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Nederlog

June 19, 2015
Crisis: Greece, Jeffrey Sterling, Amnesty & U.S. Police, TPP * 2
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton















Prev- crisis -Next

Sections
Introduction

1.
 Greece faces banking crisis after eurozone meeting
     breaks down

2. How Jeffrey Sterling Took on the CIA — and Lost
     Everything

3. All 50 US states fail to meet global police use of force
     standards, report finds

4.
'Turncoat Dems' in House Blasted as Fast Track Fight
     Heads Back to Senate

5. Fast Track Ping Pongs Back to the Senate As the
     Administration's Desperation Mounts



This is a Nederlog of Friday June 19, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about Greece, where there may be a banking crisis next week; item 2 is about Jeffrey
Sterling, who got 3 1/2 years in prison because (his judge said) he did not plead guilty and admitted no wrongdoing (?!); item 3 is about the very many failures
in proper police rules in all US states; and item 4 and item 5 are both about
the TPP (and the TTIP and the TiSA) which are all secret laws that make multi-national corporations much more powerful than governments, and that
will allow them to prosecute governments for any law or rule they make that
the corporations do not like.
1. Greece faces banking crisis after eurozone meeting breaks down

The first item is an article by Ian Traynor and Phillip Inman on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Greece is facing a full-blown banking crisis after a meeting of eurozone finance ministers broke down in acrimony and recrimination on Thursday evening, bringing the prospect of Greek exit from the eurozone a step nearer.

Some €2bn of deposits have been withdrawn from Greek banks so far this week – including a record €1bn yesterday – triggering fears that a breakdown in talks would spark a further flight of funds. The German leader Angela Merkel, French president François Hollande and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to stage an emergency EU summit on Monday as a last critical attempt to prevent Greece going bankrupt. A representative of the European Central Bank told the meeting it was unsure whether Greek banks would have the funds to be able to open on Monday.
I say. There is considerably more in the article, but I take it we will know
more next week.

Meanwhile, I have two observations:

(1) since governments can get money at virtually zero interest, and since it concerns relatively small sums (some billions of Euros), I don't think it is about the money: it seems to be about power, and
(2) probably most European leading politicians do not like the present leftist Greek government.

It remains to be seen whether the European Union wants to risk a considerable
wider crisis by trying to force Greece out of the EU. I think this would be
stupid, but then again I think that most of them are, not because they are
unintelligent, but because they have too much personal power and - in actual
fact - they have hardly any personal responsibility whatsoever (as long as
they keep their sex lives with chamber maids etc. secret).

More next week.

2. How Jeffrey Sterling Took on the CIA — and Lost Everything

The next item is an article by Peter Maass on The Independent:
This starts as follows:
THIS IS HOW it ended for Jeffrey Sterling.

A former covert officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, Sterling sat down in a federal courtroom with a lawyer on either side, looking up at a judge who would announce in a few moments whether he would go to prison for the next 20 years. A few feet away, three prosecutors waited expectantly, hoping that more than a decade of investigation by the FBI would conclude with a severe sentence for a man who committed an “unconscionable” crime, as one of them told the judge.

In Sterling’s blind spot, behind his left shoulder, his wife tried not to sob so loudly that the judge would hear. A social worker, she had been interrogated by FBI agents, her modest home was searched, she had been made to testify before a grand jury, and she had given up her hopes for an ordinary life — a child or two rather than the miscarriages she had, a husband who could hold a job, a life that was not under surveillance, and friends who were free of harassment from government agents asking for information about her and her husband.

One of Sterling’s lawyers stood up to ask for leniency. Sterling was a good person, the lawyer said, not a traitor. He was the first in his family to graduate from college. After leaving the CIA, he worked as a healthcare investigator and won awards for uncovering millions of dollars in fraud. He loved his wife. He did not cause any harm and did not deserve to be locked up until he was an old man for talking to a New York Times reporter about a classified program that he believed had gone awry. Please let the sentence be fair, the lawyer said.

There is rather a lot more in the article (that I didn't like much, but that
may be just me: I didn't like the style).

Sterling (<- Wikipedia) was accused of being James Risen's (<- Wikipedia) source, but there was no real evidence. He also was proscecuted under the Espionage Act as a traitor, again with no real evidence.

He risked a jail sentence of 19 to 24 years, and was convicted to 3 1/2
years of prison, because the judge
said there was "no more critical secret" than revealing the identity of a man working with the CIA, and that Sterling deserved a harsher penalty than other recent leakers because he had not pleaded guilty or admitted wrongdoing.
This last quotation is not from the article, but from the Wikipedia lemma on
Sterling
. Also, indeed Sterling is not a four-star general, like David Petraeus, and he also is black, and he committed the crime - his judge said - of saying he was not guilty and that he did nothing wrong. (So pleading not guilty now is a crime ?!?!)
3. All 50 US states fail to meet global police use of force standards, report finds

The next item is an article by Oliver Laughland and Jamiles Lartey on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Every state in the US fails to comply with international standards on the lethal use of force by law enforcement officers, according to a report by Amnesty International USA, which also says 13 US states fall beneath even lower legal standards enshrined in US constitutional law and that nine states currently have no laws at all to deal with the issue.

The stinging review comes amid a national debate over police violence and widespread protest following the high-profile deaths of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; 43-year-old Eric Garner in New York; 50-year-old Walter Scott in South Carolina; and 25-year-old Freddie Gray in Baltimore – all unarmed black men killed by police within the past 11 months.

Amnesty USA’s executive director, Steven Hawkins, told the Guardian the findings represented a “shocking lack of fundamental respect for the sanctity of human life”.

And especially if that "human life" happens to be the life of a black person,
it may be added.

There is considerably more in the article, including this:

Amnesty found that in all 50 states and Washington DC, written statutes were too broad to fit these international standards, concluding: “None of the laws establish the requirement that lethal force may only be used as a last resort with non-violent means and less harmful means to be tried first. The vast majority of laws do not require officers to give a warning of their intent to use firearms.”

I say. And there is this:

A Guardian investigation into deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers in the US has so far documented 515 people killed by police this year. The statistics reveal that black people are more than twice as likely as white people to be unarmed during fatal encounters with police, and show that black Americans are killed by police at more than twice the rate as white Americans.
This means that for all of 2015 there will be over 1000 people killed in the U.S. by the police (supposed to be there "to serve and protect"), which is nearly
3 each day.

4. 'Turncoat Dems' in House Blasted as Fast Track Fight Heads Back to Senate

The next item is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Drawing the swift ire of progressives around the country, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday took a step to revive President Barack Obama's faltering corporate trade agenda, passing Fast Track, or Trade Promotion Authority, in a 218-208 vote.

Twenty-eight Democratic lawmakers voted in favor of Fast Track, which would make it easier for Obama to ram through controversial trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership, reducing the role of Congress to an up-or-down vote on such mammoth agreements.

"Thanks to House Republicans and a handful of turncoat Democrats, the army of corporate execs and industry lobbyists who wrote the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership will now have an easier time shoving it down the throats of an American public that's broadly opposed to more NAFTA-style trade deals," Democracy for America chair Jim Dean said after the vote. "While we will continue to work to defeat fast-track for the job-killing TPP in the U.S. Senate, we will never forget which House Democrats stood with American working families against Fast Track and who sold them out."

There is more in the article, but I admit it is not easy to understand or predict.

Then again, it is very important that the TPP, the TTIP and the TiSA - all secret proposed "laws" - are stopped, for if they are not stopped, multinational corporations will be much more powerful than (democratic) governments, and can sue them as they please, e.g. simply because the corporations expected their profits to be higher than they were: Sue the government; let the case be settled, in secret, by corporate lawyers; and let the taxpayers pay for their governments' laws that harmed the expected profits of the multinational corporations.
 
Therefore, I included another article on the same subject:

5.  Fast Track Ping Pongs Back to the Senate As the Administration's Desperation Mounts

The last item for today is an article by Jeremy Malcolm on the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
This starts as follows:
If you're finding it hard to follow the machinations over the Fast Track bill, you're not alone—even Washington insiders are finding it hard to predict the administration's next move, as it changes from day to day. As of this morning, the House of Representatives has passed the Fast Track or Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill—but not the associated Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill that is a precondition of accepting Fast Track for pro-trade Democrats. This means that it's now up to the Senate to pass both bills if they can, and then to send TAA back to the House, on the strength of the assurance of Republican leaders that they will pass it there too—and that President Obama will wait to see both bills on his desk before he signs either.
This is fairly clear - but in fact it is more complicated, as the article tries to explain.

For those who want to understand more: Here is the end of the article:

Read about all of our concerns with the TPP:

And note please that the TPP - like the TTIP and the TiSA - is secret, and also
designed to remain secret for four or five years after they are adopted.

This is Obama handing the multinational corporations all the powers they please to have, for Obama is very much for the TPP, the TTIP, and the TiSA, and he let
corporate lawyers write these laws, and he kept them secret, and even forbade all members of Congress to make notes if they read them, or to discuss them with others.

And that is what all these shenanigans are about:

Secret laws that cannot be discussed, that give the multinational corporations far more powers than governments, that were written by
law
yers working for these corporations, but that have to remain secret until four or five years after they are passed.

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