September 13, 2018

Crisis: The U.S. War Machine, Vegetation, Kavanaugh, Tax Competition, The Truth on 9/11


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from September 13, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, September 13, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

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.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from September 13, 2018:
1. America's 'Deadly, Dangerous and Destabilizing Role' in Global Arms

2. Humans Could Trigger a Huge Vegetation Change
3. Kavanaugh Has No Business Sitting on Supreme Court
4. Ten Years After the Crash, Tax Competition Threatens the Global
     Economy and Democracy

5. 9/11 – A Firefighter’s Perspective 
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. America's 'Deadly, Dangerous and Destabilizing Role' in Global Arms Supply

This article is by Valerie Vande Panne on AlterNet and originally on Independent Media Institute. It starts as follows:

Most Americans want peace—in the world, in their country, and in their own homes and communities.

Even the most committed Trump supporter might want peace in Latin America and the Middle East—if it means “illegal” refugees stop “pouring” in to the USA.

Yet, somehow, U.S. “commandos” were deployed to 149 countries in 2017 alone.

Worse, according to a 2016 International Criminal Court report, U.S. troops allegedly committed war crimes in Afghanistan, and the U.S. military and CIA allegedly tortured at least 88 people in Poland, Romania, and other countries as well.

So why is it then that so many Americans work for private, for-profit companies profiting from war? And why are so many Americans invested financially in the merchants of death profiting from war and manufactured terror around the globe?
Yes, quite so.

And it may be added that since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the USA, with by far the biggest army plus investments in arms in the whole world, has effectively taken over most of the world, apart from China and some associated states, and indeed has done so in part by having its troops deployed in no less than 149 countries (that is: in most countries in the world).

Besides, the questions in the last quoted paragraph may be answered quite plausibly - as is no doubt clear to Vande Panne - by just repeating the word that occurs three times in the last paragraph: For profit.

Here is some more, namely about a new report by CodePink:

Enter CodePink’s new report, War Profiteers: The U.S. War Machine and the Arming of Repressive Regimes, a handy guide to the companies that manufacture weapons, and who they are selling them to. The report is primarily focused on Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon—the largest military manufacturers in the U.S., and their deals with Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Egypt.

“The United States is the leading purveyor of arms sales, global war and militarism,” the report notes. “With 800 military bases in 80 countries around the world, the U.S. has a larger military budget than the next seven countries combined, as well as an arms industry that dominates the global arms trade.”

Precisely. And not only that, the USA's aggression is being dressed in propaganda:

It’s not just the arrogant language leaders use, but also the corruption of language. The report notes that, “Officially sanctioned terms like ‘defense’ and ‘security’ act as a subterfuge to diminish and camouflage the deadly, dangerous and destabilizing role that the United States is playing in the world.”

I quite agree. Here is the ending of this article:

The numbers of people working in this sector—nearly half a million officially in the Big Five mentioned in the report—is troublesome considering the number of EPA employees who have left under the Trump administration: an “exodus” of over 1,600 employees who are refusing to be a part of the problem rather than the solution.

As Eisenhower said, “Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.” That can start by moving your money—and your employment—to a different sector. But first, arm yourself with knowledge.

You can access the full CodePink report here.

This is a strongly recommended article. 
2. Humans Could Trigger a Huge Vegetation Change

This article is by Tim Radford on Truthdig and originally on Climate News Network.

It starts as follows, and is a bit more about the coming several hundreds of years than is usual in Nederlog, but then I have been concerned about increasing feedback effects ever since first reading "The Limits to Growth" in 1972:

The planet’s greenery – prairie grasslands, riverine swamps, Sahel drylands, European woodlands, tropical rainforest and Alpine meadows – could be about to be overtaken by a huge vegetation change as the world warms at a dangerous rate.

The warning comes not from computer simulations of what could happen under the notorious “business-as-usual” scenario, in which humans go on burning ever greater quantities of fossil fuel, to raise the levels of greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere, but from a simple natural experiment while humans were still Neolithic nomads.

Between 21,000 and 14,000 years ago, near the end of the last Ice Age, the world warmed by between 4C and 7C [7.2 F and 12.6 F]. And the world’s plants preserved a register of the changes during that era.

Yes indeed, although there also are considerable differences with - say - 15,000 years ago:

An international research team reports in the journal Science that they collated and examined the data based on the fossilised pollen evidence of bygone ecosystems from 594 sites on every continent except Antarctica, to record the way forests died back, new species invaded, and the nature of the landscapes changed.

And, they say, there is evidence that climate change is already imposing a new plant hierarchy on the landscape, and major transformation could be on the way. But there are two big differences between the climate shift near the end of the last Ice Age and the present global warming.

Back then, the temperature rise, and the shifts in vegetation, took thousands of years. Then, the temperature shifted between familiar boundaries: glacial and interglacial.

But under the business-as-usual scenario, humans are now warming the world at a rate an estimated 65 times faster than late in the last Ice Age. And since the temperatures are already much higher, any changes in the next century or so could exceed anything the world experienced in the last two million years.

This is simply true, though indeed the implications are speculative. Then again, there must be large changes simply because the temperatures "in the next century or so could exceed anything the world experienced in the last two million years".

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

“If we allow climate change to go unchecked, the vegetation of this planet is going to look completely different than it does today, and that means a huge risk to the diversity of this planet,” said Jonathan Overpeck, of the University of Michigan, one of the scientists who launched the five-year study.

“We’re talking about global landscape change that is ubiquitous and dramatic. And we’re starting to see it in the United States, as well as around the globe.”

Possibly so. All I affirm here is that there probably will be big changes in vegetation in the next few hundreds of years - that is, provided Trump does not start a nuclear war. And this is a recommended article.

3. Kavanaugh Has No Business Sitting on Supreme Court

This article is by Robert Reich on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Yale Law School, from which Brett Kavanaugh got his law degree, issued a statement about him with glowing quotes from professors attesting to his impeccable legal credentials.

Perhaps the Yale Law faculty deemed his credentials impeccable because he graduated from Yale Law School. Then again, Clarence Thomas also graduated from Yale Law School (as, in full disclosure, did I).

The reason Kavanaugh should not be confirmed has nothing to do with his legal credentials. It’s the blatantly partisan process used by Trump and Senate Republicans to put him on the Supreme Court.

Yes indeed: I quite agree with Reich. Here is more by him:

So it’s not enough that a prospective Supreme Court justice have impeccable legal credentials. The person must also be chosen impeccably, so that the public trusts he or she will fairly and impartially interpret the Constitution.

Process matters, now so more than ever.

If Kavanaugh is confirmed, it will be due to a process that has violated all prevailing norms for how someone should be chosen to be a Supreme Court justice.

Quite so. Here Reich starts list of several arguments that I will not copy. His main argument, I think, is this:

The Trump administration has asserted executive privilege to shield 100,000 page of Kavanaugh’s White House records from release – an assertion so broad that senators can’t even read behind closed doors documents that might shed light on issues the public might reasonably consider important, such as whether Kavanaugh endorsed the Bush administration’s infamous torture memos.

That is: You simply cannot nominate someone - for life, also - to the Supreme Court on the basis of the fact that those who have to approve his nomination are denied the reading of over 100,000 pages of materials that may be quite relevant to the legality of his nomination.

That is itself not justice, but a mockery of justice. Reich also mentions these facts:

Meanwhile, Trump himself is an unindicted co-conspirator in a government criminal case concerning campaign finance violations in the 2016 election. He is also under government investigation for possibly obstructing justice, and for colluding with a foreign power to intrude in the 2016 election on his behalf.

But Senate Republicans are unwilling to delay a vote on Kavanaugh until these cases are resolved.

I'd say that the Senate Republicans are behaving very unreasonable here, but I like the arguments to be mostly limited to the missing 100,000 pages of evidence on Kavanaugh's past behavior.

Here is the ending of Reich's article:

When a sitting president spews venom daily, and when Congress has become a cauldron of bitter partisanship, American needs a Supreme Court that can be trusted to fairly manage our national disagreements. The Constitution demands no less.

Tragically, Brett Kavanaugh will further divide us. For this reason alone, he shouldn’t be confirmed.

Well... I don't quite agree that the - agreed upon - fact that "Brett Kavanaugh will further divide" the Americans is a good reason not to nominate him. I do agree that the fact that 100,000 pages of evidence about his past behavior have been repressed is a very good reason not to nominate him. And this is a recommended article.

4. Ten Years After the Crash, Tax Competition Threatens the Global Economy and Democracy

This article is by Wayne Swan on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Ten years ago, the global financial system was rocked by the largest crisis since the Great Depression.

On September 15, 2008, the US investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy after its highly leveraged housing loan portfolio finally collapsed under the weight of widespread mortgage defaults. The global economy lost its nerve, and hundreds of thousands of individuals lost their jobs, their homes and livelihoods.

The loss of potential output in advanced economies over the next several years was the equivalent of wiping the German economy off the map. The crisis that followed Lehman Brothers’ collapse was the almost inevitable culmination of decades of lax financial regulation.

I agree with this, although I believe that the (bolding added) "loss of potential output" is a fairly speculative assumption.

Then again, I also want to stress the fact that this Nederlog and this site are the only ones that consistently have spoken about the crisis the last ten years, even though it was and has been a crisis for the 90% that are not very rich nor belong to those that the very rich pay well.

Here is some more:

Despite the early remedial efforts of the G20, the crisis has still left lasting scars on many measures of output and employment, ensuring that at least some moves to roll back regulations that would weaken financial systems have been roundly rejected.

While the pace of regulatory repeal may have slowed, a parallel race to the bottom – in corporate tax – has accelerated. And its consequences threaten to be just as long‑lived as the fallout from the financial crisis.

The trends are troubling. In late 2017, Donald Trump slashed US corporate tax rates from 35 to 21 per cent, driving record share buybacks and CEO bonuses at the expense of wage growth for the rest of the workforce.

In fact, I think a somewhat more plausible reading may be that most deregulations have been done, and now is the time to hand the rich most of the money from the taxes they once paid, namely by slashing their taxes. (If I recall well, incidentally, in the time when America was great in Trump's eyes, which are the Eisenhower years of the 1950ies, the taxes the rich paid were 69% or 79% of their gross incomes.)

Here is more:

As a group of leaders from government, academia, and civil society, the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT), of which I am a member, is convinced that ending the race to the bottom on corporate tax is a matter of global urgency. Tax is not only the price we pay for a civilised society, or the quid pro quo levied on the private sector for the provision of public infrastructure and a healthy and well-educated workforce. Tax is also an essential safety valve which allows democratic governments to curb the power of unelected corporate leviathans – some of which now boast a net worth higher than the GDP of some G20 economies.

I completely agree. This article ends as follows:

For the ICRICTthe fairest and most effective approach is for multinationals to be taxed as single firms doing business across international borders.
Without global responses such as these, economies can falter, and democracies fail. The lopsided society that encourages a race to the bottom and permits multimillionaires and multinationals to hold 10 per cent of global GDP in tax havens is toxic for democracy and foments the kind of populist backlash that allows authoritarianism to flourish. By continuing to run the race to the bottom on corporate tax, governments run away from their democratic responsibilities and hurtle headlong into the next global crisis.

Quite so. And this is a strongly recommended article.
5. 9/11 – A Firefighter’s Perspective

This article is by Greg Bacon on The Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:
Here we are, at the 17th anniversary of the event which shocked America–and most of the world–that was protected by massive lies still in use today. I am going to use two examples to show the readers why the official 9/11 story is a fraud and massive psyops campaign to give the USA an excuse to illegally invade nations, kill millions, wound millions more, create untold misery and fear for innocent people, at the same time knocking off predominantly Islamic states that Israel wanted destroyed and which would make Wall Street & defense contractors a ‘killing’ off the killings. And to use the 9/11 lies to justify an ever-growing police state both in the USA and most of the West, especially England.
Yes, I think Greg Bacon is probably correct, and in any case I am one of those who never believed "the official 9/11 story", indeed for reasons that Greg Bacon discusses in the rest of this article.

In fact, he proceeds by showing that he is a real and prominent fireman. I will quote none of this, but I quite believe him.

Here is the first important piece of evidence that Bacon has that is not - at all - covered by
"the official 9/11 story", and it has to do with the fact that more than a 1000 of the victims of 9/11 have not even been identified by a DNA analysis, and this for the reason that there simply is no DNA of them to be found - which in fact is very strange:
Human bones–especially the large ones, the femur and pelvic bones, are very resilient and tough. Modern crematoriums can’t even completely incinerate some human bones:
So what kind of energy was needed to obliterate a human body into hundreds of pieces? Not a pancake collapse, that’s for sure. But we still have over 1,000 WTC victims that have NOT been ID’d, because they haven’t been able to find any DNA to test.

Again, what kind of energy does it take to vaporize a human body. Not the energy generated by a structure fire and building collapse.

I agree with this (and add as an aside that the Wikipedia spouts pure propaganda about 9/11).

TWO:- Minute bone fragments and vaporized bodies weren’t the only oddities from the official story line. When the South Tower collapsed–more like exploded–it ejected a steel beam weighing about 20 tons, sent it flying thru the air over 350 feet, and still had enough energy left over to impale itself in the Deutsche Bank building.

I agree with this is as well, and indeed both make a similar point: The fires that destroyed the WTC victims were far hotter than they would have been if they were only kerosene.

Here is Bacon's conclusion:

Now the lies are being recycled again, this time the MSM and White House have put Iran in it’s psychotic gun sights, even though they had NOTHING to do with 9/11 and are NO threat to the USA, but which Israel wants destroyed so they can be the only ME power, both financially and militarily.

If we let those blood-thirsty WH maniacs attack Iran, the world’s economy will probably collapse, since very little oil will be shipped out of the Persian Gulf. If you think the 2008 MBS fraud that set off that recession was bad-and it was-attacking Iran would be an even bigger economic nightmare.

I am asking those that are still with me to find their voice and be like that Howard Beale news anchor character in the movie “NETWORK” that would standup during his newscast and shout, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

That’s what we need to do regarding the 9/11 LIES. We need to expose the truth or forever resign ourselves and offspring to a life of poverty, tyranny, terror attacks, misery and a police state that will smother our inner light.

I thank you the reader, for your precious time and OffGuardian for being gutsy enough to print this blog. For as we all know, telling the truth can get one in a lot more trouble than telling lies.

I basically agree, although I also think that (i) truth and the U.S. government are rapidly growing more and more incompatible, and that (ii) the Wikipedia's utter and pure propaganda assures me that those who disagree with the "the official 9/11 story" are all "conspiracy theorists" - which both support my conclusion that these days there will be no true story about 9/11. And this is a recommended article. 

[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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