"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. The NSA files
2. Fact: the NSA gets negligible intel from
metadata. So end collection
3. How Private Tech Companies Are
Collecting Data on You
and Selling Them to the
Feds for Huge Profits
4. Surveillance State Takes
5. Five Years in Economic
Reich on Shutdown: 'You Can't Negotiate with
We´re back at the crisis
again, with seven items, although the last is a brief personal item.
1. The NSA files
To start with, here is a link
to what is probably the best list of NSA related files, which is at the
There is no author and no
quotation: It's a list of files, that covers at present at least 370
entries. (To see all of them, you have to go to the bottom of the page,
where there are four more pages, above the heading "1-5 of 370 for The
the NSA gets negligible intel from Americans' metadata. So end
Next, one of the files
mentioned in the previous item, by Yochal Benkler, who teaches law at
This starts as follows:
I do not know how likely this
"may be" is, but suppose so. In any case, I mostly agree with the next
paragraph - except that I may disagree on the argument as given in the
title, namely that the reason not to do it is ... that it isn't effective.
Congress may be on the
verge of prohibiting the NSA from continuing its
bulk telephony metadata collection program. Two weeks ago, the Senate
national security dissenters: Wyden,
Udall, Paul, and Blumenthal proposed prohibition. Last week, the move
received a major boost from a bipartisan proposal by core establishment
Patrick Leahy, and Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner and John
It's a prohibition whose
time has come. Dragnet surveillance, or
bulk collection, goes to the heart of what is wrong with the turn the
NSA has taken since 2001. It implements a perpetual "state of
emergency" mentality that inverts the basic model outlined by the
fourth amendment: that there are vast domains of private action about
which the state should remain ignorant unless it provides clear prior
justification. And all public evidence suggests that, from its
inception in 2001 to this day, bulk collection has never made more than
a marginal contribution to securing Americans from terrorism, despite
And that for two reasons: first, effectiveness or its lack is not
material, in my eyes, if only because if there were more effectiveness,
then still almost all the NSA research that has been done is done on
innocent people, and without specific justification, as outlinedby the
Fourth Amendment. Second, I much doubt it ever was
meant to be "effective" against "terrorism".
However, I agree with the ending, mostly because of the "If":
If the NSA cannot
show real, measurable evidence of its effectiveness, evidence that
doesn't collapse as soon as it is examined and isn't a vague appeal to
amorphous, measurement-free "peace of mind", its bulk collection
program has to go.
But my supplement is
that the NSA's bulk
collection program also has to go if not.
Private Tech Companies Are Collecting Data on You and Selling Them to
the Feds for Huge Profits
Next, something I found on Alternet by Pratap Chatterjee:
This starts as follows:
There is quite a lot more, in
which Pratap Chatterjee outlines how your data are collected, almost
completely without your knowing it. He ends thus:
Big Bro is watching you.
Inside your mobile phone and hidden behind your web browser are little
known software products marketed by contractors to the government that
can follow you around anywhere. No longer the wide-eyed fantasies of
conspiracy theorists, these technologies are routinely installed in all
of our data devices by companies that sell them to Washington for a
That’s not how they’re
marketing them to us, of course. No, the message is much more
seductive: Data, Silicon Valley is fond of saying, is the new oil. And the Valley’s message
is clear enough: we can turn your digital information into fuel for
pleasure and profits -- if you just give us access to your location,
your correspondence, your history, and the entertainment that you like.
Yes, that mostly seems correct.
Ever tried yelling back
at a security camera? You know that it is on. You know someone is
watching the footage, but it doesn’t respond to complaint, threats, or
insults. Instead, it just watches you in a forbidding manner. Today,
the surveillance state is so deeply enmeshed in our data devices that
we don’t even scream back because technology companies have convinced
us that we need to be connected to them to be happy.
With a lot of help from
the surveillance industry, Big Bro has already won the fight to watch
all of us all the time -- unless we decide to do something about it.
State Takes Offense
Next, an article by William Blum on Consortium News:
This starts as follows:
And that is a problem: It
seems Trojanow had something to fear, namely that his ideas
NSA do not
please the directors of the NSA. If that is indeed the explanation - I
do not know -
there will be many more such cases Real Soon Now, just as it may happen
soon - I do not know - that American
journalists may get arrested and disappear, basically for trying to do
a real job, at least as long as the NSA is not tamed, and tamed quite
“If you’ve got nothing to
hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.” So say many Americans. And many
Germans as well.
But one German, Ilija
Trojanow, would disagree. He has lent his name to published documents
denouncing the National Security Agency (NSA), and was one of several
prominent German authors who signed a letter to Chancellor Angela
Merkel urging her to take a firm stance against the mass online
surveillance conducted by the NSA.
Trojanow and the other
authors had nothing to hide, which is why the letter was published for
the public to read. What happened after that, however, was that
Trojanow was refused permission to board a flight from Salvador da
Bahia, Brazil, to Miami on Monday, Sept. 30. Without any explanation.
Incidentally, as Blum himself stresses in his article, this piece of
news was only carried by 1 out of 1400 newspapers, which also shows how
disappearances of American journalists may soon happen and be not
reported. As Blum says:
The story is a
poignant caveat on how fragile is Americans’ freedom to
criticize their Security State. If a foreigner can be barred from
boarding a flight merely for peaceful, intellectual criticism of
America’s Big Brother (nay, Giant Brother), who amongst us does not
need to pay careful attention to anything they say or write.
Next, I have an article by Joseph Stiglitz
that I found on Common Dreams - and Stiglitz is one of "the leading
This starts as follows:
When the US
investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, triggering the worst
global financial crisis since the Great Depression, a broad consensus
about what caused the crisis seemed to emerge.
After which Stiglitz explains
that little has changed in those five years. He ends as follows:
A bloated and
dysfunctional financial system had misallocated capital and, rather
than managing risk, had actually created it. Financial deregulation –
together with easy money – had contributed to excessive risk-taking.
Monetary policy would be relatively ineffective in reviving the
economy, even if still-easier money might prevent the financial
system's total collapse. Thus, greater reliance on fiscal policy –
increased government spending – would be necessary.
Five years later, while
some are congratulating themselves on avoiding another depression, no
one in Europe or the United States can claim that prosperity has
returned. The European Union is just emerging from a double-dip (and in
some countries a triple-dip) recession, and some member states are in
depression. In many EU countries, GDP remains lower, or insignificantly
above, pre-recession levels. Almost 27 million Europeans are unemployed.
system may be more stable than it was five years ago, but that is a low
bar – back then, it was teetering on the edge of a precipice. Those in
government and the financial sector who congratulate themselves on
banks' return to profitability and mild – though hard-won – regulatory
improvements should focus on what still needs to be done. The glass is,
at most, only one-quarter full; for most people, it is three-quarters
One reason to have this
article is that Stiglitz was contradicted by the Dutch head of the
National Bank, Klaas
who got big articles in the Dutch papers,a few days ago, because he had
within three months (!) the crisis (in Holland) is finished - but
offering any evidence or numbers.
My guess is that Stiglitz is a better economist, and he certainly is
Robert Reich on
Shutdown: 'You Can't Negotiate with
Finally, an interview with Robert Reich in the English
version of Der Spiegel:
It is a good interview. Here
is one piece:
And here is another bit:
SPIEGEL: That is
the main theme of your documentary "Inequality for All," which is
already being touted as an Oscar contender. In it, you paint a grim
picture of the US as a country torn apart, and your warn about dramatic
consequences for the economy. Are things really that bad?
economic divide has rarely been as pronounced. The typical male worker
in the US was making $48,078 (€35,400) a year in 1978; now this average
annual salary is down to $39,000. At the same, the net worth of the 400
richest Americans is higher than that of 150 million Americans
The rest is as good.
Directly after the financial crisis erupted, there was an enormous
amount of rage at the complex of Wall Street, corporations and
Congress. Obama had a unique opportunity to tackle that complex …
Reich: … and he
squandered it. Obama should have put far more conditions on the banks
that received the bailouts. He should have told them: "You've got to
agree to some severe regulations like resurrecting the Glass-Steagall
Act" -- which separated investment from commercial banking -- "and
you've got to refrain from providing big bonuses for your executives."
wasn't Obama able to get his way?
administration has been too close to Wall Street. Too many Obama
administration officials have worked on Wall Street; too many are
leaving to go to Wall Street. And Wall Street is simply not attuned to
the needs of average working Americans.
This is just to tell
the few who may care that according to my brother I did not cycle 20
but 30 kilometers the day before yesterday, and he is probably right
(having spend a lot more time on the same track than I did); that I was
yesterday a bit tired but had no PEM; and that I did not mention
Phoenix Rising - which is a website for people with M.E. - yesterday
because I rarely visit it, these days.
 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.