"They who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin 
| "All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
1. Cabinet was told nothing
about GCHQ spying
programmes, says Chris
2. Feinstein’s Phony Excuse for NSA Spying
3. With Rise of American
Fascism, Shutdown Politics
4. Rich People Just Care
5. America's Police Are
Looking More and More Like the
This is another crisis
post, at least for the first five items. The last item is
personal and tells that for the first time in fifteen years (!) I could
today cycle for two hours and twenty kilometers. (More about this
Cabinet was told nothing about GCHQ spying programmes, says Chris Huhne
To start with, an item
about the British. It is by Nick Hopkins and Matthew Taylor, and is in
It starts thus:
Yes, indeed. There is
considerably more, but much is quotation - and in fact, here is Chris
Huhne's paper, that is also in today's Guardian:
Cabinet ministers and
members of the national security council were told nothing about the
existence and scale of the vast data-gathering programmes run by
British and American intelligence agencies, a former member of the
government has revealed.
Chris Huhne, who was in
the cabinet for two years until 2012, said ministers were in "utter
ignorance" of the two biggest covert operations, Prism and Tempora. The
former Liberal Democrat MP admitted he was shocked and mystified by the
surveillance capabilities disclosed by the Guardian from files leaked
by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.
"The revelations put a
giant question mark into the middle of our surveillance state," he
said. "The state should not feel itself entitled to know, see and
memorise everything that the private citizen communicates. The state is
This starts as follows:
Huhne has one further
I received a letter last
week from a very senior civil servant warning me not to reveal in this
column any "privileged information" acquired as a minister. But I have
a revelation of another kind to make. Readers would be shocked not by
what ministers know when they are taking decisions, but by what they do
not know, and are not told.
When it comes to the
secret world of GCHQ and the US National Security Agency (NSA), the
depth of my "privileged information" has been dwarfed by the
information provided by Edward
Snowden to the Guardian. The cabinet was told nothing about GCHQ's Tempora or the NSA's Prism, or about their
extraordinary capability to vacuum up and store personal emails, voice
contact, social networking activity and even internet searches.
I was also on the National Security Council, attended by ministers and the
heads of the secret and security services, GCHQ and the military. If
anyone should have been briefed on Prism and Tempora, it should have
been the NSC. I do not know whether the prime minister or the foreign
secretary (who has oversight of GCHQ) were briefed, but the NSC was not.
power, and the necessary corollary is that privacy is freedom.
Quite so - and again note that
the state is supposed to be there "for the people", instead of "the
people" being disposable to "the state".
And he ends thus:
explanation, the Home Office was happy to allow the NSC and the cabinet
– along with parliament – to remain in utter ignorance of Prism/Tempora
while deciding on the communications data bill. The Snowden revelations
put a giant question mark into the middle of our surveillance state. It
is time our elected representatives insisted on some answers before
destroying the values we should protect.
OK. I take it as almost
certain that GCHQ has been doing what it wanted, which included not
informing their government. Whether it can be stopped and tamed is
another question, but this is some small step.
2. Feinstein’s Phony Excuse for NSA Spying
Next, to the U.S. and
specifically to Consortium News, who has an ex-FBI agent, Coleen
Rowley, writing the following article:
This starts as follows:
This is about parr: Clear and
leading liars are not asked to swear; ordinary professors are. There is
quite a lot more, and she ends as follows, quite correctly, I think:
More than a few bizarre
aspects jumped out at me when I attended the Senate Judiciary
on Oct. 2. Instead of providing needed oversight of the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in light of shocking whistleblower
disclosures about National Security Agency’s secret (and arguably
illegal) interpretations that led to military surveillance and massive
collection of metadata about innocent American citizens, it seemed much
of the hearing went in the direction of overlook instead of oversight.
For starters, the two
fact witnesses, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and NSA
Director Keith Alexander, were not even asked to swear to tell the
truth before they testified even though both have been discovered to
have previously answered similar questions from Congress less than
honestly. By weird contrast, the three professors, who testified
after Clapper and Alexander and who merely provided their views of the
law and technology, were asked to raise their right hands and were
Can it be too much
to ask for meaningful congressional oversight? Twelve years after
9/11, it’s time to stop using it to justify illegal and
3. With Rise of American Fascism, Shutdown
Next, a fairly long article by Jon Queally in Common
Dreams. This is the article:
One reason to list it is its
use of "American Fascism", which comes from Chris Hedges; another is
the following bit - and the inital "It" refers to the policies of the
Yes, I mostly agree, and I
also agree with the conclusion:
It is a mixture of this
religious politics, combined with the financial self-interest of
billionaires and ideologues—like "the Koch brothers, the political arm
of the Heritage Foundation and others" described by Krugman—that fuels
the current crisis. And though many step back and call the whole thing
"political theater," the final act has yet to begin.
What was "predictable,"
according to Krugman, was that the GOP would ultimately end up in such
a position where their aversion to facts would make them victims of
reality. What is not yet clear—though predictions
abound—is how the current impasse ends and what impact it will have
on U.S politics leading into the 2014 election season and beyond.
With the Democratic Party
also guilty in propping up a political system that fails to deliver the
transformative change demanded by a world awash in war, economic
inequality, and on the precipice of runaway climate change, the
prospects for a new progressive era originating in Washington, DC are
not only dim, but non-existent.
For the moment,
however, how this "impasse" ends—and what rises in its ugly
wake—continues to be a guess.
4. Rich People Just Care Less
Next, another item from Common Dreams, that it seems to
copy from the New York Times, and is an article by Daniel Goleman, who
is a psychologist:
It starts as follows:
Turning a blind
eye. Giving someone the cold shoulder. Looking down on people. Seeing
right through them.
Actually, being also "a
psychologist"... yes and no. Yes, because clearly "Turning a blind eye. Giving someone the cold
shoulder. Looking down on people. Seeing right through them" are things the upper classes and the
powerful do remarkably well and quite often. No, because I get
pretty skeptical as soon as "A growing body of recent research" gets mentioned.
These metaphors for
condescending or dismissive behavior are more than just descriptive.
They suggest, to a surprisingly accurate extent, the social distance
between those with greater power and those with less — a distance that
goes beyond the realm of interpersonal interactions and may exacerbate
the soaring inequality in the United States.
A growing body of recent
research shows that people with the most social power pay scant
attention to those with little such power. This tuning out has been
observed, for instance, with strangers in a mere five-minute
get-acquainted session, where the more powerful person shows fewer
signals of paying attention, like nodding or laughing. Higher-status
people are also more likely to express disregard, through facial
expressions, and are more likely to take over the conversation and
interrupt or look past the other speaker.
In any case, there is rather a lot more under the last link, in case
you need enlightening by the social sciences. But here is the ending:
Since the 1970s,
the gap between the rich and everyone else has skyrocketed. Income
inequality is at its highest level in a century. This widening gulf
between the haves and have-less troubles me, but not for the obvious
reasons. Apart from the financial inequities, I fear the expansion of
an entirely different gap, caused by the inability to see oneself in a
less advantaged person’s shoes. Reducing the economic gap may be
impossible without also addressing the gap in empathy.
That seems to me to be
rather a bit over the top: That you cannot reduce "the economic gap" "without also addressing the gap in empathy".
5. America's Police Are Looking More and More Like the
Finally, another item that addresses the changes in society, by
Elizabeth Beavers and Michael Shank:
In fact, it addresses a
topic that also moved Bill Maher, some months ago, and provides some
explanations as well:
are looking more and more like a war zone. Last week, in a small
county in upstate New York with a population of roughly 120,000
people, county legislators approved the receipt of a 20-ton Mine
Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, donated by the US Defense
Department to the county sheriff.
Aha! Another thing the
Americans can thank Clinton for! Also, the article - as seems quite
right to me - is quite critical, and lists three points, which I copy,
without the intervening texts, that are indicated by bracket ellipses:
Between the Armored
Personnel Carriers locking down main streets in major
American cities – mimicking our MRAPs in Afghanistan – or Special
Weapons and Tactics (Swat) and Special Forces units canvassing our
country, if we're not careful, this militarization of our domestic
policing will make-over America, and fast.
Here's how it all
happened. A little-known Pentagon program has been quietly militarizing
American police forces for years. A total of $4.2bn
worth of equipment has been distributed by the Defense Department
to municipal law enforcement agencies, with a record $546m in 2012
In the fine print of the
National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1997, the "1033
program" was born. It allows the Defense Department to donate
surplus military equipment to local police forces.
First, the program
is transforming our police into a military. (...)
And it ends as follows:
Second, the program
encourages waste. (...)
Lastly, the program's lack
of oversight is irresponsible.
program cannot continue in this manner. Congress should acknowledge the
failure of this program and permanently ban military-grade weaponry,
armored vehicles and aircraft from transfer to municipal police forces.
I quite agree - though I
wonder how much of an accident this is.
But when local police forces
carry assault weapons and patrol America's main streets with tanks and
drones, the lines blur between the military and law enforcement. The
growing militarization of the United States appears to be occurring at
home as well as abroad, a phenomenon which is troublesome and sure to
continue without decisive action. Scaling back the 1033 program is a
much-needed start and would cast some light on the blurring line
between military forces and the local police who are meant to protect
I have been sleeping decently for some five weeks now, after
able to do so for fifteen months because I had too much pain in
to do so, and I also have been doing fairly well, at least for me, and
both are quite nice, after what was in fact a very long down, that as
far as ME/CFS is concerned lasted nearly all the years of this century.
So... today I bicycled
for two hours and for
at least twenty kilometers, which is for me a first in this
century and millenium, and the reason was that I just did not have the
health for it: definitely not, and not for more than 15 years.
Now I do, and it seems I have survived this fairly well. Also, I will
write another item on the protocol I use tomorrow or the day
after, for there have been some changes, and it seems some care.
 Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, thay 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
It is more proper
that law should govern than any of the citizens: upon the same
principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some
particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and
the servant of 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 machine) which is a disease that I have since 1.1.