"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."
Tim Berners-Lee: UK and US must do more to protect
2. The NSA overreach poses a
serious threat to our
did we let the NSA spying get this bad?
4. Who's Least Critical of
NSA Spying? Democrats
Skunk Party Manifesto
6. 21 Ways the Canadian Health
Care System is Better
is another crisis item, without any personal section. There is only one
thing I want to add here:
index of this year, that was
nearly 500 Kb, to 143 Kb, namely by deleting thousands of totally
font specifications, that somehow had been sown by my WYSIWYG-editor,
that I am forced to use.
(And I could not do this earlier, because of my eyes, but did it now,
it is a relief.)
Tim Berners-Lee: UK and US must do more to protect internet users'
To start with, an article by - I quote - "Charles Arthur and agencies"
in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
In fact, as the article
proceeds to explain, he did it before that "survey of online freedoms" was released. He said also:
The UK and US must do
more to protect internet users'
privacy, the inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee,
has warned as a survey of online freedoms is released.
Berners-Lee warned that
"a growing tide of surveillance and
censorship" posed a threat to the future of democracy, even as more and
more people were using the internet to expose wrongdoing.
Speaking before an event
to launch the updated version of the index, the 58-year-old British
computer scientist said: "One of the most encouraging findings of this
year's Web Index is how the web and social media are increasingly
spurring people to organise, take action and try to expose wrongdoing
in every region of the world.
"But some governments are
threatened by this, and a growing tide of surveillance and censorship
now threatens the future of democracy.
"Bold steps are needed
now to protect our fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of opinion
and association online."
I have to say I
agree, but I am unenlightened about the nature of the "Bold steps".
Also, I would like to know
what he thinks of the idea I have published years ago, namely to split
the WWW into two parts: (1) a commercial part, where closed source and
commercial players are allowed and (2) a non-commercial part, where
only open source and non-commercial players are allowed.
To me, that seems a fair
distinction, and also a feasible one, since there is Linux.
overreach poses a serious threat to our economy
Next, an article by Jim
Sensenbrenner, in the Guardian:
As you may recall,
Sensenbrenner is a Republican who got quite incensed by Snowden's
revelations, and quite justifiably so, in my opinion. His article
starts as follows:
revolutionized the global economy by creating an interconnected,
high-speed international marketplace.
telecommunication companies empower businesses to conduct complex
transactions and connect with customers, clients and governments across
the globe, placing a premium on privacy, accountability and
transparency. These principles are the currency of their success,
because as private citizens, we entrust these companies with very
The overreach by
the National Security Agency (NSA) does more than infringe
on American civil liberties. It poses a serious threat to our economic
from the business community are clear: indiscriminate collection of
data by the NSA damages American companies' growth, credibility,
competitive advantage and bottom line.
Quite so. He also says:
After the revelations of
abuse surfaced in June, I knew Congress must act to mitigate the
negative effects on our civil liberties and economy. With these
concerns in mind, I introduced the USA
Freedom Act with Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (Democrat
As part of its business
provisions, the USA Freedom Act increases transparency by giving
internet and telecom companies the ability to publicly disclose the
number of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) orders and
national security letters they received, as well as how many orders
they complied with. It will also allow companies to divulge how many
users or accounts on whom information was demanded under the Fisa
orders and national security letters.
Again, quite so. There is
considerably more that I leave to you. I only quote his ending:
Genuine reform is a
Constitutional and economic necessity. If the USA Freedom Act is
brought to the floors of Congress for an up or down vote, I am
confident it will pass with strong bipartisan support.
Yes, and I very strongly
hope he is right.
3. How did we let the NSA spying get this
Next, an article by Patrick
Toomehy and Brent Max Kaufman in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
There is quite a lot more, but
I quote only one part:
After yet another avalanche
of documents showing how the NSA has spied on our
communications for years, Americans should be asking, how did we get
The more we learn, the
clearer it is that our surveillance laws and oversight rules are in
dramatic need of reform, like the USA Freedom Act,
that provide both transparency and real protections for privacy.
The answer is simple: secrecy poisoned our system of checks and
balances. Both our courts and Congress failed to put meaningful limits
on the NSA's surveillance, trading away our privacy in the process. The
American people never consented to the National Security Agency's (NSA)
effort to "collect it all" by tracking and inspecting every digital
footprint we leave behind. Instead, the secret opinions of a secret
court retroactively blessed a vast NSA surveillance program years after
there is no vocal constituency on the side of privacy. It means there
is no one to object, either at the ballot box or in court. Rather,
we're left to the mercy of a secret agency overseen by a secret court
and less than transparent congressional intelligence committees.
Yes, indeed. This is also why
this secrecy must go.
4. Who's Least Critical of NSA Spying?
Next, an article by Andrea Germanos on Common
This starts as follows:
A new ABC
News/Washington Post poll
released Thursday poll reveals that while a growing number of Americans
feels that the National Security Agency violates privacy, the party the
least critical of the agency's surveillance activities are Democrats.
I should say that I find 48%
who find these intrusions "injustifiable" ridiculously low, but indeed
I am neither an American nor an average person.
The poll found that,
overall, an increasing number of Americans believes that the NSA's
activities intrude on their privacy. Sixty-eight percent said that the
agency's activities violate the privacy of some Americans. Forty-eight
percent said that those intrusions were unjustifiable; that's up from
40 percent in a July poll.
Then again, there is considerably worse:
The reason this is so bad is
that these are the opinions of irrational followers - those who "think"
on the basis of the principle "right or wrong - it's my party".
Only 37 percent of
Democrats responded that the surveillance agency "goes too far"; that's
compared to 47 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of independents.
Also, asked if the NSA
intrusions on "some Americans' privacy rights" were justifiable or
unjustifiable, Democrats were 18 points less likely than Republicans
and independents to say they were unjustifiable.
There can be little doubt about this, because until Obama was elected,
the same folks, and Joe Biden, were all against the things Bush
did or wanted to do with the internet, but now that Obama does the same
things as Bush did, these things are suddenly sacred or at least beyond
And yes, the fact that the majority of the electorate is not capable of
judging politics rationally is not only responsible for my refusing
since 1971 to vote, but is also partially responsible for my stopping
to write as much as I have done the previous (nearly) six months -
though as is I am soldiering on, for the moment.
5. The Skunk Party
fairly long article by Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism:
This starts as follows:
Yes, indeed: On Lewis Powell,
the fact that most Americans do not know about him or his program, and
about his accomplishments Yves Smith is quite right.
The best political system
that money can buy is doing a great job for its customers and a lousy
job for the rest of us.
Most Americans do not
realize that they are on the losing end of a 40-year war against them.
On August 23, 1971, former Nixon Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell
circulated what came to be known as the Powell memo. It set forth a
detailed program for reshaping American institutions and values to
favor the interests of corporations over those of ordinary citizens.
The success of this initiative has been so complete that it has not
only rolled back many of the bulwarks created by the New Deal and the
Great Society, but it is also in the process of pauperizing ordinary
workers in order to increase record business profits even further. The
fact that the campaign has also produced rampant political dysfunction,
curtailed civil liberties and helped cement an out-of-control
surveillance state is of perilous little concern to powerful elites as
long as their plutocratic land-grab continues.
One of the perverse
accomplishments of this campaign has been to place all major branches
of government in thrall to the capitalist classes rather than the
popular will. Both major parties are in broad agreement on policies
that are hostile to the public, such as deficit reduction when
unemployment is still high, preserving a higher education system that
turns increasing numbers of young people into compliant debt slaves,
“reforming” as in cutting Social Security and Medicare while preserving
a bloated military, and damaging local water supplies via fracking.
She goes on, at considerable length also, to draft the manifesto of the
Skunk Party, that I leave to you, except by saying that (1) I agree with what I read and that (2) this is at present mostly a - sort of - serious
joke on her site (that is mostly for economists), but (3) who knows
what will come out of it.
21 Ways the
Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare
Finally, a piece by
Ralph Nader, on his site:
This is just what it says, and
starts with this proposition:
Repeal Obamacare and
replace it with the much more efficient single-payer, everybody in,
nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital.
After which follow 21
reasons that compare the Canadian system with Obamacare, all quite
briefly, all quite convincing.
This really is an excellent argument and text. I do not know what
difference it will make, but it does argue a rational alternative in a
very convincing way.
 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.