1. Obama Promises
Lame-Duck TPP Push Despite Uproar
Over Pro-Corporate Provisions
2. Leading Economists Oppose TPP Provision
Corporations Upper Hand in
Mass Aerial Surveillance Is a Growing Orwellian
Concern in the United States
4. Thom Hartmann Delivers a Brutal and Painfully
Accurate Takedown of the
5. Fall of the Wild
This is a Nederlog of Friday, September 9, 2016.
is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about Obama's attempts to
force the neofascist TPP through Congress come what may, while item 2 is a good article about how extremely
dangerous the TPP is; item 3
is about the fact that every U.S. citizen is now traced,
and sourced, in the deepest secret, by his computers, his cellphones,
all the items he did install in his house that connect to the internet,
and outside his house by cameras, by drones and by his cellphone, all
of which enormously increases the powers of the very few
that make up
the government; item 4 is about a
takedown of libertarians that I like but that also seems a bit
simpleminded; and item 5
is about the radical declines in wilderness in the world and
led me to
the formulation that the environmental situation is as awful as it was
in 1971 (when I started following it), except that now there
as many people as there were then.
like to draw your attention to a
previous Nederlog, called Rewriting my site,
that is indeed about that, or more precisely: About a resized graphical
background that is necessary since I have now a normal sized squarish
monitor.  This will take quite a lot of
work, which I will continue after having finished the present crisis
item. (It will probably be done before the end of September. I do not
yet know when, but I will say so in Nederlog if it is finished.) And
here is the link to Rewriting
my site, that shows how much I have corrected up till today
1. Obama Promises Lame-Duck TPP Push Despite Uproar Over
The first item today is by Zaid Jilani on The Intercept:
This starts as
A provision that would let foreign
corporations challenge new American laws and regulations has become the
latest flashpoint in the battle over the Trans Pacific Partnership
trade agreement, even as President Obama on Tuesday said he will
renew his push for its passage in the lame-duck session of Congress.
“We’re in a political season now and
it’s always difficult to get things done,” Obama
said at a town hall meeting in Laos. “So after the election, I
think people can refocus attention on why this is so important.” He
sounded confident: “I believe that we’ll get it done.”
I have dealt a whole lot with the
TPP etc. so I will start this by referring you back to yesterday, when there was an excellent
article on the TPP and the TTIP and the TISA and the CETA: I think
they are all attempts to introduce corporate neo-fascism.
Also, by now I think that the reason very
few dare to call it this is that most are politcally
and do not dare to use negatively loaded words. Well, my grandfather
was murdered by the Nazis; my father survived more than 3 years and 9
months as a "political terrorist" in Nazi concentration camps, and
I will call things as they appear to me, and
the TPP, the TTIP, the TISA and the CETA all appear as variants of the
same plan to me: To introduce neofascism in a "legal" way,
by deceiving or buying a few hundreds of politicians, because it
could not be introduced in a political way.
So you ought to start this by (re-)reading
yesterday's "Here They Come Again" and
then turn to the following:
The latest salvo from opponents of the
deal came in the form of a letter
to Congress signed by hundreds of law professors and economists –
including Laurence Tribe, who
taught Obama at Harvard – protesting the inclusion of “Investor
State Dispute Settlement” (ISDS) provisions
in the TPP agreement.
The ISDS provisions would empower
corporations who object to U.S. laws and regulations that cut into
their profits to sue the United States before an international
arbitration panel. The signatories to the letter write that this
“system undermines the important roles of our domestic and democratic
institutions, threatens domestic sovereignty, and weakens the rule of
Yes, except that I'd say that the ISDSs
will destroy "the important roles of our
domestic and democratic institutions" (it's a
parallel system of "law" that
makes everything a settlement between the lawyers of the multi-national
corporations and the lawyers of states, that has no appeal, is not
a proper court, it mostly secret, and can
condemn all of the nation's taxpayers for approving laws that
diminished the expected profits of multi- national corporations),
and I'd add that it doesn't "threaten" but seeks to completely
destroy "domestic sovereignty" and "the rule of law", for the
sovereignty is handed to the CEOs of multi-national corporations,
and the rule of law is totally bypassed, denied and destroyed.
But not according to the divine
Obama, who certainly will not say how much he will get
if he succeeds in pushing through the neofascistic TPP:
The Obama administration has pushed
back at critics of the ISDS provisions, saying that it is a routine
system that exists in thousands of other international agreements,
including 50 that the United States is currently a party to.
But that routine system has undermined
domestic laws in some countries.
Buzzfeed’s Chris Hamby
dozens of ISDS rulings, documenting how corporations used these
international arbitration panels to avoid the reach of domestic courts.
Yes, indeed. Here is a link that reviews
one of Chris Hamby's reports, more or less appropriately called "The Court That Rules the
World" (the title is good, but I prefer
"Court" for the ISDS is not a serious proper legal court).
And here is a very small indication of the
enormous riches the rich are going to get if the ISDSs
have replaced the ordinary and real legal laws:
And that is how any multi-national
corporation may react to any deal that has been voted
down by any parliament:
As The Intercept has previously
and other financial institutions would be able to use TPP
provisions to sue over virtually any change in financial regulations
affecting future profits in an extra-judicial tribunal.
The United States has not yet lost an
ISDS case, but is facing a major claim from TransCanada. The company is
using arbitration under NAFTA to seek
$15 billion after the Obama Administration decided not to approve
its Keystone XL Pipeline project.
Present the whole deal again to the ISDS; insist that it was
turned down because the deal made the profits too small; insist
that the ISDS exists to take care no multi-national needs to accept
any diminuition in its profits; and if indeed the profits are
less than expected, the ISDS will accept the claim,
and condemn all taxpayers to pay billions, in damages, in
non-paid profits, in lawyers' incomes and in costs.
That is how it will go, because that is how it
has gone: The multi-national corporations have a "law"
that transcends all national laws, all parliamentary
approved laws, all democratic laws, and the only thing
they need to do is to
prove that their projected profits are diminished by some parliaments'
It is neofascism pure and simple. And here is
more to prove it is:
2. Leading Economists Oppose
TPP Provision Giving Corporations Upper Hand in Investor-State Disputes
item is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaik on Democracy Now!:
This has the following introduction:
As the Obama administration begins a new
push to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as the TPP, more than 200 of the country’s leading
economists and legal scholars have written a letter urging Congress to
reject the 12-nation trade pact, citing its controversial
investor-state dispute settlement. Critics say the so-called ISDS regime creates a parallel legal system
granting multinational corporations undue power. We speak with Lori
Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. "This is an
agreement so repugnant that members of Congress do not want to vote for
it," says Lori Wallach.
Two small corrections, to start with:
First, the ISDS regime does not so
much create "a parallel legal system": it creates a completely new
"legal" system that is for and by the CEOs of multi-national
corporations, who thereby can force whole populations to
pay for the profits their parliaments voted against, by rescheduling
the voted down plans again to an ISDS, that will only
check whether it is right it lost some profits, and that will side with
the multi-nationals if indeed it has.
And second, I hope "members of
Congress do not want to vote for it", but I know it is very
easy to buy the majority of 700 persons, who anyway are being lobbied
by - I think - ten lobbyists per member. Since I have a very
low confidence in the moral decency of most members of Congress, I
think this is the way the TPP will be pushed through.
Bur here is Lori Wallach:
LORI WALLACH: Elizabeth Warren and over 200 of
our leading—our nation’s leading economics and law professors made a
very compelling argument. With the—were the TPP to go into place, literally thousands of multinational
corporations would be newly empowered to be able to sue the U.S.
government, in front of panels of three corporate attorneys, who could
order the government to pay unlimited sums, including for those
corporations’ expected future profits, paid by us taxpayers, and all
the corporations would have to do is convince those lawyers that some
U.S. federal, state, local law, regulation, court ruling, government
action undermines the new rights and privileges that the TPP would grant them. And there is no appeal from
these panels; these lawyers decide. And there’s no limit on how much
they can order taxpayers to pay.
So that is the answer to President Obama. Nine thousand multinational
corporations that newly could attack our laws, raid our treasury,
undermine our health and safety.
And again: This is pure, complete,
total, intentional neofascism:
A "court" that can upset and turn back all democratically
agreed laws; a "court" that has no appeals; a "court" that
allows no parties for it except lawyers for
corporations and lawyers for governments; a "court" that can attack
each and any parliamentary agreed, democratically agreed, law; a
"court" that can do so simply on the ground that these parlia-
mentary and democratically agreed laws diminish the projected profits
of multi-national corporations; a "court" that is manned by
lawyers from the multi-national corporations; a "court" that uses
as its only rule the question whether the projected profits
have lessened, is not a real court but is a neofascistic
institution that is expressly designed to destroy the rule of law,
the rule of democracy, the rule of parliaments, and the rule of
But this is what the noble Obama
wants. (I wonder how much he will be paid if he
succeeds pushing this through.)
Here is a last bit:
LORI WALLACH: And Professor Tribe was one of
the eminent signatories of this letter. And he was—he was joined by
other very prominent legal scholars in basically saying—many of them,
by the way, including the economics professors, who are supporters of
free trade—and they’re all saying, whatever you think of trade, the
fact that the TPP includes this outrageous
system that would empower multinational corporations to skirt our
domestic law system, second-guess even our Supreme Court, raid our
treasury, over policies that our courts, our Congress have said are
totally fine, this alone makes the TPP unacceptable, whatever else you think about the other
arguments made in its favor.
And this letter follows up on a letter last year, with fewer bigwigs
signed onto it, but just the same, a letter that had a lot of law
professors saying, "Listen, we are against the ISDS.
Take it out of the TPP, so we don’t have a
problem with your agreement." And, of course, the president, as you’ll
recall, was extremely dismissive and scornful about that letter, said,
"They’re making stuff up, and they’re absolutely wrong," and so left
this horrible corporate regime in the agreement. It’s at the heart of
the agreement. It is the key in the agreement. And now all these
professors are against.
Well, Obama is a liar. The law professors
are completely correct. But I am
afraid the outcome will depend on how much a majority in Congress is
going to get (some 350 persons maximally have to be somehow bought, I
think) so I am not optimistic.
This is a recommended article.
Mass Aerial Surveillance Is a
Growing Orwellian Concern in the United States
item is by Thor Benson on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
Cameras at intersections and in public
parks have become commonplace, but are you aware that a plane flying
overhead could be tracking your every move?
According to a Bloomberg
Businessweek report in August, the city of Baltimore has been
conducting surveillance over parts of the city with megapixel cameras
attached to Cessna airplanes since at least January. This news comes
after activists expressed concerns that mysterious Cessnas were seen flying
above Black Lives Matter protests in 2015.
planes, equipped not just with cameras but with cellphone
surveillance devices as well, have become a new phenomenon in the
United States. While the agency says the planes are not designed for
mass surveillance, that claim is getting shakier by the day, especially
in light of evidence of what’s happening in places like Baltimore.
Yes, indeed. As far as I am concerned, the
Amendment (<- Wikipedia) was illegally
cast aside in 2001, and since then all secret services and all police
departments in the USA got essentially a free hand in doing
to get total control about the total population of the
USA by knowing absolutely everything
about anyone, which they do by spying on computers, spying on
cellphones, and if you go outside your own house, by tracking your
cellphone and by following you from the air.
Here is how it happens, all in spite
of the Constitution:
“Newer, more powerful surveillance
equipment is constantly being developed for the military and
intelligence services, and as old technology is replaced, it tends to
find its way into domestic law enforcement arsenals,” explained Adam
Bates, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal
Justice. Three years ago, records show that the federal government’s ARGUS system—video
surveillance developed by the U.S. military—was “capable of seeing
details as small as six inches from 20,000 feet and [keeping] entire
cities under constant surveillance.” One can only imagine what
technological advances have been made in the meantime.
Theoretically, the government could
equip planes or drones with thermal cameras or radar
devices that can see what’s happening inside buildings. That would
raise more serious Fourth Amendment concerns.
Sorry, but the Fourth
Amendment has been totally shredded - illegally! - by the
American governments since Bush Jr. It has been totally shredded
because its application would forbid the secret services
and the police of knowing absolutely everything about you, and because
a government that knows absolutely everything about each of its
inhabitants is all powerful in a way no government ever
has been before.
Here is the last bit that I'll quote from
These types of operations go beyond George
Orwell’s worst nightmare.
“We’re not just talking about a
[closed-circuit TV] camera on a street corner that can snap your
picture passing by,” said Bates. “We’re talking about the ability of
the government to identify and track you everywhere you go in public,
potentially for days or weeks on end.”
To the best of my knowledge the present US
government is capable of following absolutely everyone
absolutely anywhere in everything they do all their
lives, and they are doing this now in selected
cases, and soon will be abled to do it on more and more cases.
This is a recommended article.
4. Thom Hartmann Delivers a Brutal and Painfully Accurate
Takedown of the Libertarian Party
item is by Alexandra Rosenmann on AlterNet:
This is from the beginning (and I should
say that the above linked original contains several video links):
But do libertarians and progressives
really see eye to eye on the big issues, as Johnson would like Bernie
Sanders supporters to think?
According to Thom Hartmann, not at
"The Libertarian Party was started
basically as a scam, as a front group for big business in the United
States and very wealthy people," Hartmann begins, "and, you know, big
business doesn't care if gay people get married, they don't care if
people smoke pot. They'll give you the social issues, but... the bottom
line for the Libertarian Party on every issue—whether it's Medicare,
Social Security, public roads...—[is] let's privatize [them or]... do
away [with them]."
Hartmann gives some examples of where
billionaire libertarians would say, "Let's privatize all the public
roads, let's do away with public libraries, let's take any kind of
function the government can do for the public good" and make it work
for selfish reasons. "The idea is, there is no such thing as the public
good; there's only the good for us billionaires, and so if we can't
figure out a way to make a buck out of something, then then we
shouldn't do it," Hartmann says.
I agree with the fourth paragraph,
but I don't know about the third. The reason I don't know about
the third paragraph is basically that the Libertarian
Party (<- Wikipedia) was founded in 1971, but there were
libertarian ideas long
before that foundation, and while I tend to agree that libertarians are
confused in ways I am not, they may have been - to some extent - honest.
But then again, I agree with Hartmann that
libertarians are fundamentally confused about the
public/private distinctions, and also about the relative qualities of
human beings (for they seem to think that the more money a
person has, the more human he is, and the less money a
person has the less human he is - although I am willing to
agree that I may formulate it more sharply than libertarians
are willing to admit, in public ), and also
about the fundamental meanings of being human, being free and being
Then again, hardly any libertarians have
any realistic appreciation of the qualities of human beings, the
public/private distinctions, and of being
human, being free and being civilized (they tend to reduce all
these questions to one very simple one: how much money does X have,
and basically seem to believe that the more money a person has, the
more human he is), and I merely point that out here and now and
leave it there.
Here is the last bit I'll quote from this
Hartmann then claimed the libertarians
were simply setting up a straw man and knocking it over:
"You can dress it up in fancy language
all day long and say, 'Hey, you know, I'm responsible for all of this,
everything I've accomplished, it's mine, my body,' but the reality is
you wouldn't be here if it wasn't for public roads or public schools or
public education or making sure that your food is safe and your drugs
aren't killing you and things like that... all the things libertarians
Yes, at least in the sense that most
arguments I have read by libertarians were extremely poor, and
essentially came down to "what doesn't improve my personal
power to profit and do as I please doesn't count for me
- or is government terrorism". And most libertarians are against
government because it limits their freedoms to do as they
Then again, I am willing to agree that
there are better arguments for some kinds of libertarianism, but I also
insist that these better arguments are mostly limited to a few
intellectuals (and in the end also are not convincing).
5. Fall of the Wild
and last item today is by Lauren McCauley
This starts as follows:
Wilderness, though remote by nature, is
not immune to the ravages of humanity. In fact, according to a new
study in the journal Current Biology, the world's wild
places are undergoing "catastrophic decline" and could be facing
elimination within decades if monumental policy shifts are not
"If we don't act soon, there will only
be tiny remnants of wilderness around the planet, and this is a
disaster for conservation, for climate change, and for some of the most
vulnerable human communities on the planet," warned
lead author Dr. James Watson, of the University of Queensland in
Australia and the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. "We have a
duty to act for our children and their children."
Watson and his team mapped wilderness
areas around the globe, which were defined as "biologically and
ecologically intact landscapes free of any significant human
disturbance," and then compared that to one produced by the same
methods in the early 1990s.
The amount of wilderness loss in those
two decades was "staggering," according to co-author Dr. Oscar Venter
of the University of Northern British Colombia.
The study reported total losses of 3.3
million km² since the 1990s, particularly in South America, which
experienced 29.6 percent loss, and Africa, with 14 percent. The world
currently has a total of 30.1 million km² of remaining wilderness,
which is primarily located in North America, North Asia, North Africa,
Overall, the researchers found that
rapid development had wiped out roughly 10 percent of wilderness over
the past 20 years—a pace that, researchers say, spells disaster for
these pristine ecosystems if no changes in policy are made.
This is the only bit I quote from this
article, and my main reason to do so is that (i) I think there simply
are too many human beings for the available resources, and (ii)
I also think this is the main reason the present economic
system is bound for destruction.
In fact, I think so since 1971.
All I add now - 45 years later - is that I think the situation is at
least as bad as it was in 1971, except that there are twice
more human beings as there were then. (And they nearly all want to
live at least as well as Americans in the 1970ies.)
This is a recommended article.