1. Bill That Would
Ban End-to-End Encryption Savaged by
2. FBI’s “Shared Responsibility Committees” to Identify
Muslims Raise Alarms
3. Truthdigger of the
Week: The Panama Papers
4. Bernie and the Big Banks
America's Election Shame
This is a Nederlog of Sunday, April 10,
crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item
1 is on a truly insane new draft bill that makes
cooperation with decryption and with providing backdoors in security
that the NSA can pass mandatory; item 2 is
about a hardly less insane new program of the FBI that sounds to me
like the Nazi-programs that were used during the Nazi-occupation of
Holland, to make sure all terrorists (like my father and grandfather)
"disappear" and make everyone think the same; item
3 is about the Panama Papers' whistleblower; item 4
is about Hillary Clinton's assertion that Bernie Sanders doesn't know
what he is talking about when he is talking about the banks: she lied;
and item 5 is about a rather common European point
of view about Trump and the GOP.
That Would Ban End-to-End Encryption Savaged by Critics
first item is by Jenna
McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
A LONG-ANTICIPATED DRAFT of
anti-encryption legislation written by the leaders of the Senate
Intelligence Committee circulated
late Thursday night and left many critics apoplectic.
The bill, from Sens. Richard Burr and
Dianne Feinstein, would force technology companies to either decrypt
the contents of their customers’ communications for law enforcement, or
hack into their own products to do so — effectively rendering illegal
the end-to-end encryption currently offered by some of the heaviest
hitters in the business, like Apple, Facebook, Google, and now WhatsApp.
down the gauntlet in December, vowing to push for a bill that would
mandate breakable encryption even if no one else would, including the
White House. Privacy advocates who expected the worst weren’t
Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told The
Intercept in an emailed statement the draft was concerning. “This
legislation says a company can design what they want their back door to
look like, but it would definitely require them to build a back door.
For the first time in America, companies who want to provide their
customers with stronger security would not have that choice – they
would be required to decide how to weaken their products to make you
I'd say Feinstein (82 years old, B.A.
History) and Burr (60 years old, B.A. Communications) very
probably do not know any programming language (and
in the - quite improbable - case that they might have some idea, it's
my guess they can't read or write more than 5 lines of code).
I admit I am guessing, but real
knowledge of real programming languages still is fairly rare, and
neither Feinstein nor Burr has any intellectual background (or indeed the age) that
makes it plausible they know much about programming.
Then again, relevant knowledge is totally
unneeded when it is merely about making the USA a totalitarian
state where the NSA knows everything about anyone (who
is not very rich and does not work for the NSA) and will disappear
anyone (also possibly without any trial or any knowledge of almost
everyone else) who is not conformist
It is that end that Feinstein and
Burr are serving, in my judgement, although I do not know
whether they agree.
Here is some more on the drafted bill:
So for me this is an utterly
incompetent, very totalitarian, and morally
extremely degenerate (draft) bill that seeks to destroy all
privacy of absolutely anyone (who is not very rich or employed by
the NSA), including my own (for the NSA is allowed to work everywhere).
Apple fought the FBI, arguing that in
order to override the phone’s security features, the company would have
to design a type of software “cancer” that would risk the security
of all Apple users.
The FBI in that case cited the All Writs
Act as giving it the authority to force Apple to provide “reasonable
assistance” to carry out its warrant and unlock the phone. The new
draft bill would take the law a step further. “Feinstein-Burr
decryption doesn’t require only reasonable assistance: It’s ‘assistance
as is necessary’ to decrypt,” tweeted
Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University specializing
in computer crime.
Providers of all communications
“products,” including pretty much any smartphone provider, would also
be responsible for third-party applications that provide encryption
services on their behalf.
“Not only does this bill undermine our
security, it is also a massive internet censorship bill, demanding that
online platforms like Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store
police their platforms to stop the distribution of secure apps,” wrote
Kevin Bankston, director of the Open Technology Institute, in a message
to The Intercept.
And I do not know whether the Senate or the House holds
sufficiently many somewhat sane members to kill this bill.
We shalll see.
2. FBI’s “Shared Responsibility
Committees” to Identify “Radicalized” Muslims Raise Alarms
is by Murtaza Hussain and Jenna
McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
I say, for I did not know this.
The FBI’s plan to enlist community
leaders in “Shared Responsibility Committees” all across the country
with the goal of identifying “radicalized” individuals is raising
alarm among civil rights activists.
The Shared Responsibility Committees,
known as SRCs, “are expanding the informant program under the guise of
an intervention program, which it is not,” said Abed Ayoub, legal
director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC).
The FBI’s ideas is to have social
service workers, teachers, mental health professionals, religious
figures, and others interdict young people they believe are on a
path towards radicalization. The program was first
revealed last November, and while details remain scant, it is
widely believed to have been developed along the lines of similar
“anti-radicalization” programs in the United Kingdom.
Also, now that I do know: This looks suspiciously much like the
watching program that the Nazis introduced in Holland during their
occupation, from 1940-1945. This also had the same end: To
prevent radicalization and actions against the authorities, and to
locate radicals - named "terrorists" or "political terrorists" - so
that the authorities might arrest them.
This was "a neighborhood program", in the sense that people were
supposed to be organized according to the blocks in which they lived in
cities) and had to admit into their own houses "social service workers, teachers, mental health
professionals, religious figures, and others",
usually all members of the Dutch Nazi-party NSB, often also uniformed,
who were nominated to be "the elder(s) of the block", and who tried to
control what one read, believed, and desired, and who had
considerable powers to do so.
It was also motivated similarly, it seems, indeed "to share
responsibility", namely to take care that as many Dutchmen as
possible did read, believe and desire only the proper,
civil, neighborly, highly moral and deeply ethical values that the
Of course "the authorities" were Nazis, but these did have (in their
own minds) all the proper, civil,
neighborly, highly moral and deeply ethical values that anyone ought
to want. And Nazis were quite popular in Holland, as witnessed by the
fact that 6 times more Dutchmen volunteered for the SS than
went into the - real - resistance. 
And there were also plenty of Dutchmen whose civic pride
helped them support their authorities,
and to combat "political terrorists", such as my father and grandfather
(both in the resistance), who also were arrested in the early summer of
1941, and convicted to concentration camp imprisonment, indeed specifically
as "political terrorists".
As to the strong support for the authorities: Even in 1944 (!) there
were more than 100,000 members in the Nazi-party the NSB, which
is also, possibly coincidentally, around the number of Dutch Jews
that were murdered during WW II, for the Dutch managed to
collaborate with the Nazis to the surprising extent that more than
1% of their total population (all Jews) was murdered. 
In any case: That is the sort of background I am
reminded of, when I read that
the FBI wants "to enlist community leaders in
"“Shared Responsibility Committees” all across the country with the
goal of identifying “radicalized” individuals".
Of course, I grant that this may not be just anyone's association, and indeed those who
objected against the plan did not have my background, knowledge
Here are some of the objectors' arguments:
Why did those committees do such
a poor job? “All the studies that I have reviewed, including those
funded by the government, state quite clearly that there are no
predictors or indicators of who is going to become a terrorist,”
Patel said. “So on what basis are people going to be hauled before
these committees?” she asked. “The idea that ‘alienation’ is an
indicator of someone who is going to become a terrorist is so
general as to be laughable. There are plenty of alienated people
in the world and very, very few terrorists.”
In fact, I agree that very few become
or want to become terrorists, and I also agree there are "no predictors or indicators of who is going to become a
terrorist". It will simply not work as
But then I also do not think that the “Shared
Responsibility Committees” are there to find terrorists (which they
will not do at all, or only by rare accident), but they are
there to make all Americans think and want the same or
similar things, and to organize these forces to make them
think and want the same civically (as it were) - though in fact
the police, and working for the police.
3. Truthdigger of the Week: The Panama Papers Whistleblower
The third item is by Natasha Hakimi on Truthdig:
This starts as follows (and is in
the context of a weekly assignment of a truthdigger by Truthdig):
The whistleblower who gave journalists
11.5 million documents from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca in order to
publicize how the world’s wealthy hide their riches has done an
immeasurable service to our global society.
The documents, now known as the Panama
Papers, contain details about shell companies, money laundering and
other crimes (click here for explanations of these terms) committed
via loopholes that provide “an unprecedented look at how the world’s rich
and powerful, from political leaders to celebrities to criminals, use
tax havens to hide their wealth.”
Yes, indeed: I agree, although I also wish
to point out that Mossack Fonseca is only one of quite a few
who do similar things for the rich and the very rich. That is: Mossack
Fonseca is big, but there are quite a few more.
There is this:
Yes, indeed - and as to the "some" who "may assert that many of us already knew that the rich often
find ways to avoid paying taxes": These sound to
While some may assert that many of us
already knew that the rich often find ways to avoid paying taxes, the
Panama Papers have given journalists and the public a look at the
mechanisms that allow this form of corruption to prevail across the
globe. And perhaps more importantly, the papers, to put it simply, have
named names. Among them are the president of Argentina, friends of
Russian President Vladimir Putin, the father of British Prime
Minister David Cameron, relatives of Syria’s Bashar Assad, China’s
Xi Jinping, Azerbaijan’s royal family—the list goes on and on.
as if they are all David Brooks (see e.g. June
10, 2013), and they simply lie or mislead: The
point is not what you say you "knew"; the point is
that now you can prove a considerable part of what some claimed
they "knew", indeed precisely analogous to what Edward Snowden did.
And there is this:
(..) the Panama Papers serve as
proof that the unrest we are witnessing is rooted in the uber-rich’s
disregard for the rest. Despite their attempts to sugarcoat them, their
underhanded dealings reveal their understanding that their excess
wealth, no matter how it was gained, is something to be hidden away
because it contributes to the destitution of others. As Clark
Gascoigne, director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate
Transparency Coalition, has noted, tax avoidance is “the single biggest
driver of global inequality in the world today.” The Tax Justice
Network backs this up with its estimates that between
$21 trillion and $32 trillion is stored in offshore tax havens.
Yes, indeed - and watch the gigantic
amounts "stored in offshore tax havens"
because the richest of the rich even refuse to pay taxes to the
countries that allowed them to be or become the richest of the rich.
And I can't forebear to say (once again)
that adopting my own plan of capping all incomes and all ownerships to
a maximum of 20 times the amount the poor live on would solve
all problems; would not cost the 99% one cent; and would
significantly increase their incomes. (In case you are
interested, see the end of “On
4. Bernie and the Big Banks
The fourth item is by
Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
The recent kerfluffle about Bernie
purportedly not knowing how to bust up the big banks says far more
about the threat
Sanders poses to the Democratic establishment and its Wall Street wing
does about the candidate himself.
Of course Sanders knows how to bust
up the big banks. He’s already introduced legislation to do just that.
without new legislation a president has the power under the Dodd-Frank
act to initiate such a breakup.
But Sanders threatens the Democratic
establishment and Wall Street, not least because he’s intent on doing
exactly what he says he’ll do: breaking up the
In fact (as Robert Reich does not
considerable part of the "recent kerfluffle" was by Hillary Clinton, who said (see April 7, 2016) that (and I quote her):
“even on his signature
issue of breaking up the banks, he’s [Bernie Sanders - MM] unable to answer basic questions
about how he’d go about doing it.”
Hillary Clinton was simply and grossly
lying - as the rest will show.
First, here is some more about how
the biggest banks have grown:
The biggest are far larger today than
they were in 2008 when they were deemed “too big to fail.” Then, the
held around 30 percent of all U.S. banking assets. Today they have 44
According to a recent analysis
Hoenig, vice chairman of the Federal
Deposit Insurance Corporation, the
assets of just four giant banks – JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of
and Wells Fargo – amount to 97 percent of our [the] nation’s entire
domestic product in 2012.
Which means they’re now way too big
to fail. The danger to the economy isn’t just their indebtedness. It’s
dominance over the entire financial and economic system.
This means that in a mere seven years
the biggest banks grew almost 50% in assets, while the four
biggest banks have assets that amount to nearly 100% of
the USA's gross domestic product.
Second, here is something on the
Dodd-Frank legislation that was supposed to tame (parts of)
the big banks:
As of now, only
155 of the 398
regulations required by Dodd-Frank have been finalized. And those
are shot through with loopholes big enough for Wall Street’s top brass
their Ferrari’s through.
The biggest banks still haven’t even
come up with acceptable “living wills,” required under Dodd-Frank to
they’d maintain important functions while going through bankruptcy.
Meanwhile they continue to gamble
with depositor’s money. Many of their operations are global, making it
for U.S. regulators to rein them in – as evidenced by JPMorgan Chase’s
billion loss in its “London Whale” operation in 2012. Citigroup alone
2,000 foreign subsidies.
This means that "the Dodd-Frank law",
which was signed by May of 2010, has been finalized for ... less
than 40% in six years. And what was finalized has -
according to Robert Reich - "loopholes big
enough for Wall Street’s top brass
their Ferrari’s through".
Finally, to return to Bernie Sanders' supposed incompetence
(according to Hillary Clinton) to deal with banks, there is
in the Wikipedia item "Wall Street
reform" this bit:
In 2016, 170 Economists, Financial
Experts, and Academics Back Bernie Sanders’ Wall Street Reform Plan. In
the letter supporting Bernie Sander’s Financial Reform Plan:
"In our view, Sen. Bernie Sanders’
plan for comprehensive financial reform is critical for avoiding
another “too-big-to-fail” financial crisis. The Senator is correct that
the biggest banks must be broken up and that a new 21st Century
Glass-Steagall Act, separating investment from commercial banking, must
be enacted. Wall Street’s largest banks are now far bigger than
they were before the crisis, and they still have every incentive to
take excessive risks. No major Wall Street executive has been indicted
for the fraudulent behavior that led up to the 2008 crash, and fines
imposed on the banks have been only a fraction of the banks’ potential
gains. In addition, the banks and their lobbyists have succeeded in
watering down the Dodd-Frank reform legislation, and the financial
institutions that pose the greatest risk to our economy have still not
devised sufficient “living wills” for winding down their operations in
the event of another crisis. Secretary Hillary Clinton’s more modest
proposals do not go far enough. They call for a bit more oversight and
a few new charges on shadow banking activity, but they leave intact the
titanic financial conglomerates that practice most shadow banking. As a
result, her plan does not adequately reduce the serious risks our
financial system poses to the American economy and to individual
Americans. Given the size and political power of Wall Street, her
proposals would only invite more dilution and finagle. The only way to
contain Wall Street’s excesses is with reforms sufficiently bold and
public they can’t be watered down. That’s why we support Senator
Sanders’ plans for busting up the biggest banks and resurrecting a
modernized version of Glass Steagall.”
I rest my and Robert Reich's case that
Bernie Sanders does know what he is talking about. And Hillary
Clinton clearly lied (and see the end of the last quoted bit).
5. Opinion: America's Election
The fifth item is by Markus Feldenkirchen:
This starts as follows (and is from April 6,
last, when I missed it):
America wasn't the world's first
democracy, but for a long time, it was its proudest. No other country
spoke as passionately or confidently about its system of government. If
things continue as they have in this primary election, those days will
And this is here mostly because it is the
opinion of a European on Trump and the GOP, that also seems fairly
widely shared in Europe, and that I think is more or less
Here is a part on Trump:
Trump had previously exclaimed during a
TV debate, unprovoked, that he had a large penis ("I guarantee.") He
claimed a TV journalist's critical questions were a consequence of
menstruation problems. He also mockingly acted out another journalist's
physical disability live on television.
The political culture that is emerging
here is a mixture of primary school, mafia, and porn industry. It
alternates between cries of "He started it!," brawls, misogyny, and
penis size comparison. It's almost as if guests at a formal dinner,
where basic table manners were a given, suddenly began to belch and
break wind without restraint. America is currently experiencing not
only political but also moral bankruptcy. Dirty tricks are not new in
US election campaigns, but the new lows to which the candidates are
currently stooping are unprecedented.
This is probably not a fair
summary of the primaries, and it also is not quite fair about
Trump, for the other Republican candidates are (or were) about as bad,
if perhaps slightly less crude, but it does
seem a fair summary of what quite a few Europeans think about Trump and
about the primaries (which most Europeans see far less of than
Here is the last bit that I quote from the article:
Over the course of decades, the
Republicans have likewise built up a culture of contempt for public
goods and services. They argue for educational policies that exclude
the non-privileged, instead pushing them towards stultification and
barbarization. They allow billionaires like the Koch brothers to direct
the party's policy and appoint it's key candidates. A few years ago,
Republicans furthermore embraced the radical and destructive Tea Party
movement, thus marking the party's departure from any semblance of
It is too late to turn back the clock.
That is, according to Markus Feldenkirchen
the GOP needs to be (and will be) beaten in the presidential elections,
and needs then to be reconstituted and refounded as "a civilized,
sincere party with close ties to its constituents".
I do not know whether that will happen,
but this is what many Europeans think.
These are facts that are hardly ever mentioned in heroic Holland.
(But they are true.)