February 4, 2016

Crisis: EU-US 'Data Sharing', Carter, Sanders, Endless War, The Press
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‘This is a Joke’: Snowden, Others Slam New EU-US Data
     Sharing Deal

2. Jimmy Carter: Citizens United 'Gives Legal Bribery a
     Chance to Prevail'

In For the Long Haul, Sanders and Clinton Agree to Four
     More Debates

4. Want Endless War? Love the U.S. Empire? Well, Hillary
     Clinton’s Your Choice

5. Press Versus Liars: Doing Good Journalism in These
    Trying Times

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, February 4, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the utter bullshit European politicians are presently engaging in, while destroying what remains of Europe's fine laws; item 2 is about Jimmy Carter, who spoke quite well for an ex-president about the massive bribery that was legalized by SCOTUS; item 3 is about an agreement between Clinton and Sanders on four more debates; item 4 is about an article by a law professor who takes down Hillary Clinton, and does so quite well; and item 5 is about an article by Spiegel's editor in chief, who complains about "readers" and who - falsely, in my opinion - insists there are no mainstream media, in Germany.

1. ‘This is a Joke’: Snowden, Others Slam New EU-US Data Sharing Deal 

The first article is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

The European Commission on Tuesday touted a new deal that will continue to allow tech companies such as Google and Facebook to share user data overseas based on a promise from U.S. intelligence officials that EU citizens will not be subject to indiscriminate mass surveillance, in a move that critics said "sells out EU fundamental rights."

"This is just a joke," tweeted Jan Philipp Albrecht, European Parliament member and Green home affairs spokesperson, after the agreement was announced.

Yes, it does sound like a grim joke or worse: A "promise" by "U.S. intelligence officials"?! That is just utter crap, so I guess they are being paid from the USA to betray the European laws (that anyway are not what they seem, but still are less bad than the American laws). [1]

The EU's current data protection rules forbid personal data, like social media posts or financial information, from being moved to outside jurisdictions without adequate privacy protections.

"With billions of dollars of business potentially at stake," the New York Times reports, and more than 4,000 companies likely to be impacted, the deal's proponents herald it as a "privacy shield"—a claim Snowden personally rebuked on Tuesday:

It is utter bullshit: A "promise" by "U.S. intelligence officials" just is crap.
(And as I have been saying for more than ten years now: It seems to me
the European governors want everybody surveilled by secret services, so as
to cover their own asses and help their own power.)

Under the new deal, which was announced two days after negotiators missed a key deadline set by EU regulators, the U.S. agreed to provide annual written assurances from the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence "ruling out indiscriminate mass surveillance on data transferred under the new arrangement," Politico Europe reports.

However, in a press statement on Tuesday, Albrecht remarked on the inadequacy of that provision.

"The proposal foresees no legally binding improvements," Albrecht said. "Instead, it merely relies on a declaration by the U.S. authorities on their interpretation of the legal situation regarding surveillance by U.S. secret services, as well as the creation of an independent but powerless Ombudsman, who would assess citizens' complaints."

"This is a sellout of the fundamental EU right to data protection," he added.

Precisely: It is utter crap, that is published to mislead the public. This is not legislation, it is evident manipulation and deception.

Here is the last piece I'll quote. There still is this defense:

The agreement must still be officially approved by the European Union’s 28 member states and national data protection authorities must also sign off. Albrecht said that the new framework will surely "be challenged in the European Court of Justice, as it is clear that it does not fulfill the conditions of the court's ruling."

But I do not expect much of it, and especially not if this is going to be judged by what is falsely called the European Convention on "Human Rights": These are no laws that guatantee human rights. On the contrary: they consist mostly of long lists of permissions for the secret services to spy on anyone for hosts of reasons - and it is clearly there to allow such spying on anyone, in total secrecy also.

2. Jimmy Carter: Citizens United 'Gives Legal Bribery a Chance to Prevail'

The second item is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter has taken aim at the "erroneous" Supreme Court ruling that "gives legal bribery a chance to prevail."

Carter made the comments, an apparent reference to the 2010 Citizens United ruling, in an interview Wednesday with the BBC's "Today" program.

Carter told interviewer John Humphrys that the ruling would have prevented a "relatively unknown farmer" like himself from emerging as a serious candidate. "Now," he said, "there's a massive infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns for all the candidates."

"Some candidates like [Donald] Trump can put in his own money but others have to be able to raise, I'd say, a hundred to two hundred million dollars just to get the Democratic or Republican nomination. "That's the biggest change in America," he said, and one for the worse, adding that "the erroneous ruling of the Supreme Court where millionaires, billionaires can put in unlimited amounts of money directly into the campaign."

"In a way," Carter said, "it gives legal bribery a chance to prevail because almost all the candidates, whether they are honest or not, and whether they are Democratic or Republican, depend on these massive infusions of money from very rich people in order to have money to campaign."

Jimmy Carter is right, even though he is 91. I fear his "erroneous ruling" is phrased a bit too optimistically: I agree it was extremely erroneous, but I
also think the outcome is what the majority of the Supreme Court desired
it to be. They wanted corruption, and now they got massive corruption -
but they will "not see" it, for it is corruption by the rich for the rich.

Here is some more by Carter:

Carter's comments to BBC are similar to ones he made in September 2015, when he talked to Oprah Winfrey about the influence of money on elections, saying, "We've become, now, an oligarchy instead of a democracy."

They also echo ones he made in 2012 when he denounced the "financial corruption"of elections and referred to "that stupid ruling" by the Supreme Court. "We have one of the worst election processes in the world right in the United States of America, and it's almost entirely because of the excessive influx of money," he said at the time.

Yes - and so he has been there before. And it is good that a former president of the United States did have the courage to say so. (And Bill Clinton, who earned $120 million "by a few speeches" [2] will never do so.)

This is a recommended article.

3. In For the Long Haul, Sanders and Clinton Agree to Four More Debates

The third item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have agreed to take part in four more debates, the national party confirmed on Wednesday.

According to reporting, the first debate will take place in New Hampshire Thursday evening and will air on MSNBC; the second will be held in the embattled Flint, Michigan in March; the next in Pennsylvania in April; and the final showdown will be held in California in May.

These come in addition to the previously scheduled debates on February 11 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and on March 9 in Miami, Florida.

The Sanders campaign pushed for an additional debate in New York City, but the Clinton camp has declined that location.

That is all you are going to get about this (check the last dotted link for more, if you are interested), but it is true this is mostly as Bernie Sanders desired it.

4. Want Endless War? Love the U.S. Empire? Well, Hillary Clinton’s Your Choice

The fourth item is by Marjorie Crohn on Washington's Blog:

This starts as follows - and Marjorie Crohn is a professor of law who also has been a president of the National Lawyers Guild:

Hillary Clinton likes to extol her foreign policy credentials, particularly her experience as secretary of state. She attaches herself to Barack Obama’s coattails, pledging to continue his policies. But she is even more hawkish than the president.

Like Obama, Clinton touts American exceptionalism, the notion that the United States is better than any other country. In his State of the Union addresses, Obama has proclaimed America “exceptional” and said the U.S. must “lead the world.” Clinton wrote in her book Hard Choices that “America remains the indispensable nation.”

Clearly, American exceptionalism simply is false: The United States is not "better than any other country" on very many measurable points, from health care and education, to infra-structure, crimes and incredibly long punishments for small offenses (like smoking marijuana).

In fact, the United States is a lot worse than the West-European countries in many important respects, though I have to admit many European politicians are doing their damnedest in remaking Europe into the US, which they also will
succeed in doing if and when the TTIP is approved.

Here is some more on American exceptionalism:

It is this view that animates U.S. invasions, interventions, bombings and occupations of other countries. Under the pretense of protecting our national interest, the United States maintains some 800 military bases in other countries, costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars annually. Often referred to as “enduring bases,” they enable us to mount attacks whenever and wherever our leaders see fit, whether with drones or manned aircraft.

Obama, who continues to prosecute the war in Afghanistan 15 years after it began, is poised to send ground troops back to Iraq and begin bombing Libya.
This is all correct. There is also this on Netanyahu's Israel and Hillary Clinton:

From July 8 to Aug. 27, 2014, Israel killed over 2,100 Palestinians — including more than 400 children — 80 percent of them civilians. Sixty-six Israeli soldiers and seven Israeli civilians were killed.

When Goldberg asked Clinton whom she held responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian children, she demurred, saying, “[I]t’s impossible to know what happens in the fog of war.” She blamed only the Palestinians, saying, “There’s no doubt in my mind that Hamas initiated this conflict.” Claiming “Israel has a right to defend itself,” she said, “I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets.”

Hillary Clinton was clearly lying: In Gaza in 2014 more than a quarter of all civilians was "displaced" (bombed out of their houses); more than 2000 persons were killed, including 400 children, and this was all done by evident Israeli aggresion.

There simply was no "fog of war" there.

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

5. Press Versus Liars: Doing Good Journalism in These Trying Times

The fifth and last item for today is by Klaus Brinkbäumer (the chief editor of Spiegel) on Spiegel On Line:

This has a summary:

We are living in times of growing tension and near societal hysteria in Germany in the wake of the massive influx of refugees. One of the first victims of this development has been the media's credibility. Restoring public trust will require considerable effort by journalists -- but also on the part of their readers.

I say. This does not seem very cogent: On the one hand "near societal hysteria" and on the other hand "Restoring public trust", while also
blaming the "
readers". (For one thing: How can you "restore public trust"
at a time of "near societal hysteria"? And I am merely asking.)

And it starts as follows:

The times we are living in are raucous, raw and confusing, which means a preliminary remark is needed as part of any article about the outrage and hatred that is currently being directed at the media in Germany.

First, many, many people inform themselves thoroughly about the complicated world in which we live. These people tend not to be very outraged, which is also why their voices often go unheard amid the cacophony. But they do exist, and it is important to note this. Second, there are many, many media outlets out there which report precisely and passionately and refuse to be intimidated. They are viewed, listened to and read.

First of all, I admit that I am not following the media in Germany, indeed except for Spiegel On Line, that I check daily. Also, this is mainly due to me:
I speak and read German very easily, but I am (and always was since my teens) simply more interested in England and the USA. (And something similar is true about France: I do speak and read decent French, but I simply am more interested in England and the USA, and I can only do so much.)

Therefore I can't check directly whether Klaus Brinkbäumer is right - but from my Dutch point of view it does not seem very likely, and indeed he gives no evidence whatsoever.

The events of New Year's Eve in Cologne, which saw hundreds of German women attacked or sexually harassed by largely immigrant perpetrators, have acted as an accelerant in this trend, with the result being that 40 percent of Germans no longer trust the media. In addition to, but also because of, the hysteria and division that have gripped our society engaging too little with facts and too much with emotions, the German media now finds itself with a serious credibility problem.

This also doesn't sound very credible to me: For one thing, nearly all Germans (and non-Germans) who know about the "events of New Year's Eve in Cologne" do know so from the media.

Then again, I agree that many people do judge things emotionally and not rationally - but then that has always been the case, though indeed probably more now in Germany than since a long time (namely: the early 70ies).

And here are Klaus Brinkbäumer's opinions on what "readers should know":

What Readers Should Know

Still, it would nonetheless be helpful if our esteemed readers were to consider three things every now and then:

First: There's a danger inherent in Facebook and Twitter that users will only read what they want, spending every minute seeking self-affirmation and, in the end, viewing their own hatred to be rational and perfectly justified.

Second: The oft-disparaged "mainstream media" do not exist. The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and right-leaning Die Welt have adopted different editorial lines from those of the left-leaning Die Zeit or Süddeutsche Zeitung. There are some media whose perceptions of reality border on fantasy. Third: SPIEGEL is an independent publisher owned by the journalists it hires and, as such, is not influenced by any third party.
Hm. I am willing to agree with the first and third point: Facebook and Twitter (none of which I ever used or will ever use) do not help you judge things rationally (and at least Facebooks steals your private information as well), while
I agree that Spiegel is an independent publisher.

But I am very certain that Germany is not an isolated spot in a rotting world,
and therefore I am tolerably certain that (1) there are mainstream media in Germany as well as in Holland, England and the USA; that (2) these mostly
excel in manipulating the truth, both by not being honest in what they do report, and by not reporting what they should report (and in offering a lot of amusements as well); and that (3) there also are non-mainstream media in Germany, that may be a bit more honest and more factual, though indeed because I have paid less attention to Germany than to England and the USA, I have no adequate judgements on these.

So all in all I don't think Germany is special and I disagree with Brinkbäumer about the main media: They do exist, in Germany and elsewhere, and they
are less honest than they were before 2000. [3]


[1] Yes, I am serious in supposing that many European politicians are being paid and being lobbied, just like the American politicians, and in part also by the same billionaires or their organizations. And I don't have proof because European politicians are more private than American ones.

Then again, the presently reported fact - that European laws are simply cast aside by European politicians for a totally non-valid "promise" by "U.S. intelligence officials" (like the lying Clapper?) - that has NO legal status whatsoever is one reason for me to think the Europeans may have been paid.

And in any case: There went the privacy of several hundreds of millions of Europeans, it is said because of "promises" of "U.S. officials". And all it took was convincing some tens (!!) of European politicians in the Commission (all but one of them unelected also) that their European laws are invalid, do not apply, are a sham, don't need defending, or whatever.

I am sorry, but if that is the way you are dealing with the established rights of all Europeans, it seems to me very likely that you have been corrupted.

[2] I mean: Clinton did make $120 million by speeches after he ceased being president, but this was not for the speeches, but in thanks for the many things he did for the very rich as president. (Obama expects the same remune- ration, or even more.)

[3] But
I am willing to believe Spiegel is a bit special (that is also why I check it daily) but this is mainly because it is owned by its own journalists, which is rather unique in Germany, to the best of my knowledge. (And I agree
I know less about Germany's press than about England's, Holland's and the USA's press(es).)

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