14, 2013
Crisis: Johnson, NYT, who judges, GHCQ * 2, NSA, 500, Empire, Truthdiggers, feminism
  "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.

  1. Boris Johnson: royal charter on press regulation is
       monstrous folly

  2. New York Times says UK tried to get it to hand over
       Snowden documents
  3. Who should judge whether Snowden's leaked secrets
       are too sensitive to report?

  4. GCHQ accused of monitoring privileged emails between
       lawyers and clients

  5. GCHQ mass surveillance putting right to challenge state
       at risk, say lawyers
  6. Secret FISA Court Extends NSA Phone Spying
  7. 500 people will control American democracy
  8. The Folly of Empire
  9. Truthdiggers of the Week: Editors and Reporters of The

10. How feminism became capitalism's handmaiden - and
       how to reclaim it
About ME/CFS


There's more on the crisis today, and if we include the last item, the reports today got into double numbers. Then again, the last item I inserted mostly as a follow-up to the last two days on and around Henry Miller, that are not part of reporting the crisis. (Also, it does me some personal good to see that, after 36 years (!), a post-postmodern feminist, implies I may have been right.)

Also, I remark once more that I do not make my titles, at least not normally: I copy them, provided they remain within two lines in the format I use, for else I shorten them. (And I do not like special sizes for titles, and never did - at least not in html.)

1.  Boris Johnson: royal charter on press regulation is monstrous folly

The first item today is by Josh Halliday in the Guardian, reporting on the mayor of London's opinions:

This starts as follows - and be reminded Johnson once was a journalist himself:

Boris Johnson has urged newspapers to boycott the government's proposed royal charter on press regulation, branding the exercise a "monstrous folly".

The mayor of London used his Daily Telegraph column on Monday to warn that the government was "on the verge of eroding the freedom of the press" and that any new regulation was pointless.

In a move that sets him on a collision course with the culture secretary, Maria Miller, Johnson said: "Good for Fraser Nelson. It strikes me that he is 100% right. The editor of the Spectator has announced that his ancient and illustrious publication will have nothing whatever to do with any new system of press regulation.

"He will neither bow nor truckle to any kind of control. He will not 'sign up'. He will politely tell the new bossyboots institution to mind its own beeswax, and he will continue to publish without fear or favour.

"I think the whole of the media should do the same. Stuff all this malarkey about the privy council and a royal charter."

There's more:

In his Telegraph column, Johnson warned that the new body backed by the privy council was pointless and "wrong in principle". He wrote: "We have no need of some new body backed by statute, or the privy council, and it is wrong in principle. You either have a free press or you don't.

"You can't sell the pass, and admit the principle of regulation – because it is in the nature of regulation that it swells and grows. You can't be a little bit pregnant."

Johnson also backed the Guardian's disclosure of National Security Agency surveillance secrets obtained from the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

"We need someone to tell us that we are all being spied on by the American security services – that strikes me as being an invaluable bit of news, if hardly surprising," he said.

Quite so, and there's more, that you'll have to find yourself.

2.  New York Times says UK tried to get it to hand over Snowden documents

Next, more attempted regulation of the press by the government, in the form of an article by Ed Pilkington in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The editor of the New York Times, Jill Abramson, has confirmed that senior British officials attempted to persuade her to hand over secret documents leaked by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Giving the newspaper's first official comments on the incident, Abramson said that she was approached by the UK embassy in Washington after it was announced that the New York Times was collaborating with the Guardian to explore some of the files disclosed by Snowden. Among the files are several relating to the activities of GCHQ, the agency responsible for signals interception in the UK.

"They were hopeful that we would relinquish any material that we might be reporting on, relating to Edward Snowden. Needless to say I considered what they told me, and said no," Abramson told the Guardian in an interview to mark the International Herald Tribune's relaunch as the International New York Times.

The incident shows the lengths to which the UK government has gone to try to discourage press coverage of the Snowden leaks.
There also is this:
In both the US and Britain, Abramson argued, "there's a war on terror being waged in the name of the public, and the public has a right to have information about it. That's critical. The Guardian as well as the New York Times are providing a very valuable service, allowing people to decide for themselves whether the intelligence agencies are being too intrusive in their data collection.
Quite so.

Incidentally, these are both quoted from one of two articles, of which the real interview is here:
This I leave to you.

3. Who should judge whether Snowden's leaked secrets are too sensitive to report?

Next, an article by Nick Davies, also in the Guardian, who asks the following question:
In fact, he starts as follows:

In the last few days, two national newspapers – the Times and the Mail – have suggested that the Guardian has been wrong to publish material leaked by Edward Snowden on the specific grounds that journalists cannot be trusted to judge what may damage national security.

Ignore for a moment the vexing sight of journalists denouncing their own worth. Set aside too the question of why rival newspapers might want to attack the Guardian's exclusives. Follow the argument. Who should make the judgment?

The official answer is that we should trust the security agencies themselves.
And that official answer, and indeed the positions of the Times and the Mail, are  dishonest to the extent that they are plainly insane if honest (from which I infer, knowing logic, that they are not honest Brits).

There's also this, that I copy because I like it:
I spent most of June with a handful of colleagues in a secure and airless room in the Guardian combing through GCHQ documents provided by Snowden. We did so knowing that the pressure to avoid damaging national security was not only moral but political, that the security agencies and their political friends were poised to attack our work with their standard smear – that we were aiding the enemy. So we were careful. Repeatedly, we disclosed the outline but held back the detail. We had specialist reporters to advise us, and they in turn took advice from specialist outsiders. We talked to the government and invited it to show us if we were in danger of causing harm: it puffed and protested but failed (as they continue to fail) to come up with a single example of our making a dangerous disclosure. Its greatest angst was reserved for the possibility that we might name the phone companies that have allowed GCHQ to tap into the transatlantic telecoms cables – nothing to do with damaging national security, everything to do with protecting the companies from accountability to their customers.
Quite so - and note the very low level of the government's responses: They could not  find any breach of confidential information, but insisted on keeping their collaborating companies safe from any criticism.

4. GCHQ accused of monitoring privileged emails between lawyers and clients

Next, on a related theme, here is an article by Owen Bowcott, who is the Guardian's legal affairs correspondent:

This starts as follows:

GCHQ is probably intercepting legally privileged communications between lawyers and their clients, according to a detailed claim filed on behalf of eight Libyans involved in politically sensitive compensation battles with the UK.

The accusation has been lodged with Britain's most secret court, the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT), which examines complaints about the intelligence services and government use of covert surveillance. Most of its hearings are in private.

The allegation has emerged in the wake of the Guardian's revelations about extensive monitoring by GCHQ of the internet and telephone calls, chiefly through its Tempora programme.

The system taps directly into fibre optic cables carrying the bulk of online exchanges transiting the UK and enables intelligence officials to screen vast quantities of data.

There is rather a lot more, but it all has to be careful and restrained, while GCHQ can do, in secret, as it pleases. Besides, I also do not think "Britain's most secret court" can be trusted: I just do not trust secret courts, for real justice is done in public.

5. GCHQ mass surveillance putting right to challenge state at risk, say lawyers

Next, yet another item on the GCHQ, this time by Matthew Taylor and Nick Hopkins, again in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The Law Society is considering issuing new guidance to solicitors across England and Wales amid growing concern that the government's mass online surveillance operations are undermining their ability to take legal cases against the state.

Lawyers representing people who make serious complaints against the police, army or security services fear the industrial-scale collection of email and phone messages revealed by the Guardian over the past four months is threatening the confidential relationship between them and their clients, jeopardising a crucial plank of the criminal justice system.

"These are absolutely fundamental issues," said Shamik Dutta, from Bhatt Murphy lawyers in London. "The NSA revelations are having a chilling effect on the way a crucial part of the justice system operates. Individuals who are making serious allegations of wrongdoing against the state are becoming increasingly concerned about whether the information they share with their lawyers will remain confidential."

There is rather a lot more there, and it has this ending (with one paragraph suppressed):

Professor Ross Anderson, a cybersecurity expert at Cambridge University, told the Guardian the Snowden revelations were causing a crisis in the IT industry as lawyers, academics, doctors and engineers realise they might be snooped on. "How will the Prism affair affect ordinary middle-class people in Britain?" he said. "Surely we're of no interest to the analysts at the NSA? Yet some of our patients and clients surely will be."


"It's time for the British Medical Association, Law Society, Bar Council and other professional bodies to start thinking about the ethics of using cloud-based services for confidential client information."

Yes, indeed - and it is not just "cloud-based services": It is any services rendered by any computers that are connected to the internet.

6.  Secret FISA Court Extends NSA Phone Spying

Then there is this, for all fans of that honest James Clapper, who may lie under oath, it seems, because he is the chief of the spies:

This starts as follows:

The secretive U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has approved a request made by the National Security Agency (NSA) to continue its dragnet collection of records on all U.S. phone calls.

In what it claimed to be move for transparency, the office of the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made the announcement late Friday.

And of course it was a secret court's secret decision...

7. 500 people will control American democracy

This is from Democracy Now!:

It is about the following:
The U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to strike down most of the remaining limits on massive spending by wealthy donors on political campaigns. On Tuesday, justices heard arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which has been referred to as "the next Citizens United." Republican leaders and wealthy GOP donor Shaun McCutcheon wants the Supreme Court to throw out aggregate limits on individual contributions in a single two-year cycle, saying they violate free speech. "If these advocate limitations go down, 500 people will control American democracy. It would be 'government for the 500 people,' not for anybody else — and that’s the risk," says Burt Neuborne, law professor and founding legal director of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School.
That is to say in Senator Bernie Sanders' words:
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: The bottom line here is that if we do not want to move this nation to an oligarchic form of society, where a handful of billionaires can determine the outcome of these elections, then it is imperative not only that we overturn Citizens United, but that we put a lid on how much people can contribute in elections. Freedom of speech, in my view, does not mean the freedom to buy the United States government.
Personally, I would not be amazed if the Supreme Court hands over everything to be controlled by the richest few, namely because they already did so repeatedly - but we shall see.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link.

The Folly of Empire

Next, another piece by Chris Hedges in Truth Dig:
This starts as follows - and you should realize that Chris Hedges believes that the collapse of civilization is near:

The final days of empire give ample employment and power to the feckless, the insane and the idiotic. These politicians and court propagandists, hired to be the public faces on the sinking ship, mask the real work of the crew, which is systematically robbing the passengers as the vessel goes down. The mandarins of power stand in the wheelhouse barking ridiculous orders and seeing how fast they can gun the engines. They fight like children over the ship’s wheel as the vessel heads full speed into a giant ice field. They wander the decks giving pompous speeches. They shout that the SS America is the greatest ship ever built. They insist that it has the most advanced technology and embodies the highest virtues. And then, with abrupt and unexpected fury, down we will go into the frigid waters.

The last days of empire are carnivals of folly. We are in the midst of our own, plunging forward as our leaders court willful economic and environmental self-destruction.
I do not know, but he may well be right. What he is right about - in my opinion - is this:
Culture and literacy, in the final stage of decline, are replaced with noisy diversions and empty clichés. (...) Political life has fused into celebrity worship. Education is primarily vocational. Intellectuals are cast out and despised. Artists cannot make a living. Few people read books. Thought has been banished, especially at universities and colleges, where timid pedants and careerists churn out academic drivel.
But as I said before: These tendencies are, in Holland, at least 35 years old, and indeed have been progressing and taking over things for 35 years. Also, my own thought about this is mostly that people either have wanted it to be that way or are too stupid for real civilization, on average, or both - and I see no defense against that. ("Against stupidity even the Gods battle in vain" - Schiller.)

In any case, it is a good if also a quite pessimistic piece.

9. Truthdiggers of the Week: Editors and Reporters of The Guardian

Then we have Alexander Reed Kelley assign the award of "Truthdiggers of the Week", on Truth Dig:

He writes a two page article on them, which I leave to you, except for two items.

The first item is this: I read with a bit of amazement Kelly's question:
How can a prominent paper doing political reporting openly espouse a moral agenda?
This probably is a sign of my age, but I'd say that all political reporting, whatever it is, and whoever does it, is based on some sort of moral agenda, that indeed may be quite mistaken - for, after all a moral agenda is nothing but a set of values, and such a set is required to make any decision. And no, when I mention my age, I do not mean that I am demented or fear I may be soon: I mean that people younger than me generally have received a much worse and much more relativistic "education".

And the second item is this, that I select because I did the same, though not at 15 but (let me see, for I still have these four books...) at 28:

All some readers will need to know about Rusbridger is that he credits his decision to become a journalist to the experience of reading all four volumes of George Orwell’s collected writings at age 15.
I strongly recommend anybody else to do the same. (And if you're rushed for time: The last two are the best. But you should read all.)

10. How feminism became capitalism's handmaiden - and how to reclaim it

Finally, a sort of extra, that continues the earlier two bits I wrote yesterday and the day before on Henry Miller and Erica Jong, in which I vented some of my anger about the feminists I have known. This gets support, these days, to be sure, by a woman who calls herself a feminist (that is the first she does), namely Nancy Fraser, who writes in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:
As a feminist, I've always assumed that by fighting to emancipate women I was building a better world – more egalitarian, just and free. But lately I've begun to worry that ideals pioneered by feminists are serving quite different ends. I worry, specifically, that our critique of sexism is now supplying the justification for new forms of inequality and exploitation.
This is not precisely clear - "new forms of inequality and exploitation" ?! - nor is it well written, but it corresponds with my own thoughts, except that these are thoughts from the 1970ies (that never really changed since then, except that I did get more pessimistic seeing there are so very few - men and women - who can think rationally, and who like to do so, and who informed themselves).

She also says:
Where feminists once criticised a society that promoted careerism, they now advise women to "lean in". A movement that once prioritised social solidarity now celebrates female entrepreneurs. A perspective that once valorised "care" and interdependence now encourages individual advancement and meritocracy.
That is so - but again: I saw the same already in the 1970ies, when lots of feminists (or so they claimed, and indeed it were their heydays, and there hardly was a Dutch female student who said she was not "a feminist") were firmly convinced that I was "a fascist" only because I said I did not feel much inspired by Marx, for at that time most "feminists" also pretended to be "marxists" - whereas I, having real Marxist parents, who were heroes of the communist resistance, and with a father and a grandfather convicted to the concentration camp by collaborating Dutch judges duriong WW II, had given up on Marx in 1970, after reading a lot by him and by others - and I also did not want to explain my stances and choices, because I knew most "Marxists" only pretended to be Marxists, and I believed they would not understand me, while I also detested their groupwise bullying of others.

In any case, as I have to put it in my own words, because Fraser writes like a feminist, and quoting her and correcting that would take too much space and time:

She seems to contend that:
  • the feminist critique of the "family wage" was nonsense -
    as indeed it was, for what they wanted to replace it with, and - to an extent - succeeded in replacing it with, was two wage-slaves per one family instead of just one;
  • the feminist focusing on "gender identity" was nonsense -
    as indeed it was, for there is very much more to men and women than their genital apparatuses, and to reduce their conflicts to that opposition only helped obscurantists, managers, and fools (and was bound to solve nothing at all: it is Mother Nature);
  • the feminist critique of the "nanny state" was nonsense -
    as indeed it was, for it served libertarian destructions of those portions of the state and the laws that protect and help individuals.
And now she suggests, after more than 35 years of the above nonsense, that "feminists" may undo this. Personally, I think they will not, but I am glad Nancy Fraser got as far as she got, intellectually speaking. But again: I was there 35 and more years ago, and all that I learned from Dutch feminists is that I am "a fascist", "a terrorist", and a "male pig", and not because of anything that I said, except that I was not a marxist, but because they were in vast majority, in the university I attended, and could scream at minorities whatever they wanted, and often did.

But indeed it is not just the feminists:

The human problem that I see, and saw from my  teens, and see e.g. my
"Human Stupidity Is Destroying the World", is that so very few people are rational, and so few people have read anything decent (and I mean here books like these), whereas nearly all of them believe the most blaring propaganda or public relations bullshit and many want to prescribe me and anyone else what to think and to feel.



[1] 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 Greenwald:
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. 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)

       home - index - summaries - mail