who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
governments lie and
say should be believed."
tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
Paris Every Day
2. France Goes to War on
Sanders Slams Merger of Drug Giants Pfizer and Allergan as Disaster for America
4. Five Prerequisites for
War Against ISIS
This is a Nederlog
of Tuesday, November 24, 2015.
This is a crisis blog. There are four items with four dotted links: Item 1 considers an article on Democracy
Now! in which it is explained
that while 130 persons were killed in France in the Paris attacks,
every day 100 persons are killed in the USA by gun violence (summing to
over 400,000 killings since 9/11); item 2 considers
a very good article
on Mother Jones, in which it is - finally - explained what the French
government has done in response to the Paris attacks; item
3 is less
about Sanders than about another enormous scam Pfizer is trying on the
USA; and item 4 is about an article by Robert Reich
that seems to
presuppose unstated knowledge, and that states mostly wishful
thinking (in my opinion).
1. A Paris Every Day
The first item today
is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
While 130 people
died in the Paris attacks, an average of 100 Americans are killed in
gun violence every day, prompting many to question whether "another
Paris is taking place in America this very day."
In fact, this is all
I am going to quote from the article, although that is interesting.
Here are two questions about the quotation that some might ask:
But first a statistic,
that I've used before (and I am sorry it is a bit faint):
- Is it fair?
- Why doesn't anyone
do anything about the number of American deaths?
The above says that there have been over 400,000 Americans killed
guns since 9/11, while there were 3,300 Americans killed by
which is a ratio of killed by terrorists : killed by gun violence =
3,300 : 400,000 = 0.008 = 8 : 1000.
Put the other way around: In the US for every 125 persons that are
killed by gun violence since 9/11 about 1 person got killed by
terrorists in the same period.
As to the two questions I posed:
First, is it fair? This depends on your standards for what fair
comparisons are. You might say: Yes, it is fair, because deaths
are deaths, and there are 125 times as many killed by gun
violence as are killed by terrorism in the United States. Or you might
say: It is not fair, because being all killed at one time, in one
place, by terrorists, differs from being killed one by one, in
different places, often by family members, and it also gets far more
Second, why doesn't anyone do anything? Well, it is not quite true no
one does anything: One the one hand, there is the NRA, that wants to
sell even more guns to Americans, because they think that is an
individual right (which
does not exist at all in Europe); on the other hand, there are quite a
few civil rights groups that try to impose various limits on guns sold
to American individuals.
I merely outlined two opinions.
Goes to War on Civil Liberties
The second item
is by Josh Harkinson on Truthdig:
This starts as
follows, and is a fine article that I recommend. It also gives a clear
voew of a comparison between the USA and France (though I have left
the USA in this review - you can find it in the article):
In the wake of the Paris
terror attacks, many in France have said they finally understand what
things were like for Americans just after September 11, 2001. The
attacks have emboldened France's conservatives and pushed liberal and
moderate factions rightward. On Friday, the French parliament voted to extend a nationwide state of emergency
for another three months, granting authorities broad powers to limit
civil liberties in the name of combating terrorism. The French public
overwhelmingly supports the move.
I say. Well... all I can
say is that I am much against limiting "civil
liberties in the name of combating
terrorism", and that I think this may be
the beginning of a police state in France.
Here is part of my reason
for the last judgement:
(..) France has embraced
and even surpassed some of America's most draconian responses to
terror. In the name of security, the French public has been more
willing than Americans ever were to let their government spy on
citizens, conduct warrantless raids, and restrict rights of free speech
This simply means - in my
view - that "the French public" has been duped by propaganda as
much as the
American public, and have allowed that a very few in the
have taken away many of their rights and liberties (and "their"
to over 67 million French men, women and children).
The only reason why the
majority of the French consents to this - as far as I can see - is that
they are mistaken about whom the French police and military can
will protect: They believe they will be, and don't realize that
French government simply cannot protect 67 million French "from
and in fact mostly cares for protecting itself, which indeed it
also can do.
Also, I cannot say I am
very amazed, especially not after nearly 15 years of "War on Terror"
that only strengthened the terrorists, while much of how it was
rendered in the media was not factual but propaganda.
Anyway - here is a review
of the things that have changed in France after the events in
A day after the Paris attacks, President Francois Hollande declared a
temporary "state of emergency, " invoking a law enacted in 1955 in
response to a colonial uprising in Algeria. Among other things, the
decree lets French authorities conduct warrantless searches—there have
than 400 since the attacks. On Friday, lawmakers voted
extend the state of emergency and expand certain powers. Police
officers, for instance, may now copy data from any electronic device
discovered during a raid related to terrorism.
Earlier this year, France
dramatically expanded its online surveillance in response to the
Charlie Hebdo attack. In May, parliament passed a law critics have
dubbed the "French Patriot Act." It allows the police to intercept and
monitor electronic communications from private citizens, and it compels
internet providers to install "black boxes" that will use algorithms to
search for and report suspicious online activity.
I only observe that these
are all liberties taken by the French goverment from their 67 million
inhabitants, and that if Europe is going to develop into a
this is precisely what one expects is necessary for
such a development.
Using powers of search and seizure granted under Hollande's state of
emergency, the French police had as of Thursday arrested and detained
63 people and placed another 118 under house arrest. On Friday,
France's parliament voted to expand these powers to let authorities
place under house arrest anyone they have "serious reasons" to believe
"constitutes a serious threat" to public order. Authorities can use
electronic ankle bracelets and such to make sure arrestees stay put.
I do not know what
the French mean by "serious
reasons" or by "a serious threat" to
public order". Also, I am against imposing punishments (house
ankle bracelets) without a judicial conviction (that also are
The state of emergency law authorizes the government to "control the
press" by placing restrictions on everything from radio broadcasts to
movies and plays. Just after the Paris attacks, the French police prevented
journalists from interviewing witnesses. In the following days,
France's Interior Ministry asked social media networks such as Twitter to
censor photographs of the killings and to remove keywords and posts
it deemed to be pro-ISIS.
I am completely
against controlling the press: In the end, that is the only
possibly truthful information, beyond one's personal resources, that do
not go far.
The declared state of emergency allows French authorities to close any
public meeting place, including public theaters. The expanded powers
approved on Friday permit police to dissolve groups or associations
they believe participate in, facilitate, or incite acts that are a
threat to public order. Members of these groups can be placed under
I am against "the
rights" of the authorities "to
close any public meeting place"
and against extended powers of the police to maintain "public order".
France lacks the United States' massive infrastructure of intelligence
agencies and overseas military bases. As far as anyone knows, it has
not used torture, engaged in renditions, or operated a terrorist
detention facility abroad.
Well, that is
Though Hollande described the Paris attacks as "an act of war," he has
stopped short of invoking NATO Article 5.
Here is Article
5 of the Nato (the first part):
The Parties agree that an
armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America
shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they
agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise
of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the
United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by
taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties,
such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to
restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area..
This is the
romantically crazy article that seems inspired by Alexandre Dumas's
"The Three Musketeers": "One for all, all for one!" - which we can see,
in cases like this, may move one very weak and very impopular
to induce all of the NATO to war.
didn't do it, which is good, but that seems to me to be about the only
good decision he made in response to the attacks in Paris.
In brief: I completely
disagree with what France's government has done, except for the very
last fact, that means that - so far - they have not involved other
But it seems the French population mostly supports loosing
and liberties. Well, it merely took something like a 100 years to get
these rights and liberties, so why not throw them away after a 130
persons were murdered?
Slams Merger of Drug Giants Pfizer
and Allergan as Disaster for
The third item today
is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
Vermont senator and
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has slammed the
just-announced corporate merger of giant drug makers Pfizer and
Allergan, urging the Obama administration to use its authority to block
a deal that would raise prices for the public while evading billions in
This is not here because of
Bernie Sanders, but because of the degenerate schema Pfizer and
Allergan are engaged on: Pfizer - anyway extremely rich because
the expensive drugs they sell - and as American as anything American,
now also wants to avoid paying any taxes in America, and
wants to be taken over by a smaller Irish company, which will make it
Irish, which will lessen their tax payments.
Here is the schema
merger would be a disaster for American consumers who already pay the
highest prices in the world for prescription drugs,” Sanders said, in a
statement issued by his U.S. Senate office. It also would "allow
another major American corporation to hide its profits overseas.”
The deal, announced
Monday, would enable the two companies, whose combined market value
would be $330 billion, to evade new Treasury Department rules designed
to stop companies from renouncing their American citizenship, thereby
ending their federal tax obligations, by moving their corporate
In this case, the
U.S.-based Pfizer, whose history of making major breakthrough drugs
dates back to the Civil War, would operate under the supervision of the
slightly smaller Allergan, based in Ireland.
And this is on Obama's
(declared) position (but he declared many things that he did not mean),
and a statement on what Pfizer held back last year:
Note this is a little
less than a quarter of what Pfizer and Allergan are supposed to be
worth together, and a little less than a half of what Pfizer is
supposed to be worth: The interests involved are not precisely small.
President Obama has
repeatedly called such overseas mergers and tax-evasion tactics
“unpatriotic.” The Treasury Department just passed new rules intended
to stop U.S. corporations from buying foreign firms as a way to evade
taxes. In this deal, however, Ireland-based Allergan is buying Pfizer,
even though Pfizer is the larger company. That gambit allows it to
evade the new Treasury rules.
The New York Times reported
that Pfizer “kept $74 billion in earnings offshore last year to avoid”
paying U.S. corporate taxes.
Prerequisites for War Against ISIS
The last item today
is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
In fact, I have
contracted rather a lot, for I have deleted all the explanatory texts
that are under each of Reich's points. Here is Reich's ending:
We appear to be moving
ever closer toward a world war against the Islamic State.
No sane person welcomes
war. Yet if we do go to war against ISIS we must keep a watchful eye on
1. The burden of fighting
the war must be widely shared among
2. We must not sacrifice
our civil liberties. (...)
3. We must minimize the
deaths of innocent civilians abroad. (...)
4. We must not tolerate
anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States.
5. The war must be paid
for with higher taxes on the rich. (...)
First about my own two
thoughts when I read this article: (1) what does Robert Reich know that
I do not know, seeing he seems rather confident there will be
(I quote) "a world war"? And (2) why does he propose such wishful
thinking ideas, that are almost surely falsified as soon as there
is a real world war?
The war should be paid
for the way we used to pay for wars – with higher taxes, especially on
As we move toward war
against ISIS, we must be vigilant – to fairly allocate the burdens of
who’s called on to fight the war, to protect civil liberties, to
protect innocent civilians abroad, to avoid hate and bigotry, and to
fairly distribute the cost of paying for war.
These aren’t just worthy
aims. They are also the foundations of our nation’s strength.
As to (1): I really don't know, but I do know that Reich knows the
Clintons since ca. 1990, and also knows quite a few other powerful
Americans. And all I can make of it is that he seems to know something
I do not know, that makes him think war - in the shape of "a
world war" - is rather likely.
As to (2): I think I can quite confidently assure anyone that if
there is a real war (with American, French and English boots on the
ground in Iraq and Syria, say) that the burden of fighting the war will
not be widely shared (the fighting will be mostly done
by the professional American army); that the American civil liberties
will be mostly ditched; that "innocent civilians" living in the
territory of Isis will not be considered "innocent"; that there
will be a lot more anti-Muslim bigotry; and that I consider it very
unlikely that the rich will pay any higher taxes for any purpose,
including "a world war".
So indeed I am rather disappointed with Robert Reich. But as I said: It
seems likely that he knows something that I do not know.