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Nederlog

December 4, 2015
Crisis: TiSA, France: Emergency, Republicans, Chris Hedges 2/7
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Introduction


Introduction

This is a Nederlog of Friday, December 3, 2015.

This is a crisis file. It also is a crisis file "new style" that will rely less on following the news and more on explaining the backgrounds of the news.

This file consists of 4 items with 4 dotted links: item 1 is about an aricle on the TiSA; item 2 is about how the state of emergency in France gets used; item 3 is about how the Republicans are shredding the American Republic; and item 4 is part 2 from 7 of an interview Paul Jay had in 2013 with Chris Hedges.

1. How the Toxic Trade Deal You've Never Heard Of Could Kill the Climate

This first item is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows on the TiSA (and the other toxic trade deals Obama is such an enthousiast for are the TTP and the TTIP):

As world leaders attempt to hammer out a global climate deal in Paris this week, trade officials are meeting in Geneva to continue negotiations on the mammoth Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)—and according to secret documents published Thursday, "the objectives of each could not be more diametrically opposed."

The latest publication by WikiLeaks exposes new threats from TISA, the least well-known of the so-called Big Three "strategic neoliberal trade deals being advanced by the Obama administration."

Note all three toxic trade deals are so stinking, so rotten, so unfair, so degenerate that none of the texts is ("officially")known, as all of the texts are deep secrets which are not even readable by any parliamentarian. (!!)

Wikileaks is one of the very few who dare to publish these secrets that will, if adopted, destroy democracy in the US and Europe, and also destroy most of the powers of government, which will be taken over by private firms and the ISDS. And note please that they can only publish what they somehow got, which very well may not be all nor the most recent.

The TiSA deals are corporatist fascistic "deals" trying to make the world safe for the richest, and make everybody else into an exploitable object of maximum profit for the richest, without almost any legal or political defenses.

Here is what the secret TiSA is about:

TISA, currently being negotiated by the U.S., EU and 22 other countries that account for two-thirds of global GDP, would be the largest trade treaty of its kind in history and takes aim at the world's massive service industries.

According to World Bank figures, "services"—an umbrella term that covers everything from package delivery to telecommunications to finance to energy production—comprise 75 percent of the EU economy, 80 percent of the U.S. economy, and the majority of the global economy.

Please note that "services" are (apart from energy production) not productive of real goods.

Also, here are two background remarks:

First, when I heard Holland was going to be "a service economy" around 2002 (the same time the euro was introduced, that promptly made everything twice as expensive) I thought: "But how do they guarantee wages will remain at the levels they were the ladt 30 years or so?". That was a good question, and it turns out there was no guarantee whatsoever.

Second, John Maynard Keynes thought, back in the 1930ies, that it would be about now - the first half or quarter of the 21st Century - that people in general (in the West, at least) would be able to work much less, and still enjoy the same income, since much could be left to machines and technology. I think he was quite right, but he hadn't counted with the enormous greed and egoism of the rich, and with the corruptibility of elected politicians and non-elected bureaucrats.

Third, all three "trade deals" are much less about trade than about giving nearly full control to the multi-national corporations and their specially created "legal representatives", the ISDS, at the cost of control by national governments, national institutions of law, and national elected parliaments:

All the public goods these tried to establish will be replaced by just one criterion: Does the measure these propose - governmental, legal, political - give multi-national corporations the profits they counted with? If yes, the measure may pass; if no, the measure very well may be attacked in front of a "legal" ISDS that replaces national courts, and cannot be appealed.

Here is the assessment of the International Transport Workers Federation's (ITF) about the TiSA:

And the International Transport Workers Federation's (ITF) assessment of the Annex on Road Freight Transport and Related Logistical Services is no less damning, observing that this chapter joins other draft texts published by WikiLeaks "to form an overarching trade liberalization agenda, fragmenting the trucking industry, opening up sensitive areas of the transport sector to international competition, and contributing to the ongoing privatization of public services, undercutting workers' rights, public health and safety, and the ability of national governments to plan and direct their own industrial and infrastructural development."

For almost all of that will be done by private corporations who will run these public goods for the private profits of their owners and shareholders, who often live completely elsewhere.

There is also this, and this does not just apply to fracking but to everything:

Denouncing TISA as the "Free Fracking Agreement," Menotti says that under the deal, "popular policies like requiring public input for big projects, approving building in sensitive areas, or hiring local labor, are all stealthily made vulnerable to being attacked."

And there is this on the climate:

    "Regardless of the outcomes of the Paris climate talks, if TISA was passed it would massively reduce the ability of national governments to make the sort of rational choices about energy production that would move us further towards a low carbon economy," Dearden continued.

"TISA seeks to place corporate handcuffs on our governments at a time when they need as much flexibility as possible to steer us away from fossil fuel dependency," he said. "If we want to fight climate change, we must also stop TISA and the other toxic trade deals that are being cooked up behind closed doors."

In brief: You can forget about trying to undo the climate changes when there is a TiSA. (It will not be profitable to the multi-national corporations, and therefore  trying stop or undo the climate changes will be ditched.)

2. State of Emergency in France: 2,200 Police Raids, 3 Closed Mosques, Hundreds of Muslims Detained

The second item is Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced Wednesday that authorities had carried out more than 2,200 raids since a state of emergency was declared following the November 13 attacks that killed 130 people. Under the state of emergency, French police can raid any home without judicial oversight. In addition, police have held 263 people for questioning – nearly all have been detained. Another 330 people are under house arrest, and three mosques have also been shut down. The vast majority of those targeted in the raids have been Muslim.

Note the "without judicial oversight". And here is how the "state of emergency" is applied these days: People get arrested - NB:
"without judicial oversight" - because they are suspected of behaving suspicuously, which is free enough to lock up any Frenchman. (You need not to have behaved suspicuously in any way ever in your life: what matters is that someone suspects you may have. And bang, you are arrested, all "without judicial oversight".):
 
YASSER LOUATI: First, the background of this law is, in 1955, during the Algerian war they declared a state of emergency. But, it was against dangerous activities. Now they raid people and put them under house arrest under the suspicion of, what can we say — no, the suspicion of suspicious behavior. So now they are trying to criminalize even the intention of people and that’s why most of the raids did not bring anything tangible because now the local governor can decide which home can be raided, which restaurant and they barely have — they don’t have to even explain themselves. And now we see a blatant case of an authoritarian regime being implemented upon us.

There is considerably more in the article.

3. How Republicans Shred the Republic

The third item is by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship on Consortiumnews:

This has a summary:

The anti-government ideology that drives today’s Republican Party claims to support the U.S. Constitution but is actually its antithesis. Rather than “We the People” providing for the “general Welfare,” the goal is to starve government and cede all power to the rich and ruthless, as Bill Moyers and Michael Winship explain.

I agree - and I note that this neoconservative movement started in the 1970ies with the Powell Memorandum, and that this has been extremely successive, especially in the USA and Great Britain, where it got much support by first Thatcher and Reagan, and then by Clinton and Blair (who pretended to be "social democrats" but in fact worked for "
the rich and ruthless".

There is this:

For reasons hard to fathom, the Republicans seem to have made up their minds: they will divide, degrade and secede from the Union.

They will do so with bullying, lies and manipulation, a willingness to say anything, no matter how daft or wrong. They will do so by spending unheard of sums to buy elections with the happy assistance of big business and wealthy patrons for whom the joys of gross income inequality are a comfortable fact of life. By gerrymandering and denying the vote to as many of the poor, the elderly, struggling low-paid workers, and people of color as they can. And by appealing to the basest impulses of human nature: anger, fear and bigotry.

I disagree with the first paragraph: Firstly, I do not think greed and egoism are "hard to fathom", and secondly I also do not think the Republicans want to "secede the Union". I think they want to take it over and design it according to their own illusions.

But the second paragraph is quite correct - and easier to understand with the previous paragraph.

Then there is this:

Turn on your TV or computer, pick up a paper or magazine and you can see and hear them baying at the moon. Donald Trump is just the most outrageous and bigmouthed of the frothing wolf pack of deniers and truth benders. As our friend and colleague Tom Engelhardt of TomDispatch writes, “There’s nothing, no matter how jingoistic or xenophobic, extreme or warlike that can’t be expressed in public and with pride by a Republican presidential candidate.”

Like the pronouncement of the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984, ignorance is strength, whether it’s casting paranoid fantasies about thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering 9/11, or warning about terrorists in refugees’ ragged clothing and Mexican rapists slithering across the border.

Yes, indeed. And the parallel to Orwell's 1984 is there and indeed the foundations for it were laid in the late 1970ies and early 1980ies, with the rise of postmodernism, that explicitly insisted that "everybody knows that truth does not exist" (as I was informed by the lying professor M. Brandt at the opening of the academic year 1978/1979, in his speech opening the academic year: this utter rpt has been going on for 35 years now [1]).

There is also this on the values of the Congressional Republicans:

Congressional Republicans have vowed to free Wall Street from oversight and accountability and to prevent children fleeing the Syrian inferno from coming ashore on U.S. soil. And yes, they will once again be in full throat against gun control (despite the latest tragedy in San Bernardino, California).

They’re on constant attack against the science of climate change, with the latest salvo two House bills passed Dec. 1 that undermine Environmental Protection Agency rules (President Barack Obama will veto them). And believe it or not, once again they’ll try to scuttle Obamacare, as in Kentucky where the self-financed, wealthy Republican governor-elect has vowed to cut loose hundreds of thousands of people from health insurance.

Take a look at some of their other plans, including the riders congressional Republicans are contemplating for inclusion in the omnibus spending bill that must be passed by Dec. 11. The whole mess is a Bad Santa’s list of loopholes benefiting High Finance, tax cuts for the rich, and budget cuts for everyone else, even as they drive the nation deeper into debt and disrepair.

All of these sad examples are but symptoms of a deeper disease – the corruption and debasement of society, government and politics. It is a disease that eats away at the root and heart of what democracy is all about.

There is more in the article, which is recommended. I also agree with the last part of the last quotation: American society, and Western societyin general, is corrupted and debased, and was corrupted and debased, quite intentionally so, also, by the rich and by the elected politicians who were corrupted (or perhaps in a few cases misled) by the spokespersons for the rich.

4. Journalism Should Be About Truth, Not Career

The fourth and last item is the text of a video made by Paul Jay for the Real News based on a video interview that I can't find anymore that Jay made with Chris Hedges in 2013: This is part 2 from 7. Part 1 is here. As the title says, most of this text is about journalism, and especially journalism made or published in the USA.

First, here is some background on limitations under which American journalists work:

HEDGES: So if you're reporting from Latin America or Gaza or the Middle East as I was, or the Balkans, you have a kind of range that is denied to you once you come back into New York and into Washington. So, for instance, I could go on National Public Radio and offer a very frank critique about Slobodan Milosevic and what he was doing in Bosnia, what the Serbs were doing in Bosnia. But to come back to the United States and be that candid about George W. Bush was to get me in deep trouble. And yet, having spent seven years in the Middle East, having been the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, an Arabic speaker, months of my life in Iraq, I understood, like most Arabists, that the invasion of Iraq was based on a fantasy, the idea that we would be greeted as liberators, that democracy would be implanted in Baghdad and emanate outwards across the Middle East, that the oil revenues would pay for reconstruction. All of this was absurd, and all the Arabists knew it.

I do not know whether similar rules hold for European journalism, though I suspect something similar applies: One is more or less free to criticize known opponents of one's own government, but one is not free to criticize and get printed when one criticizes one's own government, indeed almost regardless of the facts.

Hedges was asked to do the opening speech for Rockford College in 2003, which gave him a lot of trouble when he said the things he thought rather than the popular trash he was expected to say:

JAY: So what goes through your mind as you decide to make this speech? You must have had some sense in that postinvasion period that this was going to be controversial and The Times may not like this.
HEDGES: Yeah, I'd been booed, and--well, because my career was never the point. I mean, you don't volunteer to go to Sarajevo if you're a careerist. I mean, you can get killed. I mean, I was never trying to build a career. That isn't why I was a journalist [incompr.] again sort of makes you an anathema at a place like The New York Times, where for most people it's all about the career. So I didn't care about my career.


This means also (and I think that is correct) that Hedges does not think most of the present journalists, including most of The New York Times, are honest and true journalists, precisely because most care about their career, insurances and pensions before caring about telling their readers (what they think is) the truth.

Here is how The New York Times got rid of Chris Hedges:


HEDGES: And so the way The Times responded was to call me in and give me a formal written reprimand for impugning the impartiality of The New York Times and that I was guild, your union. So the process is you give the employee the reprimand in written form, and then the next time they violate, under guild rules you can fire them. So it was clear that we were headed for a collision. Either I muzzled myself to pay fealty to my career, which on a personal sense would be to betray my father, or I spoke out and realized that my relationship with my employer was terminal. And so at that point I left before they got rid of me. But I knew that, you know, I wasn't going to be able to stay.

In fact, Chris Hedges wasn't fired:


JAY: Did you actually get fired by The Times? Or you decide to leave 'cause you're--.
HEDGES: No, I left to go to the Nation Institute because I didn't stop speaking out against the war.


Here is a line of argument real journalists these days often face, with Chris Hedges reply:

JAY: So what do you make of--I guess, The New York Times charge against you would have been that you've crossed the line from journalism to activism. They're accusing Glenn Greenwald of that with his coverage of Snowden. And, of course, at The Real News we get that often enough. What do you make of that whole line of argument?
HEDGES: Well, let's--I mean, let's look at what I was being reprimanded for. I was being reprimanded for challenging a non-reality-based belief system perpetuated by the Bush administration, and in particular figures like Dick Cheney and Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz who don't know anything about the instrument of war, which I happen to know very well, or about the Middle East. I was speaking out of a body of experience. I was speaking out of a cultural understanding, a political understanding, a religious understanding that they didn't have. And this wasn't a political opinion. This was based on years of experience in the region, and in particular in Iraq. But it was a counter-narrative that challenged a narrative that was complete fiction. And so what I was being reprimanded for, if you really want to boil it down to its simplest element, was for speaking a truth that was at that moment unpalatable.

Clearly, Hedges reply is quite correct: He was punished for speaking unpalatable truths, which he also was in a position to know much better than those who reprimanded him.

Here is Chris Hedges on the crisis within the media:


HEDGES: Yeah, but they've also caved on Bradley Manning and Snowden and Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. I mean, and I think the media, the American media at its best, which is, you know, institutions like The New York Times had become anemic, and at its worst, which is the commercial airwaves, have just become tools of corporate propaganda. And there's a crisis within the media establishment that is very, very profound and very frightening.

I think he is quite right, and this includes his being very frightened: So am I, for without a true free press, democracy is doomed.

Here is how the New York Times worked around the start of the war in Iraq:

HEDGES: (..)And I think that The New York Times--to illustrate the point that you've made, of course you have to go back and look at The New York Times coverage in the leadup to the war in Iraq, where they were fed bogus material by the Bush administration and printed it as fact. And then the administration would cite New York Times stories to bolster their case for war in Iraq in this kind of circular mendacity that was taking place between Washington and the part power elite at

In brief, the war in Iraq was furthered by a "
kind of circular mendacity" that was started by the lies of the Bush administration, which the New York Times published as if they were true.

Here is another way of being corrupted by a corrupt government:

JAY: And just to get back to The Times, The Times has the credibility to do this kind of stuff up to the war in Iraq because they do allow a fair amount of fact-based reporting that actually is legitimate. So you kind of believe what The Times says.
HEDGES: Right. Well, every article they wrote which was a lie about weapons of mass destruction, you know, being part of Saddam Hussein's Iraq was technically fact-based. It was sourced, you know, senior intelligence officials say. I mean, it was double-checked with other intelligence officials. It was all within the rubric of American journalism, legitimate journalism. It just happened to be a lie.

In other words: checks and double-checks make no difference if those one relies on for fact-checking do not have facts but lies as their referents.

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Notes

[1] One of the awful things that I learned between 1980 and 1982, when I had started a student party that cared for truth, science, honesty and fairness, was that very few students and very few staff members (such as professors and lecturers) of the UvA were in favor of truth or science or honesty or fairness. 

There are several explanations for this fact, and two that are certainly true are that (1) it was not in the interest of most students to really learn something, but simply to get a degree by any means, and (2) in Holland there existed the unique situation that the universities between 1971 and 1995 were in fact in the possession of the students - and most of the active students, certainly in the 70ies and early 80ies were members of the communist party, and only were interested in politics and morals, both of the extreme "leftist" kind.



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