1. The Joke of U.S. Justice and “Accountability” When
They Bomb a Hospital
2. Why is the racial wealth gap widening? And what should
be done to reverse it?
3. Clinton Camp says She's Been Forced to the Left Enough
Supreme Court Quietly Approves Rule to Give FBI
'Sprawling' Hacking Powers
This is a Nederlog of Saturday, April 30,
crisis blog. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about the US Army's record of
bombing hospitals, and here specifically about the hospital that was in
Kunduz; item 2 is about an article by Robert Reich,
that is well- intentioned but that I don't expect to succeed; item 3 is about Clinton and Sanders, and I briefly
outline why I do not expect much of a Sanders-led movement after
the elections (if he doesn't get the presidential candidacy) -
and I wish it were different; and item 4 is
about yet another extension of the secret powers of the FBI: soon they
may hack any computer they want to, anywhere, especially if it
uses TOR, for the secret police of the USA demands access to
anything anyone does anywhere with any computer or cellphone, and the
US Congress gives in to these demands.
1. The Joke of U.S. Justice and “Accountability” When They Bomb
There is less in today's Nederlog than there was yesterday, but yesterday was a fairly special day.
first item is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as
Ever since the U.S. last October
bombed a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Kunduz,
Afghanistan, the U.S. vehemently denied guilt while acting exactly like
a guilty party would. First, it changed
its story repeatedly. Then, it blocked
every effort – including repeated demands from MSF – to have
an independent investigation determine what really
happened. As May Jeong documented in a
richly reported story for The Intercept yesterday, the
Afghan government – rather than denying that the hospital was targeted
– instead repeatedly claimed that doing so was justified;
moreover, they were sympathetic to calls for an independent
investigation, which the U.S. blocked. What is beyond dispute, as Jeong
wrote, is that the “211 shells that were fired . . . were
felt by the 42 men, women, and children who were killed.” MSF insisted
the bombing was "deliberate," and ample
evidence supports that charge.
I agree, also with the thesis that "the bombing was "deliberate,"" indeed
in part because I have written about this topic before. There are 5
items in the index of 2015 about the
bombing of the MSF hospital, and I wrote this in the first of these, on
October 21, 2015:
There is some evidence in that
article, and there are four more articles on "Kunduz" (that's the
search term) with more evidence. Meanwhile, half a year further, there
is this from the U.S. Army:
To start with, here
is my guess about the question "American
forces came to spend more than an hour shelling one of the few places
of shelter left in the battered city": Because they wanted to.
For this seems far
more likely than any alternative, which all must include "the Americans
did not know what they were doing", which seems nearly
impossible, given that the hospital was there for years and
its position had been very many times clarified to the American
Despite all this, the U.S.
military is about to release a report that, so predictably, exonerates
itself from all guilt; it was, of course, all just a terribly tragic
mistake. Worse, reports
The Los Angeles Times‘ W.J. Hennigan, “no one
will face criminal charges.” Instead, this is the “justice” being meted
out to those responsible:
One officer was suspended from command
and ordered out of Afghanistan. The others were given lesser
punishments: Six were sent to counseling, seven were issued letters of
reprimand, and two were ordered to retraining courses.
First, that it was all "a mistake" is extremely
unlikely, because the U.S. Army was extremely well informed, for
years also, about the precise place where the hospital was, and
the hospital itself was clearly marked to be seen from the air as a
hospital, also at night.
Second, supposing it was a mistake: The
mistake killed 42 people and wounded many more, and the above
"punishments" are, plainly, ridiculous.
Here is Glenn Greenwald's conclusion:
I entirely agree, indeed including the
suggestion that there is a connection between not punishing the
Wall Street criminals, the "worldwide regime
But none of that matters. The only law
to which the U.S. government is subject is its own interests. U.S.
officials scoffed at global demands for a real investigation into what
took place here, and then doled out “punishments” of counseling,
training classes, and letters of reprimand for those responsible for
this carnage. That’s almost a worse insult, a more extreme expression
of self-exoneration and indifference, than no sanctions at all. But
that’s par for the course in a country that has granted full-scale
legal immunity for those who perpetrated the most egregious crimes:
systemic fraud that caused the 2008 financial crisis to the worldwide
regime of torture the U.S. government officially implemented.
of torture", and the deliberate bombing of MSF hospitals: It is called
"neoliberalism", and it was treated yesterday.
is the racial wealth gap widening? And what should be done to reverse
The second item is by
Robert Reich on his site (and maybe I should add that the original
title is all in capitals, which I undid because I think it is ugly):
starts as follows:
Yes, although - as far as I know, but my
evidence is good - it seems to me that the vast increases in inequality
are especially (though indeed not: only) due to the enormous
sinking of the taxes demanded from the rich.
Wealth inequality is even more of a
problem than income inequality. That’s because you have to have enough
savings from income to begin to accumulate wealth – buying a house or
investing in stocks and bonds, or saving up to send a child to college.
But many Americans have almost no
savings, so they have barely any wealth. Two-thirds live paycheck to
Once you have wealth, it generates its
own income as the value of that wealth increases over time, generating
dividends and interest, and then even more when those assets are sold.
This is why wealth inequality is
compounding faster than income inequality. The richest top 1% own 40%
of the nation’s wealth. The bottom 80% own just 7%.
Here is Reich's answer to what should be done about this situation:
So what can we do to help all Americans
First, reform the tax system so
capital gains – increases in the value of assets – are taxed at the
same rate as ordinary income.
Second, limit how much mortgage
interest the wealthy can deduct from their incomes.
Then use the tax savings from these
changes to help lower-income people gain a foothold in building their
Perhaps. But since I do not see
this happen in the present circumstances anyway, I'd like to formulate
a more radical proposal, that indeed also would not make it in
the present circumstances:
What the Americans need now are Eisenhower's
together with a plan to redistribute the money obtained from them to
increase the incomes and chances of the many poor, instead of
increasing the incomes of the few very rich, as is the case now.
(But yes: I grant either plan will not make it in the
present "neoliberal" political
circumstances. As to Eisenhower's tax schemes: They worked, it
was capitalism, and both the many poor and the
few rich profited, and the rich by remaining rich and not
having to fear a revolution: "Taxes are what we pay for civilized
society", as Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. put it - and those who do not
want to pay taxes do not want civilized society.)
Clinton Camp says She's Been Forced to the Left Enough Already
The third item is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Fresh after Bernie Sanders' call
for a "a fifty-state strategy... to plant the flag of progressive
politics" nationwide, new reporting on Friday suggests that Hillary
Clinton's campaign won't be budged any further to the left.
say! The lady whose personal riches (together with her honest
husband's) are over $150 million, mostly for services rendered to the
banks, announces - from her position far to the right of Eisenhower -
that she "won't be budged any further to the left": 'Let them eat cake, if they have no more bread! I have
cared enough for the poor!' 
Actually, I am neither amazed nor can I bring myself to believe
says in public, for she says anything that she believes increases her
chances to win (though I grant her that she is less dishonest
This is Bernie Sanders' position, as given by Andrea Germanos (but that
probably is adequate):
As Sanders sees it, the Democratic Party
as a whole is in crisis, saying Thursday that it "has not been clear
about which side they are on on the major issues facing this country."
Speaking to thousands at a rally in
Eugene, Ore., Sanders said,
"The Democratic Party has to reach a fundamental conclusion: Are we on
the side working people or big money interests? Do we stand with the
elderly, the children, and the sick and the poor, or do we stand with
Wall Street speculators and the drug companies and the insurance
Sanders added, "Now our job is not just
to revitalize the Democratic Party—not only to open the doors to young
people and working people—our jobs is to revitalize American democracy."
Ehrenfreund concludes in his piece that
even without securing the Democratic presidential nomination, Sanders'
successful pushes on key issues mean "he might be on the winning side
in the contest over the party's future."
I don't agree. Here are my reasons:
First paragraph: I think both the
Republicans and the Democrats are in crisis, and the crises are both similar,
for it is between the professional politicians who lead the party
and get elected on the one hand, and the electorate who elect them
on the other hand, and many in both electorates for both
parties have found that those they elect(ed) betray(ed) them, lied to
them, and deceived them.
So I think Sanders considerably understates
the issue. As regards the Democratic party, it is that most of the
professional politicians who lead it (Obama and his team, Clinton and
her team) simply serve the banks and their
managers, and indeed have been bought to do so, while they get
elected on the mostly false pretense that they will help the poor who
elected them: They will not, were it only because the poor have no
money to pay them. (But again,
Clinton is less bad than Trump or Cruz.)
Second paragraph: There is no such "we" as Sanders addresses:
the professional politicians who lead it are mostly for the rich (with
a few exceptions, like Sanders himself); the people who elected them
are mostly working people, and
indeed by this time many may vote Democrats because they know they are
quite dishonest, but are less dishonest than the Republicans.
(Which also seems correct, by and large.)
Third paragraph: American democracy is
mostly dead.  It may be revitalized, but that
would need an enormous operation on both parties, that
will probably be impossible without a huge crisis, simply because both
parties are run by professional politicians, who don't
care for "the people", whatever they say, and who will try everything
to keep being elected and paid. There is another difficulty here, that
I take up next:
Fourth paragraph: I like Sanders a lot
(without agreeing with him on every thing) and I respect him because he
has a long history of being an honest and real
leftist ever since 1970. But that is also the difficulty:
He is one of the very few professional politicians who has
remained honest and who has remained a real leftist
(rather than selling out to the rich, to get rich themselves, as the
Clintons did) - but he is also 74, and I have not seen any real
replacement for him.
I wish it were otherwise, and I am
willing to grant you that it would have been if Sanders had
been 54, but he isn't, and I am also rather certain he will not
be active in politics at 94, indeed not because he might not want to,
but simply because reaching 94 in good health is still pretty rare.
Supreme Court Quietly Approves Rule to Give FBI 'Sprawling' Hacking
The fourth item
is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
this slightly: The American government thinks it has the right to try
to break into any computer of anyone, so that it can steal
all, and verify its user(s) are (roughly) as the American
government desires them to be.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday
quietly approved a rule change that would allow a federal magistrate
judge to issue a search and seizure warrant for any target using
anonymity software like Tor to browse the internet.
Absent action by U.S. Congress, the rule
change (pdf) will go into effect in December. The FBI would then be
able to search computers remotely—even if the bureau doesn't know where
that computer is located—if a user has anonymity software installed on
The rule changes, which the FBI said were
necessary to combat cybercrime, come amid escalating tensions between
the intelligence community and technology and privacy advocates, and
just a day after the U.S. House of Representatives advanced
a bill that would require the government to obtain a probable cause
warrant from a judge before seizing data stored with tech companies
such as Facebook, Google, and Dropbox.
Also, this has nothing to do with private terrorism: it
terrorism that has seen, at long last, the opportunity to investigate
everyone in everything, and to disappear
anyone who doesn't
sufficiently suit the ideal American citizen as seen by the government
(also with secret judgements by secret courts that
order anyone who
receives them not to say one word).
At least, that is what I think. Here is what
Kevin Bankston of the Open Technology Institute thinks:
"Whatever euphemism the FBI
uses to describe it—whether they call it a 'remote access search' or a
'network investigative technique'—what we're talking about is
government hacking, and this obscure rule change would authorize a lot
more of it," said
Kevin Bankston, director of the policy advocacy group Open
Technology Institute (OTI), which previously testified against the
changes. "Congress should stop this power-grab in its tracks and
instead demand answers from the FBI, which so far has been ducking
Congress' questions on this issue and fighting in court to keep its
hacking tactics secret."
Precisely. Will this help? Probably not,
Congress protects the secrecies and the powers of the FBI, even though
it could know that a secret police force belongs in dictatorships and
tyrannies rather than in (formal) democracies.
And here is one of the few senators who cares:
I agree, but I do not see his vision prevail
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), one of the more
outspoken privacy advocates in Congress, slammed the proposal as a
"sprawling expansion of government surveillance" and called on Congress
to reject it.
"These amendments will have significant
consequences for Americans' privacy and the scope of the government's
powers to conduct remote surveillance and searches of electronic
devices," Wyden said in a statement.
"Under the proposed rules, the government would now be able to obtain a
single warrant to access and search thousands or millions of computers
at once; and the vast majority of the effected computers would belong
to the victims, not the perpetrators, of a cybercrime."
 In case you don't know: "Let them eat
cake" (<- Wikiepdia) was - very probably falsely -
attributed to queen Marie Antoinette of France, in the 18th Century.
 I am very
sorry this is a fact, but I think it is. There are many reasons to
think so, but one important one is that most of the free press has
collapsed and has been bought up by a few rich men, and most of the
editors and journalists who work in the press have given up the
ambition to try to find out the truth about the government and its
institutions, and have decided it is much safer and much better
paid to serve as the government's copyboys and copygirls. (It is true
there still is some free press, but most of it is marginal, ill paid,
and not visited by the majorities. Also, if Trump is the next
president, these may have to disappear.)