25, 2013
Crisis: NSA, Germany & France, Stop Watching, "terrorism", Lightbeam
  "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. NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official
       handed over contacts

  2. Germany and France demand talks with US over NSA
       spying revelations

  3. Stop Watching Us
  4. Proof that NSA Spying Is Not Very Focused On Terrorism
  5. Mozilla's Lightbeam tool will expose who is looking over
       your shoulder on the web
About ME/CFS


There are five items today, that were gathered and produced a bit earlier than is usual, and they all deal with the NSA, although the last one does so only very indirectly, for it is about a new addon for Firefox, that traces who is tracing you (and does so in Firefox, on a desktop computer).

I would guess that today's video, in item 3, is the most interesting, and you should definitely watch it: it is well done and only a few minutes.

1.  NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts

The first article today is by James Ball in the Guardian:

This starts as follows (under a picture I don't reproduce):

The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its "customer" departments, such as the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their "Rolodexes" so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems.

The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately "tasked" for monitoring by the NSA.

The revelation is set to add to mounting diplomatic tensions between the US and its allies, after the German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday accused the US of tapping her mobile phone.

There is considerably more, that I skip, but I quote the end, to show Snowden's revelations changed something:

The leader of Germany's Green party, Katrin Goring-Eckhart, called the alleged spying an "unprecedented breach of trust" between the two countries.

Earlier in the week, Obama called the French president François Hollande in response to reports in Le Monde that the NSA accessed more than 70m phone records of French citizens in a single 30-day period, while earlier reports in Der Spiegel uncovered NSA activity against the offices and communications of senior officials of the European Union.

The European Commission, the executive body of the EU, this week backed proposals that could require US tech companies to seek permission before handing over EU citizens' data to US intelligence agencies, while the European parliament voted in favour of suspending a transatlantic bank data sharing agreement after Der Spiegel revealed the agency was monitoring the international bank transfer system Swift.

That is something, but I do want to insist that my own main worry is not the spying the NSA does on political leaders, although I reject that as well, but the spying it does on hundreds of millions of ordinary US, French, and German citizens and firms. (And see item 3!)

That is, I do not consider it a big step forward at all if I were to learn that, say from next year on, the Western leaders are not being spied upon, all by special Obama-Clapper-Alexander consent. In fact, that would only aggravate the problem.

2.  Germany and France demand talks with US over NSA spying revelations

Next, another article in the Guardian, by Sam Jones and James Ball:
This starts under a picture of Merkel and Hollande holding hands:

The French and German governments have demanded talks with the US by the end of the year as the row over the spying activities of the US National Security Agency intensifies.

Their calls follow reports that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, had her phone monitored by the NSA and reports that the agency eavesdropped on calls made by members of the French administration.

The revelations are threatening to create a major rift between the US and its European allies. The former Belgian prime minister and leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that such activities had to be curtailled. "There is no reason to spy on Angela Merkel. It's a real scandal," he said. "A new agreement is needed between the EU and the US; this cannot continue.

Again there is considerably more, and I could also repeat the last note I made, but I will reproduce neither.

3. Stop Watching Us

Next, something I found on Common Dreams and take over:
It starts thus:
A new star-studded, anti-NSA video from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, just in time for the largest rally yet against mass surveillance slated for Saturday, the 12th anniversary of the signing of the Patriot Act. Organized by over 100 public advocacy groups, the event will feature the delivery of over a half-million petitions to Congress to remind them they work for us.
And this is the video, which is quite good:

Proof that NSA Spying Is Not Very Focused On Terrorism

Next, an item from Washington's Blog:
This has the following subtitle and start (and the bolding and coloring and links are in the orignal:

Power, Money and Crushing Dissent Are Real Motives

The NSA not only spied on the leaders of Germany, Brazil and Mexico, but  on at least 35 world leaders.

The Guardian reports:

One unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately “tasked” for monitoring by the NSA.

That’s just one incident we know about.   The NSA also spies on the European Union, the European Parliament,  the G20 summit and other allies.

Yes indeed: It is not about "terrorism", although it is itself state terrorism, directed against its own population (if perhaps by another secret service, to diminish the legal risks).

And here is the end:

Governments who spy on their own population always do it to crush dissent. (Why do you think that the NSA is doing exactly the same thing which King George did to the American colonists … which led to the Revolutionary War?)

Of course, if even half of what a NSA whistleblower Russel Tice says – that (and see this) – then things are really out of whack.

Incidentally, the actual name is Russell D. Tice, and the last link is to the Wikipedia article. And no, I do not see any reason to distrust him.

Mozilla's Lightbeam tool will expose who is looking over your shoulder on the web

Finally, here is a link to an article by Adam Sherwin in the Independent:
This starts as follows:

Just who is looking over your shoulder when you browse the Internet? Tomorrow, web users will be given a new tool to shine a light on the commercial organisations which track your every movement online.

Lightbeam, a download produced by Mozilla, the US free software community behind the popular Firefox browser, claims to be a “watershed” moment in the battle for web transparency.

Everyone who browses the Internet leaves a digital trail used by advertisers to discover what your interests are.

Users who activate Lightbeam will be able to see a real-time visualisation of every site they visit and every third-party that is active on those sites, including commercial organisations which might potentially be sharing your data.

Mozilla wants users who install the Lightbeam add-on to Firefox, to crowd-source their data, to produce the first “big picture” view of web tracking, revealing which third-parties are most active.

Lightbeam promises a “Wizard of Oz” moment for the web, “where users collectively provide a way to pull back the curtains to see its inner workings,” Mozilla claimed. 

There is considerably more, but since I am using the latest GNU/Linux.Ubuntu, that uses Firefox, I have downloaded it, and can report it works, and looks OK.

I do think this is an advance, though I doubt it will do much or anything about the NSA spying, since I was aware of all that Lightbeam shows, indeed through other Addons.

But this is a good Addon, and all I should add is that, at least now, you'll need a recent Firefox to install and run it, and it runs only on desktop computers.


[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)

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