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Nederlog

December 22, 2015
Crisis: Sanders vs Clinton, Climate, Rotten All Through, MSF & Kunduz
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Introduction


Introduction

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, December 22, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is on Bernie Sanders vs Hillary Clinton and about a large difference between the two; item 2 is about a good piece by Stanley Heller who more or less outlines my own thoughts on the "historic climate deal" he and I totally disbelieve in; item 3 is about an article by Robert Reich about rotten apples and rotten systems, to which I have a rather important addition; and item 4 is - once again - about the hospital in Kunduz where the MSF lost 42 patients and staff members due to an attack by the Americans, which the Americans only want to "investigate" themselves.

1.
Bernie Sanders on Challenging Wall Street: "CEOs May Like Hillary -- They Ain't Going to Like Me"

The first item is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
Although finding concord on a host of issues including foreign policy, Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate highlighted a key difference between front-runner Hillary Clinton and top challenger Bernie Sanders: the economy. Clinton said corporations would welcome her in the White House, while Sanders pointedly said they wouldn’t. "The CEOs of large multinationals may like Hillary. They ain’t going to like me," Sanders said. "And Wall Street is going to like me even less. And the reason for that is we’ve got to deal with the elephant in the room, which is the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street."
Yes, indeed. And this ought to be very relevant for those who can think, and are not themselves rich.

Here is another thing Sanders said:

And let me be clear: While there are some great corporations creating jobs and trying to do the right thing, in my view—and I say this very seriously—the greed of the billionaire class, the greed of Wall Street is destroying this economy and is destroying the lives of millions of Americans. We need an economy that works for the middle class, not just a handful of billionaires. And I will fight and lead to make that happen.
Yes, I agree. Here is some by Bill Curry:
Hillary is literally not just a poster child. She, Rahm Emanuel, their campaign, the later Obama campaign, these were the first Democratic campaigns since Andrew Jackson to raise more money from business than Republicans. The bond they made with Wall Street has been critical in how they’ve built their party. And it’s why the middle class is dying. This symbiotic relationship between ever more concentrated and powerful global capital and pay-to-play politics is at the heart of what’s gone wrong here.
I agree - and for more see the Third Way, for that was started by Bill Clinton, who fundamentally transformed the Democratic Party, like his mate Tony Blair fundamentally transformed the Labour Party, from faintly leftist parties with an agenda for the poor and the middle classes to a neoconservative or neoliberal party that mostly work for its own top managers (Clinton and Blair are multi-millionaires) and for the managers of the big corporations and banks, indeed - rather - as Hillary Clinton said.

Here is some more by Bill Murry:

We’ve become a nation of middlemen and toll collectors, of parasites, who the government allows to set up the ability to take fees. Every time you swipe a credit card, one of the major banks takes 1.75 percent of the transaction. They don’t have to lend money to small businesses and to homeowners anymore. The vital organs of this economy are shutting down because of the way our democracy is mortgaged to the wealthy and the powerful.
Yes, indeed. Anyway: this is a recommended article.

2.
‘Progress’ Is Fatal 

The second item is by Stanley Heller on Truthdig (and originally on PeaceNews):

This starts as follows (and can be seen as a sequel to December 14, last)

Historic! Oh, how the elite love to use that word when touting their meetings and decisions. It’s so important to have a record of historic agreements for your “legacy.” So it was no surprise that President Obama said the Paris agreement on climate was a “historic agreement” and “tribute to American leadership”. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the pact was a “historical turning point.” Ban Ki-Moon, U.N. Secretary General went further said the deal inked in Paris was “truly historic” and was a “monumental success.” Wow, “truly” historic!

With so many "historics" it's bound to be nothing like it (except for a historic failure) and indeed Heller continues like so:

Except why didn’t the 32 page document talk about fossil fuel? It literally doesn’t mention those two words, nor can you find the words “coal” or “oil” in the text. That’s because the world’s great muckamucks are promising to limit emissions without challenging the beast whose waste is the emissions, without insuring that most of the world’s fossil fuel stays right where it is, deep in the ground.

James Hansen called the deal a “fraud”.

And I agreed with him: see the Nederlog of December 14, 2015.

Here is more on Heller's disagreements:

There’s nothing binding in the agreement. Though all the countries made “commitments” nothing will happen if they’re not honored. And even if all the commitments are fulfilled the earth’s temperature will go up 3.7 degrees Centigrade, far more that that 2 degree limit that the nations of the world said was a safe limit five years ago and double the 1.5 degree limit this agreement says the world should “pursue.”

I do not know about the raise of 3.7 degrees in the earth's temperature, but this is mainly because I am less well-informed than Heller is. I will suppose he is correct - which also probably means that Amsterdam, where I live, which lies over 2 meters below sea level, will drown in the coming 30 to 70 years. (I probably will be dead when it happpens, since I am 65 years now and not healthy.)

Here is some more by Heller:

“Process,” “roadmap,” “framework.” We need to use the technical word “bullshit” to describe these phrases. They are words to describe non-agreements, words to fool the public into thinking something important has actually been accomplished.

Quite so! And there is this:

The agreement doesn’t even challenge the subsidies that governments give to the FF industries to go out and find more carbon to burn. A piece in Scientific American in May 2015 calculated the total yearly amount of these subsidies, a breathtaking, mind boggling $5 trillion, $5 trillion a year to hasten the end of a human-favored climate.

In brief, there was something "historic" about Obama's, Fabius's and Moon's "historic" words: They were quite conscious historical lies.

Here is Stanley Heller's ending:

On this issue half-measures are as good as being half alive. The whole system that is poisoning the climate has to be reformed, changed, revolutionized, …whatever. We have an immense task and we have just a few years or decades to get it accomplished.
I merely add two points. First, I have been hearing or reading this kind of lies, indeed mostly by politicians, ever since 1971. And second, they have convinced me, quite long ago also, that there will not be done much about the climate without a political revolution, and indeed for two major reasons:

It is too expensive - not profitable enough, in the short term - for the economies that we presently have to do it well, while the parties who do not want to do it well or at all because that is very profitable to them have most of the political power, directly or indirectly.

This is also a recommended article.

3. Of Rotten Apples and Rotten Systems

The third item is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:

Martin Shkreli, the former hedge-fund manager turned pharmaceutical CEO who was arrested last week, has been described as a sociopath and worse.

In reality, he’s a brasher and larger version of what others in finance and corporate suites do all the time.

Federal prosecutors are charging him with conning wealthy investors.

Lying to investors is illegal, of course, but it’s perfectly normal to use hype to lure rich investors into hedge funds. And the line between the two isn’t always distinct.
Actually, I am not much interested in Shkreli (I agree he is a greedy egoist) except indeed as a human - greedy, egoistic, bullshittting, lying - type that is also behind very much of the corporate riches and corporate policies (and that was in fact already described very well in the 1820ies by William Hazlitt: See his "On corporate bodies", that is very well worth reading).

As to the pharmaceutical corporations:

Unlike most other countries, the United States doesn’t control drug prices. It leaves pricing up to the market.

Which enables drug companies to charge as much as the market will bear.

Not only that: it also means many are not insured, and it means that the American poor are nearly always less well of in - crucial - health matters than the rich, as a matter of course also: "You are not rich? Too bad, worse service for you."

Here is Reich's sum-up:

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry is making a fortune off average Americans, who are paying more for the drugs they need than the citizens of any other advanced country.

That’s largely because Big Pharma has wielded its political influence to avoid cost controls, to ban Medicare from using its bargaining clout to negotiate lower prices, and to allow drug companies to pay the makers of generic drugs to delay their cheaper versions.

Yes, but there is considerably more:

As soon as the TPP, and especially the TTIP and TISA are signed, the Europeans will get all of the blessings the Americans got, simply because by then corporate profit rules supreme, and anything that threatens the expectations of projected profits can be dealt with in some fascistic quasi-court that only judges whether these expectations were threatened, and against whom no appeal is possible, while the governments are mostly helpless.

That, at least, is my expectation: It will be the end of all democratic government and indeed in considerable part of government, because then it has become "law" that multi-national profits trump all other considerations: "We must think of the profits of the rich - first and only."

4. Backing MSF, Human Rights Watch Says US Must Consent to War Crimes Probe

The fourth and last item today is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows - and in case you are interested, since I was interested in this as well, see these items, presented in the order they were written and published: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six:

There is "strong" evidence that the U.S. military attack on a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan two months ago constituted a criminal act, and should be investigated as such, Human Rights Watch said Monday in a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter (pdf).

"The attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz involved possible war crimes," said the advocacy group's Washington director Sarah Margon. "The ongoing U.S. inquiry will not be credible unless it considers criminal liability and is protected from improper command influence."

The 30-minute airstrike on October 3 killed at least 42 patients and staff and wounded several others. In November, the Pentagon released the summary of its internal inquiry into the bombing, which blamed the attack on "human error"—a conclusion that human rights groups rejected and which MSF said provided "more questions than answers."

Quite so: An "investigation" by the American army or the Pentagon is the same as letting illegal drugsdealers decide themselves whether they are illegal drugs- dealers. ("Of course not! We are noble souls that never did anyone any harm!")

The ending of the article is as follows:

"U.S. military commanders who oversaw the Kunduz military operation shouldn't be deciding who gets prosecuted for the MSF hospital attack," Margon said Monday. "The U.S. government should recognize that its resolution of this horrific incident will have repercussions for U.S. military operations far beyond Afghanistan."

MSF has also repeatedly called for the U.S. government to submit to an inquiry conducted by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, which was created under the Geneva Conventions in 1991. The commission has said it was ready to carry out an investigation, but could only do so with the U.S. government's consent.

Yes, indeed.

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