is a Nederlog of Thursday July 16, 2015.
This is a
crisis blog. There are 6 items with 7 dotted links: Item
1 is about (yet) another trick the Obama administation used to
guarantee that criminal banks and criminal bankmanagers are helped as
much as possible; item 2 is about the Greek vote in
parliament on the bailout; item 3 is about how Tory
policies more and more dehumanize the poor and the ill; item
4 is about the American Psychological
Association's deep relations to torture (which it has supported, till
very recently); item 5 is again about Greece; while
item 6 is relevant to the crisis,
in a general way: I saw a series about the cold war that I liked, which
shows that there is really not much new in the present crisis
(except that there is no more Soviet Union, and that the bank managers
have won in the U.S. and now also control most of the U.S. government).
1. Obama Administration Finds New Way to Let
Criminal Banks Avoid Consequences
The first article
today is by David Dayen on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
I quite agree that "the
Obama administration"'s "efforts
to hold banks account- able",
which that same administration "touts", seem to me to be negligible.
Indeed, what the administration did in fact amounted to protection
of the banks and the bankmanagers' crimes:
Three top Democrats are
accusing the Department of Housing and Urban Development of quietly
removing a key clause in its requirements for taxpayer-guaranteed
mortgage insurance in order to spare two banks recently convicted of
federal crimes from being frozen out of the lucrative market.
HUD’s action is the
latest in a series of steps by federal agencies to eliminate real-world
consequences for serial financial felons, even as the Obama
administration has touted its efforts to hold banks accountable.
In this sense, the guilty
plea has become as meaningless to banks as their other ways of
resolving criminal charges: out-of-court settlements, or deferred
prosecution agreements. “Too Big to Fail” has morphed into “Too Big to
Jail” — and then again, into “Bank Lives Matter.”
Sens. Sherrod Brown and
Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Maxine Waters fired off a letter to HUD on
Tuesday, saying they believe that the timing of the change was designed
to clear the way for two banks recently convicted of federal crimes —
JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup — to continue to make Federal Housing
“Too Big to Fail”
has morphed into “Too Big to Jail” — and then again, into “Bank Lives
None of that
been possible without deep and long corruption in Holder's
of Justice, that went all the way to the top.
And here is what happened in the present case, that the three senators
There is considerably
more in the article.
On the current
HUD-92900-A form, lenders must certify that their firm and its
principals “have not, within a three-year period … been convicted of or
had a civil judgment rendered against them” for a variety of crimes,
including “commission of fraud … violation of Federal or State
antitrust statutes or commission of embezzlement, theft, forgery,
bribery, falsification or destruction of records, making false
statements or receiving stolen property.”
JPMorgan and Citi’s
guilty plea would fall under the antitrust statute, and according to
Brown, Warren and Waters’ reading of the certification, that would make
them ineligible to obtain FHA insurance on their loans.
On the updated form, this
language has been excised. The notice
in the Federal Register did not even mention the removal, making it
impossible to discover without comparing the old form and the proposed
form side by side.
I agree with the senators, but this is in fact a relatively minor
matter, and what needs to happen (but very
probably will not happen, with a Republican Congress) is a
complete reversion of the treatment of the banks and the banks'
But I agree that is a pipe dream under the present government and
Congress. Even so, it is necessary to return to a modicum of economic
sanity and fairness.
begin drive to deliver bailout as Greece gives bitter consent
The next article today is by too many authors 
on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
There is also this on the
Greek parliamentary vote:
ministers are to begin discussions on delivering Greece’s bailout after
MPs in Athens adopted the contentious package amid angry scenes in parliament
and violent clashes on the streets.
The Eurogroup of
ministers from the currency union would discuss the latest developments
in Greece on Thursday morning, said the group
head, Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
the teleconference of eurozone ministers as street violence erupted in
Athens on Wednesday while Greek lawmakers voted on harsh reforms demanded by their European partners
in order to qualify for a third bailout of up to €86bn.
Officials in Brussels now
must scramble to assemble a short-term financing package – expected to
be worth about €7bn – to keep Greece afloat until the new bailout can
Even with the deal
accepted by Alexis Tsipras’s Greek government and the parliament, MPs
in euro states are yet to give the green light. Germany’s Bundestag is
set to vote on the plan on Friday and tough talks to finalise the
bailout, expected to take much of the summer, can only begin after that.
Tsipras faced a
revolt over the reforms from his radical-left ruling Syriza party,
which came to power in January on anti-austerity
promises. But the Athens parliament eventually carried the bill on
Wednesday night by 229 lawmakers in favour, 64 against and six
And there is
considerably more in the article, and also in item 5,
3. This Tory attack on unions should remind us how much we
The next article
by Zoe Williams on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Sajid Javid’s announcement on new rules for trade
unions – described by the Daily Mail as the “biggest crackdown on
union militants in 30 years” – carries with it a strange atmosphere:
somewhere between nostalgia and a time warp, like legislating against
the IRA, or house music.
The original plan was to
make strike action illegal,
unless the turnout was over 50% and 40% voted in favour. It escaped no
one’s notice that many MPs would struggle to demonstrate their
legitimacy, subject to rules like these.
But the proposals as
they’ve been unveiled today go much
further: picketing will be criminalised, employers will be allowed to
hire agency staff to replace striking workers and the financial links
between unions and the labour party are to be eroded, with members
being asked to opt-in to a party political allegiance.
I say. And as Zoe
Williams also explains: The situation these days is quite
different from the days Norman Tebbitt did the same 30 years ago, for
have been far fewer strikes.
Also, these measures are clearly meant to destroy the unions,
and to destroy the rights of ordinary workers, but then that is
what one would expect from David Cameron's government for and
by the British millionaires (also covered by the majority of Labour).
There is more:
The workforce received
between 58% and 64% of output all
the way from the end of the second world war until the late 70s, since
which time it has gone down to its current 51%: but that includes in
“pay” the wages of the chief executive, which are often immense and
should, realistically, be classed as profits. A £5m salary can’t really
be taken as an index of how hard a CEO worked. There aren’t enough
hours in the day. His wage can only really be understood as a cut of
the profit, a spur for him to prioritise shareholders over employees.
I am sorry but people
who claim millions as managers are greedy, immoral degenerates:
To appraise your own labor as worthy of millions in salary
marks you as a stinking thief who has thoroughly insane
values about your own excellencies. 
itself is no longer a process of production, of which one can be proud,
but is instead something precarious, for which one should be extremely
grateful. With that has come the additional surveillance culture where
employers search your bags when you leave and count your paces to make
sure you’re moving fast enough, or time your toilet breaks.
Again I am sorry, but I
know these practices only from totalitarian socialism, fascism
and nazism. They are sick, they are inhuman, they are sadistic, and
they are anti-democratic and authoritarian.
But I have no doubt this is what Cameron, Osborne and
Javid deeply desire
these treatments of the poor, and will continue as long as they are in
Impunity and the American Psychological
The next article
today is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan:
This starts as
It has been almost
a year since President Barack Obama admitted, “in the immediate
aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. ... we tortured
some folks.” The administration of Obama’s predecessor, President
George W. Bush, carefully crafted a legal rationale enabling what it
called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which is no more than a
euphemism for torture. From the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay to
the dungeons of Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Bagram air base in Afghanistan,
countless hundreds, if not thousands, of people were subjected to
torture, all in the name of the “Global War on Terror.” With the
exception of a few low-level soldiers at Abu Ghraib, not one person has
been held accountable. The only high-level person sent to prison over
torture was John Kiriakou—not for conducting torture, but for exposing
it, as a whistleblower.
Note this mentions "countless hundreds, if not thousands, of
people were subjected to torture, all in the name of the “Global War on
Terror”" - and I
leave the addition of the last part standing, because of its bitter
And Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan are quite right that the "only
high-level person who was sent to prison over torture" was a
whistleblower on torture.
Next, there is this:
This month, the APA
released a stunning independent report that confirms what
whistleblowers and dissident psychologists have maintained for close to
a decade, that the APA actively colluded with the U.S. Department of
Defense and the CIA, manipulating the APA’s policies, meetings and
members in order to get the APA’s endorsement of the Pentagon’s torture
program. The association’s board of directors last year commissioned an
independent review by former Assistant U.S. Attorney David Hoffman. The
542-page report, dubbed “The Hoffman Report,” undermines the APA’s
repeated denials that some of its 130,000 members were complicit in
There is considerably more
that is well explained in the article. I will leave that to your
interests, but I close with the last statement of the article, because
is is quite revealing about the APA's "ethics" and about who
supported that "ethics":
Stephen Benke, the ousted
APA ethics head, meanwhile, has hired as his legal counsel the former
head of the FBI, Louis Freeh.
Nation Torn: Greece Grapples With 'Humiliating' Austerity Deal
The next article
today is by Deirdre
Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as
follows (with an update):
There are pictures in the
article. Under the update, there is this:
Update (5 PM EDT):
"The scene in Athens is explosive," King's College London professor and
Syriza central committee member Stathis Kouvelakis wrote
for Jacobin Wednesday afternoon.
Both in and outside of
Greek Parliament, tensions are running high.
A largely peaceful
anti-austerity rally was disrupted
at one point by an hour-long clash between anti-austerity protesters
and police, leading to about 50 arrests.
With even the International
Monetary Fund (IMF)—one-third of the so-called Troika—saying
that Greece needs debt relief "far beyond" what European creditors have
been willing to consider, and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras struggling
to win the confidence of his anti-austerity Syriza party, the €86
billion bailout deal struck with eurozone leaders earlier this week
faces a vote in Athens on Wednesday night.
voting was done: 229 in favor, 64 against, 6 abstained - which
is about a 3/4th majority. I don't think anyone voting in favor
was for it, but - I take it - most did choose for what they regard as
the least of two big evils.
If so, I think they
are right, but the situation remains very difficult, and the
best the Greeks can hope for is a deal with the IMF. This is from a
later article by Deirdre Fulton:
Meanwhile, an IMF report
leaked Tuesday shows that "Greece will need debt relief far beyond what
eurozone partners have been prepared to consider due to the devastation
of its economy and banks in the last two weeks," according
to a Reuters exclusive.
that the IMF's updated debt sustainability analysis—which states that
European countries would have to give Greece a 30-year grace period on
servicing all its European debt, including new loans, and a very
dramatic maturity extension, or else make explicit annual fiscal
transfers to the Greek budget or accept "deep upfront haircuts" on
their loans to Athens—was sent to eurozone governments late on Monday,
after the bailout deal was struck.
But this is also
uncertain. More tomorrow, no doubt.
Cold War Documentary
The final item
for today is not an article but a video or rather: a series
Here is a link to the first part:
On July 5 I briefly
reviewed another series, The World At War.
I have since seen all of it, and indeed liked that series a bit better
than other series I saw about WW II, which were more offiicalese (and
had even more sequences of firing guns).
The present series about the cold war had the same producer, Jeremy
Isaacs, and was made a little over 25 years later (TWAW is from 1973,
CW from 1998) but in part with the same people as cooperated on the
Indeed, there also is a
good item on Wikipedia about it, with decent summaries of each part in
And I now also saw all
series The Cold War and I liked it:
It is a decent filmed
about the cold war, that reigned from 1949- 1992 (the end of the Soviet
Union), and that took an enormous amount of money, nearly
exploded into an atomic war several times (most notably so during the Cuban Missile
but also seems to have kept either side from going to - all out - war,
for the fairly simple reason that this would lead to "Mutually Assured
Destruction" ("MAD", also the acronym of an official policy) as a
Instead, there were lots
skirmishes, fights and smaller wars, that also cost a lot of deaths,
some of which are being retold in parts of the series. I liked the
series (mostly: there will be boring parts in almost any
series, and there were in this one), and this has to do with three
First, like the earlier
series, it was not "officialese", and indeed this series was
than the previous one, I suppose in part because there is less written
history about it, and it covers considerably more time. There is also
some material in it that was "a first" in the series.
Second, a personal
reason to like it is that I lived through virtually the whole Cold War
(simply by having been born in 1950), and indeed there were quite a few
things I remembered. Thus, I recall the Cuba crisis, the Vietnam war,
the murders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and a whole
lot more quite well, and that will make a difference.
liked it is that I appreciated - what seemed to have been - the
the series, which may be described as "faintly liberal and faintly
progressive". Also, I mean no criticism by "faintly": it merely
indicates a tendency (which also helped, to some extent, in getting the
Also, this doesn't mean I agree with all of it, but it does mean that,
in so far as this is possible in a filmed documentary that charts over 40
years of world history within less than 20
hours of film, it seems a
fair attempt to survey the cold war.
In case you want to
understand the world's history since around 1950 (which I think
sensible rational people should try to do) this series gives a
back- ground, although I still think books are better than
it makes it fairly
clear that world history since 1998 (when the series was released)
mostly continues world history until 1998.
I do not know how many will
be interested enough to view 18 hours of docu- mentary, but for those
who are interested in the cold war or in the general background for the
present political events, I'd say this series is recommended.
seven, in all. You can find them above and below the article.
I am sorry, but that is how I see it. Also, I don't see why I should
sit and silently listen to the degenerate justifications of these
complete assholes and thiefs, who dare to blame the poor and the ill
for being poor or ill. (Also, once again I say one simple
measure would overturn this and many other evil things: Not to
allow anyone to earn more than 15 times what those who get the least
receive. But the rich don't like that, and so it will not happen, even
though everyone but the rich would be much helped, also
without any other changes in the economy.)