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. The Revolt of Small Business
2. South Korean Parents Will
Be Required to Have
Government-Approved Spyware on
3. The Clintons Made Wall
Street Richer, and It Returned the
4. TPP Could 'Undermine Health
of Web' Say 250+ Tech
Companies and Digital Rights
5. The Trojan Horse President
and Hedges: They Know Everything About You
This is a Nederlog of Thursday,
is a crisis log. There are 6 items with 6 dotted
links: Item 1 is about a Robert Reich article (that
has a somewhat misleading title); item 2 is about
an innovation of the South Korean government: Any teenager with a new
smartphone must have government-approved spyware, that allows
or her parents, and the state, and the NSA, GCHQ etc. etc. to know and
record absolutely everything the teenager said, wrote
or did; item 3 is about how the Clintons made it
from poor to
mega-rich; item 4 is another good file about the
extreme dangers of the TPP (that Obama wants to inflict on most
together with the TTIP); item 5 is about Obama, who
is a fraud, a competent one indeed, but a major fraud; and item 6
is about interview 2 in a series of 7 that was done between Scheer and
and that is here because I liked the interviews a lot, and now
text for interview 2 appeared on Truthdig, and so I have some
quotations and comments.
The Revolt of Small
item today is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
What are they breaking
ranks about? A further tax cut on the rich, which will benefit the
rich, but not the owners of small businesses.
Can it be that America’s
small businesses are
finally waking up to the fact they’re being screwed by big businesses?
For years, small-business
as the National Federation of Independent Businesses have lined up
They’ve contributed to
the same Republican
candidates and committees favored by big business.
And they’ve eagerly
Republican Party in Washington to its local business base. Retailers,
building contractors, franchisees,
wholesalers, and restaurant owners are the bedrock of local Republican
But now small businesses are
Reich also explains:
In case you hadn’t
corporations have extended their dominance over large swaths of the
They’ve expanded their
property, merged with or acquired other companies in the same industry,
control over networks and platforms that have become industry standards.
They’ve deployed fleets
to litigate against potential rivals that challenge their dominance,
them small businesses.
And they’ve been using their
growing economic power to get legislative deals making them even more
such as the corporate tax cut they’re now seeking.
That much I already
knew, but OK. What I did not know is that between 1978 and 2011
only half as many new businesses were formed as in previous
periods (which is pretty striking), and also over the last twenty years
small business got 20% less loans from the banks: From
50 to 30 percent.
These are large changes. Is there a revolt, as the
title of the article says? Not really. As Reich himself says:
Don’t hold your
breath. Small business groups have done the bidding of big business for
that the current conflict may be temporary.
(though until then I will continue not holding my breath).
2. South Korean Parents Will Be Required to
Government-Approved Spyware on Teens’ Smartphones
item today is an article by Roisin Davies on Truthdig:
This starts as follows -
and heralds a move that well may become very widespread:
Here is an outline of
the new South Korean law (by Associated Press):
It appears that South
Korea is playing Orwellian catch-up with its security-obsessed northern
Under a new law, parents in
South Korea will be required to have government-approved spyware on the
smartphones of children below the age of 19.
One important point is
that children are the responsibility of their parents: They have hardly
an independent legal standing. Another is that the government uses
The app, “Smart Sheriff,”
was funded by the South Korean government primarily to block access to
pornography and other offensive content online. But its features go
well beyond that.
Smart Sheriff and at
least 14 other apps allow parents to monitor how long their kids use
their smartphones, how many times they use apps and which websites they
visit. Some send a child’s location data to parents and issue an alert
when a child searches keywords such as “suicide,” ‘‘pregnancy” and
“bully” or receives messages with those words.
Last month, South Korea’s
Korea Communications Commission, which has sweeping powers covering the
telecommunications industry, required telecoms companies and parents to
ensure Smart Sheriff or one of the other monitoring apps is installed
when anyone aged 18 years or under gets a new smartphone.
the parents to force access to absolutely
anything their children do with their smartphones (including where
they are; including what they say to their friends, also when the
phones are supposed to be "locked"; hence also including the childrens'
conversations with their parents) - for that is why
this is done.
One might think this is limited to South Korea, but that would be a serious
mistake. As Roisin Davies explains:
This means that for a
mere $180 dollars a year any parent may know absolutely
everything about his or her children (who are his or her
responsibility, as the government will be eager to point out), and
while doing so also gives the secret services of the NSA, the
GCHQ etc. etc. etc. complete access to absolutely everything
the cildren and their parents do, say, write or think.
Critics have noted that
the Smart Sheriff app might give government agencies access to minors’
communications, all under the auspices of helping parents protect their
children. As a result of this mandate, some South Korean teenagers are
no longer viewing smartphones as essential equipment.
And it’s not just South
Korea’s youths that are — justifiably — concerned. A slew of
teen-tracking apps such as TeenSafe have been soaring in popularity in the
United States. Claiming more than half a million customers, TeenSafe
allows parents complete access to their children’s smartphone data for
just $14.95 a month.
Thus will the new totalitarian
state be bullt, in which everyone (who is permitted to live)
be fully happy all the time, and all the secret
services will know
absolutely everything about absolutely everyone, and will be
proudly parenting everyone, anonymously, and in secret.
(I am very glad I was born in 1950. And very glad
illness prevented my having children. For this is the most probable
future, it seems to me, given the lack of real intelligence, true
and real courage of the great majority.)
3. The Clintons Made Wall Street Richer,
and It Returned the
item is an article by Zaid Jilani on Alternet:
This article has a very
adequate title, and also a fine summary (bold in the original):
wealth is derived from an army of corporations that benefited from the
laws the couple passed.
That seems to be about
the shortest adequate
summary of the Clintons in two brief statements.
The article itself starts as follows:
I say - and no, this is not
because Bill and Hillary are enticing speakers with bold plans that
will serve most: it is the excuse to get huge financial favors. I will
not quote much, but here is one of the highlights of what the Clintons
did (in this case president Bill):
Late at the end
of last week, the Clinton campaign sent its long-awaited personal
financial disclosures to select media outlets. From the perspective of
the campaign, it was a clever move; by sending their disclosures to the
media first before sending them to the Federal Election Commission,
they essentially controlled the timing of the stories about their
income for the past year and a half.
The disclosures detail the
incomes of both Clintons going back to 2014. From what was offered to
the press, we know that in less than a year and a half, the Clintons
raked in over $30 million, the vast majority from speaking fees they
charged to foreign and domestic corporations and other organizations
willing to pay speech honorariums.
And here is a summary:
President Bill Clinton rallied allies in Congress to pass the Financial
Services Modernization Act, which repealed the Depression-Era Glass
Steagall law separating commercial and investment banking. The result
was a spree of mergers and growth that involved a huge growth in the size of the nation's biggest
banks and their profits.
Treasury chief, Robert Rubin, was soon hired to become an executive at Wall Street
megabank Citigroup, pulling in $115 million in pay from 1999 to 2008.
But the next beneficiary of Wall Street was the Clintons themselves.
The Clintons made
the financial sector even richer, and in return, the financial sector
made the Clintons go from being in debt when they lived in the White
House to being in the top .01% of all American income earners. From
deregulation of the big banks, to tightening personal bankruptcy laws,
to supporting unfair and unfettered bailouts, the Clintons, to steal a
phrase from Donna Summer, “worked hard for the money."
There is considerably
more in the article, that is well worth reading, if only to get a good
grasp of what it means - in 95 out of a 100 cases - to be a leading
4. TPP Could 'Undermine Health of Web' Say
Companies and Digital Rights Groups
The next item
is another article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Yes, indeed. Here is
some more on the - extreme - dangers of the TPP and the TTIP:
More than 250 tech
companies and digital rights organizations on Wednesday sent
a joint letter to Congress, blasting the corporate-backed trade
deal they say "actively silences the voices of Internet users,
start-ups, and small tech companies...while undermining the health of
the entire Web."
The letter (embedded
below)—whose signatories include AVG Technologies, DreamHost,
Namecheap, Mediafire, Imgur, Internet Archive, BoingBoing, Piwik,
Private Internet Access, and more than 200 others—calls on Congress to
come out against Fast Track, or Trade Promotion Authority, which they
say "legitimizes" the secret process under which mammoth trade pacts
"The Fast Track...process
actively silences the voices of Internet users, start-ups, and small
tech companies while giving the biggest players even more power to set
policy that benefits a few select companies while undermining the
health of the entire Web," said Evan Greer, campaign director of the
digital rights group Fight for the Future.
In particular, the letter
expresses concerns about how the controversial Trans-Pacific
Partnership—which it notes goes "far beyond the scope of traditional
trade policy"—would impact everything from net neutrality to online
freedom of expression to digital innovation.
"We simply cannot allow
our policymakers to use secret trade negotiations to make digital
policy for the 21st century," said Maira Sutton, global policy analyst
at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "The TPP is a huge threat to the
Internet and its users. Full stop."
Hansson, partner at Basecamp and creator of the popular Ruby on Rails
web development framework: “TPP makes a mockery of democratic
legislative ideals. It's shrouded in secrecy exactly because it would
wither in sunlight. It's a terrible piece of overreach to endow a few
special interests with enormous and unsavory power. The whole thing
needs to be scrapped and started over. International trade is too
important to have it hitched to this collection of wishful thinking by
a select few.
Indeed. There is more in
5. The Trojan
The next item
is an article by William Rivers Pitt on Truth-out:
This starts as follows:
This is a very
good article, in which besides Stiglitz also Senators Warren and
Sanders are extensively quoted. I recommend you read it all.
I am not an economist,
not even close, but Joseph Stiglitz is. Stiglitz is actually a Nobel Prize
winning economist, former Chair of President Clinton's Council of
Economic Advisers, and former chief economist for the World Bank.
Joseph Stiglitz is positively terrified of the Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP) deal being pushed rabidly by President Obama. Because
he is, I am also frightened by what this "deal" portends.
At the core of this Nobel
Laureate's argument against the TPP deal is the simple fact that legal
authority - basic, bedrock legal authority - would be transferred from
the sovereign courts of the United States to multinational corporations
if this "deal" comes to pass. Note well, also, this statement from
Stiglitz: "Though corporations can bring suit, others cannot. If there
is a violation of other commitments - on labor and environmental
standards, for example - citizens, unions, and civil-society groups
have no recourse."
America's system of government is an impartial public judiciary, with
legal standards built up over the decades, based on principles of
transparency, precedent, and the opportunity to appeal unfavorable
decisions. All of this is being set aside, as the new agreements call
for private, non-transparent, and very expensive arbitration. Moreover,
this arrangement is often rife with conflicts of interest; for example,
arbitrators may be a "judge" in one case and an advocate in a related
If there ever was a one-sided dispute-resolution mechanism that
violates basic principles, this is it. That is why I joined leading
U.S. legal experts, including from Harvard, Yale, and Berkeley, in
writing a letter to President Barack Obama explaining how damaging to
our system of justice these agreements are.
Rules and regulations determine the kind of economy and society in
which people live. They affect relative bargaining power, with
important implications for inequality, a growing problem around the
world. The question is whether we should allow rich corporations to use
provisions hidden in so-called trade agreements to dictate how we will
live in the twenty-first century. I hope citizens in the U.S., Europe,
and the Pacific answer with a resounding no.
I have just one more bit to quote (from a lot more: use the last dotted
Or is he what many
of us have feared he is for a while now: a Trojan Horse president,
presented at the gates as a progressive gift? Once let in, however, an
army of Third-Way "Democrats," multinational corporations, insurance
companies, banks and Wall Street masters-of-the-universe were unleashed
to wreak havoc, again.
Yes, indeed: he was and
is a fraud. A competent fraud, like the bankers he protects, but a
fraud. ("All governments lie and nothing they
say should be believed." - I.F. Stone.)
and Hedges: They Know Everything About You (Text 2/7)
I wrote about the 7 part interview of Robert Scheer by Chris Hedges,
simply because this is a really good interview, even though it
takes some 150 minutes in all.
After writing it, I indeed spent a part of the day seeing it all,
which confirmed my decision: Yes, they are smart, competent and honest , and this is also one of the very few
interviews of considerable length that I saw that I enjoyed -
as a rule I don't like talking: it is too slow (I read at least
4 times as fast) and often contains many irrelevancies.
And today I find that Truthdig has published the text of interview Nr 2
So here it is again, and I will also quote and comment some.
I start with saying (again) what the interview is about and who are the
interviewer and interviewee:
This is the record (made by The Real News
(<- Wikipedia), which does bring the real news, unlike the mass
media these days) of the second of seven videos that recorded the
interview by Chris
Hedges (<- Wikipedia) interview of Robert Scheer (<- Wikipedia), who
recently published a book on surveillance and spying, “They
Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and
Snooping Government Agencies are Destroying Democracy”:
As I said yesterday: Part 1 of the interview
is here, on May 14, 2015. And I strongly
recommend that you watch these interviews: they are by two of the most
and accomplished U.S. journalists, and the interviews are
Here are some bits of the second interview, also listed above. It
begins as follows (apart from a small bit indicated by ellipsis), and I
quote this because this is a fact that still may not be widely known:
JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: (...)
One reason to select
this goes back to the late Sixties - and see my bit from 2012: Propaganda
and Control: Brezezinski 1968 - when Zbigniew Brezezinski said the following (quoted
from p. 154 of Stephen Spender's 1969 book):
In this book, Bob, you
begin, at least from my reading of it, by positing that the security
and surveillance apparatus really began as a commercial enterprise,
primarily, and that government then came in, then saw what was going
on, saw its usefulness in terms of the data collecting, and came in
later. Would that be—?
PROF. ROBERT SCHEER,
JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Yeah. At first it was really a boondoggle of the
will soon be possible to assert almost continuous
surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date,
containing even personal information about
personal behaviour of the citizen, in addition
customary data.' Moreover it will be possible
and plan to meet any uprisings in the future.
will even be able to forecast crises before the rioters
conscious of wanting them.
My question is this:
While I dismissed this in 1969 as at best futurology (then a
quasi-science about the future), it now can be seen as a very
prediction of what would happen. Now: How did Brezezinski know this? It
took over thirty years to be realized, but it was realized, and
works as he predicted in 1968.
(And no, I do not expect to get any real information on this,
but I do find it rather odd that someone could predict a future
was 30 years later realized. )
Here is Robert Scheer on what the internet meant for the advertisers:
SCHEER: Yeah. And what
the internet did is suddenly you had information on who these people
are. You know—you started to see, you could know their most intimate
habits, their emails, their shopping habits, their networks,
particularly when social networking and things like Facebook developed,
who their friends are, and so forth. And they were willing, these
people out there who’re doing Google searches or on Facebook, to
surrender voluntarily an enormous amount of information that you never
had before about their age and their marital status and their sex life
and their dress size and whether they’re bald or have a lot of hair or
are taking different medicines. I mean the most intimate knowledge of
people, not just in the United States, but all over the world, and you
have this incredible data.
And then you’re able to
target your advertising to get these people. And not only could you get
them in the sense that you could find out if they went to an ad,
clicked onto that ad, but you could find what they did with it. Did
they tell somebody about it? Did they ask for more information? And the
killer app of all: did they buy something? And were they satisfied with
it? And then you could retarget them.
Yes indeed - though I
should also remark that this was all happening on the basis of an unencrypted
internet: This would simply not have been possible at all if
the internet had been encrypted from the start.
Why was it not
encrypted from the start? I can think of two reasons: (1) it would have
made it considerably more difficult in the beginning, not so much
because of the encrypting, but because the computers were quite
slow around 1995 (compared to what they are now), and (2) because - it
seems - most people believed the laws on the paper mail (you are not
allowed to read another's mails without his personal consent: see the Fourth
Amendment) would and did apply to e-mail as well (as indeed it does
- except that the secret services jumped at the
listening in to what anybody wrote).
But there is more:
Actually, I did not know
that classified ads made up 40% of the newspapers' revenues.
the lack of these revenues, together with the getting rid of
journalists and editors who did their own thinking, is what made the
HEDGES: And that’s with
the internet did. And that is why newsprint is withering away as
quickly as it is. And classified, as you know, was 40 percent of most
HEDGES: And that
immediately switched to the internet.
HEDGES: But there’s
something else about the internet. It’s not just about surrendering
information. You now have large corporations—not only does the
government have profiles, but large corporations—it’s a huge,
multibillion dollar business—have profiles on us. So if we go to apply
for a job, you can pay one of these corporations, and you get an entire
profile. They have everything on us, stuff that we couldn’t even
imagine that they have.
into the present awful propaganda
machines for conventional points of
Then there is
this on the totalitarianism
that is inherent in unencrypted internet coupled with secret services
that are both heavily funded, kept very secret and very willing
to break any law (in secret) that would have kept them from any data
SCHEER: Sure. And
the reason people have done that—if a government, any government in the
world, had asked for this kind of—required this kind of information,
okay, how far did you read in that book, what movie did you go to, who
did you have dinner with, you know, the information that is gathered up
now by the so-called private sector, that would be considered the most
totalitarian, invasive, coercive, threatening model. Right? I mean,
this is something the Stasi in East Germany couldn’t presume. I mean,
this was something Stalin never dreamed of. It’s something Hitler,
Goebbels could not dream of, this kind of knowledge and following and
the movement and the action and the thoughts. And then being able to
Yes, precisely. But what really
happened was this:
SCHEER: Right. And
the reason we have no privacy is: if the government had demanded this
information, we would know it’s a totalitarian government. What
happened here, this intellectual sleight of hand, is that increasingly
the government was grabbing this data from the private sector. And the
private sector was complicit.
I again note that "this intellectual sleight of hand" was possible only because there was hardly
any encryption - and no: until Snowden emerged, the very strong need
for strong encryption was felt by few, indeed in considerable part
because few distrusted the politicians and the secret services as much
as they should have.
Here is the last quotation from today, that reasonably well explains
what the internet these days really is: The assistant of the secret
police that controls everyone to a very much larger extent
ever before (in secret):
[Hannah Ahrendt] says that when you collect data on every single
citizen, it’s no longer about crime or justice; it is about having
material so that when you criminalize a certain category of people—and
Stalin was kind of the master of this—you can instantly arrest them,
because there’s always something, and they can exactly do what you’ve
done, where they take that rather innocent discussion and twist it to
serve the ends of the state. That’s the danger of mass surveillance.
As I said, this is a very good
series of interviews.
 Especially because in fact I do not know of
who ever predicted in any detail how the future of a mere 25 years
would look like, and had it right.
But Brezezinski did.
 Incidentally: I take it you agree with
me that they are smart and competent, but how do I know they are
honest, never having met or mailed with them? For a very simple reason:
Because they are endangering themselves and their families.