ugust 20, 2013
Crisis: Rusbridger, Miranda, Drum, Clapper, Simic
  "Those who sacrifice liberty for
   security deserve neither."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
    "All governments lie and nothing
    they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.

1.  David Miranda, schedule 7 and the danger that all 
      reporters now face

2.  Snowden Wars Episode V: The Surveillance State Strikes

Liberals, Moderates Agree: Arrest James Clapper

4.  The Books We’ve Lost
5.  A Country Without Libraries

About ME/CFS


Today there is a series of links with quotations and comments by me - and I say so, because yesterday there wasn't, for briefly before finishing my piece that disappeared.

It is in part about the crisis, and in part also about important consequences of the crisis that few people see, mostly because they lack the education to see them, which they lack in part because of the crisis and also because anyway higher education has been vastly simplified since the 1970ies.

1. David Miranda, schedule 7 and the danger that all reporters now face

The following piece is by the editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, and it is pretty absurd - and I am not talking about the piece itself, but about the absurdities the English government has permitted itself against the property and the rights of the Guardian:
At the beginning, Rusbridger summarizes  who are Greenwald and Miranda (and I wrote about this yesterday, but my text disappeared when I had written it):

On Sunday morning David Miranda, the partner of Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, was detained as he was passing through Heathrow airport on his way back to Rio de Janeiro, where the couple live. Greenwald is the reporter who has broken most of the stories about state surveillance based on the leaks from the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Greenwald's work has undoubtedly been troublesome and embarrassing for western governments. But, as the debate in America and Europe has shown, there is considerable public interest in what his stories have revealed about the right balance between security, civil liberties, freedom of speech and privacy. He has raised acutely disturbing questions about the oversight of intelligence; about the use of closed courts; about the cosy and secret relationship between government and vast corporations; and about the extent to which millions of citizens now routinely have their communications intercepted, collected, analysed and stored.

In this work he is regularly helped by David Miranda. Miranda is not a journalist, but he still plays a valuable role in helping his partner do his journalistic work. Greenwald has his plate full reading and analysing the Snowden material, writing, and handling media and social media requests from around the world. He can certainly use this back-up.
Next, he summarized Miranda's arrest and detainment for 9 hours:
Miranda was held for nine hours under schedule 7 of the UK's terror laws, which give enormous discretion to stop, search and question people who have no connection with "terror", as ordinarily understood. Suspects have no right to legal representation and may have their property confiscated for up to seven days. Under this measure – uniquely crafted for ports and airport transit areas – there are none of the checks and balances that apply once someone is in Britain proper. There is no need to arrest or charge anyone and there is no protection for journalists or their material. A transit lounge in Heathrow is a dangerous place to be.
As I yesterday said, to me both schedule 7 and the seizure of Miranda's properties appear criminal to me, and indeed are so in terms of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, that do not speak of "transit lounges" or other places where governments can pretend the laws do not apply.

Indeed, it seems to me that all of the first 11 articles apply, and so does specifically article 12 - and I quote:

Article 12.

    • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
But not anymore in the present Britain ruled by David Cameron: There one can be arrested and detained because one is a friend of someone who published about the transgressions of the existing laws by the American and British governments.

Next, Rusbridger summarizes two months of his contacts with the British government:
A little over two months ago I was contacted by a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister. There followed two meetings in which he demanded the return or destruction of all the material we were working on.
This ended as follows - which again, also because it did not happen in a transit lounge, seems quite criminal to me:
And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. "We can call off the black helicopters," joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.
Rusbridge assures his readers that this will make no difference to the Guardian's reporting, and his penultimate paragraph is this:
The state that is building such a formidable apparatus of surveillance will do its best to prevent journalists from reporting on it. Most journalists can see that. But I wonder how many have truly understood the absolute threat to journalism implicit in the idea of total surveillance, when or if it comes – and, increasingly, it looks like "when".
Yes, indeed. Also, it seems fair to add that many journalists these days are no better than "journalists" in name only, for they serve as willing mouth pieces for the doctrines of their states' governors, that are quite incompatible with the existing laws and with the Declaration of Human Rights.

2. Snowden Wars Episode V: The Surveillance State Strikes Back

Next, here is Kevin Drum writing for Mother Jones on the same events:
You'll find he also quotes Rusbridger extensively, in part overlapping with my quotes. I only cite Drum's conclusion:

I don't know how this turns out any more than you do. In the end, maybe the centrifugal forces of the internet really will win the day. After all, as Rusbridger pointed out to the GCHQ folks, destroying a few hard drives in London didn't make the slightest difference to the Guardian's ability to report the Snowden story.

On the other hand, Snowden himself is bottled up in Russia. Julian Assange is trapped like a rat in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Wikileaks has been crippled by concerted international sanctions. Bradley Manning will spend the rest of his life in jail. And even the thickest-skinned journalists will think twice before tackling sensitive subjects now that they know their spouses, family, and friends are considered fair game for harassment by any sufficiently annoyed security agency. If even the president of Bolivia can't escape harassment, what chance do you have?

Yes, quite so. And I am not optimistic.

3. Liberals, Moderates Agree: Arrest James Clapper

Next, an aside from The Young Turks, in the form of a video:
This is mostly an aside, and is so mainly because it is very unlikely anything will be done against James Clapper, even though he lied to Congress, and therefore should be prosecuted - for men like James Clapper are quite as free to lie to Congress under Obama's government as under Bush Jr.'s government.

But the point is well made, and indeed seems to be supported by the majority of the American people (whose opinions are immaterial to the American government, except if they are key-voters during an election - and then they will be extensively and professionally lied to).

4. The Books We’ve Lost

The final two pieces, of which this is the first, are by Charles Simic, appeared in the New York Review of Books, and may seem to be rather irrelevant to the crisis, and also may seem to be mostly relevant only to lovers of books like myself.

In fact, they are an important symptom and sign of the crisis, and also contribute to it:
This starts as follows, and supports my own experience and those of friends of mine who exploit one of the last decent second hand book shops in Amsterdam:
Used-book stores are disappearing in our day at an even greater rate than regular book stores. Until ten years ago or so, there used to be a good number of them in every city and even in some smaller towns, catering to a clientele of book lovers who paid them a visit in search of some rare or out-of-print book, or merely to pass the time poking around. Even in their heyday, how their owners made a living was always a puzzle to me, since typically their infrequent customers bought nothing, or very little, and when they did, their purchase didn’t amount to more than a few dollars
There is rather a lot more, but what I mainly want to quote is a quotation from Elijah Jordan that Mr Simic gives. Jordan was a professor of philosophy at Butler University, who lived from 1875-1953, who can not be found on the internet in Wikipedia or by Yahoo.

Mr Simic quotes him from an article published in 1952, that also seems to have disappeared, and is to the following effect:
There have always been businessmen and business in the world. But never in history till today was business accepted as a morally honorable activity for men; never before was the businessman permitted to dominate the affairs of men. Today the rule of the businessman, accepted, justified and glorified, has become undisputed and absolute.
Until lately, however, the activity of the businessman has always been questioned as to its moral rightness. The formulation of this doubt has been the negative or critical premise upon which every developed moral system and every cultured religious system has been founded. The new fact, therefore, in what is called modern civilization, is the acceptance of business activity as morally honorable, the approval of the capacities and the characteristics of the businessman, and the assumption that these capacities are appropriate for rule and control of human affairs.
And as Mr Simic says, quite rightly:
This is extraordinary, I said to myself. Jordan (1875-1953), who was a professor of philosophy at Butler University for many years, saw the writing on the wall, pointing out already back then that business had become the dominant force in our lives with all other human interests in this country subservient to it. Religion, politics, government, morality, art were all being asked to acknowledge its absolute right and absolute power to be the final arbiter.
He says more I quite agree with, which you should read yourself, and concludes
No wonder their books are doomed to perish in the coming years. The fate of these forgotten writers is a sad reminder that this will also happen to many serious works of philosophy, history, fiction, poetry, and all the other books collecting dust on their shelves.
Yes, indeed: I fear that is going to happen - the effective disappearance of the printed book, to be replaced by some superficial selection of these that is maintained in pdf by Google, that is presently free, but that soon may need payment, also for volumes that are ages old (if not for the books than for the reading tool).

I fear Mr Simic, who is twelve years older than me, and persons like myself, are the last of quite a few generations of genuine book lovers, and also the last who had a decent education: Those younger than us got a much worse education, much of which may have taken place under the aegis that
"Everyone knows that truth does not exist",
as was claimed by Dutch professor M. Brandt, at the opening of the academic year 1978-1979, in a public lecture, and as maintained by virtually everybody working or studying in the Dutch universities - which clearly makes it quite unnecessary to read almost any books, to appreciate any higher civilization, or indeed to think rationally.

Indeed, in Holland hardly anybody reads a foreign language anymore, other than English, though between 1865 and 1965 many read three or five, since these were taught at the Dutch high schools; the students who enter universities, including engineering, do not know algebra anymore, and many cannot add 1/3+1/4 without a computer of some kind (I have asked many: most simply cannot), and anyway all get half of the years for studying that were common the previous hundred years, and attend universities where the IQ is much lower, that indeed almost anyone can attend, if he or she has money, and has an IQ of 105 or so, in most "academic studies".

And in fact people younger than I am (I am 63), so my friends who still run a second hand bookshop
told me - an excellent shop that probably will close this year for lack of interest - hardly read books anymore, that is: books other than Facebook.

5. A Country Without Libraries

Here is more by Charles Simic, also from the New York Review of Books, from 2011:
This starts as follows:
Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.
—Groucho Marx
All across the United States, large and small cities are closing public libraries or curtailing their hours of operations. Detroit, I read a few days ago, may close all of its branches and Denver half of its own: decisions that will undoubtedly put hundreds of its employees out of work.
It contains statements like this:
Like many other Americans of my generation, I owe much of my knowledge to thousands of books I withdrew from public libraries over a lifetime. I remember the sense of awe I felt as a teenager when I realized I could roam among the shelves, take down any book I wanted, examine it at my leisure at one of the library tables, and if it struck my fancy, bring it home. Not just some thriller or serious novel, but also big art books and recordings of everything from jazz to operas and symphonies.
Note that you simply cannot do that on the internet: You need a title or an author's name, and usually both, and you cannot browse as you could browse in a library of real books, namely simply by selecting any volume, from hundreds, thousands or tenthousands available ones, that surrounded one physically and visually, and open it to see what it contains.

It ends like this:
How many book lovers among the young has the Internet produced? Far fewer, I suspect, than the millions libraries have turned out over the last hundred years. Their slow disappearance is a tragedy, not just for those impoverished towns and cities, but for everyone everywhere terrified at the thought of a country without libraries.
Indeed. Also, it is not just that there are far fewer "book lovers": it is that there are far fewer real readers and real independent minds.

And mind you: I am not "against internet". It also gives vast opportunities, and does so especially to those who did get an education, and know already what to look for (!!). I am against stupidity, and if one of the prices one has to pay for internet is the disappearance of libraries and the scarcity of real books, this means the effective triumph of the superficial, the stupid, and the uncultivated.

Which is what happened. And not because people are born more stupid, but because they have been kept much more stupid, namely by levelling nearly all manner of education and by insisting, as happens and happened the last 30 or more years in Holland, that "you do not need to know anything because the computer will find it for you".
P.S. 21 aug 2013: Corrected two "were"s to "where"s. And inserted an "only".
[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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