who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. U.S. Drops to 49th in World
Press Freedom Rankings,
Worst Since Obama Became President
2. An open letter to the
British Prime Minister: 20th-century
solutions won’t help
Is Leading the Way Toward Economic
Public Banks Outperform Private Banks
of Hope' as Minsk Talks Result in New Ukraine
6. No Big Bang? Quantum
equation predicts universe has no
This is a Nederlog of Friday,
February 13, 2015.
This is a crisis log. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about Obama's ranking as A Fighter For Press
Freedom: that is virtually non-existent, in spite of his promises
("Transparency!", "Change!"); item 2 is about an
open letter to Cameron that is interesting but - in my eyes - rather
naive; item 3 is about the American economy and -
rightly, I think - a whole lot less optimistic than Obama; item 4 is about a fine piece on public banking and the
great dangers of the TPP and TPIP; item 5 is about
a very recently agreed cease fire in the Ukraine; and item
6 is not a crisis item but is about the possible exit of the Big
Also, I have uploaded new versions of the Nederlogs of Feb 6 - Feb 12
from which I cut some - quite innocent - hidden data (about pastings)
that should have been
excised simply because they take space and add precisely nothing.
1. U.S. Drops to 49th in World Press
Freedom Rankings, Worst Since Obama Became President
The first item
article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
And it ends thus, in the words of "James Goodale, the General Counsel of the
New York Times during the Pentagon Papers battle":
Each year, Reporters
Without Borders issues a worldwide ranking of nations based on the
extent to which they protect or abridge press freedom. The group’s 2015 ranking
was released this morning, and the United States is ranked 49th.
That is the lowest ranking ever
during the Obama presidency, and the second-lowest ranking for the U.S.
since the rankings began in 2002 (in 2006, under Bush, the
U.S. was ranked 53rd).
wants to criminalize the reporting of national security information” and
“President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst
president ever on issues of national security and press freedom.”
There is more under the last dotted link - and this is
about the president who promised "transparency" and "change!".
letter to the British Prime Minister: 20th-century solutions won’t help
item is an article by Jonathan Zittrain (a professor of law and of
computer science at Harvard University) on The Conversation:
This starts as
Yes, but the reason both
agree is not the one you offer in your next paragraph:
Dear Prime Minister
You recently proposed
that all internet apps – and their users' communications – be compelled
to make themselves accessible to state authorities. I want to explain
why this is a very bad idea even though it might seem like a no-brainer.
“I have a very simple
principle which will be the heart of the new legislation that will be
necessary. In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication
between people which even in extremis, with a signed warrant from the
home secretary personally, that we cannot read? Up until now,
governments have said: ‘No, we must not’.
That is why in extremis it has been possible to read someone’s letter,
to listen to someone’s telephone, to mobile communications. …
But the question is: are we going to allow a means of communications
which it simply isn’t possible to read. My answer to that question is:
‘No we must not’."
Obama appears to agree with you.
government bear the burden of keeping their citizens safe. That’s a
crushing responsibility. Police solve violent crimes – and intelligence
agencies predict and avert them – in significant part by intercepting
the conversations of people conspiring to get away with them.
I know they offer
this reason, but lying is extremely easy, and there simply is
way in which "heads of
government" or "states"
composed of hundreds or tens of millions of persons can be made "safe"
their governors: There simply are not enough military and police to do
it, and they could not do it if they wanted it.
They don't want it either: The security they are really
concerned with is not that of the average citizen - securing
330 million Americans?! - but their own secuity, and the
security of government officials. And that indeed is
And it is especially feasible if they can find the means to shut up
anyone and everyone who disagrees with them, while they think they have
found the means to do so because the internet is mostly unencrypted,
and they have sufficient money from the taxes to secretly spy
on everyone, totally regardless of decency, morality, founded
suspicion or the
law, and to find out all their secrets, all their
behavior, all their payments, all their conversations, all
their mails, and all their private (sexual) pictures (in so far
as these are on any computer connected to internet).
These findings they then store, again in deep secret, and
protected by pronouncements of secret courts, that also have
"the right" to forbid that their
decisions are published or even discussed, so that any future
government of any
color and political taste (such as, say, president Ted Cruz) may use
findings, in secret, again protected by secret
decisions of secret courts, to do as they please with anyone
who has or had opinions that some future government does not like.
I wrote this out because this is what I fear: The lure of complete and
total absolute power of the government and its secret spies over
absolutely everyone in their own terrritory, simply because they know
everything about everyone (that can be found out by secret spying on
his or her computers and cell phones).
For as Lord
Acton said: "Power tends to
corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men
are almost always bad men." And the bad men who rule us, whose main
talents are that they are good and plausible liars, are out to get the
fullest, the greatest, the most secret and totally anti-democratic
control over everyone who lives in their countries.
That is also why they will never give up the fight for controlling every
aspect of everyone's information: There never was
than the power they seek for their own kind.
Obama Is Leading the Way
Toward Economic Catastrophe
The next item is an article by William Greider on The Nation:
This starts as follows:
Yes - and the "good employment numbers" seem to be mostly of temporary ill paying jobs. But
this is an interesting article, that also includes the following:
Disregard the happy talk
from the Obama White House. The stagnant global economy remains at the
precipice of something worse unfolding—full-blown deflation. And the
so-called recovery in the US economy remains shaky, despite good
employment numbers. Here and abroad, the governing authorities seem to
have forgotten the most basic nature of our situation. We live now in a
globalized economy where one nation’s cold can lead to another
country’s heart attack. Their ignorance is shocking, but also dangerous.
In fact, the US and other
leading economies are beginning to mimic some of the same grave errors
governments committed in the distant past, circa 1929, when spreading
collapses of banks and financial markets morphed into the Great
problem blocking recovery is the shortage of consumer demand (too many
factories, too few customers) and over-bearing abundance of debt. A
real program for recovery would have nations joining to confront those
two in a big way.
I agree, but the
proposed measures don't happen and very probably will not happen simply
because they are not in the interest of the rich, and the rich now
control the government.
First, bang on the
creditors and governments to make them write off lots of debt,
especially for folks who need it to survive. The United States did a
little of this but not enough. Obama was more generous with guilty
bankers than he was with the borrowers they swindled.
Second, create jobs—real
jobs with real incomes for real people (not abstract estimates by
economists). Governments and stores of private wealth must be coaxed or
compelled to finance big-scale projects of many kinds, the projects
that create real jobs, real incomes. The Federal Reserve should get
credit for staving off collapse but its monetary stimulus did not
succeed in generating a genuine recovery. Europe, now in more desperate
straits, is attempting to mimic the Fed, but I expect it will not do
There is a considerable amount more under the last dotted link.
4. Why Public Banks Outperform Private Banks
The next item is an
article by Ellen
Brown (<- Wikipedia) on Truthdig (and originally on the Web of
This is here mostly
because I like Ellen Brown and like the case she makes for public
banks. The present article starts as follows:
In November 2014, the
Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND),
the nation’s only state-owned bank, “is more profitable than Goldman
Sachs Group Inc., has a better credit rating than J.P. Morgan Chase
& Co. and hasn’t seen profit growth drop since 2003.” The article
credited the shale oil boom; but as discussed earlier here,
North Dakota was already reporting record profits in the spring of
2009, when every other state was in the red and the oil boom had not
yet hit. The later increase in state deposits cannot explain the bank’s
stellar record either.
Then what does explain
it? The BND turns a tidy profit year after year because it has
substantially lower costs and risks then private commercial banks. It
has no exorbitantly-paid executives; pays no bonuses, fees, or
commissions; has no private shareholders; and has low borrowing costs.
It does not need to advertise for depositors (it has a captive deposit
base in the state itself) or for borrowers (it is a wholesome wholesale
bank that partners with local banks that have located borrowers). The
BND also has no losses from derivative trades gone wrong. It engages in
old-fashioned conservative banking and does not speculate in
And it contains this (on
In the US, the current
threat is from the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) and its European
counterpart the TTIP. President Obama, the Chamber of Commerce, and
other corporate groups are pushing
hard for fast track authority to pass these secret trade
agreements while effectively bypassing oversight from Congress.
The agreements are being
sold as promoting trade and increasing jobs, but the effect of
international trade agreements on jobs was evident with NAFTA, which
hurt US employment more through the competition of cheap imports than
helped it with increased exports. Moreover, only five of the TPP’s
twenty-nine chapters are about trade. The remaining chapters are
basically about getting government off the backs of the big
international corporations and protecting their profits from
competition. Corporations would be authorized to sue governments that
passed laws protecting their people from corporate damage, on the
ground that the laws impair corporate profits. The trade agreements put
corporations before governments and the people they represent.
Particularly targeted are
government-owned industries, which can undercut big corporate prices;
includes publicly-owned banks. Public banks are true non-profits
that recycle earnings back into the community rather than siphoning
them into offshore tax havens.
Yes, indeed. There is
considerably more under the last dotted link, and it is
all very well worth reading.
of Hope' as Minsk Talks Result in New Ukraine Cease Fire
The next item is an
article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as
I say - and this is here
mostly because I trust Jon Queally and Common Dreams, and not
because I have any deep understanding of the real events in the
Ukraine, for I don't: I do not know Russian nor Ukrainian, while most
of what I read and saw in the press was obvious propaganda.
overnight talks in Minsk, Belarus that began Wednesday, world leaders emerged
near dawn to announce that a cease-fire agreement has been reached to
at least temporarily stop the fighting in eastern
Ukraine with stated hopes that a long-term political solution will
Spurred by a renewed
effort by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois
Hollande, the talks brought Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko to the
table with Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiate on behalf of
rebel forces in the east who have refused to submit to the authority of
the Kiev government following a coup last year.
It was Putin who first
declared that more than 16 hours of negotiations had yielded
substantial progressive and the agreement of a cease-fire that would
begin on Saturday. "We have agreed on a ceasefire from midnight 15
February," Putin told reporters early Thursday.
But this seems a major result, that also was negotiated without the
U.S., and the article itself ends with these words of Angus Roxburgh:
understands, better it seems than any other western leader, that this
is a make-or-break moment. If cool thinking does not prevail, on all
sides, the consequences for Europe could be cataclysmic.
Big Bang? Quantum equation predicts universe has no
The next and
last item today is an
article by Lisa Ziga on phys.org. This is not a crisis item, and is
here mostly because I am interested in fundamental physics:
This is quoted from
the beginning of the article:
"The Big Bang singularity
is the most serious problem of general relativity because the laws of
physics appear to break down there," Ahmed Farag Ali at Benha
University and the Zewail City of Science and Technology, both in
Egypt, told Phys.org.
Ali and coauthor Saurya
Das at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, have shown in a
paper published in Physics Letters B that the Big Bang
singularity can be resolved by their new
model in which the universe has no beginning and no end.
I say. There is
considerably more in the article. My reason to list it here is that
while my knowledge of physics is not very deep and also does not extend
to the latest physics (but I read and understood most of Feynman's
three volumes of his "Lectures on Physics", for example) it is good
enough to know
that most of what I've read about the Big Bang in the press was more
like religion than like physics. 
And while I have no reliable ideas at all whether the above theory
will stand up I like it if the universe was there and will be
forever (yes, that is a prejudice of mine) and I also like it
to see the Big Bang go, if indeed it does, precisely because
singularities are deeply problematic (and that is not so much a
prejudice as a mathematical fact).
 I knew enough physics to write about quantum logic
and to be invited to lecture on that topic in the university while I
just had a B.A., but this was in 1982, and since 2000 I have given up
on trying to follow physics. (I do know that I disbelieve in string
theory and in many universes, but this is mostly founded on
prejudice + a good knowledge of methodology, and not on any deep