracy, I should perhaps add).

There is also this:
The stakes are high. In the words of the Times’ report, the Justice Department is “effectively keeping the people in charge of America’s counterterrorism future from reading about its past.” Under the Bush administration, the Justice Department played an integral role in the CIA program, beginning with its authorization of most of the torture methods the agency would use on detainees.
And besides, the Justice Department absolutely refused to prosecute any of the major bankers who stole billions or trillions from the American taxpayers, on the - quite insane - ground that "banks who are too big to fail" may do absolutely anything to make profits.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Released - a Look at What's Inside

The fourth item today is by Shannon Long on Truth-out:

This starts as follows, and sets the scene and gives some background:
The New Zealand government released the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, the White House followed suit hours later. The massive trade deal, which includes 12 countries and 40% of the world's economy, has been shrouded in secrecy until now. Parts of the deal have been leaked along the way, but it's the first time the public has had a chance to read what may become the the most broad reaching trade deal in history if all the interested countries ratify the treaty. The agreement has enormous implications for global labor, food and product safety, access to affordable medications, the environment and much more.
This is all very true - and as I've said before, I am completely opposed to any "partnership" that is based on secret "laws", also if these laws stop being secret briefly before parliaments have to say "yes or no", with hardly any room for discussions and no possibility for amendments.

That is the way fascistic laws are promulgated, and indeed that is what the TPP is: Plain corporate large scale fascism.

The rest is an interview with Evan Greer, who is the campaign director of Fight for  the Future, that advocates an open and neutral internet. What follows are all quotations of Evan Greer:
Evan Greer: I'd say, upon reading the text this morning, I was shocked by not surprised. We've been concerned about the TPP for years and now that we can actually read the text, it's clear why it was kept in secret for so long. Particularly the intellectual property chapter reads like a laundry list of demands from unpopular industries, where they're pushing for policies that they know they could never get through if they were done through traditional political means or in the light of day. So from our perspective, the TPP poses a grave threat to people's online freedom of speech, access to information, and basic things like access to medicine and affordable healthcare. And we're very concerned, not only about the outcome, but about the process.
This is quite correct: These are "policies that they know they could never get through if they were done through traditional political means or in the light of day".

Here is part of what is happening to copyrights (that under the TPP will forbid you to quote an author until he (or she) is dead for 100 years, thereby sacrificing great amounts of culture and civilization for the profits of the few:
And essentially what it does is it forces the United States' broken copyright system on the rest of the world without expanding protections for freedom of speech and so-called 'fair use,' which are basically provisions that prevent copyright from being used to censor or take down legitimate content or criticism or political dissidence from the internet.
There is more in the original, which is recommended. Next, there is this:
Back to the internet, it undermines our anonymous ability to express ourselves online by requiring governments to keep a public database of real names and addresses associated with top level domains, such as .us or .ca if you're in Canada. This is really dangerous, particularly for the ability of opposition groups to speak out without fear of violent retribution.
Yes, I agree. Then there is this fascist idiocy:
Another one I guess I'd quickly point out is that it criminalizes, or further criminalizes rather, whistleblowers, like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. And potentially could even make it illegal for journalists to report on documents that whistleblowers expose. So, really, through and through, the TPP is threatening not only to the internet and our online free speech, but to democracy as a whole.
Yes, indeed: Full power to the few hundreds that form the government and the completely anonymous top of the secret services, combined with no privacy of any kind for the 99.99% of the rest, who are each and all fit to be Denied / Distracted / Degraded / Deceived by the supermen and superwomen of the secret services.

Then there is this on the fascist illegal ISDSs (I am sorry: my grandfather was murdered in a concentration camp; my father survived more than 3 years and 9 months of German concentration camps; and I call these atrocities as I fully believe they should be called):
Investor-State Dispute Settlement is one of the most terrifying components of the TPP. It essentially allows corporations to sue governments in order to strike down laws that they feel threaten their profits or potential future profits.

So imagine a country passes a law that prevents copyright holders from taking down information without a court order. A company could then sue that country in an international tribunal and force them to take down that law, even though it benefits the public interest. You can imagine this in a number of other scenarios, like companies suing a country over environmental or worker protections, for example.

But it basically, what the ISDS does - that's the Investor-State Dispute Settlement chapter - is it gives companies more power than governments to set local regulations that should be decided upon in a democratic way. And these tribunals are incredibly non-transparent; the people who will be making the decisions often come from the industries that they're supposed to be regulating. It's going to be a blatant revolving door that benefits only multinational corporations, and not anyone else.

Yes - when the TPP, TTIP and TiSA have been accepted as "laws" by the degenerates who are presently the majority of politicians, it will be the end of any democracy, any political fairness and any political decency, and also it will be the end of real national governments and national laws: All must pass to be replaced by the "judgments" of the corporate lawyers of the ISDS, whose only criterion is to see to it that multi-national corporations get as much profit as they can.

Here is the last I will quote from Evan Greer:
I would be hard pressed to finding something in this deal that is in the public interest. You know, I think most of the things that are being lauded as benefits are really just disguising the broader concerns, which is that, again, policy of this type should never be made in this type of secrecy.
Yes, indeed.

Uruguay Does Unthinkable, Rejects Global Corporatocracy

The fifth and last item today is by Don Quijones on Raging Bull-Shit:
This is from near the beginning::
Uruguay has done something that no other semi-aligned nation on this planet has dared to do: it has rejected the advances of the global corporatocracy.
Here are some specifics:

Earlier this month Uruguay’s government decided to end its participation in the secret negotiations of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). After months of intense pressure led by unions and other grassroots movements that culminated in a national general strike on the issue – the first of its kind around the globe – the Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez bowed to public opinion and left the US-led trade agreement.

Despite – or more likely because of – its symbolic importance, Uruguay’s historic decision has been met by a wall of silence. Beyond the country’s borders, mainstream media has refused to cover the story.

This is indeed the first time I hear of it - and I have been reading around 40 websites every day since 2013 looking for articles about the crisis. This is the enormous scope of this fascist, secret, immoral and degenerate "treaty" (between the few hundreds that govern each country, and the several hundreds of owners and lawyers of the big multinational corporations):

TiSA involves more countries than TTIP and TPP combined: The United States and all 28 members of the European Union, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and Turkey.
Here are parts of its (neo-)fascist plans:

1.TiSA would “lock in” the privatization of services – even in cases where private service delivery has failed – meaning governments can never return water, energy, health, education or other services to public hands.

2.TiSA would restrict signatory governments’ right to regulate stronger standards in the public’s interest. For example, it will affect environmental regulations, licensing of health facilities and laboratories, waste disposal centres, power plants, school and university accreditation and broadcast licenses.

3.TiSA would limit the ability of governments to regulate the financial services industry, at a time when the global economy is still struggling to recover from a crisis caused primarily by financial deregulation.
All regulated behind your back, behind your government's back, behind parliaments, behind national laws, and behind your tastes, values, desires or ideas: It is all secret; it will - very probably - not be open to amendments; the parliaments will have hardly any time to discuss it - and there went your rights, your freedoms and your future. Forever (or the next major economic collapse).

Also, complete spying on everything anyone does will be institutionalized (behind your backs, without your say):

4. TiSA would ban any restrictions on cross-border information flows and localization requirements for ICT service providers. A provision proposed by US negotiators would rule out any conditions for the transfer of personal data to third countries that are currently in place in EU data protection law. In other words, multinational corporations will have carte blanche to pry into just about every facet of the working and personal lives of the inhabitants of roughly a quarter of the world’s 200-or-so nations.
Here is the last item I'll mention:

5) Finally, TiSA, together with its sister treaties TPP and TTIP, would establish a new global enclosure system, one that seeks to impose on all 52 signatory governments a rigid framework of international corporate law designed to exclusively protect the interests of corporations, relieving them of financial risk and social and environmental responsibility. In short, it would hammer the final nail in the already bedraggled coffin of national sovereignty.

Goodbye to all national laws; goodbye to all national governments: The future belongs exclusively to the very few mega-rich and their - also very rich -  corporate lawyers.

This is a very good article, and I recommend everyone to read all of it. It will not make you happier (unless you are very rich, very greedy, and very immoral) but it will explain the enormous dangers that most people in these 52 (!) countries run, because of this secret, anti-democratic, neo-fascistic plan to give everything to the very few (and their lawyers, and their secret service people).

P.S. Nov 14, 2015: Reformatted.

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