April 23, 2016

Crisis: Google, Torture, Left-Wing (?), Hypocrisy, Sanders, Poverty, Abby Martin
Sections                                                                     crisis index

 The Android Administration
2. Judge Grants Torture Victims Their First Chance to
     Pursue Justice
3. What Should Left-Wing Foreign Policy Look Like?
How the Panama Papers Reveal Scandalous Hypocrisy
Who Runs Strongest Against Trump? 'That Candidate is
     Me,' Says Sanders

47 Percent Of Americans Cannot Even Come Up With
     $400 To Cover An Emergency Room Visit

Empire Files: Abby Martin Exposes What Hillary Clinton
     Really Represents


This is a Nederlog of Saturday, April 23, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 7 items with 7 dotted links: Item 1 is about Obama's great liking of Google aka Alphabet; item 2 is about a civil suit against the two designers of the U.S. torture program, psychologists Mitchell and Jessen (who were rewarded $80 million for it); item 3 is about leftwing policy and the popularity of Piketty compared with the invisisbility of Noam Chomsky; item 4 is about the Panama Papers, Cameron, and why there are so few Americans in the Panama Papers; item 5 is about a very recent interview with Bernie Sanders, who concedes winning the presidential candidacy will be difficult, but who goes on till the end, and who insists - quite correctly - he is the best answer to Trump; item 6 is about the amazing poverty of nearly half of all Americans (sorry guys: your money went to the rich); and item 7 is a fine video with Abby Martin exposing Hillary Clinton.

1. The Android Administration

The first item is b
y David Dayen on The Intercept:
This is from the beginning:

Over the past seven years, Google has created a remarkable partnership with the Obama White House, providing expertise, services, advice, and personnel for vital government projects.

Precisely how much influence this buys Google isn’t always clear. But consider that over in the European Union, Google is now facing two major antitrust charges for abusing its dominance in mobile operating systems and search. By contrast, in the U.S., a strong case to sanction Google was quashed by a presidentially appointed commission.

I say - and Google (aka "Alphabet") has an enormous amount of money (much of it stolen from the American taxes, by the way, but that does not seem to hinder Obama).

Here is some more on the influence Google has on the White House:

As the interactive charts accompanying this article show, Google representatives attended White House meetings more than once a week, on average, from the beginning of Obama’s presidency through October 2015. Nearly 250 people have shuttled from government service to Google employment or vice versa over the course of his administration.

Should I point out - once again - that the merger between the big multi-national corporations and the government is a sign of fascism [1]?! OK, I have done it - and mind you, this is not only about power but also about lots of money:

Google’s dramatic rise as a lobbying force has not gone unnoticed. The company paid almost no attention to the Washington influence game prior to 2007, but ramped up steeply thereafter. It spent $16.7 million in lobbying in 2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and has been at or near the top of public companies in lobbying expenses since 2012.

But direct expenditures on lobbying represent only one part of the larger influence-peddling game. Google’s lobbying strategy also includes throwing lavish D.C. parties; making grants to trade groups, advocacy organizations, and think tanks; offering free services and training to campaigns, congressional offices, and journalists; and using academics as validators for the company’s public policy positions.

I say. In any case, I don't think Google lost on its investments in the government. And this is how corruption - buying power or influence, which is what Google has spent a lot of money on - does work.

2. Judge Grants Torture Victims Their First Chance to Pursue Justice

The second item is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

A CIVIL SUIT against the architects of the CIA’s torture program, psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, will be allowed to proceed, a federal judge in Spokane, Washington, decided on Friday.

District Judge Justin Quackenbush denied the pair’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit launched against them on behalf of three victims, one dead, of the brutal tactics they designed.

“This is amazing, this is unprecedented,” Steven Watt, a senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union representing the plaintiffs, told The Intercept after the hearing. “This is the first step towards accountability.”

What’s so unprecedented is that this is the first time opponents of the program will have the chance to seek discovery evidence in the case unimpeded by the government. In every other past torture accountability lawsuit, the government has invoked its special state-secrets privileges to purportedly protect national security.

I say. This indeed is rather amazing, especially because of what is said in the third paragraph: No government interference, which they based on the - utterly illegal, in international law - notion that torture should be allowed. I do hope this judicial decision will keep standing, because that seems to be the only way "the public" may get some truths about the torturing that Mitchell and Jessen did and arranged.

Then again, this is merely the beginning, so I only register it now. I will probably return to it (in part because I really dislike my "fellow psychologists"
Mitchell and Jessen, who also have been kicked from the American Psycho-
logical Association, quite deservedly).

3. What Should Left-Wing Foreign Policy Look Like?

The third item is
by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

Remember the Bush years, when it was safe, as the editors of n+1 say in the magazine’s Spring 2016 issue, “to accuse the government of both criminality and insanity” for its foreign policy? Not so in the Obama era, during which policy discussions even among liberals narrowed to a slight “range of options presented as the full spectrum of reasonable action”: “[A]rm the Syrian rebels? Stay the course with a bombing campaign? Send a trickle of ‘advisers,’ softly and quietly, to invade Syria?”

This development owes a great deal to the disappearance of the antiwar movement, the editors argue. Consider, for example, that Thomas Piketty—“an economist concerned with inequality and distribution”—“can publish the biggest academic best seller of the decade,” “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” while a foreign-policy expert like Noam Chomsky, who presumes American hegemony is “not de facto a good thing,” gets nowhere in the national press.

Hm. There is something to the position of the editors of n+1, but I think they considerably understate their case:

There is not only hardly any antiwar movement in the USA (apart from some veterans, to be sure), there also is a radical disappearance of the real left , that morphed into the quasi-left of the Democratic Party, that stands to the right of Reagan on many issues; the disappearance of most of the free press; the rather complete disappearance of any real "leftist ideology" in the mainstream media, and its exchange to a mostly linguistic position of political correctness; the morphing of the U.S. government into a collaboration with the multinational corporations (especially banking and computing, at least in this administration: it was oil in the previous one); and 
the constant secret surveillance of everyone by the secret services, that probably dampens the enthusiasm of many to protest the government. [2]

I think each of these changes was major, and each of these changes contributed to the disappeareance from the mainstream media and most of the paper press of most antiwar positions, of most genuine leftist criticisms of society, and of almost any rational leftist criticism of the government.

But I leave this theme, since this is a brief article, and most of it is given to
a fairly long quotation that answers the question of the title of the article, but
I found the particular answer that is quoted not interesting.

4. How the Panama Papers Reveal Scandalous Hypocrisy

The fourth item i
s by Jim Hightower on AlterNet:

This is from near the beginning:

We've known for a while that tax dodging is a common plutocratic scam, but the details from the leaked files of an obscure Panamanian law firm named Mossack Fonseca now give us names to shame.

One is David Cameron, the ardently conservative prime minister of Britain, who has loudly declaimed tax sneaks in public. But—oops—now we learn that his own super-wealthy father was a Mossack Fonseca client, and that David himself has profited from the stealth wealth he inherited from the elder Cameron's secret stash. Trapped by the facts, the snarling, privileged prime minister used middle-class commoners as his shield, asserting that critics of his secluded wealth are trying to "tax anyone who [wants] to pass on their home ... to their children." Uh-uh, David—we merely want to tax those who try to pass off tax frauds on the public.

Indeed, and I admit I liked the discomfitures and the corrupt twistings and turnings of Cameron, in part becase I just don't like him (though not as much as I dislike Blair), in part because of his riches (he is a millionaire, though not as affluent as Blair), and in part because of his awful policies: It is nice to know he is a fraud.

There is also this on the American rich:

The global web of corruption involving thousands of super-rich tax dodgers and money launderers that the Panama Papers reveal is an explosive scandal—yet, interestingly, very few names of the moneyed elite in our country have surfaced as players in Mossack Fonseca's Panamanian shell game. Perhaps U.S. billionaires and corporations are just more honest than those elsewhere.

Hahaha, just kidding! They're not more honest, just luckier. You see, America's conniving richies don't have to go to Panama to set up an offshore flim flam—they have the convenience of hiding their money and wrongdoings in secret accounts created right here in states like Delaware and Nevada.

The New York Times notes that it's easier in some states to form a dummy money corporation than it is to get a fishing license.
This is good to know, though I should add that this seems to hold mostly for personal riches and less for corporate riches, which again seems to be the reason so many American corporations formally are seated outside the USA:
To avoid paying U.S. taxes

5. Who Runs Strongest Against Trump? 'That Candidate is Me,' Says Sanders

The fifth item is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Bernie Sanders acknowledged in an exclusive interview with NBC News on Thursday that he faces "a hard path" to win the Democratic presidential nomination—but maintained that he's up to the challenge, asserting that "the people in every state in this country have the right to vote for the agenda that they want."

"It's not unrealistic," he stressed, but "it's a hard path, I admit that."

"Look, if we do not have a majority, it's gonna be...hard for us to win," Sanders told reporter Andrea Mitchell in his first interview since losing the New York primary to rival Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. "The only fact that I think remains uncertain is if we continue to be running significantly stronger than she is against Donald Trump, or whoever the Republican nominee will be. I think that's a factor."

"I think there are a lot of Democrats out there who are scared to death—as I am—about the possibility of a Trump presidency," Sanders continued. "And the Democrats, by and large, want to see the strongest candidate possible to take on and defeat Trump or some other Republican. At this point, according to virtually all of the polls, that candidate is me."

This is here because I did want to quote some reasonable article on Bernie Sanders after he lost New York to Clinton. And this is a reasonable article,
and also I agree with everything Bernie Sanders says in thev above quotation.

There is more in the article, and it is recommended.

6. 47 Percent Of Americans Cannot Even Come Up With $400 To Cover An Emergency Room Visit

The sixth item is by Michael Snyder on Washington's Blog and originally on the Economic Collapse Blog:

This  starts as follows:
If you had to make a sudden visit to the emergency room, would you have enough money to pay for it without selling something or borrowing the funds from somewhere?  Most Americans may not realize this, but this is something that the Federal Reserve has actually been tracking for several years now.  And according to the Fed, an astounding 47 percent of all Americans could not come up with $400 to pay for an emergency room visit without borrowing it or selling something.  Various surveys that I have talked about in the past have found that more than 60 percent of all Americans are living to paycheck to paycheck, but I didn’t realize that things were quite this bad for about half the country.  If you can’t even come up with $400 for an unexpected emergency room visit, then you are just surviving from month to month by the skin of your teeth.  Unfortunately, about half of us are currently in that situation.
I say! And no, I did not know that, and this also is - well... should be: the politicians don't care, for the most part - a frightful shame for American governments and for American politicians.

Incidentally, I am almost 66 now (no, I don't look it at all) and have never in my life received as much as the minimal legal income in Holland, for when I was healthy I did not work full days in order to study; then I got a study loan, which was considerably less than the dole; then I got dole, which was less than the official minimal income (I should have gotten a health-program because I was really ill, but no: it was much better that I suffered, according to the sick  assholes of the dole); and now I have a minimal pension, which is still 24/25th of the minimal pension others get, because I lived in Norway for two years) - but (also because I have learned to live cheaply and don't drink at all) I do now have several thousands in reserve, of course without any interest, because I am poor. (And that also took trouble and restraint.)

In any case: The brief summary of the above is that the American rich and the American politicians have succeeded in making nearly half of the total American population, that is around 150 million persons, poorer and more decrepit than I am, who never got as much as a Dutch minimal income (while I do have an M.A. degree which is extremely rare: 9.3 out of 10 points maximal - the average is slightly above 6 - but I never got a real chance of making as much as one cent with it, and indeed I didn't).

And here is a journalist called Neil Gabler who gets quoted, to show you what it is like to have very little money:

I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5—literally—while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.
I have had very similar experiences, and not just for one or a few years, but for more than 10 years, while I was in the dole, and had to repay debts. (But I have no children, no wife, and - so far - never ran out of heat.) [3]

Finally here is a sum-up in five points:

To underscore this point, let me just run five quick facts about the growth of poverty in this country by you…

The number of Americans that are living in concentrated areas of high poverty has doubled since the year 2000.

In 2007, about one out of every eight children in America was on food stamps. Today, that number is one out of every five.

46 million Americans use food banks each year, and lines start forming at some U.S. food banks as early as 6:30 in the morning because people want to get something before the food supplies run out.

The number of homeless children in the U.S. has increased by 60 percent over the past six years.

According to Poverty USA, 1.6 million American children slept in a homeless shelter or some other form of emergency housing last year.

In brief: The United States - if this article is correct, and I see no reason to doubt it is - is growing rapidly poorer and poorer, except for the few rich,
who are as rapidly growing richer and richer.

And this is a recommended article.

Empire Files: Abby Martin Exposes What Hillary Clinton Really Represents

The seventh and last item is by

I like Abby Martin (since Breaking The Set (<- Wikipedia)): she is smart and sensible. The above link goes directly to Youtube, where you should see the following:
This takes 27 m 7 s. It is a good video on Hillary Clinton, who is not a good person at all (but - still, even so - less bad and (especially) less crazy than Donald Trump, which I do mention in case the choice will be between the badly
rotten and the loony fascistic, as very well may be the case).
[1] I have, and in case you want to disagree, here is the definition of fascism I presume, which is from the American Heritage Dictionary (<- Wikipedia):
"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."
Note: "typically through the merging of state and business leadership".

[2] I am merely briefly listing these major changes here. I think they are all very important, and I think they also have been very consciously striven for since the early 1970ies by "the political right" and by "the rich" (to use two easy labels, that need expansions, but not here and now).

I think also most of these changes to the right comprise both of the large American political parties (both did shift to the right, and quite a lot as well), and much of what Powell and Reagan wanted for the right has meanwhile been achieved.

But this is merely a note. I will probably deal with these 5 important changes in a later Nederlog.

[3] I should also say here that I was much opposed by the bureaucrats of the dole, and by many other bureaucrats who worked for the narko-nazis who were mayors of Amsterdam. (This is not true of anyone else in the dole, at least to the best of my knowledge.)

And please note that in Holland over 10 billion euros are turned over every year - at least - by the illegal drugsdealers who are protected by Dutch mayors, which makes their trade look legal, which it never was: all dealing in soft drugs in Holland is still illegal, and was so since 1965, but somehow there is since the middle 1980ies a deal between the drugsmafia and the Dutch mayors that consisted in this: The Dutch mayors "give their personal permission" to the illegal dealers to deal in soft drugs; the illegal dealers agree that they will not deal in hard drugs; and until they do they are completely free to do what they please, for part of the deal is and was that no one knows how much soft drugs are sold, and no one knows the quality of the soft drugs that are sold.

That is the essence of the thoroughly corrupt and totally illegal deal that was concluded in the middle 1980ies, and that is the case till today (over 30 years now).

I am for legalization of all drugs since 1969, but I think the Dutch set-up was designed to make an enormous illegal amount of money.

So far, it has succeeded in doing so from 1985 till 2016, in which also something like 300 billions of euros were sold merely in soft drugs. (That figure results very simply from the figures in the parliamentary Van Traa report, that was never acted upon after Van Traa died mysteriously or was killed mysteriously. The link is to the part of his report about Amsterdam, that is on my site since 15 years. In case you read Dutch, do read Noot 60)

Incidentally: I do not know what part went into politicians', district attorneys' or judges' pockets. As the situation is, nobody knows, except for those who received some. Of course, the mayors themselves deny getting a single cent, and also deny they know anything about drugs. You might believe them, although all the evidence you have are their very honest faces, but the numbers in this note are the numbers in Van Traa's parliamentary report (for Van Traa was a parliamentarian and was given the task by parliament to compile a report on drugs in Holland).

And with a turnover of 10 billion euros each year (merely in soft drugs), which is about 12 billion dollars, lots of people may have been corrupted.

But do not count on any help from the Dutch police, Dutch judges, Dutch mayors, Dutch district attorneys, Dutch politicians or Dutch bureacrats to clarify the problems these enormous corruptions created:

As far as they are concerned, everything has been arraigned in the best possible way, and no one is to blame for anything (except for me, since I keep writing about it because my health was thoroughly destroyed since 25 years after having to live for four years above such illegal drugsdealers who were protected by
the Dutch police, Dutch judges, Dutch mayors, Dutch district attorneys, Dutch politicians  and by Dutch bureacrats).

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