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Nederlog

July 8, 2015
No uploads, Greenwald, China, Toynbee, Encryption, Greek Crisis, Merkel, Torture
  "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















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 Sections

            Introduction
1. Why there are no uploads on my site since June 29
2. Tony Blair and the Self-Exalting Mindset of the West: in
     Two Paragraphs

3.
China stock markets continue nosedive as regulator
     warns of panic

4. Has the right learned to love higher wages? Don’t fall for
     it
5. UK and US demands to access encrypted data are
     'unprincipled and unworkable'
6. Economist Richard Wolff on Roots of Greek Crisis, Debt
     Relief & Rise of Anti-Capitalism in Europe

7. Opinion: Merkel Must End Devil's Pact with America

8. The Secrecy of Torture: What Happens When Survivors'
     Memories Are "Declassified"?


This is a Nederlog of Wednesday July 8, 2015.

This is not a normal crisis file or Nederlog because while I can write it, I can't upload it, and this also may take some days to sort out.

I explain this in a little more detail in item 1, which you can skip if you read it before, though it is a bit new today.

Here are today's items: item 1 is a (shortened) explanation on why there are no uploads; item 2 is about Tony Blair (the multi-millionaire who killed Labour, in effect); item 3 is about the Chinese stock market that is diving; item 4 is about an article by Polly Toynbee on the ravages wreaked by Cameron and Osborne; item 5 is about the - thoroughly insane - demand by the American and British spies to access encrypted data (but it may happen, eventually); item 6 is about a good interview with Richard Wolff; item 7 is about Merkel's pact with spying America (that knows everything about Merkel and her government); and item 8
is about a very good though very bitter article on the many tortures done by the
Americans.

I am getting tired of not being abled to upload, but I am doing what I can.
1. Why there are no uploads on my site since June 29, 2015

The basic reason is this: The programs I use for uploading the sites, which happens with FTP (<-Wikipedia) stopped suddenly and unaccountably on June
29, and since then I have not been able to start them again.

There is more here but I am shortening this section, since it repeats.

Now that the heat is gone, I succeeded in getting new FTP passwords installed,
but I did not yet succeed in installing the new FTP program.

I keep trying, and I think the passwords were one hurdle (and probably the biggest one) that I have passed. But it remains problematic.

Incidentally, the site does have more visitors this month.

Now for today's articles:

2. Tony Blair and the Self-Exalting Mindset of the West: in
Two Paragraphs

The first article is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows (and these contain the "two paragraph")

Tony Blair today took a little time off from serving the world’s despots in order to exploit the 10th anniversary of the July 7 London train bombing. He did so by casting blame on “radical Islam” for the world’s violence while exempting himself, pronouncing:

This is a global problem … we’re not going to allow anyone to excuse themselves by saying that the slaughter of totally innocent people is somehow a response to any decision by any government.

The proposition Blair just decreed invalid — “the slaughter of totally innocent people is somehow a response to any decision by any government” — is exactly the rationale that he himself repeatedlyinvoked, and to this day still invokes, to justify the invasion and destruction of Iraq, as in this example from December 2009:

Tony Blair has said he would have invaded Iraq even without evidence of weapons of mass destruction and would have found a way to justify the war to parliament and the public. . . . “If you had known then that there were no WMDs, would you still have gone on?” Blair was asked. He replied: “I would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam Hussein]”. . . . He explained it was “the notion of him as a threat to the region” because Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons against his own people.

“Excusing the slaughter of totally innocent people” — whether in Fallujah or Gaza or Yemen — is a staple of Western elite discourse to justify the militarism of the U.S., the U.K. and their most special allies.
Yes, indeed. Here is one more paragraph (with added links by me):
While the leading lights of the West love to celebrate themselves as beacons of civilized, progressive rationality, their overriding mentality is just the crassest and most primitive form of tribalism: when Our Side does it, it is right, and when Their Side does it, it is wrong. No matter the esoteric finery in which it drapes itself, that is the primitive, banal formulation that lies at the heart of the vast, vast majority of foreign policy discourse in the West.
Quite so - and indeed it is ages old, and may go back to the stone age.

3
. China stock markets continue nosedive as regulator warns of panic

Next, there is this article by Jennifer Dugan on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Chinese stock markets tumbled again on Wednesday as investors shrugged off a series of support measures by Chinese regulators, including the central bank’s first public statement in support of the market since it cut interest rates in late June.

Minutes after opening, the Shanghai Composite Index fell by just over 8%. while the Shenzhen Component was down almost 5%.

Within ten minutes of trading, more than 1,000 shares across China’s two stock markets had dropped by the daily limited of 10% and had their shares automatically suspended. About 1,400 companies, or more than half of those listed – filed for a trading halt in an attempt to prevent further losses.

And it ends as follows:

Unlike most other stock markets, where investors are mostly institutional investors, in China, 80% of investors are small retail investors. This is a concern for the Chinese government because it causes a “political risk”, according to Balding. The losses on the stock markets are going to cause a lot of people to lose money causing the government to “worry about people protesting on the streets”, he said.
Yes, but it is not yet as far as that.

4. Has the right learned to love higher wages? Don’t fall for it

Next, there is this article by Polly Toynbee on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

This is what blue revolution looks like. Wednedsay’s budget liberates George Osborne and David Cameron to be themselves. Now they can complete Thatcher’s mission, doing what she never dared. Early disguises are shed, so there is nothing stealthy about their intent. The axe swings in full public view against everything their modern party detests, from benefits to the BBC, from windmills to Whitehall, the arts to local councils, with special attention to the obnoxious young.

Why not? Who will oppose them? Humiliated Labour is on its knees. Osborne taunts Labour: go on, oppose welfare cuts and nail yourselves back in the Miliband coffin marked “On the side of scroungers”. Nothing checks their triumph, with allelujahs from their press, who expect rewards in BBC cuts.

The “low tax, low welfare, higher wage” society Cameron promises is a fabrication and a front for the savagery they will inflict on the low-paid – many of the same “hard-working class” families Cameron woos towards his party.
And there is this:

This budget is set to be the most regressive, hardship-inducing, inequality-generating, public squalor-causing, global-warming budget of modern times – worse even than his growth-strangling 2010 budget. The same recipe will do the same again. His “march of the makers” went backwards, manufacturing down to 10% of the economy, financiers becoming risk-happy again.

It’s hard not to despair. Those of us brought up in the postwar years were taught history as the story of the onward march of social progress towards greater equality and better life chances. How unbearable to live with the backward march that began in the early 1980s, was halted during the Labour years, and now reverses faster than ever.

I have given up the idea of moral social progress for a long time (1988, at the latest, for me) but I am willing to agree that one main reason is that we are
being ruled by real bastards, who always get to the front and get somehow re-elected.

5. UK and US demands to access encrypted data are 'unprincipled and unworkable'

Next, there is this article by Ewen MacAskill on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Demands by US and British security agencies for access to encrypted communication data have been dealt a serious blow in a report by an influential group of cryptographers and computer scientists who dismiss the move as unprincipled and unworkable.

They warn that such access “will open doors through which criminals and malicious nation states can attack the very individuals law enforcement seeks to defend”.

The report says: “The costs would be substantial, the damage to innovation severe and the consequences for economic growth hard to predict. The costs to our moral authority would also be considerable.”

The expert opinion comes on the eve of an appearance before the US Senate intelligence committee by the FBI director, James Comey, who last year savaged tech companies for embracing end-to-end encryption, claiming it would deprive the security services of potentially life-saving information.

There is also this:

(...) Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge University.

Anderson looked ahead to the UK government’s proposed legislation. “What Cameron wants isn’t just against the principles of good security engineering, but violates human rights principles too.

“There are three tests for exceptional access to be compatible with human rights. The required access must be set out in law sufficiently clearly for its effects to be foreseeable, it must be proportionate and it must be necessary in a democratic society. The government demands for access to everything fail all these tests by a mile.”

Anderson added: “A point I would like to make to the prime minister and his circle is: whoever put the prime minister up to this should get a complete bollocking. The proposals are wrong in principle and unworkable in practice.”

Well... I agree with the "expert opinion", but Cameron wants to violate human rights principles, because he wants all he can get, for he can use it to shut up anyone, forever, by (secret) hook or by (secret) crook.

6. Economist Richard Wolff on Roots of Greek Crisis, Debt Relief & Rise of Anti-Capitalism in Europe

Next, there is this article by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

This starts as follows:

RICHARD WOLFF: I think the Germans face a choice. They’re worried that as the richest country, as the country that controls the situation, and as a country that historically has benefited from the very thing that Greece now wants, which they don’t want to give to the Greeks, that they face the risk that if they crush Greece, it will produce the reaction Paul has described. On the other hand, they will send a message to the Spanish, to the Italians, to the Portuguese and others, who are basically in a very similar situation, only they’re much larger, and the Germans are therefore afraid they’ll have to bail out all of Europe. They can’t afford it. They’re terrified. On the other hand, if they don’t cut a deal with Greece, then they face the possibility of left-wing governments in these other countries and a whole transformation, and they’re choosing between them.

The irony here, the historical irony, is something I think we need to understand. Back in 1953, the Germans, with a very crushed economy—in that case, because of the Great Depression and the fact that they lost World War II—went to the United States, France and Britain and said, "We can’t join you as a bulwark against the Soviet Union unless you relieve us of our enormous debts, which are hampering our ability to grow." Across 1953, they had meetings in London. When those meetings concluded, with the so-called London Agreement, here’s what Germany got from the United States, France and Britain: 50 percent of their outstanding debt, which was very high, was erased, and the other 50 percent of their debt was stretched out over 30 years. In effect, Germany got the relief of all of its basic indebtedness, based on two world wars that they were held accountable for, and that enabled them to have the so-called Wirtschaftswunder, the economic miracle that happened. They now refuse to give to Greece what they got.

Yes, precisely - and note the parallel between the Germans of 1953 and the Greeks of 2015. What Angela Merkel is saying to the Greeks is: We will not
give you Greeks the means that We the Germans got in 1953 - we insist on
full austerity and full payments from you Greeks.

There is a lot more in the interview, which is good.

7. Opinion: Merkel Must End Devil's Pact with America

Next, there is this article by Markus Feldenkirchen on The Spiegel On Line:

This starts as follows:

The German-American friendship no longer exists. It may still remain between citizens of both countries, but not between their governments. Perhaps it has always been an illusion, perhaps the United States pulled away over the course of time. But what binds these two nations today cannot be considered friendship. Openness and fairness are part of the essence of friendship, which is about mutual respect and trust. A quarter century after the United States helped the German people restore their national unity, little remains of this friendship.

As new documents from WikiLeaks and reporting by SPIEGEL show, the NSA has been systematically spying on much of the German government. America's spies not only listened in on Chancellor Angela Merkel's private conversations about sensitive political issues. The NSA also bugged ministries, ministerial offices and other government agencies. Not even journalism is sacred to the Americans -- at least not in Germany. American spies monitored at least one SPIEGEL colleague in Berlin -- spies who represent a country that considers itself a guarantor of freedom of the press, one of the cornerstones of a liberal democracy.

Today we know: The friendly smile worn by Angela Merkel's hosts in Washington all these years has been insincere at best.

And there is this general lesson:

The German government has engaged in a devil's pact with the US and its Orwellian spying machine. This may have been done out of fear -- fear of not receiving the potentially imperative information about a planned attack. But through her silence, Merkel has made the German government complicit. She allowed the law to be broken. She also permitted the principles that characterize open, democratic societies to be compromised.

The German government had the wrong priorities. There is no guarantee of security. Fear of an attack is no reason to sacrifice legal principles. The chancellor must show Washington a clear sign of resistance. Germany must free itself from this pact with the NSA.

Well... yes, but isn't it too late, by now? The NSA (or the GCHQ or one of the other "Five Eyes") seem to be everywhere in almost any European computer, or at least no one can guarantee they are not (for almost no one outside the spying agencies know what they do).

That is: I agree with the proposal, but I also think there is a very real chance that, in practice, that is dictated by the highly secretive almost completely uncontrolled NSA - which has 1 million "Top Security Officials" now, who are such superior beings they can enter everywhere, nearly always without the inferior beings who are being tracked and traced and stolen from having the faintest idea
how or indeed why they are screwed royally [1] - it simply is too late.

In other words: The NSA has the passwords for encryption, and it knows everything, and all keystrokes and all phone conversations of all German ministeries are being recorded, in secret, although it never will admit this.

I do not know whether this is true, but from Snowden's Revelations, it may very well be.

8. The Secrecy of Torture: What Happens When Survivors' Memories Are "Declassified"?

Next, there is this article by Adam Hudson on Truth-out:

This starts as follows:

Among the numerous bizarre facets of the Guantánamo Bay prison saga is the classification of people's memories as state secrets. For years, Guantánamo prisoners who were held in CIA secret prisons known as "black sites" could not publicly discuss their experiences and memories of their captivity. The US government argues that, in doing so, the prisoners would reveal classified information about the CIA's torture program, such as the names of interrogators, the locations of facilities and the torture techniques that were used.

For years, it was almost impossible to discuss the issue of torture openly in the military commissions because so many details were allowed to be kept secret.

And here is one (of very many) pieces of information this "bizarre facet" blocked, that was lately - in this specific case - unblocked. This is from testimony by Majid Khan, who is "a US resident of Pakistani origin":

"[G]uards stripped him naked, hung him from a wooden beam for three days and provided him with water but no food. The only time he was removed from the beam was on the afternoon of the first day, when interrogators shackled him, placed a hood over his head and lowered him into a tub of ice water.

An interrogator then forced Khan's head underwater until he feared he would drown. The questioner pulled Khan's head out of the water, demanded answers to questions and again dunked his head underwater, the detainee said. Guards also poured water and ice from a bucket onto Khan's mouth and nose.

Khan was again hung on the pole hooded and naked. Every two to three hours, interrogators hurled ice water on his body and set up a fan to blow air on him, depriving him of sleep, he said. Once, after hanging on the pole for two days, Khan began hallucinating, thinking he was seeing a cow and a giant lizard."

The SS also did this in German concentration camps. (They may have been even harsher, is also true.)

-----------------------------------------------------------
Notes

[1] Incidentally, I said in 2013, immediately on reading who Edward Snowden is, that he is an "extra-ordinary man". Well, now this can be quantified: As rare as, or rarer than, 1 in a million, it seems.
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