1. 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
Washington U. Refuses to Condemn Professor's
Call to 'Flatten' Beirut With
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,
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
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
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:
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:
For they are simply extra-legally/il-legally disrupting the lives, livelihoods, reputations, careers, and status, by subjecting them to frauds and deceptions:
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.”
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.
Apple vs. the FBI: Inside the Battle
Snowden Calls "The Most Important Tech Case in a Decade"
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
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:
Precisely. And this is a recommended article, that contains a lot more than is quoted.
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
George Washington U. Refuses to Condemn Professor's Call to 'Flatten'
Beirut With Extreme Weapons
This starts as follows:
third item is by Sarah Lazare on AlterNet:
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.
Bernie Sanders has said, taking action on all these fronts would
therefore spur growth, employment, and median incomes. (In this
disagree with the views of four former chairs of the Council of
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
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.
"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
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.
6. The Zombie ISD
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.
The sixth and last item is by the Corporate Europe Advocacy on Raging Bull-Shit:
This starts as follows:
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:
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
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:
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. 
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
 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.)