"Those who sacrifice liberty for
security deserve neither."
-- Benjamin Franklin
1. About mass surveillance
2. Some background on the
3. "Snowden and the real
4. Ai Weiwei on Snowden
5. "10 dishonest pundits on the NSA scandal"
6. "Secrecy’s Tangled Web of Deceit"
7. An Education Declaration
8. Medical research
9. M.E. and criterions and testing
I believe I have paid back most of the harm my walk of
but sleeping remains quite
difficult for me.
This also makes my life rather difficult, at the moment.
Anyway. Today there is a set of nine points. It's again mostly about
Revelations", because I think these are very important. In fact, six
touch on various aspects of Snowden or his revelations, and three are
about other themes: Education, medical research and M.E.
I should also say that I have M.E. and that my health is not better.
About mass surveillance
Here is, to start
with, an item from Washington's Blog:
Now you may well say that is
not very relevant, but the points are (1) these claims are not very
credible at all, while (2) the people claiming them know that very
well, but in fact (3) it is not primarily a defense against terrorism
from the outside, as the means to control everyone inside: "Your
government knows all about you - you better watch out!".
And one of the things Snowden's Revelations clarified is how far this
has gone, and in how much secrecy this has been done.
Some background on the Snowden story
This is mostly for those who care about knowing how it
was done, from the Guardian, by Ewen MacAskill, who cooperated earlier
I am not suggesting it is very
important, but it very probably is correct and informed. Here is a
continuous bit from the end:
This (also) poses the question
whether my opening quote is correct. I let it stand because that is how
I found it, and it says the same, a bit more pithily.
"You can't have 100%
security and then also have 100% privacy and zero
inconvenience," the president said. Society had to make choices, he
Snowden challenged this,
saying the problem was that the Obama
administration had denied society the chance to have that
discussion. He disputed that there had to be a trade-off between
security and privacy, describing the very idea of a trade-off as a
fundamental assault on the US constitution.
In what were to be the
last words of the interview, he quoted Benjamin Franklin: "Those who
surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve,
Also, here is another piece of background information, that you
can view instead of read:
This is Cenk Uygur of The
Young Turks, who explains that there is much more that people
do not know, which he illustrates by showing parts of an
interview with Loretta Sanchez, who is a member of the Homeland
Security Committee, who therefore knows, and who says that what now is
known through Snowden is "the tip of the iceberg".
Sanchez is a Democrat and adds several times that "it is all legal",
but this does not mean it is true, or good, or not merely "legal" in
the Obama-sense of the word: By classified documents no one is supposed
to see or comment on (which therefore cannot be legal as I use that
Snowden and the real issues
I thought I had mentioned
Chris(topher) Pyle before, but am not certain. Here is an interview
with him on Democracy Now!:
The above explains who he is,
and mentions the following article by him:
This starts as follows
Edward Snowden is
not a traitor. Nor is he a hero, at least not yet. But he
probably will be martyred by an establishment that cannot abide critics.
I agree, apart from
"ordinary": Ordinary people do not have such careers as Snowden had,
and if they do, then they don't do what he did. Anyway... well
Both House Majority Leader
John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne
Feinstein (D-Cal.) have called him a traitor, which only shows how
ignorant they are. Under our Constitution (and the Espionage Act
of 1917), it is not enough for a leaker to do something that might
arguable “aid or comfort” an enemy; the leaker must also have the
intent, by his disclosures, to betray the United States. No proof
exists the Mr. Snowden had either motive.
Quite the contrary.
Had he wanted to aid an enemy and hurt the United States, he would not
have gone public. He would have secretly disclosed very different
information to the agents of a foreign power.
Which raises the
question: Why can’t these politicians respect Mr. Snowden for
what he is: an ordinary young man who does not claim to be a hero, but
is willing to go to jail, if necessary, to start a debate over what our
bloated intelligence community and do-nothing Congress are doing to our
Ai Weiwei on Snowden
First, as to who Ai
Weiwei is: See the link in his name, which is to Wikipedia. He
certainly is a man whose opinions are interesting, and he has one:
This starts as follows:
I agree, except that I am
probably less optimistic about changing it. Then again, I agree with
Even though we know
governments do all kinds of things I was shocked by the information
about the US surveillance operation, Prism. To me, it's abusively using government powers to
interfere in individuals' privacy. This is an important moment for
international society to reconsider and protect individual rights.
I lived in the United
States for 12 years. This abuse of state power goes totally against my
understanding of what it means to be a civilised society, and it will
be shocking for me if American citizens allow this to continue. The US
has a great tradition of individualism and privacy and has long been a
centre for free thinking and creativity as a result.
There also are some
frightening details about how he was treated in detention, with a
silver lining, for which the reader has to follow the link.
When human beings are
scared and feel everything is exposed to the government, we will censor
ourselves from free thinking. That's dangerous for human development.
In the Soviet Union
before, in China today, and even in the US, officials always think what
they do is necessary, and firmly believe they do what is best for the
state and the people. But the lesson that people should learn from
history is the need to limit state power.
5. 10 dishonest pundits on the NSA
Actually, I first had
"dumb" for "dishonest", but the present word is far more correct than
the first. In any case, here they are, served on Alternet, by Evan
McMurry, with the original title:
Not being American, and not
being much interested in politics or pundits, I did not know the
existence of about half of them, but it is correct to list president
Obama as the tenth.
6. Secrecy’s Tangled Web of Deceit
I have mentioned Ray McGovern before, and do so again,
because he wrote a fine article on Consortiumnews, that is mostly about
lying, including lying to Congress:
He quotes Ellsberg:
hearing proved Daniel Ellsberg right in saying earlier this week: “to
say that there is judicial oversight is nonsense – as is the alleged
oversight function of the intelligence committees in Congress. Not for
the first time – as with issues of torture, kidnapping, detention,
assassination by drones and death squads – they have shown themselves
to be thoroughly co-opted by the agencies they supposedly monitor.”
And he finishes classically:
Yes, indeed: "The time is out
of joint" (Hamlet, 1.5).
On Wednesday, Rep. Justin
Amash, R-Michigan, openly accused Clapper of criminal perjury and
called for him to resign, saying, “It now appears clear that the
director of national intelligence, James Clapper, lied under oath to
Congress and the American people.” Amash added that “Perjury is a
serious crime … [and] Clapper should resign immediately.”
But Clapper too is an
“honorable man” – someone deeply enmeshed in the machinations of
America’s “secrecy/surveillance state.” It will be interesting to see
if he decides to fall on his sword and demonstrate that at least
someone has a sense of honor – or he could take lessons from
Alexander on the finer arts of dissembling.
O Tempora; O Mores.
7. An Education Declaration
I change the
subject to education, that - in my opinion - has been seriously messed
up, and has been messed up ever and ever more since the mid 1960ies. I
said "in my opinion", but that opinion is quite well founded (<-
my published essays), and also goes all the way back to then, in
Holland. (The linked essays are from the late 1980ies.)
Then again, I know less about the US and there now is a petition plus
declaration, that drew some important names, including Robert Reich, in
which the collapse of the education in the US is starting in the early
I list it for those who
care about it - though I have to admit that I think it needs generations
of work, were it only because education has been systematically
destroyed for nearly 50 years now, to the best of my knowledge. 
8. Medical research
Next, I change the subject to that of medical research, of which
something similar is true as for education: Since the 1980ies, medical
research has changed a lot, and has become mostly "medical" "research".
This I did not know, but it became clear the last 2 1/2 years when I wrote rather a lot about the DSM-5,
but it also holds for "medical"
"research" in general - or so the British Medical Journal has
concluded, as detailed by 1 boring old man (in fact a psychiatrist, who
is neither boring nor dumb):
I quote from this - in fact I
quote a quote:
|BMJ Press Release
Experts propose restoring invisible and abandoned
trials “to correct the scientific record”
Experts are today calling for all unpublished and
misreported trials to be published or formally corrected within the
next year to ensure doctors and patients rely on complete and accurate
information to make decisions about treatments.
Sponsors and researchers will be given one year to
act before independent scientists begin publishing the results
themselves using previously confidential trial documents.
The BMJ and PLOS Medicine have already endorsed the
proposal and committed to publishing restorative clinical trial
submissions – and will discuss it in more detail at a meeting in London
on Friday 14 June 2013.
This is just the beginning.
(Again, I am a bit skeptical about the outcome, but support the idea.)
criterions and testing
Finally, the disease which plagued me 35 years now. Again I only give a
link, to an item on Phoenix Rising:
And no: if you don't have M.E.
(or something like it) this is not for you, and even if you
(probably) have it, you may not be interested. I linked it because I
found it somewhat interesting, and more or less agree: Empirically
testing patients is necessary, if only because (1) many may have
something else, and (2) the real cause(s) can only be found by
continuing to look for it.
As to education and why I am pessimistic: There are very many
things that need changing; there is neither the will, with the most,
nor the money; and indeed I fear the people who should do it are
missing: Those who had a somewhat decent education are in their mid
sixties, or older. After that, everything got simplified, and indeed
about halved, in Holland. (And to make myself understood: I'd love
it to be shown wrong here, and in my pessimistic attitudes in
general. But if I go by
the facts and not by my desires, pessimism about what is possible
is the usual conclusion I arrive at.)
ME/CFS (that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: