Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 20/12/13


Udo von Massenbach Westerwelle ist gerührt. Steinmeier macht Außenpolitik.Dabei hat er so einen Blick in den Augen, als wäre sein Leben ein Kinofilm. Bald kommt Westerwelle reloaded. Oder Westerwelle Part Two. Oder einfach: Westerwelle II.“

*Asia Times: The great American class war (Bill Moyers)*

Jamestown: Pakistani Political Turmoil over Drone Strikes Complicates ISAF Afghan Supply Efforts

Jamestown: Turkey Faces Security Challenges and Political Dilemmas in the Syrian Conflict

Guten Morgen.

Deutsche Bank Research: „Deutschland bei energieintensiven Branchen bereits ein schleichender Prozess der De-Industrialisierung

Massenbach* * By cracking cellphone code, NSA has capacity for decoding private conversations*

By Craig Timberg and Ashkan Soltani, Updated: Friday, December 13, 10:56 PM

The cellphone encryption technology used most widely across the world can be easily defeated by the National Security Agency, an internal document shows, giving the agency the means todecode most of the billions of calls and texts that travel over public airwaves every day.

While the military and law enforcement agencies long have been able to hack into individual cellphones, the NSA’s capability appears to be far more sweeping because of the agency’s global signals collection operation. The agency’s ability to crack encryption used by the majority of cellphones in the world offers it wide-ranging powers to listen in on private conversations.

U.S. law prohibits the NSA from collecting the content of conversations between Americans without a court order. But experts say that if the NSA has developed the capacity to easily decode encrypted cellphone conversations, then other nations likely can do the same through their own intelligence services, potentially to Americans’ calls, as well.

Encryption experts have complained for years that the most commonly used technology, known as A5/1, is vulnerable and have urged providers to upgrade to newer systems that are much harder to crack. Most companies worldwide have not done so, even as controversy has intensified in recent months over NSA collection of cellphone traffic, including of such world leaders as German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The extent of the NSA’s collection of cellphone signals and its use of tools to decode encryption are not clear from a top-secret document provided by former contractor Edward Snowden. But it states that the agency “can process encrypted A5/1” even when the agency has not acquired an encryption key, which unscrambles communications so that they are readable.

Experts say the agency may also be able to decode newer forms of encryption, but only with a much heavier investment in time and computing power, making mass surveillance of cellphone conversations less practical.

“At that point, you can still listen to any [individual person’s] phone call, but not everybody’s,” said Karsten Nohl, chief scientist at Security Research Labs in Berlin.

The vulnerability outlined in the NSA document concerns encryption developed in the 1980s but still used widely by cellphones that rely on technology called second-generation (2G) GSM. It is dominant in most of the world but less so in the wealthiest nations, including the United States, where newer networks such as 3G and 4G increasingly provide faster speeds and better encryption, industry officials say.

But even where such updated networks are available, they are not always used, because many phones often still rely on 2G networks to make or receive calls. More than 80 percent of cellphones worldwide use weak or no encryption for at least some of their calls, Nohl said. Hackers also can trick phones into using these less-secure networks, even when better ones are available. When a phone indicates a 3G or 4G network, a voice call might actually be carried over an older frequency and susceptible to decoding by the NSA.

The document does not make clear if the encryption in another major cellphone technology — called CDMA and used by Verizon, Sprint and a small number of foreign companies — has been broken by the NSA as well. The document also does not specify whether the NSA can decode data flows from cellular devices, which typically are encrypted using different technology.

The NSA has repeatedly stressed that its data collection efforts are aimed at overseas targets, whose legal protections are much lower than U.S. citizens’. When questioned for this story, the agency issued a statement, saying: “Throughout history nations have used encryption to protect their secrets, and today terrorists, cyber criminals, human traffickers and others also use technology to hide their activities. The Intelligence Community tries to counter that in order to understand the intent of foreign adversaries and prevent them from bringing harm to Americans and allies.”

German news magazine Der Spiegel reported in October that a listening station atop the U.S. Embassy in Berlin allowed the NSA to spy on Merkel’s cellphone calls. It also reported that the NSA’s Special Collection Service runs similar operations from 80 U.S. embassies and other government facilities worldwide. These revelations — and especially reports about eavesdropping on the calls of friendly foreign leaders — have caused serious diplomatic fallouts for the Obama administration.

Cellphone conversations long have been much easier to intercept than ones conducted on traditional telephones because the signals are broadcast through the air, making for easy collection. Police scanners and even some older televisions once were able to routinely pick up people talking on their cellphones, as a Florida couple did in 1996 when they recorded an overheard conversation involving then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Digital transmission and encryption have become almost universally available in the United States, and they are now standard throughout much of the world. Governments typically dictate what kind of encryption technology, if any, can be deployed by cellphone service providers. As a result, cellular communications in some nations, including China, feature weak encryption or none at all.

A5/1 has been repeatedly cracked by researchers in demonstration projects for more than a decade.

The encryption technology “was designed 30 years ago, and you wouldn’t expect a 30-year-old car to have the latest safety mechanisms,” said David Wagner, a computer scientist at the University of California at Berkeley.

Collecting cellphone signals has become such a common tactic for intelligence, military and law enforcement work worldwide that several companies market devices specifically for that purpose.

Some are capable of mimicking cell towers to trick individual phones into directing all communications to the interception devices in a way that automatically defeats encryption. USA Today reported Monday that at least 25 police departments in the United States own such devices, the most popular of which go by the brand name Harris StingRay. Experts say they are in widespread use by governments overseas, as well.

Even more common, however, are what experts call “passive” collection devices, in which cell signals are secretly gathered by antennas that do not mimic cellphone towers or connect directly with individual phones. These systems collect signals that are then decoded in order for the content of the calls or texts to be understood by analysts.

Matthew Blaze, a University of Pennsylvania cryptology expert, said the weakness of A5/1 encryption is “a pretty sweeping, large vulnerability” that helps the NSA listen to cellphone calls overseas and likely also allows foreign governments to listen to the calls of Americans.

“If the NSA knows how to do this, presumably other intelligence agencies, which may be more hostile to the United States, have discovered how to do this, too,” he said.

Journalists Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady reported in their 2013 book “Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry” that the FBI “has quietly removed from several Washington, D.C- area cell phone towers, transmitters that fed all data to wire rooms at foreign embassies.”

The FBI declined to comment on that report.

Upgrading an entire network to better encryption provides substantially more privacy for users. Nohl, the German cryptographer, said that breaking a newer form of encryption, called A5/3, requires 100,000 times more computing power than breaking A5/1. But upgrading entire networks is an expensive, time-consuming undertaking that likely would cause interruptions in service for some customers as individual phones would be forced to switch to the new technology.

Amid the uproar over NSA’s eavesdropping on Merkel’s phone, two of the leading German cellphone service providers have announced that they are adopting the newer, stronger A5/3 encryption for their 2G networks.

They “are now doing it after not doing so for 10 years,” said Nohl, who long had urged such a move. “So, thank you, NSA.”

One of those companies, Deutsche Telekom, is the majority shareholder of T-Mobile. T-Mobile said in a statement this week that it was “continuously implementing advanced security technologies in accordance with worldwide recognized and trusted standards” but declined to say whether it uses A5/3 technology or plans to do so for its 2G networks in the United States.

AT&T, the largest provider of GSM cellphone services in the country, said it was deploying A5/3 encryption for parts of its network. “AT&T always protects its customers with the best encryption possible in line with what their device will support,” it said in a statement.

The company already deploys stronger encryption on its 3G and 4G networks, but customers may still wind up using 2G networks in congested areas or places where fewer cell towers are available.

Even with strong encryption, the protection exists only from a phone to the cell tower, after which point the communications are decrypted for transmission on a company’s internal data network. Interception is possible on those internal links, as The Washington Post reported last week. Leading technology companies, including Google and Microsoft, have announced plans in recent months to encrypt the links between their data centers to better protect their users from government surveillance and criminal hackers.

Soltani is an independent security researcher and consultant.

Volkswagen’s U.S. chief leaves company, Horn named replacement

(Reuters) – Volkswagen AG’s (VOWG_p.DE) U.S. Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Browning has left the company for personal reasons and is to be replaced by 51-year-old Michael Horn, the company announced from its Wolfsburg, Germany headquarters on Thursday.

Browning, 54, a former executive at General Motors Co (GM.N) and Ford Motor Co (F.N), had been with VW since 2010. Volkswagen said on Thursday that Browning will return to Britain, where he is from.

While Volkswagen said that Browning is leaving for personal reasons, several sources with knowledge of the situation said it was his inability to keep VW on pace to meet aggressive U.S. sales targets that caused his departure.

Having been sales executive for GM in Europe and managing director of Jaguar when it was owned by Ford left Browning ill-prepared for the inner workings of VW in Wolfsburg, a source said. Browning didn’t always have the right telephone numbers for calling company headquarters, the source said.

Meanwhile, Horn, a German national, has spent 23 years at Volkswagen and is seen as the sales architect needed to increase U.S. sales to 800,000 for the VW Group by 2018.

Alec Gutierrez, an analyst with auto industry research firm Kelley Blue Book, said: "Sales are below industry growth, so you have to imagine that’s a factor in his dismissal or his leaving the company.

VW’s U.S. sales for its namesake brand as well as its Audi luxury brand are up only 1 percent this year while the overall industry is up 8 percent, Gutierrez said.

But Gutierrez added that no one may have been able to increase VW’s market share in the United States this year against ever-increasing quality competition, particularly in the small- and mid-sized sedans which are the company’s top sellers.

Horn since 2009 has been the head of Volkswagen global after sales, which covers parts and service at VW dealerships. Horn’s appointment becomes effective January 1.

Under Browning, U.S. sales of Volkswagen doubled, including an increase of 31 percent in 2012.

But this year, the Volkswagen brand has seen its U.S. sales slip 5 percent while Audi’s sales are up 13 percent through November.

Until Japanese automakers overtook VW in the 1970s, Volkswagen was the top seller of imported cars in the United States.

During Browning’s tenure, VW opened a new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where it makes the Passat sedan.

Volkswagen wants to have the Tennessee plant join the rest of its wholly owned plants around the world that have a German-styled works council to represent the workers. Such a council would advise on work rules at the plant and include both blue- and white-collar workers.

In order to set up the German-style labor group at Chattanooga, its workers must be aligned with a U.S. labor union. The company has been in talks with the United Auto Workers.

Browning had said often that if plant workers were to be represented by any union, a vote among workers must be held, a position that has neither been publicly supported nor dismissed by top VW executives in Germany.



Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* “Westerwelle ist gerührt. Steinmeier macht Außenpolitik.

Die Kameras auf dem Tahir-Platz sind abgebaut.“

„Er habe ja gar nichts gegen "klare Sprache und wortstarke Statements", sagt Steinmeier. Aber nur, wenn sie auf einer kluge Analyse gründeten. Wieder so ein Satz, den Westerwelle ohne weiteres auf sich beziehen kann.

Steinmeier fordert das Gegenprogramm zu Westerwelle: Genau hinsehen, Gründe und Entwicklungen von Konflikten nachverfolgen, Schuldige und Beschuldigte auseinanderhalten, Konfliktdynamiken eindämmen und Grundlagen für längerfristige Lösungen schaffen. Ganz nebenbei stellt der frisch vereidigte Außenminister die Grundpfeiler der deutschen Außenpolitik in Frage. Außenpolitische Kontinuität, europäische Integration, transatlantische Partnerschaft, aktive Rolle in den Vereinten Nationen: All das könnten Diplomaten auch nachts um 2 Uhr noch herunterbeten. Wissendes Gemurmel im Weltsaal.

Aber: es gebe eine grassierende Europa-Entfremdung. Das transatlantische Verhältnis stehe nach Irak-Krieg, NSA-Affäre und Guantanamo "unter erheblichem Stress". Die großen Weltorganisationen befänden sich in einer Krise. Dem müsse auch das Auswärtige Amt, die deutschen Außenpolitik angepasst werden. Mit einer Neudefinition der Perspektiven deutscher Außenpolitik. Innerhalb eines Jahres will Steinmeier Ergebnisse vorlegen.

Westerwelle ist gerührt. Steinmeier macht Außenpolitik.“

„….Für 15.45 Uhr war Steinmeiers Begrüßungsrede angesetzt. Jetzt ist es schon nach 16 Uhr. Westerwelle kann sich nur mit Mühe vom Pult lösen. "Jetzt muss ich aufhören, sonst trägt mich die Rührung davon", sagt er. Und: "Jetzt muss ich Danke sagen. "Ich sage Danke", sagt er. "Und auf Wiedersehen."

Dabei hat er so einen Blick in den Augen, als wäre sein Leben ein Kinofilm. Bald kommt Westerwelle reloaded. Oder Westerwelle Part Two. Oder einfach: Westerwelle II.

Der ehemalige Außenminister verlässt das Pult, geht zu seinem Platz hinunter, dreht sich um winkt, setzt sich, bevor der Applaus ohnehin abzusterben droht.

Dann geht Frank-Walter Steinmeier ans Pult und beschreibt seine außenpolitischen Grundlinien. Der Applaus für ihn, den Mann, der hier schon einmal Hausherr war, klingt kräftiger, bestimmter. Ein bisschen so wie eine Befreiung. Steinmeier dankt Westerwelle ausdrücklich dafür, an der "Kultur der militärischen Zurückhaltung" festgehalten zu haben.

Ansonsten aber ist seine Rede von versteckten Spitzen gegen seinen Vorgänger durchsetzt. Viele dürften noch die Bilder von Westerwelle auf dem Tahrir-Platz in Kairo mitten im arabischen Frühling vor Augen haben. Die Kameras auf dem Tahrir-Platz, stichelt Steinmeier, seien jetzt abgebaut.

Er wolle jetzt jene Kräfte stützen, die für Menschenwürde, Demokratie und Rechtsstaatlichkeit gekämpft hätten. Und zwar "nicht nur mit Worten und klugen Ratschlägen". Demokratie dürfe in Ägypten nicht den "Beigeschmack von Hunger und Chaos bekommen", sagt er. Europa müsse dafür Sorge tragen, dass die wirtschaftlichen Verbindungen nicht völlig erodierten.

Steinmeier rüffelt Westerwelle indirekt auch für seinen medienwirksamen Auftritt an der Seite der ukrainischen Opposition. Ja, es sei "empörend", wie die russische Politik die wirtschaftliche Notlage der Ukraine für sich nutze. Ebenso empörend sei die Gewalt ukrainischer Sicherheitskräfte gegen die Demonstranten. Er rät aber den Europäern, sich auch an die eigene Nase zu fassen. Womöglich hätten sie die Zerrissenheit der Ukraine unterschätzt. Vielleicht sei das Land überfordert, wenn es sich zwischen Russland und Europa entscheiden müsse. Fragen, die sich Westerwelle zumindest nicht erkennbar gestellt hat.

Gegenprogramm zu Westerwelle

Er habe ja gar nichts gegen "klare Sprache und wortstarke Statements", sagt Steinmeier. Aber nur, wenn sie auf einer kluge Analyse gründeten. Wieder so ein Satz, den Westerwelle ohne weiteres auf sich beziehen kann.

Steinmeier fordert das Gegenprogramm zu Westerwelle: Genau hinsehen, Gründe und Entwicklungen von Konflikten nachverfolgen, Schuldige und Beschuldigte auseinanderhalten, Konfliktdynamiken eindämmen und Grundlagen für längerfristige Lösungen schaffen. Ganz nebenbei stellt der frisch vereidigte Außenminister die Grundpfeiler der deutschen Außenpolitik in Frage. Außenpolitische Kontinuität, europäische Integration, transatlantische Partnerschaft, aktive Rolle in den Vereinten Nationen: All das könnten Diplomaten auch nachts um 2 Uhr noch herunterbeten. Wissendes Gemurmel im Weltsaal.

Aber: es gebe eine grassierende Europa-Entfremdung. Das transatlantische Verhältnis stehe nach Irak-Krieg, NSA-Affäre und Guantanamo "unter erheblichem Stress". Die großen Weltorganisationen befänden sich in einer Krise. Dem müsse auch das Auswärtige Amt, die deutschen Außenpolitik angepasst werden. Mit einer Neudefinition der Perspektiven deutscher Außenpolitik. Innerhalb eines Jahres will Steinmeier Ergebnisse vorlegen.

Westerwelle ist gerührt. Steinmeier macht Außenpolitik. Am Donnerstag schon reist er nach Polen. Er will dort über die verfahrene Lage in der Ukraine sprechen. Er sei sich nur sicher, dass das Angebot der Europäer zu schwach gewesen sei, sagt Steinmeier. Wie auf Zuruf kommen in dem Moment Eilmeldungen über die Nachrichtenagenturen, dass Russland der Ukraine mit einem Kredit von wahnwitzigen 15 Milliarden Dollar helfen will.

Eine Antwort habe er noch nicht, sagt Steinmeier. Aber er macht sich auf die Suche. Das ist es vielleicht, was manche hier im Weltsaal vermisst haben. Die Suche. Steinmeier bekommt viel Beifall.



Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* BP wins green light for Oman shale gas project

LONDON: BP has won official approval to develop a key shale gas project in Oman at a cost of $16 billion (11.6 billion euros), the British energy giant said.

The announcement comes amid a boom in gas extracted from shale rock that is lowering consumers‘ costs.
The agreement will last for 30 years initially and involves a 15-year drilling program.

"Today’s signing is an important step in the Sultanate of Oman’s plans to meet growing demand for energy over the coming decades and to contribute to economic development in Oman," Oman’s Oil and Gas Minister Mohammed Al-Rumhy said in a joint statement.

BP chief executive Bob Dudley said the "major project (…) enables BP to bring to Oman the experience it has built up in tight gas production over many decades".

In order to extract tight or shale gas, a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals is blasted deep underground to release hydrocarbons trapped between layers of rock.

Environmentalists argue that the process — known as fracking, or hydraulic fracturing technology — may contaminate ground water and even cause small earthquakes.


Published — Monday 16 December 2013

Last update 16 December 2013 3:09 pm




On the distributional effects of macro policies

by IZA Press

franzillPolicy choices have distributional consequences. This proposition is seen as self-evident in the context of certain macroeconomic policies such as fiscal policy that often have an explicit redistributive element. However, far less attention has been paid to the distributional consequences of a range of other macroeconomic and structural policies, with much of the analysis in the academic literature typically focused on aggregate consequences, especially in terms of growth and volatility.

In a new IZA discussion paper, Eswar Prasad argues that a broad range of macroeconomic policies – especially those related to monetary policy and financial regulation – can also have significant distributional consequences. The reason is that financial markets are incomplete, imperfect (e.g., due to information asymmetries), and economic agents’ access to them is often limited. Consequently, households cannot effectively insure against the asymmetric effects of such policies.

In emerging markets and low-income economies, underdeveloped financial markets, coupled with insufficient access to formal financial institutions, limit households’ ability to insure against household-specific shocks and magnify the distributional effects of aggregate macroeconomic fluctuations that may initially have only small effects.

While distributional consequences of policies are of intrinsic interest, a related and equally important question is whether these consequences in turn determine the choice of policy responses to specific shocks. According to the author, such choices, which often reflect the relative political power of different groups, can sometimes have deleterious aggregate consequences.

Prasad argues that it is important to explicitly recognize distributional rather than just aggregate consequences when evaluating specific policy interventions as well as the mix of different policies. This does not mean, for instance, that central bankers should include measures of inequality in their operating rules. Rather, it is a call for a more careful evaluation of welfare consequences of policies that do not just focus on aggregate outcomes.

Read abstract or download discussion paper.

IZA Press | December 13, 2013 at 10:21 am | URL:



Middle East

*US explores ties with Syrian Islamist rebels, possibly Assad too – for a lineup to fight al Qaeda *

DEBKAfile Special Report December 15, 2013, 6:31 PM (IDT)

The Obama administration is again doubling back on its Syrian war policy, this time engaging in a secret approach to the Islamic Front, the most powerful force now battling the Assad regime. Recently set up by six Muslim militias with 40-50,000 fighting men, the new front is led by Hassan Aboud Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi and his Ahrar al Sham militia.
debkafile’s counter-terrorism forces report that, although its Salafist members aspire to impose Sharia law on Syria, in common with Al Qaeda, they are against its methods of warfare.

On Dec. 11, fighters of the Islamic Front seized Free Syrian Army headquarters, the Syrian Military Council, and weapons warehouses, as well as the Bab al-Hawa crossing from northwestern Syria into Turkey. This was a devastating setback for FSA, once the leading rebel force against Bashar Assad, and virtually extinguished the group as an effective fighting force after its recent setbacks.

It was bad enough for its commander, Brig. Gen. Salim Idris, to flee to Qatar. Despite protestations to the contrary, he is unlikely to return to Syria in the hurry.

Announcing the cut-off of “non-lethal assistance to the opposition in northern Syria,” Washington more or less turned its back on the FSA and launched an approach to its vanquisher.

Robert Ford, former ambassador to Syria through whom the US has maintained contact with Syrian rebel militias, was dispatched to Turkey to start talks with the Islamist Front leader Al Hamawi.

Our Washington sources report that Ambassador Ford’s most urgent task is to hold together the pieces of the Obama administration’s disintegrating position in Syria after the FSA was wiped out.

The administration is examining three hard options:

1. The Islamic Front is backed, funded, armed and supplied with intelligence by Saudi Arabia. By beating the FSA, the Front has awarded Riyadh high Syrian points against Washington. However, the Obama administration is deeply committed to joint steps in Syria with Moscow and Tehran, the sequel to the six-power nuclear accord forged in Geneva last month, to which Saudi Arabia is flatly opposed.
President Barack Obama would therefore prefer to ignore the Saudi success in Syria.
2. For the second option, Ambassador Ford was empowered all the same to offer the Islamist Front a seat at Geneva II, the conference on a political solution of the Syrian civil conflict taking place in Montreux on Jan. 22. American military and financial assistance would also be on tap.

This would be a bitter pill for the Washington to swallow, since the Islamic Front is led by commanders who quit other militias in protest against US failure to deliver promised arms.
3. The third option would be to heed voices rising now in Washington to start talking to the Syrian ruler Bashar Assad and admit that the US and the West fell down badly in underestimating his durability and military edge in the course of the three-year civil war.
Ryan Crocker, former US ambassador to Baghdad and an eminent influence on US Middle East policy in the past decade, was the first prominent voice to advocate this course: “We need to start talking to the Assad regime again…,” he wrote in an article. “ It will have to be done very, very quietly. But bad as Assad is, he is not as bad as the jihadis who would take over in his absence.”

He was echoed by former CIA and NSA director Adm. Michael Hayden, who said: “The sectarian bloodbath in Syria is such a threat to regional security that a victory for Bashar al-Assad’s regime could be the best outcome to hope for.”

Talking to the annual Jamestown Foundation conference of terror experts on Dec. 11, Hayden said that a rebel win was not one of the three possible outcomes he foresees for the conflict: "Option three is Assad wins. And I must tell you at the moment, as ugly as it sounds, I’m kind of trending toward option three as the best out of three very, very ugly possible outcomes."

Those voices present Robert Ford with his second big challenge, which is not just to bring the Islamic Front to the conference in Montreux, but steer it towards an understanding with Assad for generating a military coalition for saving Syria from Al Qaeda. To this end, the Obama administration will also have to start talking to the Syrian ruler.




Asia Times: The great American class war
By Bill Moyers

I met Supreme Court Justice William Brennan in 1987 when I was creating a series for public television called In Search of the Constitution, celebrating the bicentennial of our founding document. By then, he had served on the court longer than any of his colleagues and had written close to 500 majority opinions, many of them addressing fundamental questions of equality, voting rights, school segregation, and – in New York Times v Sullivan in particular – the defense of a free press.

Those decisions brought a storm of protest from across the country. He claimed that he never took personally the resentment and anger directed at him. He did, however, subsequently reveal that his own mother told him she had always liked his opinions when he was on the New Jersey court, but wondered now that he was on the Supreme Court, "Why can’t you do it the same way?" His answer: "We have to discharge our responsibility to enforce the rights in favor of minorities, whatever the majority reaction may be."

Although a liberal, he worried about the looming size of government. When he mentioned that modern science might be creating "a Frankenstein", I asked, "How so?" He looked around his chambers and replied, "The very conversation we’re now having can be overheard. Science has done things that, as I understand it, makes it possible through these drapes and those windows to get something in here that takes down what we’re talking about."

That was long before the era of cyberspace and the maximum surveillance state that grows topsy-turvy with every administration. How I wish he were here now – and still on the Court!

My interview with him was one of 12 episodes in that series on the Constitution. Another concerned a case he had heard back in 1967. It involved a teacher named Harry Keyishian who had been fired because he would not sign a New York State loyalty oath. Justice Brennan ruled that the loyalty oath and other anti-subversive state statutes of that era violated First Amendment protections of academic freedom.

I tracked Keyishian down and interviewed him. Justice Brennan watched that program and was fascinated to see the actual person behind the name on his decision. The journalist Nat Hentoff, who followed Brennan’s work closely, wrote, "He may have seen hardly any of the litigants before him, but he searched for a sense of them in the cases that reached him." Watching the interview with Keyishian, he said, "It was the first time I had seen him. Until then, I had no idea that he and the other teachers would have lost everything if the case had gone the other way."

Toward the end of his tenure, when he was writing an increasing number of dissents on the Rehnquist Court, Brennan was asked if he was getting discouraged. He smiled and said, "Look, pal, we’ve always known – the Framers knew – that liberty is a fragile thing. You can’t give up." And he didn’t.

The donor class and streams of dark money
The historian Plutarch warned us long ago of what happens when there is no brake on the power of great wealth to subvert the electorate. "The abuse of buying and selling votes," he wrote of Rome, "crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread in the law courts and to the army, and finally, when even the sword became enslaved by the power of gold, the republic was subjected to the rule of emperors."

We don’t have emperors yet, but we do have the Roberts Court that consistently privileges the donor class.

We don’t have emperors yet, but we do have a Senate in which, as a study by the political scientist Larry Bartels reveals, "Senators appear to be considerably more responsive to the opinions of affluent constituents than to the opinions of middle-class constituents, while the opinions of constituents in the bottom third of the income distribution have no apparent statistical effect on their senators‘ roll call votes."

We don’t have emperors yet, but we have a House of Representatives controlled by the far right that is now nourished by streams of "dark money" unleashed thanks to the gift bestowed on the rich by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case.

We don’t have emperors yet, but one of our two major parties is now dominated by radicals engaged in a crusade of voter suppression aimed at the elderly, the young, minorities, and the poor; while the other party, once the champion of everyday working people, has been so enfeebled by its own collaboration with the donor class that it offers only token resistance to the forces that have demoralized everyday Americans.

Writing in the Guardian recently, the social critic George Monbiot commented,

So I don’t blame people for giving up on politics… When a state-corporate nexus of power has bypassed democracy and made a mockery of the voting process, when an unreformed political system ensures that parties can be bought and sold, when politicians [of the main parties] stand and watch as public services are divvied up by a grubby cabal of privateers, what is left of this system that inspires us to participate?

Why are record numbers of Americans on food stamps? Because record numbers of Americans are in poverty. Why are people falling through the cracks? Because there are cracks to fall through. It is simply astonishing that in this rich nation more than 21 million Americans are still in need of full-time work, many of them running out of jobless benefits, while our financial class pockets record profits, spends lavishly on campaigns to secure a political order that serves its own interests, and demands that our political class push for further austerity.

Meanwhile, roughly 46 million Americans live at or below the poverty line and, with the exception of Romania, no developed country has a higher percent of kids in poverty than we do. Yet a study by scholars at Northwestern University and Vanderbilt finds little support among the wealthiest Americans for policy reforms to reduce income inequality.

Class prerogatives
Listen! That sound you hear is the shredding of the social contract.

Ten years ago the Economist magazine – no friend of Marxism – warned: "The United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society." And as a recent headline in the Columbia Journalism Review put it: "The line between democracy and a darker social order is thinner than you think."

We are this close – this close! – to losing our democracy to the mercenary class. So close it’s as if we’re leaning way over the rim of the Grand Canyon waiting for a swift kick in the pants.

When Justice Brennan and I talked privately in his chambers before that interview almost 20 years ago, I asked him how he had come to his liberal sentiments. "It was my neighborhood," he said. Born to Irish immigrants in 1906, as the harsh indignities of the Gilded Age brought hardship and deprivation to his kinfolk and neighbors, he saw "all kinds of suffering – people had to struggle."

He never forgot those people or their struggles, and he believed it to be our collective responsibility to create a country where they would have a fair chance to a decent life. "If you doubt it," he said, "read the Preamble [to the Constitution]."

He then asked me how I had come to my philosophy about government (knowing that I had been in both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations). I don’t remember my exact words, but I reminded him that I had been born in the midst of the Great Depression to parents, one of whom had to drop out of school in the fourth grade, the other in the eighth, because they were needed in the fields to pick cotton to help support their families.

Franklin Roosevelt, I recalled, had been president during the first 11 years of my life. My father had listened to his radio "fireside chats" as if they were gospel; my brother went to college on the GI Bill; and I had been the beneficiary of public schools, public libraries, public parks, public roads, and two public universities. How could I not think that what had been so good for me would be good for others, too?

That was the essence of what I told Justice Brennan. Now, I wish that I could talk to him again, because I failed to mention perhaps the most important lesson about democracy I ever learned.

On my 16th birthday in 1950, I went to work for the daily newspaper in the small East Texas town where I grew up. It was a racially divided town – about 20,000 people, half of them white, half of them black – a place where you could grow up well-loved, well-taught, and well-churched, and still be unaware of the lives of others merely blocks away. It was nonetheless a good place to be a cub reporter: small enough to navigate but big enough to keep me busy and learning something new every day. I soon had a stroke of luck. Some of the old-timers in the newsroom were on vacation or out sick, and I got assigned to report on what came to be known as the "Housewives‘ Rebellion". Fifteen women in town (all white) decided not to pay the Social Security withholding tax for their domestic workers (all black).

They argued that Social Security was unconstitutional, that imposing it was taxation without representation, and that – here’s my favorite part – "requiring us to collect [the tax] is no different from requiring us to collect the garbage". They hired themselves a lawyer – none other than Martin Dies, Jr, the former congressman best known, or worst known, for his work as head of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the witch-hunting days of the 1930s and 1940s. They went to court – and lost. Social Security was constitutional, after all. They held their noses and paid the tax.

The stories I helped report were picked up by the Associated Press and circulated nationwide. One day, the managing editor, Spencer Jones, called me over and pointed to the AP ticker beside his desk. Moving across the wire was a notice citing the reporters on our paper for the reporting we had done on the "rebellion". I spotted my name and was hooked. In one way or another, after a detour through seminary and then into politics and government, I’ve been covering the class war ever since.

Those women in Marshall, Texas, were among its advance guard. Not bad people, they were regulars at church, their children were my classmates, many of them were active in community affairs, and their husbands were pillars of the business and professional class in town. They were respectable and upstanding citizens all, so it took me a while to figure out what had brought on that spasm of reactionary defiance. It came to me one day, much later: they simply couldn’t see beyond their own prerogatives.

Fiercely loyal to their families, to their clubs, charities, and congregations – fiercely loyal, in other words, to their own kind – they narrowly defined membership in democracy to include only people like themselves. The black women who washed and ironed their laundry, cooked their families‘ meals, cleaned their bathrooms, wiped their children’s bottoms, and made their husbands‘ beds, these women, too, would grow old and frail, sick and decrepit, lose their husbands and face the ravages of time alone, with nothing to show for their years of labor but the creases on their brows and the knots on their knuckles. There would be nothing for them to live on but the modest return on their toil secured by the collaborative guarantee of a safety net.

The unfinished work of America
In one way or another, this is the oldest story in America: the struggle to determine whether "we, the people" is a moral compact embedded in a political contract or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others.

I should make it clear that I don’t harbor any idealized notion of politics and democracy. Remember, I worked for Lyndon Johnson. Nor do I romanticize "the people". You should read my mail and posts on right-wing websites. I understand the politician in Texas who said of the state legislature, "If you think these guys are bad, you should see their constituents."

But there is nothing idealized or romantic about the difference between a society whose arrangements roughly serve all its citizens (something otherwise known as social justice) and one whose institutions have been converted into a stupendous fraud. That can be the difference between democracy and plutocracy.

Toward the end of Justice Brennan’s tenure on the Supreme Court, he made a speech that went to the heart of the matter. He said:

We do not yet have justice, equal and practical, for the poor, for the members of minority groups, for the criminally accused, for the displaced persons of the technological revolution, for alienated youth, for the urban masses … Ugly inequities continue to mar the face of the nation. We are surely nearer the beginning than the end of the struggle.

And so we are. One hundred and fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln stood on the blood-soaked battlefield of Gettysburg and called Americans to "the great task remaining". That "unfinished work", as he named it, remained the same then as it was when America’s founding generation began it. And it remains the same today: to breathe new life into the promise of the Declaration of Independence and to assure that the Union so many have sacrificed to save is a union worth saving.

Bill Moyers has received 35 Emmy awards, nine Peabody Awards, the National Academy of Television’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and an honorary doctor of fine arts from the American Film Institute over his 40 years in broadcast journalism. He is currently host of the weekly public television series Moyers & Company and president of the Schumann Media Center, a non-profit organization which supports independent journalism. He delivered these remarks (slightly adapted here) at the annual Legacy Awards dinner of the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan public policy institute in New York City that focuses on voting rights, money in politics, equal justice, and other seminal issues of democracy. This is his first TomDispatch piece.



Carbon Leakage: Ein schleichender Prozess

Deutschland verfolgt ambitionierte energie- und klimapolitische Ziele und ist damit international Vorreiter. Der stockende UN-Klimaschutzprozess zeigt aber, dass andere Länder nicht nachreiten oder ein langsameres Tempo anschlagen. In Deutschland hat bei energieintensiven Branchen bereits ein schleichender Prozess der De-Industrialisierung begonnen. Er führt zu Verlagerungen von CO2-Emissionen von Deutschland in andere Länder. Um diesen schleichenden Prozess zu stoppen, sollte sich Deutschland zusammen mit Europa entweder für ein schnelleres Vorankommen und strengere Ziele im internationalen Klimaschutz einsetzen oder das eigene Tempo drosseln. Als Minimalziel muss die Energiewende in Deutschland effizienter gestaltet werden. Zudem benötigen energieintensive Unternehmen auch künftig Ausnahmeregelungen.




see our letter on:

Wir wünschen Ihnen ein angenehmes Wochenende. Ihr Team.

Udo von Massenbach – Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster – Jörg Barandat – Edith Suter



Pakistani Political Turmoil over Drone Strikes Complicates ISAF Afghan Suppl.pdf

Turkey Faces Security Challenges and Political Dilemmas in the Syrian Confli.pdf

PROD326197-DB Research-Deutschland in energieintensiven Branchen schleichender Prozess der De-Industrialisierung.pdf