"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. Boris Johnson: royal
charter on press regulation is
2. New York Times says UK tried to get it to
3. Who should judge whether
Snowden's leaked secrets
are too sensitive
4. GCHQ accused of monitoring
privileged emails between
lawyers and clients
5. GCHQ mass surveillance putting
right to challenge state
at risk, say
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
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.)
Boris Johnson: royal charter on press regulation is
The first item today is by
Josh Halliday in the Guardian, reporting on the mayor of London's
This starts as follows - and
be reminded Johnson once was a journalist himself:
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
"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."
Quite so, and there's more,
that you'll have to find yourself.
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
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.
2. New York Times says UK tried to get it
to hand over
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:
There also is this:
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.
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.
Incidentally, these are both quoted from one of two articles, of which
the real interview is here:
This I leave to you.
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
In fact, he starts as follows:
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).
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
The official answer is that
we should trust the security agencies themselves.
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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:
There is rather a lot more
there, and it has this ending (with one paragraph suppressed):
The Law Society is
considering issuing new guidance to solicitors across
England and Wales amid growing concern that the government's mass
operations are undermining their ability to take legal cases against
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."
Yes, indeed - and it is not
just "cloud-based services": It is any services rendered by any
computers that are connected to the internet.
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."
6. Secret FISA Court Extends NSA Phone
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...
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
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:
I do not know, but he may well
be right. What he is right about - in my opinion - is this:
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
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.
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.
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...)
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.)
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
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:
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
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:
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
- 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.
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
and many want to prescribe me
and anyone else what to think and to feel.
 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.