Oct 1, 2016

Crisis: Human Rights, Power Grabs, Paris Accords, "Free Trade", Assange
Sections                                                                                     crisis index

Europe’s Top Human Rights Court Will Consider
     Legality of Surveillance Exposed by Edward Snowden

2. Map Shows How Trade Deals Would Enable Polluter
     Power Grab

3. Forget Paris, Scientists Say 'Radical Change' Only Way
     to Stay Below 2 Degrees

4. Don’t Believe What You Read: People Really Do Care
     about Free Trade

5. 'We Believe in What We're Doing'

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, October 1, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is a - rare - piece of Good News: Europe's Top Human Rights Court will condider the legality of the illegal surveillance everyone has been submitted to since 9/11 (!!); item 2 is about how the TTP and the TTIP, TISA and CETA will destroy most or all of national laws, national governments, national parliaments and national judiciaries, and replace these by decisions by the rich for the rich, taken in "courts" that are secret and only work for the rich; item 3 says - quite correctly, in my view - that the Paris Accords are already outdated; item 4 is another fine article about the TTP, TTIP, TISA and CETA, all of which are attemps by the very rich to get rid of national laws, national parliaments, national governments and national judiciaries, and replace these by "courts" that only serve the rich; and item 5 is about a bad interview in Spiegel International, of which I only quote the end.

-- constant part, for the moment --

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need to click/reload twice or more to see any changes I have made. This certainly held for me, but it is possible this was caused by the fact that I am also writing it from my computer.

In any case, I am now (again) updating the opening of my site with the last day it was updated. (And I am very sorry if you have to click/reload several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was. And it was yesterday still or again the case. Indeed, this also holds for the opening pages: These too are not renewed at "xs4all", or at least: Not for me.) [1]

C. In case you visit my Danish site: You may have more luck than I have. The Danish site has been almost completely destroyed for me because of the actions of its providers: My own e-mail access was terminated; the good statistics I had from 2004-2015 were completely terminated; it is also impossible for me to get access as a guest; and yesterday I had for most of the day no access with FTP to my site, whereas today started with having no access with Firefox to my site. (It now works again (!))

I have no idea who does this. It may be - in the Danish case - that this is related to some changes they are making there, but I do not know this (and if so, they seem to know less about computers than I do).

I am very sorry, and none of it is due to me. I am simply doing the same things as I did for 20 or for 12 years, that also went well for 20 or for 12 years.

1. Europe’s Top Human Rights Court Will Consider Legality of Surveillance Exposed by Edward Snowden

The first item
today is by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:
  • Europe’s Top Human Rights Court Will Consider Legality of Surveillance Exposed by Edward Snowden
This starts as follows:
Human rights groups have launched a major new legal challenge over mass surveillance programs revealed by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Ten organizations – including Privacy International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Amnesty International – are taking up the landmark case against the U.K. government in the European Court of Human Rights (pictured above). In a 115-page complaint released on Thursday, the groups allege that “blanket and indiscriminate” surveillance operations carried out by British spy agencies in collaboration with their U.S. counterparts violate privacy and freedom of expression rights.

The case represents the first time Europe’s top human rights court has been asked to consider the legality of surveillance exposed in the Snowden documents. Its judgments are legally binding and could potentially have ramifications for how surveillance is conducted by U.K. agencies.

I say. This is Good News. Here is a bit of background:
“Through bulk surveillance programs, the U.S. and U.K. governments intercept the private communications and data of millions of people around the world,” said Ashley Gorski, staff attorney at the ACLU National Security Project. “Not only is bulk surveillance unlawful, but it has a deeply chilling and corrosive effect on political discourse and our personal communications. We are hopeful that the European Court of Human Rights will recognize that this mass surveillance violates fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of speech, and that the court’s ruling will help put an end to these practices on a global scale.”
I said this is Good News, which indeed I think it is, but I am not certain about the outcome. Then again, if the European Court of Human Rights will not "recognize that this mass surveillance violates fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of speech, and that the court’s ruling will help put an end to these practices on a global scale" I will conclude that these judges as well have been corrupted.

In fact, I am not saying they are: I don't know. But the case is so extremely clear that supporting the ACLU and Amnesty International etc. ought to be the only decent outcome.

Then again, if that is the outcome (as I think it should be), we are stil not where we want to be, as free citizens in what once was a somewhat real democracy, because most or all governments will refuse to give up any spying on anyone (except maybe the English Queen), but then at least there will be some legal foundation of attacking the terrorism of the present-day governments on all their subjects, for that is what it is.

Here is the last bit I'll quote from this article:
The complaint argues that the scale of the surveillance “is unprecedented in terms of (a) the number of individuals whose communications are potentially affected; (b) the quantity of communications content and related communications data that is actually initially intercepted, extracted, filtered, stored, analysed and/or disseminated by the U.K. intelligence agencies.” It adds that the “the operation of sophisticated covert surveillance powers without adequate safeguards is ipso facto disproportionate.” 
Quite so. And since the term seems to be, in the politically correct format that the "left" introduced, very much less used than it ought to be, here is my own
of the state terrorism that the governors of all Western states are now permitting to their secret services, who simply treat absolutely everyone as a potential terrorist in order to steal anything anyone does on a computer or cellphone that is connected to the internet:

For me, this is the beginning of neofascism. You cannot have a free and open democracy when absolutely everyone is fully known, to an extent that the KGB only could dream about, to the anonymous members of the totally secret secret services, who can do with whatever they gathered as they please, and can upset absolutely anyone with false messages, false sites, false attacks, false anything, all very often based on nothing but some vague suspicion, and all completely isolated from any realistic legal and public control.

That is the foundation of a police state. And since I am very skeptical this will be stopped, and since my grandfather was murdered in a concentration camp by the fascists, and my father survived over 3 years and 9 months of imprisonment in four German concentration camps, I am now very glad I have no children, if only because I believe nearly all politicians are working to extend the power of the secret services, and diminish and destroy nearly all the powers ordinary cititzens once had.

This is a recommended article.

2. Map Shows How Trade Deals Would Enable Polluter Power Grab

The second item is by Andrea Germanos on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams:
  • Map Shows How Trade Deals Would Enable Polluter Power Grab
This starts as follows:

Is a “polluter power grab” lurking in your backyard?

According to the Sierra Club, one might just be, thanks to two pending trade deals—the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—that would allow multinational corporations to exert their power before private tribunals and thwart efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

The environmental organization plotted out the coast-to-coast potential threats on a new interactive map, released Thursday.

Yes, it very definitely is. And not only does a "polluter power grab" threaten ordinary people everywhere in the West: A power grab threatens, namely by
the ruling politicians and their secret services, and their military and police forces

Here is some more on the "polluter power grab":

It captures over 400 fossil fuel projects, and “for the first time ... gives people a chance to see if toxic trade is in their own backyard,” said Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program.

How do the deals enable such a power grab? By way of a corporate-friendly provision included in many trade deals.

In a report released earlier this year, Sierra Club found that TTIP and TPP “would more than double the number of fossil fuel corporations with the power to challenge U.S. policies” such as restrictions on fracking or offshore drilling using the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms.

And there is this on the fascistic means that are proposed:

ISDS, as advocacy group Public Citizen has explained, “empowers individual foreign corporations to skirt domestic courts and sue governments before a panel of three corporate lawyers.” Using these tribunals, as analysts have warned, corporations can demand compensation from the U.S. for lost profits as a result of government actions or policies, thereby supplanting local democracy, workers’ rights, and environmental protections. (In fact, Canadian pipeline company TransCanada is using the Investor Chapter of NAFTA to sue the Obama administration for its rejection of the Keystone XL.)

The multinationals could demand compensation for lost profits as a result of environmental protections that blocked their projects. Also, the mere threat of such a suit could thwart “keep it in the ground” efforts, Sierra Club says.

I call these ISDSs very consciously created fully fascistic courts because they do and are and embody the fascistic ideals: No democracy, no legal defense, no democratically agreed laws, no independent courts: Just these fascist courts manned by three fascist lawyers, who are fascists because they totally believe that maximum profits of the multi- national corporations are the only criterion that counts.

Here is the position of some U.S. senators:

Putting further spotlight on the threats posed by ISDS, a group of U.S. senators led by Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and including Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote to President Barack Obama on Thursday outlining problems they see with the TPP in its current form.

ISDS, the senators write, “means our country’s own public health, worker safety, and environmental standards, among others, are vulnerable to corporate challenges.”

Echoing arguments made by the Sierra Club they write, “ISDS challenges, and even mere threats of ISDS challenges, have been used to secure extractive permits over community objections, to get executives out of criminal convictions, and to exonerate managers connected to a factory’s lead poisoning of children. Such a corporate handout does not belong in our trade agreements.”

Sanders said that without fixing this and other “fundamental flaws,” TPP would “accelerate the corporate race to the bottom.”

I mostly agree, and the only reason I can see that destroying "our country’s own public health, worker safety, and environmental standards" that also serve "to secure extractive permits over community objections, to get executives out of criminal convictions, and to exonerate managers connected to a factory’s lead poisoning of children" and do so by a completely special, extra-legal "court" which only checks whether the projected profits of multi-nationals are endangered by public democracy and by demo- cratic laws, is NOT called fascism seems to be that "fascism" is "a dirty word".

I am very sorry, but dirty words are sometimes quite justified.

3. Forget Paris, Scientists Say 'Radical Change' Only Way to Stay Below 2 Degrees

The third item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
  • Forget Paris, Scientists Say 'Radical Change' Only Way to Stay Below 2 Degrees
This starts as follows:

To much fanfare, global leaders have agreed to tackle the climate crisis by ratifying the Paris climate agreement, but a group of esteemed scientists is warning that current pledges to reduce emissions are far from sufficient and, in fact, put the world on track to reaching the dangerous 2°C climate threshold by 2050.

"The pledges are not going to get even close," said Sir Robert Watson, former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and lead author of a new report out Thursday. "If you governments of the world are really serious, you're going to have to do way, way more."

Aptly titled The Truth About Climate Change, the report, put forth by the Argentina-based Universal Ecological Fund (Fundación Ecológica Universal FEU-US), comes amid a rash of new research, all suggesting that key global warming thresholds will be reached much more rapidly than previously thought.

I have absolutely never believed in the Paris climate agreement, and I think the criticism of the FEU-US is correct in principle, and very probably also in fact.

There is also this - and one should read this with the previous item and the full dangers of the fascistic TPP, TTIP, TISA and CETA in mind (and also see the next item):

Further, the researchers minced no words when laying the blame for the missed targets on "political and sectoral interests," including those "benefiting from the use of fossil fuels," for promoting "deliberate misinformation" about the current situation.
Here are some of the facts predicted in the report, which seem to me (who has been reading about the destruction of the environment since 1971) completely credible:

In the past week, two separate reports have warned that the planet will likely pass the 1.5ºC benchmark this decade and, under current emissions projections, is "locked in" to reaching a
2 million-year temperature record.

With 2016 on track to set another heat record, the wave of research comes as the planet reached another grave milestone: atmospheric carbon has permanently surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm).

And this is a recommended article.

4. Don’t Believe What You Read: People Really Do Care about Free Trade

The fourth item today is by Roger Bybee on Common Dreams and (it seems) originally on The Progressive:
  • Don’t Believe What You Read: People Really Do Care about Free Trade

This starts as follows:

President Barack Obama is apparently dead set on a last-minute passage of the twelve-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership that would enhance the power of gigantic global corporations. His strategy appears to be to push it through during the lame duck session after the election, relying heavily on votes of anti-worker Republicans and a small handful of conservative Democrats.  

Bill Clinton pulled a similar maneuver in 1993, ramming through the disastrous North American Free Trade Agreement despite nearly 2-1 opposition among Democratic House members, 64 percent opposition among independents, and an evenly divided Republican caucus.

As it did with NAFTA, the New York Times has provided a steady platform promoting the TPP—in editorials, through pro-corporate columnists like Thomas Friedman, and even in its news articles. Most recently, a prominent article in the Times claimed that the vast majority of American voters were either in favor of the TPP, or utterly uninterested.

I am sorry, but I believe both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are trying to push through a fascist program by completely undemocratic means and totally false propaganda.

Do they themselves believe they are pushing forward fascism? Probably not in those terms (if only because both are heavily trained in political correct speech).

Then again, what they are pushing through are new laws that are completely anti-democratic, anti-legal, anti-government, and anti-equality, and that strongly propounds the exclusive rights of the CEOs of multi- national corporations to destroy all national democratic decisions, all national legal decisions, and all national governmental decisions, on the mere grounds that these decisions threaten to diminish the projected profits of the multi-national corporations and do so by instituting a completely new "legal" system that has been set up by the lawyers of the multi-national corporations, to which only governments and multi-national corporations (and no private persons, no trade-unions, no political parties, no judges, no politicians) even have access.

And they are trying to push these through because - I am quite certain: I am human and they are human [2] - they know or expect that they will be made multi-millionaires by the extremely rich men whose interests they are defending (always "In The Name Of Democracy", of course) and who will reward them after their presidencies with a quarter million dollars here, and a quarter million dollars there, all for some half hours of speeches to the very rich bankers whose interests they have served so very, very well.

And here are some of the facts and figures that are hard to get and rarely seen:

The bitter experience of the past two decades of “free trade” means that critiques of the TPP are resonating  in the current context of extreme economic inequality and precarious lives for tens of millions of Americans. America has lost 5.7  million manufacturing jobs from 1998 to 2013 and 56,000 factories. “U.S. multinational corporations, the big brand-name companies that employ a fifth of all American workers . . . cut their workforces in the U.S. by 2.9 million during the 2000s while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million,” the Wall Street Journal reported. America’s 500 largest corporations now produce nearly half of their output in their overseas plants.

56,000 factories have been completely closed in 15 years, and have been transported to the third world. 5,7 million jobs were lost (directly: many more indirectly), and 2,9 milllion jobs have been cut, all because the work done by Americans can be done for 1/10th or less of the price in third world countries. And half of the output of the 500 largest American corporations is now being produced by extremely poor almost completely rightless third-world workers.

That is what the very rich wanted; that is what the very rich got, thanks to Bill Clinton; and that seems to be what the very rich will get much more of thanks to Barack Obama.

There is also this on these "free trade treaties", which in fact are about the freedoms of the few very rich to exploit the many poor to the maximum, and the freedom of the very rich not pay any taxes:

The proposed TPP has only heightened the broadly shared anxieties of many Americans brought on by NAFTA. Working people, both blue-collar and professional, fear further downward pressure on U.S. wages from American corporate operations encouraged by trade deals to move jobs overseas. They are particularly concerned about the TPP’s token labor protections in nations like Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, and Vietnam, persistent violators of worker rights.

Further, the TPP  will only further consolidate the power of global corporations to sue national governments over protective laws like those holding down drug prices and safeguarding the environment.
And it will destroy all national laws that impede the maximum profits of the multi-national corporations; it will destroy all democratic decisions taken by tje majorities of nations; it totally denies all applications of national laws; and it will make the many poor much poorer and the few rich much richer.

It is neofascism, and this is a recommended article.

5. 'We Believe in What We're Doing'

The fifth and last item today is by Michael Sontheimer on Spiegel International:

  • 'We Believe in What We're Doing'

This ends as follows:

SPIEGEL: Given all the pressure that you and those you work with are facing, how do you keep going?

Assange: We believe in what we are doing. It's very satisfying. It's extremely interesting intellectually. Sometimes great moments of justice come out of it. In one case, a man falsely accused left prison thanks to a publication of ours. A lot of people who work for WikiLeaks have the same instinct as me: If you are pushed you push back.

This is also the only bit I am quoting from this interview: Spiegel does not believe in Wikipedia, it seems. And it does not have the courage of saying so.

[1]  Alas, this is precisely as I said it does, and it goes on for months now. I do not know who does it, and I refuse to call the liars of "xs4all"destroy (really: the KPN), simply because these have been lying to me from 2002-2009, and I do not trust anything they say I cannot control myself: They have treated me for seven years as a liar because "you complain about things other people do not complain about" (which is the perfect excuse never to do anything whatsoever for anyone).

[2] Let me put this as follows:

Would you try to push through NAFTA or the TPP if you knew it was very probable or certain that you, who started as a very poor politician,
would receive over $200 million dollars in rewards for your efforts by the very rich whose interests the NAFTA and the TPP serve so well?!

I am sorry, but I know extremely few who would reject such an offer. (My father would have, but then he was a real revolutionary communist...)

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