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Nederlog

May 3, 2016

Crisis: FBI, Reich on Capitalism, TTIP, Revolution, Austrian Malady
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. FBI Chooses Secrecy Over Locking Up Criminals
2. The Third Way: Share-the-Gains Capitalism
3. 'Today Marks the End of TTIP': Greenpeace Leak
     Exposes Corporate Takeover

4.
Don’t Sleep Through the Revolution: A Graduation
     Message for a Dark Age

5. The Austrian Malady: Turning Right in the Refugee Crisis
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, May 3, 2016.


This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the FBI shenanigans: they rather keep their illegal means to surveil than saying to a judge how they got "evidence" (which is illegal if not gathered legally); item 2 is about an item of Robert Reich that sounds a bit similar to ideas of mine; item 3 is about "The End of TTIP" aka a considerable part of the TTIP has been released by Greenpeace so that the people who are affected - at long last - can read it (but I am less certain about "The End"); item 4 is mostly about radical advice to young leftist protesters (I say - on the basis of at least 46 years of experience - that only a small minority will read and follow it); and item 5 is about Austria that may turn neofascistic soon.

1. FBI Chooses Secrecy Over Locking Up Criminals

The first item is
by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s refusal to discuss even the broad strokes of some of its secret investigative methods, such as implanting malware and tracking cellphones with Stingrays, is backfiring – if the goal is to actually enforce the law.

In the most recent example, the FBI may be forced to drop its case against a Washington State school administrator charged with possessing child porn because it doesn’t want to tell the court or the defense how it got its evidence – even in the judge’s chambers.

The FBI reportedly used a bug in an older version of the free anonymity software Tor to insert malware on the computers of people who accessed a child-porn website it had seized. The malware gave agents the ability to see visitors’ real internet addresses and track them down.

I say. Incidentally, one important reason why the FBI tries to keep its secrets is that most of the evidence or "evidence" they gather by their "secret investigative methods" is in fact gathered illegally under the present American laws.

Here is an American judge who agrees that the FBI may have intentionally and illegally planted malware on a defendants computer, and who therefore ordered them to explain how they got their evidence (or "evidence", for illegally gathered material cannot be legal evidence):

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan in Tacoma agreed.

“The consequences are straightforward: the prosecution must now choose between complying with the court’s discovery order and dismissing the case,” Michaud’s defense attorneys wrote in a brief filed last week.

The FBI’s lawyers took what they described as the “unusual step” in late March of asking the judge to reconsider his order, repeating earlier arguments that revealing the full details of the technique would be “harmful to the public interest.”
The FBI's lawyers were lying: they are not busy with defending "the public interest"; they are systematically and intentionally harming "the public interest" by illegally planting malware on computers, and illegally helping to survey every American, and everybody else, on the ground that anyone may be a terrorist (which is a mere pretext in view of the fact that the chances to be hit by lightning as a US citizen are bigger - the last 15 years - than being hit by a terrorist).

The following is more lies by the FBI, followed by some comments:

In their frequent public arguments against unbreakable encryption, FBI officials have been arguing that public safety takes precedence over personal privacy.

But if this case gets dropped, the “defendant walks because the government has decided that its secrecy trumps someone else’s becoming a victim of Crime Everyone Hates,” Scott Greenfield, a criminal defense lawyer, wrote in his blog Simple Justice.

“The FBI would rather let a criminal go free than actually follow a court order designed to ensure a fair defense” even though revealing the bug “would almost certainly not help the defense,” tweeted Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California.

Yes. And the FBI is lying that they are interestedd in "public safety": They are intentionally trying to destroy the public safety of almost every American by surveilling him or her, and they are intentionally trying to destroy the public safety of everybody on earth by argueing against unbreakable encryption.

The American government just does not have the right to read everybody's correspondence, and once they create laws that allows the police to read
everybody's correspondence (which may happen), the USA will cease to be the
USA, and will become a mostly neofascist police state with a dictatorial and authoritarian government that interferes intentionally in anybody's privacy, correspondence and secrets - that secret servicemen should stay out of until they have positive evidence that one is a real suspect of terrorism.

2. The Third Way: Share-the-Gains Capitalism

The second item is
by Robert Reich on his site:

I start with two comments on the title, for - I think - both points were intended by Robert Reich:

First, there is something utterly fraudulent since the 1990ies, called the "Third Way" (<- Wikipedia) that was intentionally created by Bill Clinton to gain the presidency (and was adopted by Blair, Kok and other "social democrat" leaders) and that consists of the denial of all socialist policies and plans, the denial of all radical changes, and the denial of all real leftishness in any leftish party that followed his rules, other than political correctness that keeps people from saying what they really think ("because words may hurt some people").

I do not think this ever got popular under ordinary voters, but it did get very popular under "socialist" and "leftish" professional politicians, who in large part changed to Third Way bullshit because this guaranteed them continued payments and power, while freeing them from having to front parties that wanted real changes in the economy or real changes in the policies of distribution of wealth.

Second, Reich's "share-the-gains capitalism", which he also explicitly opposes
to "
cutthroat hyper-capitalism" seems very similar to my distinction of two kinds of capitalism: Capitalism-with-a-human-face, which is capitalism with social laws that protect everyone, and guarantees a decent income and decent working conditions to all, and capitalism-without-a-human-face, which is capitalism without social laws that protect everyone, and without any legal guarantees on a decent income and decent working conditions to all. [1]

I think the distinction is quite valid, and also can be illustrated from history: The 19th Century, up to the 1920ies, were the days of capitalism-without-a -human-face; the 20th Century, from around 1930 till 1970 were the days of capitalism-with-a-human-face; and since the 1970ies we have, especially in the United States, a strong movement, mostly paid by the very rich, and mostly practised by most politicians from both large American political parties, that seeks to reintroduce capitalism-without-a-human-face by deregulating away all legal protections of everyone who is not rich, including all protections that exist so far in Europe, namely through the foul TTIP (see item 3 for that).

This starts as follows, with an example how very well the very few very rich have taken care of their own riches:

Marissa Mayer tells us a lot about why Americans are so angry, and why anti-establishment fury has become the biggest single force in American politics today.

Mayer is CEO of Yahoo. Yahoo’s stock lost about a third of its value last year, as the company went from making $7.5 billion in 2014 to losing $4.4 billion in 2015. Yet Mayer raked in $36 million in compensation.

Even if Yahoo’s board fires her, her contract stipulates she gets $54.9 million in severance. The severance package was disclosed in a regulatory filing last Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In other words, Mayer can’t lose.

It’s another example of no-lose socialism for the rich – winning big regardless of what you do.

Yes, indeed - and besides, the tens of millions she "earns" are completely ridiculous and quite crazy egoistic greed. [2] There is much more that I could say about this, some of which I reserve for a footnote. Here I return to Robert Reich and the real world (where people are not given tens of millions a year as CEOs: this is only true of the very corrupt and greedy very few):

But the rest of America works in a different system.

Theirs is cutthroat hyper-capitalism – in which wages are shrinking, median household income continues to drop, workers are fired without warning, two-thirds are living paycheck to paycheck, and employees are being classified as “independent contractors” without any labor protections at all.

Why is there no-lose socialism for the rich and cutthroat hyper-capitalism for everyone else?

Because the rules of the game – including labor laws, pension laws, corporate laws, and tax laws – have been crafted by those at the top, and the lawyers and lobbyists who work for them.

Yes, quite so - for it is all intentional: The very few very rich (the 1%) all got a whole lot richer, while everybody else got a whole lot poorer, and both owe their respective huge advancements and huge falls to the intentional decisions of the professional politicians, who mostly have been bought by the rich, and anyway tend to belong to the worst classes of liars and egoists rather than to the class of honest and social speakers of the truth. [3]

There is considerably more here about an American billionaire named Ulakaya, who seems to be one of the few socially minded billionaires, which I skip here, but that you can read by clicking on the last dotted link.

Here is a somewhat similar decision by a few others:

A handful of other companies are inching their way in a similar direction.

Apple decided last October it would award shares not just to executives or engineers but to hourly paid workers as well. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is giving a third of his Twitter stock (about 1 percent of the company) ”to our employee equity pool to reinvest directly in our people.

Employee stock ownership plans, which have been around for years, are lately seeing a bit of a comeback.

But the vast majority of American companies are still locked in the old hyper-capitalist model that views workers as costs to be cut rather than as partners to share in success.

I agree with Reich that corporations with social CEOs are rare, and very probably will remain rare until the law has been adjusted that forbids their enormously greedy and egoistic enormous incomes and profits. [4]

Here is Reich's ending:

If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on Greek yoghurt.

And I’d bet on a model of capitalism that’s neither no-lose socialism for the rich nor cruel hyper-capitalism for the rest, but share-the-gains capitalism for everyone.

The "Greek yoghurt" refers to Ulakaya. And I don't agree with Reich in his conclusion: I would not bet that the capitalism-with-a-human-face will triumph though I agree it is very clearly better for the majority: I have seen too many
reasonable and fair ideals fail because of the opposition of a few greedy liars
with power and a voice in the media.

And while I am in favor of capitalism-with-a-human-face, I think the developments since the 1970ies have shown that you will get that only if the
laws are changed, and thinks are regulated again so that all or most profit,
instead of merely the egoistic, greedy, lying and deceiving very rich
.

3. 'Today Marks the End of TTIP': Greenpeace Leak Exposes Corporate Takeover

The third item is
by
Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows (and is very well worth reading and downloading all of):

Confirming that the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) amounts to "a huge transfer of power from people to big business," Greenpeace Netherlands on Monday leaked 248 secret pages of the controversial trade deal between the U.S. and EU, exposing how environmental regulations, climate protections, and consumer rights are being "bartered away behind closed doors."

The documents represent roughly two-thirds of the latest negotiating text, according to Greenpeace, and on some topics offer for the first time the position of the United States.
I say! First, in case you want to download the materials (I did, but I did not yet look at them), here is the address: https://ttip-leaks.org/

I will look at it later today or tomorrow, though in fact I expect mostly a difficult legal text. And I will let you know tomorrow (for I have too little time today).

Here is one of the many authoritarian anti-democratic scandals about the horrible TTIP:

Before Monday, elected representatives were only able to view such documents under guard, in a secure room, without access to expert consultation, while being forbidden from discussing the content with anyone else. This secrecy runs "counter to the democratic principles of both the EU and the U.S.," the website ttip-leaks.org declares.

And in the absence of transparency, "hard won environmental progress is being bartered away behind closed doors," said Faiza Oulahsen, campaigner for Greenpeace Netherlands.

Precisely - and for those who still may have some faith in Obama: He is strongly for TTIP, strongly for its secrecy, and strongly for pushing it through Congress mostly unread and unjudged, after which it will be law, that will destroy the rights of several hundreds of millions ordinary people.

There is this, which is all precisely as I have been saying for a long time now:

"Whether you care about environmental issues, animal welfare, labor rights or internet privacy, you should be concerned about what is in these leaked documents," Oulahsen said. "They underline the strong objections civil society and millions of people around the world have voiced: TTIP is about a huge transfer of democratic power from people to big business. We call on all elected representative and other concerned parties to read these documents and engage in the debate."

Precisely - and for me the TTIP, like the TTP and the NAFTA were intentional bits of the neofascism [5] that is being introduced by the very rich, their multi-national corporations, and the sick liars and moral degenerates they use as lawyers.

Here are four aspects that Greenpeace Netherlands distinguished:

Greenpeace Netherlands zeroes in on four aspects of serious concern in the obtained texts, including:

  • the apparent omission of the so-called "General Exceptions rule," which allows nations to regulate trade "to protect human, animal and plant life or health" or for "the conservation of exhaustible natural resources;"
  • the absence of language about climate protection, plus provisions that would "stimulate imports and exports of fossil fuels—like shale gas from fracking or oil from tar sands—while clean energy production for local communities and associations would be considered unfair competition and a barrier to trade."
  • a clear threat to the "precautionary principle," which requires regulatory caution where there is scientific doubt, shifting the burden of proof on whether a product is safe to public authorities, not on those who seek to sell it;
  • the heretofore shrouded "high degree" of corporate influence over the talks.

And here the Guardian gets quoted:

According to the Guardian, which saw the original documents (retyped by Greenpeace and available here):

U.S. proposals include an obligation on the EU to inform its industries of any planned regulations in advance, and to allow them the same input into EU regulatory processes as European firms.

American firms could influence the content of EU laws at several points along the regulatory line, including through a plethora of proposed technical working groups and committees.

This again seems neofascism to me: Why should the EU inform the USA of its plans? How is it even possible that "American firms" "influence the content of EU laws"? Well, because the neofascists from the multi-national corporations who drew up the rules wanted these things as well.

Here is the ending:
"These leaks confirm what millions of people across Europe have suspected all along—that this toxic trade deal is essentially an enormous corporate power grab," said Global Justice Now trade campaigner Guy Taylor on Monday.
(...)

Similarly, War on Want executive director John Hilary declared: "Today marks the end of TTIP. Total secrecy was the only way the European Commission could keep the European people from learning the truth about these appalling negotiations, and now the cat is out of the bag."

"We have long warned that TTIP is a danger to democracy, food safety, jobs and public services," Hilary continued. "Now we see it is even worse than we feared. Today's leak shows the European Commission preparing to sell us down the river, doing deals behind closed doors that will change the face of European society for ever. It is simply unacceptable that a group of unelected officials should be allowed to contemplate such a thing without any public scrutiny."

Yes, indeed. And in case anybody doubts: The unelected European Commission consists mostly either of neofascists or of cowards who only look at their own riches.

Finally: Is the TTIP dead? I surely hope so, but until the whole utter bullshit is torn up and flushed down the toilet, I am not sure, for both the American professional politicians and the European professional politicians mostly consist
of great liars who do not serve the people but serve the very rich, and the very
rich really want the TTIP (etc.): It will give them all the powers they want.

4. Don’t Sleep Through the Revolution: A Graduation Message for a Dark Age

The fourth item is by John Whitehead on Washington's Blog and originally on the Rutherford Institute:

This starts as follows (and may be contrasted with the TTIP in the previous item):

The world is disintegrating on every front—politically, environmentally, morally—and for the next generation, the future does not look promising. As author Pema Chodron writes in When Things Fall Apart:

When the rivers and air are polluted, when families and nations are at war, when homeless wanderers fill the highways, these are the traditional signs of a dark age.

Those coming of age today will face some of the greatest obstacles ever encountered by young people. They will find themselves overtaxed and struggling to find worthwhile employment in a debt-ridden economy on the brink of implosion. Their privacy will be eviscerated by the surveillance state.

They will be the subjects of a military empire constantly waging war against shadowy enemies and on guard against domestic acts of terrorism, blowback against military occupations in foreign lands. And they will find government agents armed to the teeth ready and able to lock down the country at a moment’s notice.

As such, they will find themselves forced to march in lockstep with a government that no longer exists to serve the people but which demands they be obedient slaves or suffer the consequences.
I agree mostly, although I miss the fact that the free press has been mostly destroyed, and has been mostly replaced by "journalists" who are content to voice the pronouncements of the government as if these are true and should be believed and need no investigation nor real criticism.

Here is some more on the present situation:

Worse, as I document in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we neglected to maintain our freedoms or provide our young people with the tools necessary to survive, let alone succeed, in the impersonal jungle that is modern civilization.

We brought them into homes fractured by divorce, distracted by mindless entertainment, and obsessed with the pursuit of materialism. We institutionalized them in daycares and afterschool programs, substituting time with teachers and childcare workers for parental involvement. We turned them into test-takers instead of thinkers and automatons instead of activists.

Then there is a considerable amount of advice, that I will not copy except for the headlines (in bold), but without the text, which you can get by clicking the
last dotted link:

The following bits of wisdom, gleaned from a lifetime of standing up to injustice and speaking truth to power, will hopefully help them survive the perils of the journey that awaits:

Wake up and free your mind.
Be an individual.
Resist the corporate state.
Realize that one person can make a difference.
Help others.
Learn your rights.
Speak truth to power.
Don’t let technology be your God.
Give voice to moral outrage.
Cultivate spirituality.
Pitch in and do your part to make the world a better place.
Finally, you need to impact the government, be part of the dialogue on who we are and where we’re going as a country.

As I said, there is a lot more text spelling out the contents of the bold headings I did reproduce, which is OK as far as it goes, but which only will find a small minority willing to consider it, and a smaller minority willing to practice some of it.

And I am sorry in case I disappointed you, but I am almost 66 and hardly saw
any consistent and credible leftist radical the last 46 years. And I do know, for my parents were both for forty years very credible and honest communists, while my grandparents were either communists or anarchists, so I do know the type I am talking about very well - but nearly all leftists and "leftists" I have seen mostly or totally lacked their principles, their morals, and their
courage. [6]

To be sure, there are some who are genuine leftist radicals - Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, Amy Goodman, Abby Martin, to name some - but they really are rare, the last 46 or 50 years that I have been around, and most of the "leftist radicals" I have seen, and especially Dutch academics, were only pretending they were leftists, and in fact were mostly busy furthering their own careers and increasing their own incomes.

Here is the ending of the article:

The only way we’ll ever achieve change in this country is for this generation of young people to say “enough is enough” and fight for the things that truly matter.

5. The Austrian Malady: Turning Right in the Refugee Crisis

The fifth and last item today is
by Armin Thurnher on Spiegel International:
This has a subtitle I will quote:
The far-right candidate from the Austrian Freedom Party won an unexpected 35 percent of the vote in the first round of the country's presidential election. The established parties are largely to blame.
I say, and I note that (i) Hitler was an Austrian; more importantly (ii) the Austrians have historically a strong tendency towards the right, at least since
the 1930ies; and (iii) again the far right pretends it is for "Freedom" (just as
the TTIP is supposed to further "Free Trade"), while being really against  freedom for most who disagree with it.

This starts as follows:
During his apex, I briefly considered donating a votive plaque in Jörg Haider's name for all the work he unwittingly sent my way.
In case you don't know who he was, here is a link: Jörg Haider. And the rest is a fairly interesting article, of which I will only quote one bit:
Just over a week ago, the soft-speaking, staunchly conservative Hofer -- with his walking stick and the pistol he always carries with him -- won fully 35 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections. It was far more than the 24 percent pre-election surveys had predicted and once again, the world was rudely awoken.

The story is not new, but the setting is. The far right is surging throughout Europe. Austria is surrounded by post-communist states in various stages of transition into autocracy. They refuse to cooperate with the EU in solving the migrant crisis, yet happily accept transfer payments as a kind of compensation for the decades spent under communist rule. The European Parliament is becoming filled with right-wing extremists and anti-European nationalists while Germany is facing the rise of the AfD, France is facing Marine Le Pen and Britain is facing Brexit.

There is considerably more in the article, but most is more specific and about Austrian things.

--------------------------
Notes
[1] Incidentally, I adopted these names following Alexander Dubcek, who tried to introduce socialism-with-a-human-face in Chechoslovakia in 1968 (and who was overthrown by Soviet troops).

[2] O yes! And if you want to know more about my radical proposals, see Note 1 of yesterday's NL: I am not so much pro socialism as I am against exploitation and extra-ordinarily rich men and women. But I am quite radical (and also dislike business: most human activities - science, art, even sport - seems more worthwile than business, although I grant that is necessary in some form).


[3]
You may disagree, but after observing many politicians quite consciously, and with ever more scientific and political knowledge, for 50 years now, I conclude that I was quite right when I gave them up (nearly all: there are a few exceptions) as a class of particularly handy, particularly impertinent gross liars (much more so than ordinary people, and on a much larger scale) who were in actual fact more concerned with their own power, status and incomes than with the power, status and incomes of those who voted for them.

Note also that this is not necessary. It merely is common, and has grown more common since the 1970ies.

[4] A law that makes excessive exploitation and excessive private riches impossible may - in fact - have many forms. My own proposal is in
Note 1 of yesterday's NL and those who think that is too radical may make other proposals, but I am convinced there will be a few billionaires and quite a few multi-millionaires until such excessive riches are made illegal by some law, and
that such a law - whatever its precise form - is quite necessary.

[5] I am sorry if you disagree, but that is what I think, also on excellent verbal grounds, namely this acceptable definition of fascism:
"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."
I think this is mostly but not quite the system that the rich CEOs of the multi- national corporations would like to see, with one difference, that makes them neofascist rather than fascist: They do not want to merge "state and business leadership"; they want to subjugate state leadership to business leadership, and that business leadership will be the exclusive rule of the CEOs of multi-national corporations, as planned by the NAFTA, the TTP, the TTIP, the TiSA and the CETA.

[6] I am sorry, since you didn't have my parents, but they are my parents, who also were - unlike the vast majority of Dutchmen - in the real  resistance against the Nazis, which cost my grandfather's life, and cost my father more than 3 years and 9 months of concentration-camp, as a "political terrorist". Compared to them, extremely few of the very many politicians I have seen the last 50 years were halfway decent - and I am not so much talking about ideas as I am talking about ethics, character and courage.

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