April 4, 2018

Crisis: John Bolton, Martin Luther King*2, Bayer- Monsanto Merger, High Finance: No Ethics


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from April 4, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, April 4, 2018.

Incidentally: I have to work rather fast today, because the local electricity company announced there will be no electricity in my neighborhood, from 8.30 till 14.00 hours.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

Section 2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from April 4, 2018
1. How John Bolton Wants to Destroy the Constitution to Attack North

2. Jesse Jackson: How Dr. King Lived Is Why He Died
3. He Gave His Life in the Labor Struggle: MLK’s Forgotten Radical Message
     for Economic Justice

4. The Bayer-Monsanto Merger Is Bad News for the Planet
5. How Low Can the Barons of High Finance Go?
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. How John Bolton Wants to Destroy the Constitution to Attack North Korea

This article is by Jon Schwarz on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Several weeks before President Donald Trump announced that John Bolton would soon become his new national security adviser, Bolton wrote a peculiar op-ed for The Wall Street Journal titled “The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First.”

What made Bolton’s column odd was not his belligerence — he’s always been the embodiment of America’s violent id in human/mustache form — but rather his invocation of “international law.” According to Bolton, it is now legal for the U.S. to attack North Korea.

It is generally accepted that states may engage in preemptive war if they face a so-called imminent threat, under a classic formulation articulated by former U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster in 1837. Webster wrote that a pre-emptive attack is valid only if the “necessity of self-defense” is “instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation.”
In fact, Bolton lied. Here is more:

Moreover, Bolton obviously doesn’t mean what he says in his op-ed. The “threat” part of the imminent threat to the U.S., he writes, would be North Korea possessing the capacity to strike America with nuclear weapons via intercontinental ballistic missiles. The “imminent” part is that they may have soon have this capacity. So it’s fine for us to obliterate North Korea right now.

In other words, Bolton is not arguing that North Korea is in fact about to attack us. Rather, he contends that it is legal for a country to attack another if the second country may soon possess the ability to attack the former with nuclear weapons. But this would obviously mean that it’s legitimate for Kim Jong Un to attack the nuclear-armed U.S., particularly after Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea at the United Nations in September. Indeed, by Bolton’s standard, it would also be okay for any country on earth to immediately nuke the U.S.

Yes indeed, and precisely for Bolton's reasons: The USA can nuke any country. Here is more on the real import and background of U.S. law:

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states that “Congress shall have Power …  To declare War.”

James Madison, the Constitution’s main architect, explained that the U.S. must maintain “a rigid adherence” to “the fundamental doctrine of the Constitution, that the power to declare war including the power of judging of the causes of war is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature.”

Why? Because, said Madison, the history of human beings shows conclusively that “the executive is the department of power most distinguished by its propensity to war: hence it is the practice of all states, in proportion as they are free, to disarm this propensity of its influence.”

Abraham Lincoln later endorsed this perspective, writing that if Americans “allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion,” this means also allowing the president to do so “whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose” – which therefore permits the executive “to make war at pleasure.”
And - I think - Lincoln was quite right. Except that it did not really help, in the long run:

The Constitution did, to some degree, bind presidents for 150 years. The War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II were all formally declared by Congress.

But after World War II, the executive branch staged a breakout. President Harry Truman called the Korean War, which began in 1950, a “police action,” and sent hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to Korea without any kind of formal approval from Congress.
Precisely. And from 1980 onwards, the U.S. laws on war effectively either collapsed or might not have been there at all, although the laws were there:

Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton then merrily started small wars with little congressional opposition (although some members of the House of Representatives unsuccessfully sued Clinton for violating the restrictions of the War Powers Act in his bombing of Kosovo). Bush did seek and receive approval from Congress for a large-scale conflict, the 1991 Gulf War.

Then came the presidency of George W. Bush.

There is considerably more in the article, that is strongly recommended.

2. Jesse Jackson: How Dr. King Lived Is Why He Died

This article is by Jesse Jackson on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

As the nation prepares to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we should dwell not merely on how Dr. King died but also on how he lived.

He mobilized mass action to win a public accommodations bill and the right to vote. He led the Montgomery bus boycott and navigated police terror in Birmingham. He got us over the bloodstained bridge in Selma and survived the rocks and bottles and hatred in Chicago. He globalized our struggle to end the war in Vietnam.

How he lived is why he died.

As he sought to move beyond desegregation and the right to vote, to focus his work on economic justice, antimilitarism and human rights, the system pushed back hard. In the last months of his life, he was attacked by the government, the press, former allies and the military industrial complex. Even black Democrats turned their backs on him when he challenged the party’s support for the war in Vietnam.

Yes indeed. Here is some more about the last day Dr. King lived:

It was raining cats and dogs, but the Mason Temple, part of the Church of God in Christ, was nearly full. I was sitting behind Dr. King as he preached from the pulpit. He spoke with such pathos and passion that I saw grown men wiping away tears in the sanctuary. “I’m not worried about anything,” Dr. King told the crowd of about 3,000. “I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

None of us took those words as a premonition. We had heard similar sentiments from him before. Maybe we were in denial. While danger was all around, we never thought the Martin Luther King we knew and loved, admitted to Morehouse College at 15, graduated and ordained at 19, earning a Ph.D. at 26, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at 35, would be dead at 39.

On April 4, the fatal shot rang out just after 6 p.m. as we were about to get into the cars to go to dinner. Dr. King was on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. I was in the parking lot below.

Quite so, and there is some more in the article, that is recommended.

3. He Gave His Life in the Labor Struggle: MLK’s Forgotten Radical Message for Economic Justice

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated 50 years ago this week while in Memphis, where he was supporting striking sanitation workers and building support for his Poor People’s Campaign. We look at King’s long history of fighting for economic justice, with the Rev. James Lawson and historian Michael Honey, author of the new book “To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice.”
Yes. Here is Michael Honey:
MICHAEL HONEY: Most people don’t know that Dr. King was a strong union supporter from his earliest days. And as Dr. Reverend Lawson was just saying, you know, it’s part of the social gospel, about raising up people on the bottom, the least of these. And King worked with major unions, from the Montgomery bus boycott onward. The United Packinghouse Workers, especially, came to his aid, and also the United Auto Workers union, International Longshoremen’s union. He was in touch with eight or 10 different unions, and he spoke at their conventions regularly. And people would call him up from Atlanta saying, “We need somebody out here on the picket line with us in New York City for 1199, hospital workers’ union. Would you come?” And he would come, speak on the picket line.
I think I knew that "Dr. King was a strong union supporter from his earliest days" when Dr. King was killed, and the reason was that both of my parents were - very courageous - communists. Therefore, I knew some more about Dr. King than most Dutchmen (at the time). Then again, I was totally unaware of the details Honey gives.

Here is some more, also by Honey:
It came out of his whole life’s experience, but his whole family’s experience. His great-grandparents were slaves. A number of them were slaves. His grandparents were sharecroppers and poor people who migrated to the city. His father was a poor man from the rural areas of Georgia who migrated to the city of Atlanta with nothing in his pocket. And, of course, Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929 at the beginning of the Great Depression, and so he lived through the ’30s as a young man surrounded by neighborhoods that were quite poor.
Yes indeed, and this is a recommended article.

4. The Bayer-Monsanto Merger Is Bad News for the Planet

This article is by Ellen Brown on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Two new studies from Europe show that the number of farm birds in France has crashed by a third in just 15 years, with some species being almost eradicated. The collapse in the bird population mirrors the discovery last October that more than three quarters of all flying insects in Germany have vanished in just three decades. Insects are the staple food source of birds, the pollinators of fruits, and the aerators of the soil.

The chief suspect in this mass extinction is the aggressive use of neonicotinoid pesticides, particularly imidacloprid and clothianidin, both made by the Germany-based chemical giant Bayer. These pesticides, along with toxic glyphosate herbicides such as Roundup, have delivered a one-two punch to monarch butterflies, honeybees and birds. But rather than banning these toxic chemicals, on March 21 the EU approved the $66 billion merger of Bayer and Monsanto, the U.S. agribusiness giant that produces Roundup and the genetically modified (GMO) seeds that have reduced seed diversity globally. The merger will make the Bayer-Monsanto conglomerate the largest seed and pesticide company in the world, giving it enormous power to control farm practices, putting private profits over the public interest.

Quite so - and I must say that I have been expecting what Ellen Brown summarizes since the 1970ies, mostly as effects from the collapsing of feedback circles. It may have taken a bit longer than I thought in the 1970ies, but I think by now nature has started to collapse.

And of course there are many more reasons than just Monsanto and Bayer, but I completely agree with Ellen Brown that these are co-responsible in major ways for the collapse of nature, and in fact because they are dominated by their own profits, and not or much less by any other considerations.

Here is a bit of how they are dominated by their own profits, and how they (ab)use these to make even more profits:

As Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren noted in a speech in December at the Open Markets Institute, massive companies are merging into market-dominating entities that invest a share of their profits in lobbying and financing political campaigns, shaping the political system to their own ends.

Precisely. And this is about Monsanto's major contributions to the collapse of nature:

While Bayer’s neonicotinoid pesticides wipe out insects and birds, Monsanto’s glyphosate has been linked to more than 40 human diseases, including cancer. Its seeds have been genetically modified to survive this toxic herbicide, but the plants absorb it into their tissues. In the humans who eat the plants, glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, damages DNA and is a driver of cancerous mutations. Researchers summarizing a 2014 study of glyphosates in the Journal of Organic Systems linked them to the huge increase in chronic diseases in the United States, with the percentage of GMO corn and soy planted in the U.S. showing highly significant correlations with hypertension, stroke, diabetes, obesity, lipoprotein metabolism disorder, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, end stage renal disease, acute kidney failure, cancers of the thyroid, liver, bladder, pancreas, kidney and myeloid leukaemia. But regulators have turned a blind eye, captured by corporate lobbyists and a political agenda that has more to do with power and control them protecting the health of the people.

Yes indeed. And here is a personal note:

My ex and both fell ill in January 1979. We are both still ill - in the fortieth year of our disease - but I suppose (although I strongly disagree) that psychologists like my ex and myself (who were a lot more intelligent than the average in the Dutch universities, and thus did both get (very good) M.A. degrees, although we never had the energy to visit any lectures) are only allowed since March 19, 2018, to say that we have "a serious chronic disease" (for in Holland medical doctors are always right).

We both fell ill with Pfeiffer's disease in 1979, but that disease is also still not fully known, and we were both quite healthy before falling ill.

In any case: Quite a few of the diseases mentioned in the last quotation are more prominent in people with ME/CFS, that is also unexplained (and is now - after "a mere forty years" of  having it - a totally untreated "serious chronic disease").

I do not know the cause of the disease my ex and I have since almost 40 years, but I would not be amazed at all if it is due to a combination of genetics and agricultural poisons - and while I do not know, I do insist this might have been researched in the 40 years we were called insane ("psychosomatizers", which is not even medicine: we were supposed to hallucinate ourselves - for forty years, in which we both got brillliant psychology degrees - or else to be deceiving the many medical geniuses (in their own opinions) which we visited, even though we had no motive whatsoever to deceive anyone, and had fallen ill in the first year of our studies on study loans).

Anyway... (and yes: it may have other causes as well). And this is a fine article that ends as follows, starting with a quote from George Monbiot:

Farmers and governments have been comprehensively conned by the global pesticide industry. It has ensured its products should not be properly regulated or even, in real-world conditions, properly assessed. … The profits of these companies depend on ecocide. Do we allow them to hold the world to ransom, or do we acknowledge that the survival of the living world is more important than returns to their shareholders?

President Trump has boasted of winning awards for environmental protection. If he is sincere about championing the environment, he needs to block the merger of Bayer and Monsanto, two agribusiness giants bent on destroying the ecosystem for private profit.

I completely agree, although I do not expect Trump will be rational or reasonable. And this is a strongly recommended article.

5. How Low Can the Barons of High Finance Go?

This article is by Jim Hightower on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
Question: What do you get when you combine ignorance, ideological know-nothingism, imperiousness and incompetence? Answer: Betsy DeVos.
All across the country, 5 million students -- largely single moms, veterans and other low-income people targeted by this nefarious network of colleges, lenders and collection agencies -- have defaulted on their student loan debt and have had their credit ratings and job improvement prospects destroyed by the profiteering private education system that DeVos carelessly promotes. Her latest favor for them is an insidious new policy she issued unilaterally asserting that her agency can pre-empt any state laws designed to stop the blatant lies and abuses of these loan-servicing corporations.
Actually, I think DeVos is worse than she is sketched here, but let that be. Here is more on the Wall Street bankers (who are protected up to the hilt by Hillary and Bill Clinton):

DeVos is bad, but the bankers she serves are even worse. "Greed is good," proclaimed Gordon Gekko, the lead character in a 1987 film lampooning the low ethics of Wall Street's barons of high finance.

You might think that, surely, this Hollywood portrayal of big banker mentality is a gross exaggeration, but check out an egregious example of Gekko-level greed being pushed by today's finance industry. Big banks like Capital One, Citi, Bank of America and Wells Fargo -- through their lobbying front, the Financial Services Roundtable -- have been going all out to kill a sensible labor department rule meant to protect people's retirement accounts from the self-serving guile of financial manipulators.
In fact, "Greed is good" may well go back to Milton Friedman who formulated his single norm in 1962: Profit and only profit, of private individuals running private corporations without any responsibility whatsoever to anyone (except themselves):
"Few trends could so thoroughly undermine the very foundation of our free society as the acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible. This is a fundamentally subversive doctrine. If businessmen do have a social responsibility other than making maximum profits for stockholders, how are they to know what it is? Can self-selected private individuals decide what the social interest is?"
This "norm" - we got no responsibility whatsoever except enlarging our own profits - is one of the reasons I think Friedman was a neofascist, in my sense.

And indeed if "
self-selected private individuals" cannot "decide what the social interest is?" then no one can. Besides, the rich also are "self-selected private individuals" and they do understand what their "social interests" are: Their own interests and no one else's, precisely as Friedman put it.

Here is Hightower's ending:
Bankers claiming that they have a legal right to profit by deceiving and cheating their own customers is a level of gluttony so gross that it would even gag Gordon Gekko. To fight their absurd claim, connect with Consumer Federation of America.
Yes indeed. I put in the last link to the Consumer Federation of America and this is a recommended articke.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).

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