23, 2013
Crisis: Destroying, Killing, Reading, Joking, Leaking, Dreaming, Spying
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.

Prev- crisis -Next

1. Destroying the Right to Be Left Alone 
2. The Act of Killing
The readers' editor on… the Guardian's coverage of
     government surveillance

4. 'A Total Joke': 'Independent' Review of NSA Not Actually

5. Snowden Leaks Help NSA Critics in Government
     Surveillance Lawsuits

6. These 12 Bills are the NSA's Worst Nightmare
The Government Is Spying On Us Through...
8. Spy Agencies Are Doing WHAT?
About ME/CFS


Today there are 8 items in the crisis series, which is a fair amount, but I did not even use all that I found, and also did not report on the n-th Dutch scientific fraud, professor Mart Bax. (See the end.)

1. Destroying the Right to Be Left Alone 

The first item I found on AlterNet, but it comes from TomDispatch and is by Christopher Calabrese and Matthew Harwood, who both work for the ACLU:

It starts thus:

For at least the last six years, government agents have been exploiting an AT&T database filled with the records of billions of American phone calls from as far back as 1987. The rationale behind this dragnet intrusion, codenamed Hemisphere, is to find suspicious links between people with “burner”  phones (prepaid mobile phones easy to buy, use, and quickly dispose of),  which are popular with drug dealers. The secret information gleaned from this relationship with the telecommunications giant has been used to convict Americans of various crimes, all without the defendants or the courts having any idea how the feds stumbled upon them in the first place. The program is so secret, so powerful, and so alarming that agents “are instructed to never refer to Hemisphere in any official document,” according to a recently released government PowerPoint slide.

Note firstly that this is about a specific finding, and note secondly that this must or ought to be quite illegal (in view of the fourth amendment). Also, it should be remarked that the American courts do not seem to work properly, at least in these cases: Evidence leading to convictions that are without "the courts having any idea how the feds stumbled upon them" cannot have been researched properly.

Next, here are the facts about your own knowledge and that of reporters, at least according to a CIA worthy:

“Technology in this world is moving faster than government or law can keep up,” the CIA’s Chief Technology Officer Gus Hunt told a tech conference in March. “It’s moving faster I would argue than you can keep up: You should be asking the question of what are your rights and who owns your data.”

Hunt’s right.  The American public and the legal system have been left in the dust when it comes to infringements and intrusions on privacy.  In one way, however, he was undoubtedly being coy.  After all, the government is an active, eager, and early adopter of intrusive technologies that make citizens’ lives transparent on demand.

And that is definitely not what government is for. But then we get something I find rather odd:

Have no doubt: the Fourth Amendment is fast becoming an artifact of a paper-based world.

The core idea behind that amendment, which prohibits the government from “unreasonable searches and seizures,” is that its representatives only get to invade people’s private space—their “persons, houses, papers, and effects”—after it convinces a judge that they’re up to no good. The technological advances of the last few decades have, however, seriously undermined this core constitutional protection against overzealous government agents, because more and more people don’t store their private information in their homes or offices, but on company servers.

This is odd and legalese, because "technological advances" have no relevance whatsoever as to what is or is not privately and personally owned, and those who claim it does either do not know the law or are speaking or writing hogwash.

But then the writers attempt to explain their point, though I still don't get it - and what I specifically do not get is the difference between "a paper-based world" and "a computer-based world": There is only one world. In any case, there is a lot more in the article, and the intentions are good, even if some of the arguments are questionable.

2. The Act of Killing

Next, a paperby Chris Hedges in Truth Dig, that is about the mass killings in Indonesia in the middle sixties:
This starts as follows:
I have spent time with mass killers, warlords and death squad leaders as a reporter in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. Some are psychopaths who relish acts of sadism, torture and murder. But others, maybe most, see killing as a job, a profession, good for their careers and status. They enjoy playing God. They revel in the hypermasculine world of force where theft and rape are perks. They proudly refine the techniques of murder to snuff out one life after another, largely numb to the terror and cruelty they inflict. And, when they are not killing, they can sometimes be disarmingly charming and gracious. Some are decent fathers and sentimental with their wives and mistresses. They can dote on their pets.
It goes on for three pages, and some of it is pretty ghastly, but then this concerns  around a million people murdered, mostly because they were claimed to be communists or to be Chinese.

3. The readers' editor on… the Guardian's coverage of government surveillance

Next, here is a review by the Guardian's readers' editor Chris Elliott:

This is a long article, but it is quite good. I only lift two points from it. First, the actual data Chris Elliott used:

More than 300 articles have been published since the first, on 6 June 2013, which revealed that a top-secret court had ordered a US telephone company, Verizon, to hand over data on millions of calls. However, since then, the readers' editor's office has received only 108 emails in relation to the series, of which just 13 were critical. Of the 13, only two specifically criticised the Guardian for publishing the disclosures, which is unusual for such a high-profile story.

Of the rest, 48 were supportive of the Guardian's reporting, 27 offered further information or further case studies, and seven wanted to know how they could help Snowden, with some of them offering money, advice on visas, or even places to stay. A further 13 wanted to know more about what this kind of surveillance means for them personally.

That's interesting, though I agree with the "only" in "only 108 emails", and wonder whether many potential writers have been kept from writing out of fear. Also, it is good to know that "only two", that is: less than 1%, "specifically criticised the Guardian for publishing the disclosures".

Next, I pick out this:

Greenwald is also convinced that a fire has been lit. He said: "I honestly think it has been so much better than I anticipated even. I have been writing about surveillance and the NSA for a long time, I started writing about this [in] 2005 when I began writing about politics."

There is considerably more in the article. I doubt I am as elated as Greenwald seems to be, but that is not his fault, but has a lot to do with most so-called "journalists" in the US refusing to do a real journalist's job, while also insisting on the arrests and convictions of the few who do.

Anyway: There is considerably more in the article.

4. 'A Total Joke': 'Independent' Review of NSA Not Actually Independent

Next, we turn to Common Dreams, where Sarah Lazare has an interesting article:
This opens as follows:
The panel of 'outside' experts, appointed by President Obama to investigate the controversial NSA spying program for civil liberties violations, is not independent at all, but rather, functions under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and is comprised of Democratic Party insiders, Associated Press revealed in a report released Sunday.

The review panel operates under the very office that oversees the NSA programs the panel is supposed to investigate.

And this is the ending (and you can read the evidence yourself):
Obama convened the panel in an early August speech in which declared that "outside experts" to look into NSA surveillance policies and produce a report within 60 days in response to mass outrage about secret spying. Obama claimed the aim of the panel was to "consider how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used."
Which goes to show that president Obama cannot be trusted at all.

Snowden Leaks Help NSA Critics in Government Surveillance Lawsuits

Then there is this, by Brendan Sasso on Common Dreams (and originally in The Hill's Technology Blog):
This starts as follows:
For years, the government has successfully suppressed lawsuits by civil liberties groups challenging the constitutionality of its surveillance programs.
Te government's main reasoning was that the parties who complained, could not be considered parties who suffered, basically because the government hid the evidence, and "therefore" were not worthy parties.

Now there is this:

But the Snowden leaks have changed all of that. In response to a leaked court order, the NSA acknowledged that it is collecting data on all U.S. phone calls. The data collection includes phone numbers, call times and call durations, but not the contents of the conversations. 

"For years, the government has shielded its surveillance practices from judicial review through excessive secrecy," Abdo said. "And now that that secrecy has been lifted to some degree, we now know precisely who is being surveilled in some of the dragnet policies of the NSA, and those people can now challenge those policies."

There is considerably more, that includes the fact that the problems are far from passed. But this is some small step forward.

These 12 Bills are the NSA's Worst Nightmare

Next, an article by Dana Liebelson on Mother Jones:
She starts as follows:
It seems that not a week goes by without a friendly reminder from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the government has found a new way to spy on us. From allegedly cracking online encryption, to paying US tech companies to build backdoors in their security systems, to spying on international bank transactions—it's tempting to wonder whether there is any such thing as electronic privacy anymore. But in the last few months, Congress has introduced a spate of bills aimed at reining in the NSA's vast surveillance powers.
Quite so. But then she says:
Here's a guide to 12 pending bills that target US government spying (collected with help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation).
And she proceeds doing just that.

This is quite useful, although the question remains which, if any of these, will make it to laws.

The Government Is Spying On Us Through...

Finally, here are two pieces from Washington's Blog, of which this is the first:
This is a long article, which comes with many references, but it does support what its title says quite well.

Spy Agencies Are Doing WHAT?

This is the second piece:
It starts thus:

New Revelations Are Breaking Every Day

Revelations about the breathtaking scope of government spying are coming so fast that it’s time for an updated roundup:

and it proceeds to document that, as above.

And that's it for today - and I have left out discussing the next thoroughly corrupt Dutch deceiver professor Mart Bax, currently pensioned, and - it seems - an even bigger deceiver than Diederik Stapel. Nothing will be done against this gentleman, "because he is pensioned"... (with a pension based on fraud).

Maybe more about him tomorrow, but I give no guarantee, if only because I am firmly convinced that it makes no difference whatsoever.
[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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