"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."
Rights Groups Target U.S. Drone Policy as
2. Universities should ditch the talk of
investing in the
3. Who Buys the Spies? The Hidden Corporate Cash Behind
Out-of-Control National Surveillance State
4. The Triumph of the Right
5. Senate Intelligence Committee
and Head CIA Lawyer
There are five crisis
Human Rights Groups Target U.S. Drone Policy as Illegal
The first item today is by Scott Martelle on Truth Dig:
This starts as follows:
Two notable human rights
advocacy groups Tuesday took aim at the United States’ highly
controversial—and possibly illegal—use of drones in separate reports
that offered chillingly detailed looks at the effects of a foreign
policy that has killed hundreds of people, many of whom have nothing to
do with militant insurgencies.
The U.S. government has
been silent on the policy, other than to defend it in general terms.
But the two new reports suggest that the Obama administration needs to
review how it deploys and uses drones—with one eye on international
law. Amnesty International, citing
statistics compiled by Pakistani officials and nongovernmental
organizations, estimates the U.S. launched as many as 374 drone strikes
in Pakistan from 2004 to the end of last month, killing as many as 900
civilians and seriously injuring at least 600 others.
There is considerably more,
and the other group involved is Human Rights Watch.
In any case: They both are
clearly quite right - you can't kill foreigners, or indeed your own
citizens, in a foreign land without a declaration of war. Also, the use
of drones is not merely "possibly illegal": it is evidently
illegal to have your own weapons or spies in the air above another
country, to either kill its citizens or to spy.
It really is as simple as that. But it will be hard to have this
admitted by the U.S. government, and harder to have it stopped, is also
2. Universities should ditch the talk of
investing in the future
Next, an article by Simon
Jenkins in the Guardian, on the quality of British university
education, that continues and answers an earlier article on this topic,
that I dealt with, briefly, two days ago:
It starts as follows:
Money talks. After
two years of tuition fees at
£7,000-£9,000 universities are apparently rolling in cash, and
their students are demanding value for it. Universities are expected to
deliver not just education but jobs. Courses are being tailored to
"employability". Research is concentrated in the elite Russell
institutions. Now the universities minister, David Willetts, is
calling for a "cultural change" to reverse the trend of too much time going on scholarship and not enough on teaching.
Is this a new dawn in higher education, or a new darkness?
In fact, the answer is that it
is a new darkness, indeed regardless of how much time tenured
academics spend on students or research.
Here is a small part of the reasons why:
And they have not only "followed the money": they have simplified, and indeed needed
because (1) the pre-university schooling was simplified, and quite
radically, and (2) they wanted to take in more students, not because
these were qualified, but because these had to pay a lot more.
Today's students may not
realise how far this has gone, but their graduate parents might.
Contact time has declined. Essay writing has halved. Fifty years ago
two-thirds of students received oral (as well as written) feedback, now
two-thirds get none. Willetts wonders how this was ever allowed to
The answer is easy.
Willetts and his Whitehall predecessors made it happen. Universities
have become creatures of government, paid to do what government says.
Ever since Thatcher abolished the arms-length university grants
committee and eventually "nationalised" higher education in 1988, universities
have followed the money.
Anyway - Simon Jenkins has considerably more, but for me it seems fair
to say that the real universities are mostly or wholly dead, though
indeed the name and the game are going on, as if never anything
happened, the last 40 or a 100 years, except for a few "minor changes",
and for a lot more money to be paid for ever less.
O, and something else, that is triggered by the title, and holds of all
politicians and all bureaucrats that I have known (far too many):
As soon as any leading politician or bureaucrat talks about time,
whether it is the past (that generally is claimed to be "not relevant",
if only because that's when they or their cronies committed their
crimes) or the future (always the place where the most impossible
promises are being made about), they are - very probably - lying and/or
Who Buys the
Spies? The Hidden Corporate Cash
Behind America’s Out-of-Control National Surveillance State
Next, an article by Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen and Jie
Chen, who are all employed by U.S. universities, in AlterNet:
This is the first of a new
series of articles on AlterNet about what they call the New Economic
Here are two of its paragraphs, of which the first is preparatory to
What is the reason for the
facts in the second paragraph? Well, the writers did a statistical
analysis of the backers of Obama, for the last elections, and found
In early June 2013, Glen
[n - MM] Greenwald, then of the Guardian, with an assist from
journalists at The Washington Post, electrified the world
with stories drawn from documents and testimony from Edward Snowden, an
employee of Booz Allen Hamilton working under contract with the
National Security Agency, who had fled the country. They broke the news
that the U.S. government had been collecting vast amounts of
information on not only foreigners, but also American citizens. And the
U.S. had been doing this for years with the cooperation of virtually
all the leading firms in telecommunications, software, and high tech
electronics, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Verizon, and Facebook.
Sometimes the government even defrays their costs.
For most election
analysts, the revelations came like a bolt from the blue, despite a
whole series of warning signs. These included Obama’s rapid fire
decision to step up the war in Afghanistan right after he took office,
the alacrity and severity with which his administration prosecuted
national security whistleblowers after promising greater
transparency and the administration’s sweeping
claims about the government’s right to hold citizens without trial
for indefinite periods. Not to mention the Justice Department’s insistence
that killing American citizens without any kind of court hearing is
lawful, the efforts to prosecute
journalists for simply posting links to leaked documents, the
overkill that attended official responses to the Occupy movement and
protests at the national party conventions, or the White House claims
that press freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights do
not cover bloggers in an era in which everyone, including the New
York Times, uses blogs.
where the President ran especially strongly attracted our attention:
telecoms, software, web manufacturing, electronics, and computers, plus
the defense industry. His support in these industries ran far above his
average levels of support either for business as a whole or the rest of
big business. In fact, it equaled or exceeded the backing these firms
That is: Obama is and has
been doing what his backers wanted him to do. I doubt myself it is
quite as simple as this, but this seems fairly good evidence.
In any case, the article has a lot more, and also is the first of a new
Triumph of the Right
Next, an article by Robert Reich, from his blog:
This is the first article by
Reich - on his blog - since the government shutdown was lifted. He
states the reason for his title as follows:
I agree, but I must add that
part of the reason for this success, that Reich does not discuss, is
that the average level of the U.S. electorate, aka "the nation", is - I
keep it polite - not high: One can currently convince the majority of
almost anything, given enough money to write and publish the
advertisement campaign to do so.
have lost their fight over the shutdown and debt ceiling, and they
probably won’t get major spending cuts in upcoming negotiations over
But they’re winning the
big one: How the nation understands our biggest domestic problem.
They say the biggest
problem is the size of government and the budget deficit.
In fact our biggest
problem is the decline of the middle class and increasing ranks of the
poor, while almost all the economic gains go to the top.
And that really is a considerable problem, for which I also do
not see any acceptable shortterm solution. (And yes, it is more or less
the same elsewhere, in other countries, though there the myths,
delusions, lies and destractions may be different. It certainly is the
case in Holland.)
5. Senate Intelligence
Committee and Head CIA Lawyer Admit Torture Was Unnecessary
Finally, an article on Washington's Blog:
This starts as follows - and
the bolding and coloring are in the original:
A Devastating and Secret Report By The Senate Intelligence
Committee Documents In Detail How The C.I.A.’s Brutalization of Terror
Suspects During The Bush Years Was Unnecessary, Ineffective, and
Deceptively Sold To Congress, The White House, The Justice Department,
and The Public.
harms our national security
2. Torture is unnecessary
to break hardened terrorists
3. Torture is unnecessary
even in a “ticking time bomb” situation
4. The “enhanced”
interrogation techniques were aimed at producing false
5. Torture did not
provide valuable details regarding 9/11
6. Many innocent
people were tortured
The Senate Intelligence
Committee and the CIA’s top lawyer, Stephen W. Preston (who has
just been confirmed to act as the Pentagon’s top lawyer) seem to agree
with substantial portions of what critics of the torture program have
been saying for years.
There is considerably more
under the last dotted link.
 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.