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Nederlog

October 19, 2015
Crisis: Newspapers, Stalin, Canada, Fracking, Drone Papers, Fascist TTIP
"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. 
Newspapers face up to the ad crunch in print and digital
2. Stalin portraits emerge in heart of Ukraine's rebel-held
     territory

3. Canadian election: Justin Trudeau on the brink of reviving
     family tradition

4.
Death by Fracking
5.
Truthdigger of the Week: The ‘Drone Papers’
     Whistleblower

6.
TTIP Already 'Rewriting the Rule Book' for EU Food
     Standards, New Report Finds


This is a Nederlog of Monday, October 19, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about a quite dangerous development in - at least - Great Britain: the printed press may mostly
disappear for lack of advertisements; item 2 is about the popularity of Stalin in parts of the former Soviet Union, with four portraits and many links (originally from 2012); item 3 is about Canada's elections, where I hope Stephen Harper gets beaten; item 4 is about a fine article by Chris Hedges on fracking (not optimistic, but realistic, I'd say); item 5 is about the drone papers and is a good, brief article; and item 6 is about the fascist TTIP, that will, when it is accepted in
Europe, transform Europe till it is like the USA of a 100 years ago: Excellent for
the very few mega-rich, with poverty, slavery and no protections whatsoever for the 99% that form the rest.

1. Newspapers face up to the ad crunch in print and digital

The first item today is by Mark Sweney on The Guardian, and I think it is quite important for democracy and truth, especially if this also is a European fact:

This also has a subtitle:

As the top ten print advertisers strip their budgets, digital ad growth is hit by slowdown

I will explain why I think this is quite important after quoting the beginning of the article:

The summer of 2015 will be remembered as the moment a perfect storm hit national newspapers.

The print advertising market, which still remains the lifeblood of income for most publishers on the path to digital sustainability, has been down unprecedented levels of as much as 30% in some weeks over the past six months.

Most of the UK’s top 10 newspaper advertisers have stripped their budgets (...)

This is quite important because in the eighty years - from 1920, around when women got the vote, till 2000, when Bush Jr. stole the American elections with help from his brother Jeb and the US Supreme Court [1] - there was something like a full formal democracy [2], that democracy was mostly safeguarded by the printed press, that was mostly free, quite various, and during most of the time was the only source of somewhat extended news and views that reached the majority of the public. [3]

Next, since around 2000 the printed press has been collapsing, in part because there were less and less advertisements, and in part because most papers have been bought by a few extremely rich individuals (like Rupert Murdoch).

And this has seriously brought down both the quality and the diversity of most of the intellectually decent papers. I do not see any good way for the printed press to get more advertisements, and without more advertisements most of the free press will die (and get replaced by a press that only gives approved news, and is tightly connected to internet advertising companies, or totally disappear).

Here is some more from the article:

Perhaps the biggest fear is the belief that, unlike in the global advertising recession in 2009, when all ad media suffered but eventually bounced back, the dramatic changes seen over the past few months are here to stay.

“The most clearcut thing is that this is structural not cyclical,” says Dharmash Mistry, the former senior Emap executive and partner in private equity firm Balderton.

Yes, I think they are going to stay the way they are, or get worse. (And indeed I gave up reading the daily paper I had read for forty years in 2010, simply because it was by then utterly stupified compared to the 1970ies and 1980ies - and it is now even considerably worse and more stupid than it was in 2010.)

In fact, I wonder whether there will be much of a printed press in 10 or more years - which is bad, because these were the only organizations capable of hiring many tens or some hundreds of professional journalists.

2. Stalin portraits emerge in heart of Ukraine's rebel-held territory 
The next item is by Agence France Press on The Guardian:
I admit that this is here in part because my parents were communists (and intellligent and honest ones, but not highly educated) for 45 years, and also rather pro-Stalin until 1956 or so, but it is also here because a state-"socialist" dictator like Stalin is bound to be somewhat popular in Putin's Russia, while I have some anti-dote.

This starts as follows:

Three portraits of the former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin are on display in the centre of Donetsk, the rebel capital of eastern Ukraine, as the separatist authorities fuel a mood of Soviet nostalgia.

The Stalin portraits have been placed in the main square and feature a quote from the wartime leader: “Our cause is just. The enemy will be routed. We will claim victory.”

The previously taboo display comes as the rebels revive Soviet customs to cement their Moscow-backed rule – while glossing over Stalin’s atrocities.

The portraits went down well with one young woman walking past. “I think the portraits of Stalin are a good thing. It’s our history and a lot of people have forgotten he even existed,” said Yekaterina, a 22-year-old student.

I say. There is considerably more in the article, which I leave to your own interests, indeed in part also because I cannot judge whether this is propaganda
(I do not speak Russian or Ukrainian, which is also why I have little news about
the Ukraine on my site).

But - for the few who care - here is a link to a file with no less than four portraits of Stalin plus plenty of links to materials about totalitarianism, groupthinking, propaganda etc.: It is from March 17, 2012 and the relevant part and the four pictures are here. I wish you joy, for the links are all quite worth reading:


3. Canadian election: Justin Trudeau on the brink of reviving family tradition

The next article is by Nicky Woolf and agencies (that is what it says) on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Canadians head into a nail-bitingly close election on Monday in which the incumbent Conservative, Stephen Harper, is struggling to hold on to power in the face of a challenge by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party.

Harper is seeking a rare fourth term as prime minister, but polls put the Liberals about seven points ahead – and approaching the popularity levels need for a majority in parliament.

“This is going to be a close election,” Trudeau told about 1,000 supporters in Halifax. “We’re on the verge of accomplishing something big.”

If he wins and can form a majority administration, Trudeau, the son of the late former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, would become Canada’s second youngest prime minister.

I say. This is mostly here because I think Stephen Harper did extremely badly, and there is a strong need for a much better - more liberal, more ecological, less corporatist - follow up.

Then again - while I strongly insist that intelligence is real; that there are families in which there is a strong intelligence (the Bernouillis, Darwins, and Huxleys, for example); and that it is a popular lie that serves the majority of dumbos that "everybody is equal" - I don't have much sympathy for political families (the Bushes, the Clintons, and the Trudeaus, for example).

But this is mainly because I don't like politics nor politicians as a rule: If they really are intelligent (as Pierre Trudeau (<- Wikipedia) may have been), I tend to believe they should have spend their talent on science or art rather than on  politics.

4. Death by Fracking

The next article is by Chris Hedges (<- Wikipedia) on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:
The maniacal drive by the human species to extinguish itself includes a variety of lethal pursuits. One of the most efficient is fracking. One day, courtesy of corporations such as Halliburton, BP and ExxonMobil, a gallon of water will cost more than a gallon of gasoline. Fracking, which involves putting chemicals into potable water and then injecting millions of gallons of the solution into the earth at high pressure to extract oil and gas, has become one of the primary engines, along with the animal agriculture industry, for accelerating global warming and climate change.

The Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers who are profiting from this cycle of destruction will—once clean water is scarce and crop yields decline, once temperatures soar and cities disappear under the sea, once droughts and famines ripple across the globe, once mass migrations begin—surely profit from the next round of destruction. Collective suicide is a good business, at least until it is complete. It is a pity most of us will not be around to see the power elite go down.
You may think this is - a bit - exaggerated, but I do not think so. Here is part of my reason:
The activists are waging a war against a corporate state that is deaf and blind to the rights of its citizens and the imperative to protect the ecosystem. The corporate state, largely to pacify citizens being frog-marched to their own execution, passes environmental laws and regulations that, at best, slow the ongoing environmental destruction. Corporations, which routinely ignore even these tepid restrictions, largely write the laws and legislation designed to regulate their activity. They rewrite them or overturn them as the focus of their exploitation changes. They turn public hearings on local environmental issues into choreographed charades or shut them down if activists succeed in muscling their way into the room to demand a voice. They dominate the national message through a pliable and bankrupt corporate media and slick public relations. Elected officials are little more than corporate employees, dependent on industry money to stay in office and, when they retire from “public service,” salivating for jobs in the industry. Environmental reform has become a joke on the public. And the Big Green environmental groups are complicit because they rely on donors, at times from the fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries; they are silent about the reality of corporate power, largely ineffectual, and part of the fiction of the democratic process.
This also is new: The corporations now have organized themselves as political powers, which makes government quite corrupt, and also makes many of the laws governments make completely anti-democratic and pro-corporate.

There is a considerable amount more, and all of it is quite good and recommended, though it is unlikely to make you happier. I will leave this to your interests and only quote the end:

Corporations will use every weapon in their vast arsenals to bend us to their will. But if we do not begin to openly rebel, if we do not reverse the corporate coup d’état that has taken place, the world bequeathed to our children will be a holocaust.
I think that is probably true (and indeed am glad I have no children because I am ill for 37 years now).

5. Truthdigger of the Week: The ‘Drone Papers’ Whistleblower

The next article is by Roisin Davies on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

No U.S. drone strike has been made without “near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured,” President Obama assured us in a 2013 speech. Last April, when the long civilian death trail left in the wake of his drone war finally claimed an innocent American life, he declared: “It is a cruel and bitter truth that in the fog of war generally, and our fight against terrorism specifically, that mistakes, and sometimes deadly mistakes, can occur.”

Such words, we learned this week, are nothing but cruel and bitter deception. Thanks to an anonymous whistleblower’s exposure of the inner workings of America’s drone war, we now know that nearly 90 percent of people killed in recent strikes in Afghanistan were not the intended targets.

Thursday’s publication by The Intercept of a groundbreaking new collection of documents leaked by the whistleblower provides details of the grisly process of how and whom the U.S. government chooses to kill, from the use of so-called “baseball cards” of profile information created for individual targets to the chain of authorization that leads directly to the president.

For strikes in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, “The Drone Papers” reveals an alarming number of defects, including strikes resulting in large part from electronic communications data, or “signals intelligence,” that officials acknowledge to be unreliable.

I still have not reviewed "The Drone Papers", mostly because there are 7 of them, and it is a lot of work to do it well, but the last link leads you to them, and the reason why they are important is well stated by the above: Nearly 90% of the targets murdered by drones are "not the intended targets" (emphasis added).

6. TTIP Already 'Rewriting the Rule Book' for EU Food Standards, New Report Finds

The final article today is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

The pending Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will likely spark a "race to the bottom" for national policies that regulate everything from the air we breath to the food we eat and, according to a new report, the controversial pact is already pushing European governments to loosen key food safety standards.

Put forth by the UK-based social justice organization Global Justice now, the report (pdf), published Sunday, highlights a component of the pact known as "regulatory cooperation" or "regulatory coherence," which seeks to establish common standards between the United States and the European Union.

Under the provision, notes the group, multinational corporations are granted the opportunity to influence any new regulation—amounting to a "blueprint for corporate domination."

"To most people regulations such as air pollution limits and food safety standards are common sense protections against dangerous threats," said report author Alex Scrivener, who works as a campaigns officer at Global Justice Now. "But to big business, these are little more than tiresome barriers to increasing profits."

Scrivener added that "Corporate lobbyists are pushing so hard for TTIP because this is one of the biggest chances they’ve ever had to systematically strip these protections away from citizens and consumers. TTIP isn’t really about trade, it’s about corporations rewriting the rule book as to how they’re allowed to operate."

I say! Well... with my background [4] I know the TTIP is a deeply fascistic program that is meant to give all power, also almost all powers of governments, to the multi-national corporations, who have only one end: The biggest possible profit for themselves, and fuck the rest. So, I will from now on front "TTIP" by "fascist" as in: The fascist TTIP.

Here is one set of reasons why - and this is quoted from the
report (which looks quite good: I downloaded it):

US officials successfully used the prospect of TTIP to bully the EU into abandoning plans to ban 31 dangerous pesticides with ingredients that have been shown to cause cancer and infertility.

A similar fate befell regulations around the treatment of beef with lactic acid. This was  banned in Europe because of fears that the procedure was being used to conceal unhygienic  practices. The ban was repealed by MEPs in the European Parliamentary Environment Public Health and Food Safety Committee after EU Commission officials openly suggested TTIP  negotiations would be threatened if the ban wasn’t lifted.

On climate change, the European Fuel Quality Directive which would effectively ban  Canadian tar sands oil has foundered in the face of strong US-Canadian lobbying around  both TTIP and the EU-Canada CETA deal.

More generally, the EU’s Better Regulation programme has also been linked to TTIP. Better Regulation explicitly seeks to reduce the regulatory ‘burden’, delaying the implementation of new rules on things like safe levels of chemicals. Trade unions say that Better Regulation has  already been responsible for 100,000 deaths from cancer.

The fact that all of this is happening before any deal has been signed exposes the emptiness of the EU Commission’s claims that regulatory cooperation in TTIP won’t lead to a race to the
bottom on standards.

If the mere prospect of TTIP is enough to convince EU officials to allow carcinogenic pesticides and tar sands oil, what awaits us after TTIP comes into force can  only be imagined.

Well: Corporate fascism, with the destruction of all labor laws that European trade unions faught more than 100 years for, and the destruction of nearly all European laws that protect consumers, all to be replaced by the far inferior US laws, and by the one ideal of corporate fascists: Maximal profits for them, at whatever costs to ordinary people in rights, benefits, health or lives.

You can see the quite possible future of Europe and the US if the corporate fascism of the TTIP succeeds here: Less than a 100 years ago, when children of 10 had to work 10 hours a day in the mines for little more than the bread that kept them alive, and with hardly any education.

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

[1] Clearly, this was not a formal full democracy (explained in the next note) until all adults were entitled to vote, and that happened around 1920. Next, for those inclined to doubt Bush Jr stole the vote: It is quite clearly explained by Greg Palast in "How to Steal the Presidency and Get Away with it", that can be found in John Pilger (<- Wikipedia) Ed.'s excellent book about investigative journalism "Tell Me No Lies".

[2] By a "formal full democracy" I mean three things.

First, I mean that there is only a formal full democracy if (1) all adults have the right to vote on plans, proposals and the politicians who - somehow - represent them, and (2) the country they live in is not a dictatorship. Thus, Europe and the US are examples of formal full democracties.

Second, I also mean that much of this full democracy is formal only, because the majority of the adults does not have the rational knowledge to decide sensibly which politician or which plan is honest, forthright and best in the circumstances, in part because these things are complicated, and in part because most politicians quite often lie, and are much more interested in their personal power and status, than in the power, status or incomes of the millions who voted for them.

Third, I also mean by it that a formal full democracy is rarely a real democracy, in part because few voters are really informed and really connected to politics,
and in part because the scale is too big for a real democracy: You need something more than millions, tens of millions or hundreds of millions to elect a couple of hundred "representatives" to have a real democracy, where real people can vote on real plans that are about their rights and duties, and to have that,
the scales have to be much less than they are in the formal full democracies there are today.

[3] I am firmly convinced that the printed press (parts of it) was the best source of information between 1920 and 2000, and I say so knowing full well that there was radio all that time, and TV since around 1950. But apart from a few special programs, and the spoken news on the hour, there are hardly any good sources of political and scientific and citizens news on radio or TV, in part also because the spoken news goes much slower than printed news, and generally - apart from special programs - is also much sparser than written news.

[4] I am the son and grandson of communists and anarchists, with a father, a mother and a grandfather in the communist resistance to Nazism, which cost my father 3 years, 9 months and 15 days in four German concentration camps as "a political terrorist", where my grandfather also was murdered.

And I have been called "a fscist", "a dirty fascist" etc. from 1977-1989, because I believed in science, in truth and in intelligence, while I studied - quite ill, and not during all these years - at the Universuty of Amsterdam, and have been called so, always without any rational reason, by many members of the quasi-communist careerists, power-seekers, money-seekers, and status-seekers from the degenerate quasi-leftist student organization the ASVA (most of the quasi- communist quasi-revolutionaries of which have converted since 1991 to ... neoconservatives).

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