There is today again
"a normal NL", with no less than 16 crisis-related items, that
are too many to
cram into my title. Also, while I will comment on some, it is
fairly late in the day, so I do not know I will comment all.
hard truth: there are very much too many students
To begin with, and because
I wrote yesterday that
the levels of educationeveryone
has received in the West - Europe and the U.S. - have dramatically
declined over the last 45 years nearly everywhere.
there is a link to a Dutch
piece in the Volkskrant by a Dutch student - but I quote the title in
In 1998 there were 160,000
Dutch students; in 2012 245,000. And although the writer of this piece,
who is a student, does not know: In 1998, the "education" that was
supplied was almost all utter bullshit - as it had been in 1988 and in
1978, for about the latter two years I can judge.
Indeed, in 1988, that is 25 years ago, and briefly before taking my
M.A. in philosophy, I was kicked out of the faculty of philosophy of
the University of Amsterdam, by the sick, degenerate, fascist and
terrorist members of the staff led by dr. Frans Jacobs and dr. Cornelis
Verhoeven, because I had said truth exists and pronounced a number of
hard truths, in a speech I had been asked to make, in that faculty.
Meanwhile, a lot more is lousy: The pre-university education is less
than half of what it was in 1965, at best; the students have to pay
large sums of money, to be allowed to listen in on ever boring and bad
teachings; in 1984 the average IQ was 115, now it will probably hardly
top 100 - but all of the staff is still a lot richer, for they are all
civil servants, and nearly all incompetent parasites (for that is part
of the job qualifications), and their interests have been remarkably
well served by the Dutch Labour Party, who all, when employed in a
Dutch university, take home more than the Dutch prime minister.
article is in Dutch; it is by a student; it is fairly good; and the
student may probably have lost her eventual university position, and
indeed may be kicked from the university, if standards are as they were
I merely register it here, and also give my recommendation: Let
everybody pass an IQ-test when he or she wants a university education,
and do not admit those who score less than 125 (that used to be the
average IQ of HBS-students in the
1950ies, so it is far from discriminatory) - and yes, do not
forget to stress that in sports the same or much stricter norms are
kept, except that their the IQ is not measured, but the talent for the
2. What the revelations mean for you
Next, a long article in the Guardian, by Ewen MacAskill and Gabriel
The German, French,
Spanish and Swedish intelligence services have all developed methods of
mass surveillance of
internet and phone traffic over the past five years in close
partnership with Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping agency.
The bulk monitoring is
carried out through direct taps into fibre optic cables and the
development of covert relationships with telecommunications companies.
A loose but growing eavesdropping alliance has allowed intelligence
agencies from one country to cultivate ties with corporations from
another to facilitate the trawling of the web, according to GCHQ
documents leaked by the former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
The files also make clear
that GCHQ played a leading role in advising its European counterparts
how to work around national laws intended to restrict the surveillance
power of intelligence agencies.
The German, French and
Spanish governments have reacted angrily to reports based on National
Security Agency (NSA) files leaked by Snowden
since June, revealing the interception of communications by tens of
millions of their citizens each month. US intelligence officials have
insisted the mass monitoring was carried out by the security agencies in the countries involved
and shared with the US.
Indeed: That is, your data are
being spied on and copied by some nebulous agency from another country,
while "your own" spooks - that you don't know and have no right to know
about - spy and copy the data from folks in other countries.
There is a lot more I leave to your perusal, but I take this for
"The Dutch have some
legislative issues that they need to work through before their legal
environment would allow them to operate in the way that GCHQ does. We
are providing legal advice on how we have tackled some of these issues
to Dutch lawyers."
Rest assured your data have
been stolen, Dutchmen! (But probably by the GCHQ, who traded then with
the English or Australian mass spying the Dutch did, or some such
spying: Germany and Brazil produce draft UN resolution Next, an article in the Guardian by Reuters:
Germany and Brazil have
presented a draft resolution to a UN general assembly committee that
calls for an end to excessive electronic surveillance, data collection
and other gross invasions of privacy.
The draft resolution,
which both Germany and Brazil made public on Friday, does not name any
specific countries, although UN diplomats said it was clearly aimed at
the US, which has been embarrassed by revelations of a massive
international surveillance programme from a former US contractor.
draft would have the 193-nation assembly declare that it is "deeply
concerned at human rights violations and abuses that may result from
the conduct of any surveillance of communications, including
extraterritorial surveillance of communications".
It would also call on UN
member states "to take measures to put an end to violations of these
rights and to create the conditions to prevent such violations,
including by ensuring that relevant national legislation complies with
their obligations under international human rights law".
OK. It probably will not
make a major difference, if only because
resolutions are non-binding, (...)
but it is a - small -
step. 5. Snowden document reveals key role of
companies in NSA data
collection Next, an article by Ewen MacAskill and Dominic Rushe in
The key role private
companies play in National Security Agency surveillance
programs is detailed in a top-secret document provided to the Guardian
by whistleblower Edward Snowden and published for the first time on
Between them, the three
companies accounted for more than 2,000 reports in that period – all
but a tiny fraction of the total produced under one of the NSA's main foreign
intelligence authorities, the Fisa Amendents Act (FAA).
There is rather a lot
more I leave to you, except for one final bit, which is from a
"But it is clear
that much more transparency is needed to help the companies and their
customers understand these issues."
Well, yes. 6. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden says US 'treats
"I hope that when the
difficulties of this humanitarian situation have been resolved, I will
be able to cooperate in the responsible finding of fact regarding
reports in the media, particularly in regard to the truth and
authenticity of documents," Snowden wrote in the letter, which was
addressed to the German government.
There is considerably
more in the article. 7. White House rejects criticism of Obama over
as rift deepens
Next, an article by Dan Roberts and Paul Lewis in the Guardian:
In a further sign of the
growing blame game within Washington over the affair, spokesman Jay
Carney said Obama paid close attention to terrorism intercepts but had
no need to personally bug the phones of allies.
"The president is a very
deliberate consumer of the intelligence gathered for him on national
security matters," said Carney. "But when the president wants to find
out what the heads of state of friendly nations think, he calls them."
There is considerably more,
from which I cite this, to underscore the truth speaking abilities of
Keith Alexander, who blamed not himself but the U.S. ambassadors:
Thomas Pickering, who
served as ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, Jordan and the United
Nations, said he found it puzzling that intelligence agencies would
interpret requests for information as a green light to bug the phones
of friendly government leaders.
"To point the finger at
ambassadors as being responsible for generating these requests seems,
in my experience, to be far fetched," Pickering told the Guardian.
"In my time, intelligence
requirements were never based on collection methods, they were based on
intelligence interests. That an ambassador may have been interested in
the views of a foreign leader is not a reason to say they had any
responsibility for how that information was gathered."
Of course, I do not know
whether Pickering is lying. But there are some considerable
disagreements between several branches of US government. 8. NSA
surveillance may cause breakup of internet, warn experts
Next, an article by Matthew Taylor, Nick Hopkins and Jemima Kiss in the
The vast scale of online
surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden is
leading to the breakup of the internet as countries
scramble to protect private or commercially sensitive emails and phone
records from UK and US security services, according to experts and
They say moves by
countries, such as Brazil and Germany, to encourage
regional online traffic to be routed locally rather than through the US
are likely to be the first steps in a fundamental shift in the way the
internet works. The change could potentially hinder economic growth.
"States may have few
other options than to follow in Brazil's path," said Ian Brown, from
the Oxford Internet Institute. "This would be expensive, and likely to
reduce the rapid rate of innovation that has driven the development of
the internet to date … But if states cannot trust that their citizens'
personal data – as well as sensitive commercial and government
information – will not otherwise be swept up in giant surveillance
operations, this may be a price they are willing to pay."
Since the Guardian's
revelations about the scale of state surveillance, Brazil's government
has published ambitious plans to promote Brazilian networking
technology, encourage regional internet traffic to be routed locally,
and is moving to set up a secure national email service.
In India, it has been
reported that government employees are being advised not to use Gmail and last month,
Indian diplomatic staff in London were told to use typewriters rather
than computers when writing up sensitive documents.
I think this is quite
interesting - and indeed I would want another internet, that is, two
internets: One for commercial players, and Facebook and such "social"
sites that all are data fishers; and one for non-commercial players,
like private individuals, libraries, and quite possibly for papers etc.
that also is wholly run on completely open software.
For more see my (somewhat
outdated but still sound) article from September 2009:
It is dawning, at long
last, on the major American technology companies that they are under
attack – from their own government, not just from foreign powers and
criminals. They'd already been co-opted by spies and law enforcement,
forced to obey secret orders targeting their customers and users. Or,
in some cases, they'd willingly collaborated with the government's mass
Now they are realizing that
their own government considers them outright adversaries. They
understand, especially in the wake of the Washington Post's report
about western spy services hacking into the
intra-corporate networks of internet giants Google and Yahoo, that
no amount of cooperation will ever satisfy the people who wage a
relentless campaign to spy on anything and everything that moves. (The NSA, of course, has issued a
denial of sorts, but it's more of a
non-denial denial of the Washington Post report).
Well, yes.... but personally,
I do not expect much from Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft etc. 10. The NSA Has Pissed Off the Entire World—Will
the Supreme Court Intervene?
The National Security Agency has pissed off
the world, and the world is fighting back.
From the demonstrators
who gathered on Capitol Hill on Oct. 26 to German Chancellor Angela
Merkel who has dispatched
a high-level protest delegation to the White House to the bipartisan
group of senators and representatives who have introduced
the USA Freedom Act to revamp the NSA, a global movement is gathering
to stop the spy agency’s abuses.
For better or worse, the Supreme Court is
also being asked—yet again—to join the fight. Last term, the court
dismissed a lawsuit filed against the NSA by Amnesty International and
other organizations over the alleged interception of emails, reasoning
that none of the plaintiffs could prove their emails in fact had been
seized and, therefore, that none had suffered the actual legal harm
needed to satisfy the court’s strained definition of the “standing”
required to prosecute a federal case (Clapper v. Amnesty Int’l).
There is rather a lot more,
that includes the following - and note this Solicitor General is so
sure of his conviction that he swears by secret pronouncements by
In a lengthy
opposition brief that would make Orwell and Kafka blush, Solicitor
General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., speaking on behalf of the Obama
administration, argues that the legality of the metadata surveillance
program can no longer be questioned because 14 FISA court judges
sitting in secret on 34 separate occasions have considered the program
and issued orders like the one served on Verizon. In Verrilli’s view,
that many judges simply can’t be wrong.
In any case, to answer
the question of the title, indeed with Bill Blum: No, this is unlikely
to happen with the present extremely conservative Supreme Court. To
start with, they also gave the presidency to Bush Jr. in spite of the
fact that his opponent had won. So no, probably not.
Billion Cuts in Food Stamps Effective Friday
Charities and food
activists have warned for months that the expiration of stimulus funds
for food stamps Friday will affect every U.S. household that depends on
And to illustrate how serious
The cuts will take
away the equivalent of 21 meals a month for a family of four. “What we
traditionally see is food stamps are never enough to get through an
entire month,” says Grimaldi, citing the cost of living in New York.
“It will exacerbate what people are already experiencing.”
For more, see the next item -
but I give you the last line of the present one first:
“There is a real
risk of hunger growing in our city and across the nation and of people
going without and that’s a scary, scary thing.”
Washington Is Cutting Safety Nets When Most Americans Are Still in the
Next, an article by Robert
Reich, indeed about the food stamps cuts:
As of November 1 more
than 47 million Americans have lost some or all of their food stamp
benefits. House Republicans are pushing for further cuts. If the
sequester isn’t stopped everything else poor and working-class
Americans depend on will be further squeezed.
We’re not talking about a
small sliver of America here. Half of all children get food stamps at
some point during their childhood. Half of all adults get them sometime
between ages 18 and 65. Many employers – including the nation’s
largest, Walmart – now pay so little that food stamps are necessary in
order to keep food on the family table, and other forms of assistance
are required to keep a roof overhead.
And a bit further on:
Here’s a clue: A new survey
of families in the top 10 percent of net worth (done by the American
Affluence Research Center) shows they’re feeling better than they’ve
felt since 2007, before the Great Recession.
It’s not just that the
top 10 percent have jobs and their wages are rising. The top 10 percent
also owns 80
percent of the stock market. And the stock market is up a whopping
24 percent this year.
And this is his last paragraph:
Get it? The bottom
90 percent of Americans — most of whom are still suffering from
the Great Recession, most of whom have been on a downward escalator for
decades — have disappeared from official Washington.
I am afraid that he
is right: The mass of the poor are totally out of sight of tje
administation they helped elect, and of the Senators and Congressmen
they helped elect, because they are poor - and personally I also would
not be amazed if there soon is a law that forbids you to vote if you
We will see, but I
suppose the Senators and Congressmen still want to be elected, and that
is the way.
In the short-term, NSA
whistleblower Edward Snowden appears unlikely to travel to Germany in
order to testify about his knowledge of how the U.S. spy agency has
used its surveillance capabilities to bulk-collect the communications
of the nation's people, including the personal cell phone of Chancellor
However, in an open
letter delivered to the German government on Friday, Snowden—still
living under temporary asylum in Russia—indicated he is willing to
assist the investigation of alleged spying once the "difficulties" of
his personal situation are resolved.
This is an interesting
article, but since I am pressed for time I will only quote Snowden:
Snowden provided Ströbele
with the typed
letter, the full content of which follows:
To whom it may
I have been invited
to write to you regarding your investigation of mass surveillance.
I am Edward Joseph
Snowden, formerly employed through contracts or direct hire as a
technical expert for the United States National Security Agency,
Central Intelligence Agency, and Defense Intelligence Agency.
In the course of my
service to these organizations, I believe I witnessed systemic
violations of law by my government that created a moral duty to act. As
a result of reporting these concerns, I have face a severe and
sustained campaign of persecution that forced me from my family and
home. I am currently living in exile under a grant of temporary asylum
in the Russian Federation in accordance with international law.
I am heartened by the
response to my act of political expression, in both the United States
and beyond. Citizens around the world as well as high officials –
including in the United States – have judged the revelation of an
unaccountable system of pervasive surveillance to be a public service.
These spying revelations have resulted in the proposal of many new laws
and policies to address formerly concealed abuses of the public trust.
The benefits to society of this growing knowledge are becoming
increasingly clear at the same time claimed risks are being shown to
have been mitigated.
Though the outcome of
my efforts has been demonstrably positive, my government continues to
treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech
with felony charges that provide no defense. However, speaking the
truth is not a crime. I am confident that with the support of the
international community, the government of the United States will
abandon this harmful behavior. I hope that when the difficulties of
this humanitarian situation have been resolved, I will be able to
cooperate in the responsible finding of fact regarding reports in the
media, particularly in regard to the truth and authenticity of
documents, as appropriate and in accordance with the law.
I look forward to
speaking with you in your country when the situation is resolved, and
thank you for your efforts in upholding the international laws that
protect us all.
With my best regards,
OK: As usual he
appears to have all his wits about him - but I do hope he does not
trust a German or Dutch parliamentarian to lure him to a country that
has extradition agreements with the U.S.: He is likely to be arrested,
and extradited, though the last may take a while.
Is Contagious': Additional NSA Employees Said to Be Following Snowden's
Next, an article by Jacob
Chamberlain on Common Dreams:
The "courage" of
Edward Snowden is "contagious," according to lawyer and transparency
advocate Jesselyn Radack, who says that additional employees at the
National Security Agency are now coming forward with what they consider
objectionable practices by their employer.
an interview with ABC News on Thursday, Raddack revealed
that an influx of NSA whistleblowers, inspired by Snowden, are now
knocking on the doors of her organization.
According to Radack,
several more whistleblowers have approached the Government
Accountability Project (GAP)—the nation's leading whistleblower
protection and advocacy organization where she is the director of
National Security and Human Rights—since Snowden's story broke earlier
That is quite interesting -
but I disagree with Ms Radack that "courage is contagious", and do so
without wishing to criticize eventual further NSA whistleblowers.
My reason is that I come from a very courageous family, and am quite a
lot older than she is, and my own - strong - feeling is that courage
may be exemplary, but is not contagious: As with intelligence, it is
Silence from the Sponsors of the Superior Full Medicare for All?
With the Tea Partiers
relentless attacks on each of the troubles besetting Obamacare since
its complicated, computer glitch-ridden startup on October 1, 2013, the
compelling question is: Why aren’t the Congressional sponsors of H.R.
676 – full Medicare for all with free choice of physician and hospital
– speaking out as strongly on behalf of this far superior universal
health care coverage?
There is considerably more,
but it ends thus:
Senator Sanders’ office
informs me he is finally ready to do so in a couple of weeks. With over
100 Americans dying each day due to lack of insurance, there’s no time
Whistleblower: “[NSA] Management Had Made The Plan To Spy On
The United States And The People Of The United States Even Before 9/11”
Finally, a piece by
Washington's Blog, that has the following title:
As the former head of the
NSA’s operations division, who was in charge of the global digital
intelligence gathering program and oversaw 6,000 employees – William
Binney – said:
“[NSA] management had
made the plan to spy on the United States and the people of the United
States even before 9/11.
Then – when 9/11 occurred
– that was the pure excuse for them to go in and say now, telecoms, we
really need the data now to be able to protect the United States from
And that was simply false
to begin with. We had no problem at all identifying these people from
the beginning. That was absolutely false. But that was the pretext they
used to get that process running.”
And that is the
beginning of a nearly 1 1/2 hour long speech etc. by William Binney,
who also was a whistleblower, and who is a smart man. Here is the rest:
 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.