"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."
NSA Is Most Dangerous Because No Oversight
2. UK's top prosecutor defends journalists
who break law
in public interest
3. Borderless US Drone War an Affront to Intl Law: UN
4. The Democrats Can’t Defend
the Country from the
5. Do We Sleep to Clean Our
There wasn't very
much on the crisis today, but I did find four files, and
I added a
brief fifth one on a discovery about sleep, that I've had very serious
problems with, in three periods that each lasted at least a year, and
collectively about eight years.
Also, this happens to be the 300th crisis file I wrote since September
1, 2008. (That file is in Dutch, as were the first 81 in the
series: by the end of 2010 I wrote in English.)
Snowden: NSA Is Most Dangerous Because No Oversight Exists
Actually, this first file
is somewhat of a repeat of yesterday, but this is by a different source
- Jon Queally on Common Dreams - and the main difficulty, for me, is
that since I do not pay to get the NYT, I can't read the original:
I merely quote the
Again, from the Times:
Mr. Snowden added that
inside the spy agency “there’s a lot of dissent — palpable with some,
even.” But he said that people were kept in line through “fear and a
false image of patriotism,” which he described as “obedience to
He said he believed
that if he tried to question the N.S.A.’s surveillance operations as an
insider, his efforts “would have been buried forever,” and he would
“have been discredited and ruined.” He said that “the system does not
work,” adding that “you have to report wrongdoing to those most
responsible for it.”
Indeed - and of course
Obama knows that.
2. UK's top prosecutor defends journalists
who break law in
Next, an interview with the outgoing (!) top prosecutor in
the UK, Keir
Starmer, by Zoe Williams and Nick Hopkins in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
This is pleasant, since it
shows Snowden is being taken seriously, although I should also note
that (1) the DPP is going out (quite regularly) (2) was named "Keir"
after Labour Party politician Keir Hardie, and (3) he wrote some books
(which I list because that is quite rare).
Britain's most senior
prosecutor has launched a robust defence of journalists who break the
law pursuing investigations that have a genuine public interest. Legal guidelines had been drafted, he said, to protect
Starmer, the director of public prosecutions (DPP), insisted it
"would be very unhealthy if you had a situation where a journalist felt
that they needed to go to their lawyer before they pursued any lead or
asked any question".
In an interview with the
Guardian, Starmer said: "We've got to recognise that in the course of
journalism, journalists will rub up against the criminal law and that
is why, in our guidelines, we took the approach that we would assess
where there was evidence of a criminal offence, whether the public
interest in what the journalist was trying to achieve outweighed the
Starmer spoke at the end of
another week in which the furore over the leaks from the whistleblower Edward
Snowden has reverberated around Westminster.
And I am not being snide or critical: I like this news, and I also like
some other things he said, that you can find yourself via the last
dotted link, but quite a lot more needs to be done,
indeed mostly not by the DPP.
US Drone War an Affront to Intl Law: UN Expert
Next, an article on Common Dreams by its staff
This starts as follows:
carried out by U.S. drones—that have killed countless civilians and
remain hidden behind an 'unacceptable' veil of secrecy—may be in
violation of international law, UN special rapporteur on human rights
and counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson declared in a damning 24-page
report released Friday.
Emmerson's statements add
to a chorus of international voices expressing concern about the rising
use of weaponized drones, including a report
released Thursday by Christof Heyns, the UN's special rapporteur on
extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, citing far-reaching
harm to civilians with no accountability.
Emmerson's report offers
a chilling account of drone strikes in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya,
Somalia, Pakistan and Gaza, documenting numerous incidents of civilian
deaths at the hands of U.S. attacks and other world powers.
Having just returned from
Islamabad, Pakistan, he explains that the Pakistan ministry of foreign
affairs has documented over 330 drone strikes since 2002 that have
killed 2,200 people, 400 of them civilians.
Indeed, if you are really
serious about this, you download the 24-page
report - but, whether you do or do not, my own position is that it
is clearly "in violation of international law", to send
unmanned planes to other nations, that one is not at war with, to spy
and/or to blow up some of their people.
Also, while I welcome this
report, I think the main problem is with the US administration, who
basically just don't care, and who can persist in droning others
because they want to and can do so, and no other nation has the
effective power to stop them.
There is more under the
link, including an interesting quotation, but the main problem seems to
me to be that, however much others may agree that the US is breaking
the law, no one is capable of enforcing the law in their case.
4. The Democrats
Can’t Defend the Country from the Retrograde
As the last crisis-related item, here is a bit by Ralph Nader:
This starts as follows:
Nader gives his own answer,
that starts with
The Congress, that polls
show the American people would like to replace in its entirety, has
“kicked the can down the road” again, putting off the government
shutdown until January 15th and another debt ceiling showdown until
The polls also show,
convincingly, that people blame the stubborn Republicans more than the
Democrats for the adverse effects of the impasse on workers, public
health, safety, consumer spending, recreational parks and government
There is another story
about how all this gridlock came to be, fronted by the question: “Why
didn’t the Democrats landslide the cruelest, most ignorant,
big-business-indentured Republican Party in its history during the 2010
and 2012 Congressional elections? (See The
Do Nothing Congress: A Record of Extremism and Partisanship)
First and most
obvious is that the Democrats are dialing for the same commercial
campaign dollars (..)
and while I agree with this
and other things he says, he does not discuss one of the factors that
do seem quite relevant - and I formulate it politely: The lack of
intelligence of most of the US electorate.
But I do agree with his title - which is sad enough.
5. Do We Sleep to Clean Our Brains?
Finally, an item that is not part of my crisis-reporting
(of which the present file is the 300th, since September 1,
2008), but that I found rather interesting, precisely because I have
had quite serious problems with sleeping:
The article is not long, and
scientists think they’ve discovered the function of sleep: to clear
molecular buildup in the brain in what Guardian science reporter Ian
Sample calls a “rubbish disposal service.”
There also is a quotation from
Then again, there are several
warnings to the effect that mice are not men, and that this is a first
study, which is all true, but I like the explanation, also because I
know of no reasons to assume that the differences between mice and men
are relevant, while both kinds of animals do need to sleep.
Maiken Nedergaard, who
led the study at the University of Rochester, said the discovery might
explain why sleep is crucial for all living organisms. “I think we have
discovered why we sleep,” Nedergaard said. “We sleep to clean our
Writing in the journal
Science, Nedergaard describes how brain cells in mice shrank when they
slept, making the space between them on average 60% greater. This made
the cerebral spinal fluid in the animals’ brains flow ten times faster
than when the mice were awake.
The scientists then
checked how well mice cleared toxins from their brains by injecting
traces of proteins that are implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. These
amyloid beta proteins were removed faster from the brains of sleeping
mice, they found.
Also, as to my interest in sleep:
I had no sleeping problems until I fell ill with ME/CFS, since
when I always did have some problems, because I am
usually in some pain, which makes falling asleep considerably more
difficult, and waking up easier, and I got serious problems during three
First, in the early 80ies, when I had accepted a house
in Amsterdam, and had as my neighbour a truly completely mad person,
who soon tried to keep my ex and me awake, by playing opera in the
night, which kept me out of sleep for more than two years; second,
in the late eighties, when I lived in a house with four terraces of
cafés and of the drugsdealer below me, within 10-15 meters of my house,
that kept me awake till after 2 o'clock, after which I usually was
woken up around 8 by traffic and by the unloading of new metal beerkegs
for one of the cafés; and third, the period from June 2012 till
the end of Agust 2013, when I slept between 4 and 6 1/2 hours, on
average, because of keratoconjunctivitis
sicca (plus ME/CFS).
So for me that is, collectively, around 8 years of chronically
too little sleep, though I should also say that from May
1993 till May 2012, although I was ill all of that time, I did sleep
mostly well, with pills to be sure, that are needed to get through the
pain, simply because I live in a fairly pleasant and quite quiet place
and street, at long last, and I am also not bothered by my neighbors.
Finally, the reason to write this out is that, at least in the first
two periods of far too little sleep, it is quite clear who was
responsible: the city of Amsterdam, and its mayor and aldermen
and bureaucrats, that did absolutely nothing, even though they
also knew that forcing a person to be chronically without sleep is a
form of torture, and they also know, since 1991, that my whole
situation has become considerably worse, ever since the second
period of some four years of too little sleep.
And that worsening, which was quite considerable, lasted over
20 years now.
 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.