March 19, 2016

Crisis: TTIP (etc.), "Insider Threat", Climate Change
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Latest Leak Confirms TTIP a 'Serious Threat to
     Democracy as We Know It'

2. Chelsea Manning: ‘Insider Threat’ Program Seeks to
     Identify Next Government Whistleblower

February Didn't Just Break Climate Change Records – It
    Totally Obliterated Them


This is a Nederlog of Saturday, March 19, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. It also is the weekend, and I couldn't find more than three items I wish to review. So there are today just 3 items with 3 dotted links: Item 1 is about the TTIP (and I repeat myself); item 2 is about a program that the U.S. government said it bases on characteristics it attributes to Manning, but which are so broad as to cover everyone, and indeed it seems all government employees are or will be researched in this way; and item 3 is about the (apparent?) fact that the earth seems to be warming up much faster than was foreseen in the Paris talks of 2015.
1. Latest Leak Confirms TTIP a 'Serious Threat to Democracy as We Know It'

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

EU member states and the European Parliament will be "sidelined" in favor of big business and U.S. interests should the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) go through, according to a leaked document revealed Friday.

The leak, of the corporate-friendly trade deal's draft chapter on "regulatory cooperation" between the EU and U.S., was made public by The Independent and Brussels-based campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO).

It exposes "a labyrinth of procedures that could tie up any EU proposals that go against U.S. interests," as The Independent put it, as well as "the extent to which major corporations and industry groups will be able to influence the development of regulatory cooperation."

It so happened that I have explained several times why I think these - still mostly secret (!) - "trade deals" are not trade deals but are in fact best seen
as attempts by the very rich and their lawyers to kill all national states, all effective national government, all national laws, by effectively making these subject to the beliefs that the CEOs of multi-national corporations have about the amounts of profits that they should get: If it is not enough, they can block each and any national law, each and any national decision, and force all European states either to be like Texas or Kansas, or else to pay hundreds of millions or several billions to the CEOs of multi-national corporations.

In other words: It is an explicit fascistic project to give almost all powers to the chiefs of the multi-national corporations, and to take these powers away from the national governments, national parliaments and national judiciaries, and thereby from each and every inhabitant of every European nation.

That is what these secret "trade deals" are really about:

Shifting all these powers to the very few CEOs (and their lawyers) of the multi-national corporations, and making Europe as enlightened, as free, as civilised, as moral and as rational as Texas or Kansas are now.

Here is one set of explanations by me, from January 2, 2016. You don't need to believe me, but here is Kenneth Haar, who is a researcher fot the Corporate Europe Observatory:

Lengthy procedures, including vetting by business for possible economic impacts, are thus envisaged for new regulations. Such measures have already been used informally to weaken EU ambition on financial sector supervision in the years leading up to the 2008 collapse, to offer a free pass to US companies on personal data protection, and to delay or water down EU proposals on animal testing and aviation emissions.

This leaked document from the negotiations confirms fears that the Commission will be obliged to consult with US authorities before adopting new legislative proposals while EU Member States and the European Parliament are sidelined. The leak also offers a glimpse at the proposed bureaucratic labyrinth of impact assessments, dialogues, consultations and reviews that could tie up any proposals that go against US business interests.

Again I note that the TTIP still is mostly secret, though it seems to follow from the above two paragraphs that it (or considerations like it) have been used already prior to 2008 to force Europe to be more like the USA.

And there is also this:

In short, he said, "this document shows how TTIP's regulatory cooperation will facilitate big business influence—and U.S. influence—on lawmaking before a proposal is even presented to parliaments."

Nick Dearden, executive director of Global Justice Now, told The Independent: "The leak absolutely confirms our fears about TTIP. It's all about giving big business more power over a very wide range of laws and regulations."

As such, Haar added, the TTIP represents "a serious threat to democracy as we know it."

Yes, indeed. And the reasons are indicated above: National democracies, national government, national judiciaries, and national parliaments will all be made almost totally irrelevant:

All that matters are the - unappealable (!) - decisions of the lawyers of the multi-national corporations who act as judges in the special "courts", to which no one can apply that does not represent a multi-national corporation; and all that matters to these "courts" is whether or not the profits of the multi- national corporations are as high as their CEOs expected.

And if not, the people of the nations whose democratic decisions have been made almost totally irrelevant will be made to pay many millions or billions to support the profits of the multi-national corporations.

That is the schema, and it seems to be approved by most of both the American and the European politicians.

I do not know for how much money or power to them, for these things are generally kept secret, like the TTIP, but I take it the sums have been quite satisfactory.

Here is how the TTIP will work:

Just last month, a report from Global Justice Now and the Netherlands-headquartered Transnational Institute showed how the TTIP would undermine national sovereignty by hampering governments' ability to enact effective and fair tax systems to finance vital public services. Also last month, heavily redacted documents obtained by the Guardian revealed that European officials had assured ExxonMobil that the pending U.S.-EU trade agreement would force the removal of regulatory "obstacles" worldwide, thus opening up even more countries to exploitation by the fossil fuel empire.

Why are nations not free anymore to democratically elect their own taxes? Because this might harm the expected profits of multi-national corporations.

Why will ExxonMobil get all it wants from 2017 onwards, if there is TTIP then? Because all laws that could bind them will be removed nearly everywhere by the TTP, the TTIP, the TiSA or the CETA.

And why will every European who is not a multi-millionaire be effectively a slave of the multi-millioniares or billionaires who head the multi-national corporations, if the TTIP is accepted? Because their "European officials" have been bought to make them slaves.

At least that is what I think, which also makes me glad to have been born in 1950 and not considerably later.

Chelsea Manning: ‘Insider Threat’ Program Seeks to Identify Next Government Whistleblower

The second item is
by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:
The U.S. government is investigating thousands of its employees (whom it has placed under permanent surveillance) for signs of “greed,” “ego,” money worries, disgruntlement or other problems—all in the hope of preventing the next big leak, a document obtained by whistleblower Chelsea Manning reveals.
Yes and no: Yes, the U.S. government is investigating its employees, but no:
I think it would be quite naive to accept the statements the U.S. government makes about its own actions:

It seems to me they are not so much out to find whistleblowers, though that too is a consideration, as to control that each and everyone of their employees behaves, and thinks, and feels as the government desires them to behave, and think and feel.

It is a totalitarian program, in other words, that goes far beyond finding whistleblowers.

Here is a quote from Pilkington in The Guardian:

The extent of the government’s internal surveillance system designed to prevent massive leaks of the sort linked to WikiLeaks and the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is revealed in the document, published here by the Guardian for the first time. The US soldier, who is serving 35 years in military prison as the source of the 2010 WikiLeaks disclosure of secret state documents, requested her own intelligence file under freedom of information laws.

The file was compiled under the “Insider Threat” program that was set up by President Obama in the wake of Manning’s disclosures. The file shows that officials have been using Manning’s story as a case study from which they have built a profile of the modern official leaker in the hope of catching future disclosures before they happen.

At the start of the 31-page file, government officials list the eight characteristics that agents should look for in employees as telltale signs that they might be tempted to reveal state secrets. The character traits are called “Insider Threat motives”.

Speaking as a psychologist: This is utter baloney. What the government did
was derive a set of - presumed, asserted - characteristics of Manning, which
they - falsely, I think, and without any evidence I can see - declare to be valid as markers for deviants that they do not want.

That covers several fallacies of generalization and is quite unscientific. Also, here is the list of characteristics:

(U) Insider Threat Motives

(U) Motives
   - Greed or financial difficulties
   - Disgruntled or wants revenge
   - Ideology
   - Divided loyalties
   - Vulnerable to blackmail
   - Ego/Self Image
   - Ingratiation
   - Family/personal issues

These may or may not be characteristics of Manning, but in any case they are so broad as to cover almost anyone, for anyone has financial motives, has  emotional motives like revenge or anger, does have some ideology, will have some divided loyalties, is probably vulnerable to blackmail (with everything known about one!), does have an ego or self and a family, is a person, and may also be ingratiating oneself.

And indeed Manning pointed this out:

Manning said that the use of subjective labels in her file such as "greed", "disgruntlement" and "ideology" meant that virtually every government employee could be targeted under the Insider
Threat Program. "The broad sweep of the program means officials have been given a blank check for surveillance"

Precisely: They want everyone to be surveilled as much as possible, both by the NSA (in secret) and by all one's colleagues (also in secret), and they want this in order to be abled to pick out anyone who does not think, feel and desire as the government thinks they should.

Manning also wrote that the program

"works against innovation, creativity and the prevention of institutional corruption. Perhaps this is the real intent... to
instill fear and project dominance throughout the intelligence
community, the military and among government employees
and contractors at large.

I think she is right about the real intent. And according to lawyer Jocelyn Raddack Insider Threat is a form of
"modern-day McCarthyism that has friends and colleagues spy on and report each other. It effectively stifles workplace free speech, dissent and is openly trying to deter whistleblowers."

Yes. And it will make the U.S. government totalitarian, if it isn't already.

3. February Didn't Just Break Climate Change Records – It Totally Obliterated Them

The third and last item today is by James Dyke on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:

And another one bites the dust. The year 2014 was the warmest ever recorded by humans. Then 2015 was warmer still. January 2016 broke the record for the largest monthly temperature anomaly. Then came last month.

February didn’t break climate change records – it obliterated them. Regions of the Arctic were were more than 16℃ warmer than normal – whatever constitutes normal now. But what is really making people stand up and notice is that the surface of the Earth north of the equator was 2℃ warmer than pre-industrial temperatures. This was meant to be a line that must not be crossed.

In fact, the "line that must not be crossed" dates back to ... December of last year (a bit over 3 months ago), when I also reviewed the "Landmark Climate Accord in Paris" on the 13th of that month, and found absolutely nothing in it worthy of belief.

Then again, I had not expected that it would be effectively refuted within 3 months, although that now seems to be the case with results as sensational (and as disquieting) as quoted above.

Of course, one might always react like a GOP-senator, and insist "one doesn't believe in climate change" (which is about as rational and as reasonable as insisting that "one doesn't believe" that 1 is larger than 0, and about as rational as insisting that one's untutored, unscientific and unfounded beliefs in anything one hardly knows shit about, nevertheless are rational and worthy of respect, which is just crap), and one also may start questioning the 2 degrees C threshold, as James Dyke does, who teaches complex systems at an English university:

The safe–unsafe threshold of 2℃ recognises the significant amount of uncertainty there is over where dangerous warming really begins. It could be at more than 2℃. Hopefully it is. But it’s not impossible that it is less.

Perhaps. But it seems to me that this threshold anyway was much more political than ecological anyway, for in terms of the environment there are far more things going on than a mere rise in temperature, and they have been going on for a relatively long time, in human terms: Since the 1950ies or before, when Aldous Huxley and Rachel Carson put the environment on the public map, to an extent at least.

Then again, it seems that most men jus
t are not interested in the climate, the ecology, or the environment.

Thus, there are the political and legal scientific ignorants with political power:

But what’s even scarier is the political, economic and social reaction to these landmarks in climate change.

Have you heard any political speeches referring to these recent climate change records? Not one of the major Republican presidential candidates even “believes” in human-produced climate change, let alone that it is something to worry about.

But if your own ignorance allows you to upset a scientific treatment of a problem, your are a dangerous idiot. But it is no news Republican presidential candidates are all such dangerous idiots.

In any case: It seems as if the Paris talks were based on a norm - "Not More Than 2 Degrees Celsius More!" - that after slightly more than three months
seems to have been too low.

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