February 28, 2016

Crisis: Scalia, "Trade", The Clintons, Fourth Amendment, iPhones, Bill Maher
Sections                                                                     crisis index    

Antonin Scalia: The Billion-Dollar Supreme Court Justice
The United States Has Blocked a Plan by India to
     Expand Solar Power and Create Local Jobs

3. The Clintons and Wall Street: 24 Years of Enriching Each

4. The Government Is Already Forcing Companies to Give
     It Access to Our Data

5. 7 Reasons a Government Backdoor to the iPhone Would
     Be Catastrophic

6. Bill Maher Rips 'Andrew Dice Trump' With Foul-Mouthed
     Future State of the Union

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, February 28, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. I thought that in the weekend there will be fewer crisis items,  but I was mistaken about today:

There are 6 items with 6 dotted links, and several are quite good: Item 1 is about why Scalia and the present Supreme Court are extremely important to the multi-national corporations and big business; item 2 is about how the WTO blocked an Indian initiative to create local jobs to expand solar power: This is how the TTP, TTIP etc. (i) will block anything that lowers the expected profits from multi-national corporations, and (ii) will totally "outlaw" all national legislation by national governments and national parliaments; item 3 is an excellent long article on the Clintons and Wall Street; item 4 is another excellent article how the US government (and most Western governments) wipe their asses with the Fourth Amendment and any law that blocks their spying on everything anyone does or says by a computer or a cellphone; item 5 is a good list of reasons why a backdoor that would allow the government to spy on iPhones would be "catastrophic"; and item 6 is mostly about a video by Bill Maher on Donald Trump that I like.

Also I uploaded new versions of the Nederlogs from February 6 onwards: Now these all link to the latest crisis index, which is a bit new, in that I decided to maintain it by copying the general index every month and deleting items that are not about the crisis. Given the awful amount of redundant font prescriptions KompoZer inserts, that is the only way to do it without getting mad correcting this crazy redundancy or else having to accept indexes of a megabyte in length. This works (so far).

1. Antonin Scalia: The Billion-Dollar Supreme Court Justice

This first item is by David Dayen on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was worth billions of dollars to corporate America, if a Dow Chemical settlement
made public Firday is any indication.

Dow was in the midst of appealing a $1.06 billion class-action antitrust ruling, after a jury found that it had conspired with other chemical companies to fix prices for urethane, a material used in furniture and appliances.

But because of Scalia’s death and the sudden unlikelihood of finding five votes on the Supreme Court to overturn the case, Dow decided to settle for $835 million, the bulk of the original award.

This is an interesting article because it outlines why the Supreme Court is important.

Here is the general background on the present Supreme Court:

The case reveals how corporations have used the conservative majority on the court as a safety valve to nullify unfavorable rulings. As the Alliance for Justice has documented, time and again, the Roberts Court has issued 5-4 rulings that protect big corporations from liability, limit access to justice for workers and consumers, and allow companies to evade regulations on the environment, racial and gender discrimination, and monopolistic practices.

Precisely. There is more in the article. Incidentally, the present Supreme Court is strongly ideological and hardly legalistic. (That is, their legal actions can be safely predicted from their ideologies.)

And it would not amaze me at all if Obama will nominate another conservative judge, "because otherwise the Republicans will not accept my choice".

But I may be wrong. We will see.

The United States Has Blocked a Plan by India to Expand Solar Power and Create Local Jobs

The second item is by Alex Kirby on Truthdig and originally on Climate News Network:

This starts as follows:
India has been told that it cannot go ahead as planned with its ambitious plan for a huge expansion of its renewable energy sector, because it seeks to provide work for Indian people. The case against India was brought by the US.

The ruling, by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), says India’s National Solar Mission—which would create local jobs, while bringing electricity to millions of people—must be changed because it includes a domestic content clause requiring part of the solar cells to be produced nationally.

I have to say that I am not at all amazed. The impact of "the free trade pacts", and also of the WTO, is simply neo-fascism in this sense:

Countries ruled by trade pacts are no longer free countries, that depend on their inhabitants' votes, their own parliaments, their own governments, and their own laws, but they depend on extra-national decision-makers that wipe their asses with national laws, national governments, national parliaments, and national judiciaries, and make all these institutions subject to extra-national decision makers who are really interested in two things: that the multi-national corporations get the profits they want, and that the multi- national corporations have the power to undo any national legislation that goes against thus. And this is the case now. [1]

Here is some more on the same theme:

“In the last three months alone, Ecuador was ordered to pay $1billion for cancelling a petrol contract under a Bilateral Investment Treaty . . . Governments must be free to implement sound climate policy.

“This ruling shows the dangers posed by more wide-ranging trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific PartnershipTrade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which will liberalise trade in dirty fossil fuels and restrict government options even further."

Except that I think this is a textbook case of the introduction of neo-fascism by means of the TPP, the TTIP, the TiSA and the CETA, with help and financial and other support from the WTO. [1]

3. The Clintons and Wall Street: 24 Years of Enriching Each Other

The third item is by Richard W. Behan on AlterNet and originally on Counterpunch:

This starts as follows - and this also is an excellent long article, of which I will only quote parts of the beginning:

For twenty four years the Clintons have orchestrated a conjugal relationship with Wall Street, to the immense financial benefit of both parties. They have accepted from the New York banks $68.72 million in campaign contributions for their six political races, and $8.85 million more in speaking fees.  The banks have earned hundreds of billions of dollars in practices that were once prohibited—until the Clinton Administration legalized them.

Yes, indeed. And I agree that the simple principle "Follow The Money!" explains most about the Clintons, provided you also have sufficient fortitude of mind to allow that their favorite tool is the plausible lie, the deception and the falsehood, that are almost always told with charm and wit. [2]

Here is some more on what they did:

The extraordinary ambition displayed in the careers of Bill and Hillary Clinton defies description.  They have spent much of their adult lives soliciting money from others for their own benefit.  A 2014 story in Time magazine said this:

“Few in American history have collected and benefited from so much money in so many ways over such a long period of time…the Clintons have attracted at least $1.4 billion in contributions…”

Time failed to dig deeply enough.  A more thoroughly researched expose’ in the Washington Post a year later doubles the amount to $3 billion.

Yes, but one should be fair:

They gathered $3 billion in political support simply because they were financially worth it in the sense that for every dollar they got to be elected, their policies, deregulations and legalized swindels when elected did deliver a hundred dollars or more to their very rich backers.

That is, they really worked to return what they got, and did so, plentifully as well, and they did so with charm, wit, and a total lack of morals (other than pretense): Thus the deregulations of the banks, that did so much for their very rich backers, and the destruction of welfare, that destroyed many poor lives (and was what most of the very rich desired: the more poverty, the lower wages, whence the higher profits for the rich).

Here is how the Clintons compare to very rich others: They are easily within the richest 1%:

Hillary Clinton’s net worth is forty five million dollars; Bill Clinton’s is eighty million. Measured by family wealth, this puts the couple in the top 1% of American households by a factor of 16 ($7.88 million is the threshold).

All of the quotes are from the beginning of the article, which is excellent and which I recommend you to read all of.

4. The Government Is Already Forcing Companies to Give It Access to Our Data

The fourth item is by Ashley Gorski on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

The government wants our data, whether it’s sitting on our iPhones or in transit across the Internet.

Last week, we learned that the FBI is trying to force Apple to break its own security features in order to access data stored on an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters. Many predict that this would set a dangerous precedent for future cases — and they’re right. But it’s important to keep in mind that the government’s appetite for data isn’t limited to iPhones. In fact, this is only the latest front in the government’s long-running efforts to access our data wherever it can be found.

While the country debates what kind of access the FBI should have to the devices we use every day to communicate, the NSA is already intercepting, copying, and searching through vast quantities of our communications as they travel across the Internet backbone from point A to point B. This warrantless spying, known as “Upstream” surveillance, ensnares essentially everyone’s international Internet communications — including emails, chats, text messages, and even web-browsing information. It constitutes a mass intrusion into our privacy online.
Precisely! Then again, I have been saying from 2005 onwards (!!) that I could not explain this by "the fight against terrorism", as the governments and the main media have been saying since 9/11, but that I could easily explain this by assuming "terrorism" was the pretext to allow the states' own terrorists (the secret services, the police and the military) to know everything about anyone, which they have been doing since 9/11 or immediately after.

After copying virtually all of the international text-based traffic, the NSA searches this traffic for key terms, called “selectors,” that are associated with its thousands of targets. Critically, however, the NSA isn’t just plucking out the communications of suspected terrorists or spies. Instead, it’s drinking from a firehose: It’s copying and searching nearly everyone’s international communications, looking for information about its targets. And it does all of this without a warrant.

Again: precisely! And why would they do this, knowing very well that at most 1 in a 1000 is inclined towards terrorism? Because they want to control absolutely everyone, in secret, and the non-encrypted computer gave them the means to do so. [3]

And this is again a precise and correct explanation:

In other words, it’s as if the NSA dispatched agents to the U.S. Postal Service’s major processing centers and had them open, copy, and read the contents of everyone’s international mail. If a letter contained something of interest — for example, a reference to a phone number believed to be associated with a target — the NSA would add the letter to its files and retain that copy for later use. Of course, the Fourth Amendment protects us from precisely this kind of general, warrantless search. The government can’t simply open all of our letters to look for those that are potentially of interest to it. There’s no question that this would violate the Constitution, and there’s no reason to treat Americans’ private Internet communications differently.
But the Fourth Amendment - that cannot be removed from the Constitution without great trouble - in effect has been used to wipe the asses clean of the governors who abused it, and who did so quite consciously.

Here is the real state of affairs, as also given by me in a note on February 18 (with some changes in the second part):

This is the Fourth Amendment as it stands:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
-- Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution
This is the Fourth Amendment as it has been practised since the Patriot Act:
The people have no effective rights anymore to be secure in their persons, nor in their houses, nor in their papers, nor in their effects, nor are they protected against unreasonable searches and seizures, for any anonymous secret agent and any unknown spy from Silicon Valley, needs no warrant, no probable cause, no oath and no affirmation, to appropriate absolutely anything from absolutely anyone living absolutely anywhere, without any legal reason or any warrant whatsoever.
-- The "Fourth Amendment" in practice.
This is a very good article that I recommend everyone to read in full, in part also because the above illegal prostitution of the Fourth Amendment has been
standard policy by the American governments since 2001.

5. 7 Reasons a Government Backdoor to the iPhone Would Be Catastrophic

The fifth item is Noa Yachot on Common Dreams and originally on Speak Freely/ACLU:

This is from near the beginning:

Communications security is critical for the functioning of democracy, and the precedent the government is seeking could do terrible and lasting damage.

Here’s why.

And this is followed by seven reasons, all of which are correct (although there are other reasons). I will give the reasons, but not the text that supports them, which you can find for yourself by clicking the last dotted link:

1. The precedent would undermine some of the most important developments in digital security over the last few decades.

2. Foreign governments and cybercriminals would rejoice.

3. The human rights implications are chilling.

4. With the Internet of Things, the government wouldn’t need your smartphone to spy on you.

5. Putting this powerful tool into the hands of law enforcement agencies that have a history of biased policing will compound existing disparities.

6. In a democracy, companies are not conscripted to work for the government against their will.

7. Encryption has been used to communicate for centuries.

And also see item 4: The Fourth Amendment should have been enough to undo all of the above - except that the American governments (4 of them, so far) have pretended it doesn't exist or doesn't apply, and most Western governments
have followed the American governments (and also spied all they could).

6. Bill Maher Rips 'Andrew Dice Trump' With Foul-Mouthed Future State of the Union

The sixth and last item today is by AlterNet Staff on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

Friday night in his new rules segment, Bill Maher imagined a future hell no one is prepared for yet. The joke has become a reality over the past few weeks as it's increasingly looking like Donald Trump willl become the GOP nomineee and possibly (gasp!) the president of the United States. 

But what would this entail? After mocking Trump for his blatant hypocrisy about the naughty word Mexican preisdent Vicente Fox used to describe Trump's beloved fanciful wall, Maher envisioned what a potential Trump SOTU would look like.

Here is what Bill Maher did:

I like it. Will Trump become the next American president? He well may be...

[1] In case you protest against my terminology: I've defended that before; I am not the only one who thinks so; and there are reasons - for example - here.

In case you ask: I think that the Republicans are as bad and that both the Democrats and the Republicans generally do what the very rich or the banks want them to do (and which they also have many lobbyists for).

And I have to grant that the Clintons tend to be more charming and more intelligent than the Republicans, though not more honest.

You may reject this, but only if you postulate that powerful politicians are much better people than most - which is utter bullshit, in my opinion. And once again: The government did get everything and more than they desired and planned already in the 1960ies. See February 22, item 6, and check out Mr. Brezezinski.

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