| "They who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- 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
1. How Big Business Is Helping Expand NSA Surveillance,
Snowden Be Damned
2. Despite Dire Scientific Warnings, GOP Leaders Vow to
Bury Global Climate Deal
3. Chorus of Outrage as Obama Administration Approves
Arctic Drilling for Shell Oil
4. If Anyone Doubts That We Are In A Stock Market Bubble,
Show Them This Article
5. Tory business letter: Labour is right to attack the
rapacious economic elite
This is a Nederlog of Thursday, April 2, 2015.
This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about how big business and the government in the U.S. are cooperating to surveil everyone; item 2 is about how the Republicans will try to block Obama's carbon emission plans (that anyway comprise the next ten years, of which Obama will be president less than two); item 3 charts a "chorus of outrage" that Obama has approved Royal Dutch Shell's planned arctic drilling; item 4 lists some evidence that the Western world is currently living in a stock market bubble much like in 2007-2008 (and with worse consequences if it suddenly bursts); and item 5 is about the upcoming English elections.
I must say that none of these items bring any good news, but then we are living in a time of crisis in which only the 1% are making huge profits, which they do at the costs of the 99%.
1. How Big Business Is Helping Expand NSA Surveillance, Snowden Be Damned
The first item is an article by Lee Fang on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
- How Big Business Is Helping Expand NSA Surveillance, Snowden Be Damned
I say. And while I am not amazed by most of this, the last part does amaze me at least a little, and my reason is that American "big business" either does not see that its business secrets as well may be hoovered up by the NSA or else does not expect many troubles because of this eventuality. (I don't know.)
Since November 11, 2011, with the introduction of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, American spy agencies have been pushing laws to encourage corporations to share more customer information. They repeatedly failed, thanks in part to NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations of mass government surveillance. Then came Republican victories in last year’s midterm Congressional elections and a major push by corporate interests in favor of the legislation.
Today, the bill is back, largely unchanged, and if congressional insiders and the bill’s sponsors are to believed, the legislation could end up on President Obama’s desk as soon as this month. In another boon to the legislation, Obama is expected to reverse his past opposition and sign it, albeit in an amended and renamed form (CISPA is now CISA, the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act”). The reversal comes in the wake of high-profile hacks on JPMorgan Chase and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The bill has also benefitted greatly from lobbying by big business, which sees it as a way to cut costs and to shift some anti-hacking defenses onto the government.
There is also this:
For all its appeal to corporations, CISA represents a major new privacy threat to individual citizens. It lays the groundwork for corporations to feed massive amounts of communications to private consortiums and the federal government, a scale of cooperation even greater than that revealed by Snowden. The law also breaks new ground in suppressing pushback against privacy invasions; in exchange for channeling data to the government, businesses are granted broad legal immunity from privacy lawsuits — potentially leaving consumers without protection if companies break privacy promises that would otherwise keep information out of the hands of authorities.There is considerably more in the article, that is good, while none of it makes me optimistic in any sense.
2. Despite Dire Scientific Warnings, GOP Leaders Vow to Bury Global Climate Deal
The next item is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
- Despite Dire Scientific Warnings, GOP Leaders Vow to Bury Global Climate Deal
This starts as follows:
Yes, indeed, and as to Obama's plans - his pledges! - "to cut carbon emissions roughly 28 percent over the next decade": He will be president of the U.S.A. for less than 2 years, so this must be seen as being very conditional on who will be the next presisdent.
Less than 24 hours after the White House unveiled its pledge to cut carbon emissions, Congressional Republicans made it clear that if President Obama hopes to make any headway on climate action he will have to bypass them.
Under the climate plan, which was submitted on Tuesday to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), President Obama pledged to cut carbon emissions roughly 28 percent over the next decade. The commitment relies heavily on the success of several pending initiatives including halting construction of new coal-fired power plants, increasing vehicle fuel economy standards, and limiting methane leaks from oil and gas production.
A number of the proposal's key measures were previously established by presidential decree. As the New York Times notes, "the plan’s reliance on executive authority is an acknowledgment that any proposal to pass climate change legislation would be blocked by the Republican-controlled Congress."
While many hailed the White House for taking the lead on an international climate agreement, environmental groups slammed the proposal as insufficient, arguing that any such climate pledge will be negated by the Obama administration's continued support for fossil fuel development.
There is considerably more in the article.
3.Chorus of Outrage as Obama Administration Approves Arctic Drilling for Shell Oil
The next item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
- Chorus of Outrage as Obama Administration Approves Arctic Drilling for Shell Oil
The outrage is easily understandable, but I must say that since I do not expect much from the Obama Administration anyway - he is a president in the tradition of Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr. - I am not very amazed or shocked.
Environmental activists expressed shock and outrage on Tuesday after the U.S. Department of the Interior upheld a 2008 lease sale on the Arctic's Chuchki Sea, opening the door for continued oil exploration in a region long eyed for drilling by Shell Corporation and increasingly strained under the effects of climate change.
The decision opens up 30 million acres in the Chuchki Sea to fossil fuel exploration and drilling, a move which state and national green groups called "unconscionable."
"Our Arctic ocean is flat out the worst place on Earth to drill for oil," said Niel Lawrence, Alaska director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The world’s last pristine sea, it is both too fragile to survive a spill and too harsh and remote for effective cleanup."
In January 2014, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Interior Department had violated the law when it sold those 2008 leases—a deal that came about during George W. Bush's presidency, but was upheld two years later by the Obama administration.
There is more under the last dotted link.
4. If Anyone Doubts That We Are In A Stock Market Bubble, Show Them This Article The next item is an article by Michael Snyder on The Economic Collapse:
This startds as follows:
- If Anyone Doubts That We Are In A Stock Market Bubble, Show Them This Article
The higher financial markets rise, the harder they fall. By any objective measurement, the stock market is currently well into bubble territory. Anyone should be able to see this – all you have to do is look at the charts. Sadly, most of us never seem to learn from history. Most of us want to believe that somehow “things are different this time”. Well, about the only thing that is different this time is that our economy is in far worse shape than it was just prior to the last major financial crisis. That means that we are more vulnerable and will almost certainly endure even more damage this time around. It would be one thing if stocks were soaring because the U.S. economy as a whole was doing extremely well. But we all know that isn’t true. Instead, what we have been experiencing is clearly artificial market behavior that has nothing to do with economic reality. In other words, we are dealing with an irrational financial bubble, and all irrational financial bubbles eventually burst. And as I wrote about yesterday, the way that stocks have moved so far this year is eerily reminiscent of the way that stocks moved in early 2008. The warning signs are there – if you are willing to look at them.And "the warning signs" are exposed in the rest of the article, that is worth reading, although I should warn my readers that his site has on the righthand side a long series of squares that seem to be advertisements, and some of these blink at the reader in a way that some readers - like myself - find quite irritating.
5. Tory business letter: Labour is right to attack the rapacious economic elite
The last item today is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:
- Tory business letter: Labour is right to attack the rapacious economic elite
This starts as follows:
Who should run Britain? A shamelessly entitled, grasping, booming elite who believe paying taxes or their workers a wage they can live on is beneath them? Or the voters who, in a democracy, supposedly call the shots? Big business has an answer, of course. The Tory party co-chairman Andrew Feldman is said to have helped compile the now notorious list attacking the Labour party, ringing round Tory donors (who make up a third of the list) and business figures given honours (who make up one in five). Tax-dodgers and poverty-paying bosses among them, they made a canny choice about who would best safeguard – and indeed increase – their bank balances. And then Auntie Beeb – who supplied David Cameron with his head of communications – spent two days portraying this Tory press operation as a damning indictment of the Labour party. Job done.There is considerably more under the last dotted link, and one of the things I like about this article is that it is quite clear that the Tories may win the coming elections.
This is what it all boils down to. Big businesses – like those on the Tory list – are drunk on triumphalism. For the last generation, they have become accustomed to politics serving their interests and public policy heading relentlessly in their direction. Successive governments cut their taxes. Once mighty trade unions were permanently hobbled, and workers left bereft of basic rights and security. Economic strategy under both New Labour and the Tories was servile to the interests of the City. Public utilities and services were privatised.
While food banks have proliferated and wages have shrunk, the richest 1,000 Britons doubled their fortunes. In 1979, 6% of Britain’s income ended up in the bank accounts of the top 1%; today it has reached 15%.
I hope they will not, as indeed does the writer of the above article, but the possibility is realistic, especially given the fact that much of the English press
P.S. Apr 3, 2015: I reinserted the links to the first two items, which were there but then somehow disappeared. I am sorry, but on Linux I am forced to work with
KompoZer, which is half good, but also has awful bugs.