February 19, 2016

Crisis: FBI Disruptions, Apple, Pro-Israelis, Reich, Sanders, Zombie ISD
Sections                                                                     crisis index    

FBI Won’t Explain Its Bizarre New Way of Measuring Its
     Success Fighting Terror

2. Apple vs. the FBI: Inside the Battle Snowden Calls "The
     Most Important Tech Case in a Decade"

George Washington U. Refuses to Condemn Professor's
     Call to 'Flatten' Beirut With Extreme Weapons

4. Why Bernie’s Proposals Would Spur Economic Growth
5. "Certainly Sanders' Moment": Poll Shows Bernie Beating
     All GOP Hopefuls

6. The Zombie ISD

This is a Nederlog of Friday, February 19, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about the FBI's disrupting much more than it legally arrests; item 2 is about a good article on Democracy Now! about Apple vs FBI; item 3 is about pro-Israel and pro- Palestian writers in the USA; item 4 is about why Bernie Sanders' proposals would spur the American economy; item 5 is about a poll in which Sanders but not Clinton beats all Republicans (but it is February not November) and item 6 is about "an alternative" to the ISDS which is as bad or worse as the ISDS.

1. FBI Won’t Explain Its Bizarre New Way of Measuring Its Success Fighting Terror

This first item is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has quietly developed a new way to measure its success in the war on terror: Counting the number of terror threats it has “disrupted” in a year.

But good luck trying to figure out what that number means, how it was derived, or why it doesn’t jibe with any other law-enforcement statistic, most notably the number of terror
suspects actually charged or arrested.

Clearly - I would say - getting "disrupted" by the FBI means: Being interfered with by the FBI in a probably semi-legal or illegal way (without a court order or without any instruction by a court, merely on suspicion). Indeed, if it were otherwise, the FBI could and should have legally arrested those they now "disrupted".

At least that is my reading of "disrupted", and I have some evidence in a moment, but here is first an attempt at clarification in the article:

The FBI didn’t respond to emails asking basic questions such as what qualifies as a disruption, why the number is so much higher than the bureau’s recorded arrests, or how it comes up with its annual “target”.

In a January 2015 Performance Report, Justice Department officials explained that the “targets reflect the number of expected disruptions based on the estimated threat, yet account for potential fluctuations.”

Here is the evidence I have for the meaning I gave to "disrupted". This is from Snowden's revelations:

I would say all four D's - "Deny / Disrupt / Degrade / Deceive" - are explicit illegal ways for the secret services to interfere with people's lives, livelihoods, reputations, careers, and status, namely by subjecting them to frauds and deceptions.

And I also would say that if these are "permitted" (in a very vague, probably quite illegal, and certainly mostly uninformed way) to the GCHQ and to the NSA, then certainly the FBI would want to do the same:

Play the deceitful avenger on persons identified as enemies, without having any legal permit to do so, and also without almost anybody knowing much or anything about what these police/military/secret service persons factually do.

In fact the definition of "disruption" that was offered by the FBI itself fully qualifies:

“A disruption is defined as interrupting or inhibiting a threat actor from engaging in criminal or national security related activity. A disruption is the result of direct actions and may include but is not limited to the arrest; seizure of assets; or impairing the operational capabilities of key threat actors.”

I'd say this is fairly clear about what the FBI does, while it is completely unclear about the legal foundations for what it does - which is precisely what any police or military or secret service would wish to be able to do: Deal with anyone it identifies as "the enemy" in any secret way it wants to, without having any legal responsibility or accountability.

So for my part I think this is probably an adequate summary:

Another possible explanation for such a big number, however, is that it accurately reflects a new FBI approach to fighting terror that is occurring outside of public view — where the bureau decides someone is a threat and disrupts their lives in some way that isn’t nearly as subject to oversight and accountability as an indictment or an arrest.

“I’m sensing a significant change in counterterrorism policy in the U.S., where we’ve gone from ‘watch and report,’ to ‘let’s just disrupt them any way we can,’ ” David Gomez, a former FBI agent and profiler, as well as LAPD officer, told The Intercept. “This has cut short the way the FBI does long term investigations…they’re not doing that anymore.”

For they are simply extra-legally/il-legally disrupting the lives, livelihoods, reputations, careers, and status, by subjecting them to frauds and deceptions:

Paradise for the FBI and the secret services; hell for anyone who gets addressed by their
Denials / Disruptions / Degradations / Deceptions.

There is more in the article, that is recommended.

2. Apple vs. the FBI: Inside the Battle Snowden Calls "The Most Important Tech Case in a Decade"

The second item is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

This starts as follows - and this is a good short summary of the background:

A major debate over privacy and online encryption has erupted after the computer giant Apple announced it will resist a court order to help the FBI break into an iPhone recovered from one of the San Bernardino shooters. Citing an 18th century law, federal prosecutors requested a court order to compel Apple to assist the investigation in unlocking the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook. In December, Farook and his wife killed 14 and injured 22 others in San Bernardino. On Tuesday night, Apple CEO Tim Cook published an open letter to customers announcing his company’s decision to fight the court order. "Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them," Cook said. "But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone." We speak to Alex Abdo, staff attorney at the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

This is another recommended article with lots more than I quote. I quote just two bits. The first bit is about the expectations of Alex Abdo on an eventual trial:

AMY GOODMAN: So, will the FBI, will the government, take a bite out of the Apple?

ALEX ABDO: That is the question. And I think that the courts are going to ultimately side with Apple, because what the government is asking for in this case is a bridge too far. It’s an unprecedented demand that Apple not just give the government information it has, but that Apple write software that hacks into one of its users’ phones. And that is an unprecedented authority that the government seeks, and it’s not an authority that you can limit to just this case. This is not just about this one phone, it’s about every phone.

I hope Alex Abdo is right, but I also observe that factually little has changed
in the enormous illegal liberties the secret services have taken with anybody's computer and private information since Snowden revealed these enormous illegal liberties in 2013.

And this is from the end of the article, that shows the legal absurdities that the government tries out in order to get everybody's private data:

AMY GOODMAN: This is a 226-year-old law they are using? An 18th century law?

ALEX ABDO: That’s right. It’s called the All Writs Act, and it was designed as a kind of fill-in power for the courts to allow them to give meaning to other orders. And it’s been used in the past to allow the government to get access to information that people have in their possession, so that they can turn it over in response to a valid search warrant. What it has never been used for, up until recently, is forcing companies into governmental service as government spies.

Precisely. And this is a recommended article, that contains a lot more than is quoted.

3. George Washington U. Refuses to Condemn Professor's Call to 'Flatten' Beirut With Extreme Weapons

The third item is by Sarah Lazare on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:
George Washington University is refusing to condemn one of its most celebrated professors, who wrote an article this week calling for Israel to “flatten” Beirut with overwhelming use of extreme weapons including fuel air explosives that incinerate everything in their path.
I say. Beirut is bigger than Amsterdam, where I live: There live over a million people there.

Here is some more:

In the piece, the Israeli-American scholar Etzioni argues that “it is time” to seriously consider unleashing extreme weapons against Beirut with the power to incinerate and level everything within a wide range. Beirut's greater metropolitan area is home to over one million people.

“Most of Hezbollah's 100,000 missile arsenal are hidden in civilian areas,” Etzioni writes, echoing rhetoric from Israel’s brutal 2006 onslaught on Lebanon, in which it justified killing large numbers of civilians and dropping over a million cluster bombs by dubiously claiming innocents were being used as human shields.

Actually, there are (at least) two difficulties with this proposal (apart from the inhumanity of seriously considering "incinerating" a million people on the basis of extremely unclear "evidence"):

(1) whether someone - like Etzioni - should be allowed to publish these ideas, and (2) why Israeli scholars, or pro-Israel scholars, are treated quite differently from Palestinian scholars, or pro-Palestine scholars (which includes some Jews).

Here are my answers (quite briefly):

As to the first problem: I am for anyone's publishing his or her ideas, more or less regardless from how crazy I think these ideas may be. My reasons are that I want the same freedom for my ideas, regardless from how crazy other thinks they are, while I think a public discussion of anybody's ideas will probably clarify these ideas. (In part, my reason is that these are ideas, proposals, plans, words, and it seems always good to rationally discuss ideas.)

As to the second problem: This is an outgrowth of the strong force of Israeli and pro-Israel points of view in the USA.

4. Why Bernie’s Proposals Would Spur Economic Growth

The fourth item is by Robert Reich on his site:

This contains the following bit:

Failure to take action on the biggest banks, a single-payer plan, widening inequality, and discrimination will almost certainly harm the economy. We can’t afford another near-meltdown of Wall Street. Health care costs continue to be a huge drain on the economy. Widening inequality is robbing the vast middle class of the purchasing power it needs to keep the economy growing. And structural discrimination is making it hard for many Americans to be successful and productive members of our society. 

As Bernie Sanders has said, taking action on all these fronts would therefore spur growth, employment, and median incomes. (In this respect, I disagree with the views of four former chairs of the Council of Economic Advisors from the Clinton and Obama administrations.)

There is more in the article (that is not large). I agree with Reich, and indeed believe that the arguments are quite obvious.

Then again, there probably also are two underlying reasons why the - Democratic - "Economic Advisors" of Clinton and Obama disagree with Reich:

They are very probably from a different economical school (Friedmanites rather than (Post-)Keynesian), which in turn is connected to the fact that they are much more for the rich few than Reich is.

5. "Certainly Sanders' Moment": Poll Shows Bernie Beating All GOP Hopefuls

The fifth item is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

A day after a poll showed Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to be in a dead heat nationwide, survey responses revealed that U.S. voters back Sanders over Republican candidates by margins of 4 to 10 percentage points in head-to-head presidential contests. 

On the other hand, the found that Clinton merely ties—or in some cases, trails—leading Republicans in the November 2016 election.

When matched against GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, Sanders comes out on top, 48 to 42 percent. Clinton's margin against Trump is a much slimmer 44-43 percent.

                            clicking the image leads to the source

I say. Actually, this is the same poll as referred yesterday (here). I like Sanders much more than Clinton and Clinton much more than any Republican, and therefore I like it that Sanders gets forecast as the winner against any likely Republican winner, unlike Clinton also, but then again (i) it is only February and (ii) the poll was not that large.

6. The Zombie ISD

The sixth and last item is by the Corporate Europe Advocacy on Raging Bull-Shit:

This starts as follows:
The zombie ISDS – rebranded as ICS, rights for corporations to sue states refuse to die” shows how the push for foreign investor privileges in EU trade talks such as the proposed EU-US TTIP deal continues as the Commission attempts to rebrand the politically untenable investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) as an “Investment Court System” (ICS). An unprecedented Europe-wide controversy over the democratic threat posed by ISDS led to last autumn’s rebranding of ISDS as ICS in an attempt to get around the enormous public opposition to legal privileges for multinational corporations.
Well, I repeat a footnote I wrote two days ago (for I am quite convinced of this, and the argument is a lot better than most political arguments):

I am using this definition of the term "fascism" that according to my extensive knowledge is adequate:
"fascism" is defined as "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."
The TTIP (and the TTP and the TiSA and the CETA and also the NAFTA) are or were explicit attempts to found a dictatorship "through the merging of state and business leadership" by almost completely annulling the rights of nations, of governments, of parliaments and of judges to make their own decisions by their own criterions in conformity with the democratic majority of their own nations.

Instead, everything done by any nation with such a sick treaty as mentioned above will be judged by some external "court" with just one criterion: Does it or does it not give the full profits the multi-nationals expected?

And if it does not the inhabitants of that country may have to pay the multi-national corporations hundreds of millions or several billions to make up for the profits the corporations claim they lost - for example, because the majority of that nation believed that some other things (health, environment, education, law, decency, morals, etc. etc.) were more important than multi-national profits.

No, they are not according to
the TTIP, the TTP, the TiSA, the CETA and the NAFTA: Nothing matters except the expected profits that the CEOs of multi- nationals desire.

That is the essence of the TTIP, the TTP, the TiSA, the CETA and the NAFTA and that essence is full fascism as defined, or worse, for this time the state has not "merged" but is made a subordinate subject to external "courts" run for CEOs interests - that very well never were in the state they challenged for not giving them all the profits they expected.

And the TTIP will rapidly make Europe into another USA, for most of the laws that make Europe a better place for most of its inhabitants are subject to destruction by the "courts" of the multi-national corporations that serve just one major end: The maximization of the profits of multi-national corporations.

You disagree? Here is some more from the article:

In an attempt to get around the enormous opposition generated by ISDS, the European Commission chose a different label when, in autumn 2015, it released a revised proposal for all the EU’s ongoing and future investment negotiations, including TTIP. Instead of the ‘old’ ISDS system, the Commission promised a ‘new’ and allegedly independent system, supposed to protect governments’ right to regulate: the Investment Court System or ICS.

The analysis in this report shows that the proposed ICS does not put an end to ISDS. Quite the opposite, it would empower thousands of companies to circumvent national legal systems and sue governments in parallel tribunals if laws and regulations undercut their ability to make money. It would pave the way for billions in taxpayer money being paid out to big business. It could curtail desirable policymaking to protect people and the planet. And it threatens to lock EU member states forever into the injustices of the ISDS regime.

And it is the foundation of a new schema of neo-fascism, that may last forever given the forces of the NSA and the GCHQ and most other Western secret services that are plodding for 15 years now to know everything about anyone, without meeting much effective opposition. [1]


[1] In case you object to my using the word "neo-fascism": That is what I think it is; I think my argument why I think so is fairly to very good; and I disregard any criticism of my terminology. (Also, I have been called - for totally false reasons - "a (dirty) fascist" for merely 12 years in and around the University of Amsterdam, while no one protested, and also I am not saying what I am saying for me, since I am nearly 66 and have no children.)

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