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Nederlog


  October
27, 2013
Crisis: Washington rally, Congressional oversight, NSA surveillance, Democrats
  "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.











Sections
Introduction
  1.  Thousands gather in Washington for anti-NSA 'Stop
        Watching Us' rally

  2.  Congressional Oversight of the NSA Is a Joke. I Should
        Know, I'm in Congress

  3.  NSA surveillance: Merkel's phone may have been
        monitored 'for over 10 years'

  4.  The Democrat’s Version of Health Insurance Would
        Have Been Cheaper
...
  5.  Personal
About ME/CFS

Introduction

There are four items related to the crisis today, as outlined above and in the title, and there also is a fifth section in which I explain a little about my plans, but without making any commitment.

1.  Thousands gather in Washington for anti-NSA 'Stop Watching Us' rally

The first of today's articles is by Jim Newell, in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Thousands gathered by the Capitol reflection pool in Washington on Saturday to march, chant, and listen to speakers and performers as part of Stop Watching Us, a gathering to protest "mass surveillance" under NSA programs first disclosed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Billed by organizers as "the largest rally yet to protest mass surveillance", Stop Watching Us was sponsored by an unusually broad coalition of left- and right-wing groups, including everything from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Green Party, Color of Change and Daily Kos to the Libertarian Party, FreedomWorks and Young Americans for Liberty.

I should say immediately that (i) I find "Thousands gather" rather disappointing and (ii) I also had expected to be disappointed.

There is quite a bit more, but I'll leave that to you.


2.  Congressional Oversight of the NSA Is a Joke. I Should Know, I'm in Congress

Next, an article by Congressman Alan Grayson that I found on Common Dreams, but is also in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
In the 1970s, Congressman Otis Pike of New York chaired a special congressional committee to investigate abuses by the American so-called "intelligence community" – the spies. After the investigation, Pike commented:

It took this investigation to convince me that I had always been told lies, to make me realize that I was tired of being told lies.

I'm tired of the spies telling lies, too.

Pike's investigation initiated one of the first congressional oversight debates for the vast and hidden collective of espionage agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Agency (NSA). Before the Pike Commission, Congress was kept in the dark about them – a tactic designed to thwart congressional deterrence of the sometimes illegal and often shocking activities carried out by the "intelligence community". Today, we are seeing a repeat of this professional voyeurism by our nation's spies, on an unprecedented and pervasive scale.

Quite so, but not many seem to care. Also, the US representatives are very badly informed:
Despite being a member of Congress possessing security clearance, I've learned far more about government spying on me and my fellow citizens from reading media reports than I have from "intelligence" briefings.
Besides, they are systematically and intentionally kept in the dark:

I've requested classified information, and further meetings with NSA officials. The House Intelligence Committee has refused to provide either. Supporters of the NSA's vast ubiquitous domestic spying operation assure the public that members of Congress can be briefed on these activities whenever they want. Senator Saxby Chambliss says all a member of Congress needs to do is ask for information, and he'll get it. Well I did ask, and the House Intelligence Committee said "no", repeatedly. And virtually every other member not on the Intelligence Committee gets the same treatment.

And also:
There is no legal justification for imparting secret knowledge about the NSA's domestic surveillance activities only to the 20 members of the House Intelligence Committee. Moreover, how can the remaining 415 of us do our job properly, when we're kept in the dark – or worse, misinformed?
Grayson also asks, quite justifiedly:
And why do Generals Alexander and Clapper remain in office, when all the evidence points to them committing the felony of lying to Congress and the American people?
Finally, he ends on what reads like poetry:
As it is now constituted, the House Intelligence Committee will never decry, deny, or defy any spy. They see eye-to-eye, so they turn a blind eye. Which means that if we rely on them, we can kiss our liberty good-bye.
I agree.

3.  NSA surveillance: Merkel's phone may have been monitored 'for over 10 years' 

Next, an article in the Guardian, by Kevin Rawlinson:
This starts as follows - though I should remark myself first that (1) I am not very much interested in whether Europe's top politicians are spied upon, because (2) I am mostly interested in the mass spying, which I think is illegal and reprehensible while (3) this also may be - and seems at present is - a rumor.

New claims emerged last night over the extent that US intelligence agencies have been monitoring the mobile phone of Angela Merkel. The allegations were made after German secret service officials were already preparing to travel to Washington to seek explanations into the alleged surveillance of its chancellor.

A report in Der Spiegel said Merkel's mobile number had been listed by the NSA's Special Collection Service (SCS) since 2002 and may have been monitored for more than 10 years. It was still on the list – marked as "GE Chancellor Merkel" – weeks before President Barack Obama visited Berlin in June.

There is considerably more, but I only quote this:
Germany and Brazil are spearheading efforts at the UN to protect the privacy of electronic communications. Diplomats from the two countries, which have both been targeted by the NSA, are leading efforts by a coalition of nations to draft a UN general assembly resolution calling for the right to privacy on the internet. Although non-binding, the resolution would be one of the strongest condemnations of US snooping to date.
For more, use the latest dotted link.

4. The Democrat’s Version of Health Insurance Would Have Been Cheaper...

The last article, with a very long title, is by Robert Reich:
This starts as follows:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says Republicans will seek to delay a requirement of the 2010 Affordable Care Act that all Americans obtain health insurance or face a tax penalty. ”With so many unanswered questions and the problems arising around this rollout, it doesn’t make any sense to impose this one percent mandate tax on the American people.”

While Republicans plot new ways to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, it’s easy to forget that for years they’ve been arguing that any comprehensive health insurance system be designed exactly like the one that officially began October 1st, glitches and all.
After which Reich summarizes the history, going back to Nixon, and explains that what is implemented now as "Obamacare" in fact is the Republican plan, and that the reason the present day Republicans object to it is that it is by Obama.

And in any case: the U.S. health care is much more expensive and considerably worse than
health care has been in Europe since many decades.

5.  Personal

I have been saying I will change the reporting on the crisis. Here is a little clarification.

The main reason to want to make some changes is that I have been doing nearly only crisis reports since the beginning of June, for nearly 5 months now, and while I think the plans of the NSA are extremely bad, quite illegal, and very dangerous, my reporting on it will neither stop nor change them, for which reason I think I should at least lessen my reporting soon, and I also may change the style, e.g. merely list titles, and skip both quotations and comments.

There are some other reasons, also:

I am at present a little bit (but not much) fitter than I have been the last 1 1/2 years, that were quite bad, and I want to write some more about other things, also because I really have seen a large lot of journalism the past five months, and while that was for the most part good or tolerable reporting, it nevertheless is journalism, and I am myself neither a journalist nor indeed much interested in journalism.

Also, if I am fit enough, which I do not know yet, I may extend Nederlog to a Wordpress item, but this will be in any case an extension, and the stuff will be copied from my sites, rather than written for it.

But I do not know yet, and at present
much depends on my health and other uncertain things: If my health remains the same or gets better, there may be a Wordpress extension of Nederlog; if not, I may merely return to the free style I used until Snowden's revelations.

---------------------------------
Note

[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)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
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)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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