July 22, 2013
Crisis: Secret Courts, Bank of America, Moyers+Kaplan, No Rights, Swarmwise
  "Those who sacrifice liberty for
   security deserve neither."
   -- Benjamin Franklin

Prev- crisis -Next

1.  Secret Court Renews Controversial NSA Surveillance

Bank of America's Recipe for Getting Away with Massive

Bill Moyers: Weapons of Mass Distraction
America No Longer Has a Functioning Judicial System
5.  Swarmwise
About ME/CFS


It still is the case that sleeping remains quite difficult for me. This also makes my life rather difficult, at the moment.

Anyway - and no, sleeping did not much improve, so far. (It's mostly pains of various kinds that keep me awake or wake me up: eyes, arms, legs.)

And presently it is 26.5 degrees Celsius where I am, in my house in Amsterdam, which is too hot, for me. I see what I can do, but it will not be very much - though it is a fair NL.

1. Secret Court Renews Controversial NSA Surveillance Program

I found this on Truth Dig, that credits it to the Washington Post:

The NSA directors give the following twist to this denial of the Fourth Amendment:

“Consistent with his prior declassification decision and in light of the significant and continuing public interest in the telephony metadata collection program, the DNI has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the Government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the Court renewed that authority,” a statement from the NSA Director’s office read.

The statement continued: “The Administration is undertaking a careful and thorough review of whether and to what extent additional information or documents pertaining to this program may be declassified, consistent with the protection of national security.”

It's all baloney - crap [1] - but they cannot be stopped, at least not now. In any case: Secret courts are tools of dictarorships, and are totally incredible in the present case, where a government simply appropriates all computerized commnications, as if it would have a right to it: Not in a state of law - but see item 4.

2. Bank of America's Recipe for Getting Away with Massive Fraud

This I found on Alternet, who credit an earlier version to

I think the case is at least rather clear, but it ends as follows:

What is clear is that Bank of America, like all big banks in our era, isn't merely a financial institution but simultaneously acts as an influential institution in the media, military industrial complex, think tanks, chemical companies and government circles.

The bank is too big to fail. Too big to jail. And too connected to change.

And indeed that is a major part of the trouble: Taking down the Glass-Steagall Act that allowed bank managers to do very many more things, and they did it, and got away with it because they seem too big to fail, and are rich people anyway.

3. Bill Moyers: Weapons of Mass Distraction

And this I found also on Alternet, who attribute it to - and note it is about Mass Distraction, rather than Mass Destruction, though the former may contribute to the latter:

This mostly is an interview that starts as follows:

MARTY KAPLAN:It's my feeling that what happened in Brazil, which is so encouraging about citizens taking their destiny in their own hands, is not happening here. We have unemployment and hunger and crumbling infrastructure and a tax system out of whack and a corrupt political system. Why are we not also taking to the streets is the question. And I want us to.

BILL MOYERS:You wrote "If you’re not outraged…you're not paying attention." So are we not paying attention?

MARTY KAPLAN:We are paying attention to the wrong things. We are paying attention to infotainment, which is being spoon-fed to us and sadly, frankly, we are enabling because we love the stuff.

And later there is this:

BILL MOYERS: So, if it is true as you say, that, “Our tax code is the least progressive in the industrial world,” that we've witnessed “The most massive transfer of wealth in history,” which is “Destroying our middle class,” that “Tuition is increasingly unaffordable, and retirement increasingly unavailable,” that “The banks that sold trillions of dollars of Americans' worth have not only gone unpunished; they're still at it,” why are we not at the barricades?

MARTY KAPLAN: I suspect among your viewers, there were people who are outraged and want to be at the barricades. The problem is that we have been taught to be helpless and jaded rather than to feel that we are empowered and can make a difference

And later this

MARTY KAPLAN: Ever since I was in junior high school, I was taught that to be a good citizen meant you needed to know what was going on in your country and in your world. You should read the paper, you should pay attention to the news, that's part of your responsibility of being an American.

And the problem, especially in recent years, is the more informed I am, the more despondent I am, because day after day, there is news which drives me crazy and I want to see the public rise up in outrage and say, no, you can't do that, banks. You can't do that, corporations. You can't do that polluters, you have to stop and pay attention to the laws, or we're going to change the laws.

That every time that doesn't happen, and I keep learning each day the same thing, something bad happened and nothing was done about it, that's the news.
But it is a huge problem, that gets fairly well analyzed. Kaplan has children, which forces him to be an optimist. I do not have children, and am glad about that fact, not because I would not have wanted it, in principle (I got ill at 28, and was ill ever since: hence, no children), but because of the probabilities of things going very wrong in diverse ways soon.

And my own step to deal with the problem is pretty unique, though quite justified: I do not have a TV since 1970, and in fact never had one (except very briefly in 1985, and that was on loan, and was quickly returned: I really don't want it).

But then my reason does not apply to the democratic majority: I find it stupid and stupefying; but the democratic masses do not, and find it enlightening, interesting, flattering, and amusing.


4. America No Longer Has a Functioning Judicial System

Then there is this on Washington's Blog, with the following title
In case you are skeptical, it starts as follows:

The Separation of Powers Which Define Our Democracy Have Been Destroyed

The Department of Justice told a federal court this week that the NSA’s spying “cannot be challenged in a court of law”.

(This is especially dramatic given that numerous federal judges and legal scholars – including a former FISA judge – say that the FISA spying “court” is nothing but a kangaroo court.)

I wrote about it before, and my conclusion was and is that this is illegal: Firstly, you definitely can challenge the NSA stealing anything you do on a computer, on the pretext that, somehow, it is public, for the simple reason that it is a serious crime; and secondly, you can not leave these "permissions" be decided by (blackmailed?) secret courts: That's plain crazy.

The possibility of "
(blackmailed?)" is not a strange assumption (anymore):

After Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, journalist Naomi Wolf, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and others sued the government to enjoin the NDAA’s allowance of the indefinite detention of Americans – the judge asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then writing about bad guys. The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge.

The Department of Justice has also tapped Congressional phones, and a high-level NSA whistleblower says that including all 9 Supreme Court justices.

This also sheds some light on Hedges: How can he possibly do decent journalism living in the country he lives in?

Here is a last quote:

The Constitution is mortally wounded.  While the “war on terror” is commonly cited as the excuse, most of the attacks on our rights started before 9/11.  Indeed, the Founding Fathers warned 200 years ago that open-ended wars give the Executive an excuse to take away our liberties.

Two former U.S. Supreme Court Justices have warned that America is sliding into tyranny.   A former U.S. President, and many other high-level American officials agree.

And you do not need to agree to be very worried (and you can follow the links).

5. Swarmwise

Finally, a book, by Rick Falkvinge, who heads - I think - the Swedish Pirate Party, and who wants to share his methods with others:
The book can be downloaded, which I did, but I do not have an opinion about it, firstly, because I read very little in it, and secondly, because everything seems to have changed with Snowden's Revelations: You really can't use the internet anymore, to organize things, at least not if they are critical of the government.

Then again, I may be mistaken.

[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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