30, 2013
Crisis: UN, NSA uses porn, Netherlands, Apple etc., Obama admin
  "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. World Fights Back Against the Biggest Brother in History
  2. NSA's Plan to Use Porn Habits to Discredit 'Radicalizers'
  3. Weak Growth: Agency Strips Netherlands' AAA Rating
  4. From Apple to Amazon: The New Monuments to Digital

  5. The Obama Administration and the Press
About ME/CFS


This is another crisis issue in a weekend (it's Saturday). In any case, I did not find much, though I have five items, and six articles.

1. World Fights Back Against the Biggest Brother in History

To start with, an article by Sonali Kolhatkar on Truth Dig:

This starts as follows:

The United States’ vast and indiscriminate worldwide surveillance of ordinary people and heads of state has no historical precedent. Now countries around the world are fighting back using the United Nations as a vehicle for change. In a move that received little media coverage in the U.S., a United Nations committee approved without a vote a draft resolution entitled “The Right to Privacy in a Digital Age.” The nonbinding resolution, which will now head to the General Assembly where it has broad support, follows from a report published in June by the United Nations Human Rights Council. It detailed the negative impact of state surveillance on free expression and human rights and lamented that technology has outpaced legislation.

The remarkable U.N. draft resolution affirms privacy as a human right, on par with other globally recognized civil and political rights. Several leading advocacy groups, including Access Now, Amnesty International, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch and Privacy International, signed an open letter
to the U.N. General Assembly backing the resolution. The letter stresses the “importance of protecting privacy and free expression in the face of technological advancements and encroaching State power.”

I agree, but I do wonder whether this will effect any change. Then again, I may be wrong, and it seems well that the following was agreed:

According to Katitza Rodriguez, international rights director of the U.S.-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, “Most of the discussion around NSA spying in the United States has focused on the privacy rights of Americans because our laws only protect Americans but do not extend those protections outside U.S. borders. The U.N. resolution makes clear that privacy is an international universal human right and states have the obligation to protect privacy not only at home but also abroad.”

Then again, on page 2 of the article it says

The U.N. resolution, if it passes, would lack enforcement mechanisms. The question then arises, what is the point? According to Rodriguez, it “definitely makes clear what is the standard to protect privacy globally and if the U.S. doesn’t comply with it then they will be in violation of international law. And that’s a huge problem because the United States has been seen as a champion of promoting free expression in the United Nations. So having them taking a position that infringes upon international law is not good for the reputation of the United States’ foreign policy.”
Well... OK. But this will not stop them, and therefore the conclusion of the article seems right to me:
It remains to be seen whether the world can win the fight against the Biggest Brother history has ever witnessed.

2. NSA's Plan to Use Porn Habits to Discredit 'Radicalizers'

Next, an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams

This starts as follows:

New documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and leaked to journalist Glenn Greenwald and the Huffington Post show that the spy agency made plans to use the online activities, including visits to pornographic sites and other habits, of so-called Muslim "radicalizers" in order to discredit their standing.

In fact, at this time these are "Muslim "radicalizers"" - who are not "terrorists", even according to the NSA - but clearly the same may be done to anyone, as indeed is made clear as follows:

"It's important to remember that the NSA’s surveillance activities are anything but narrowly focused -- the agency is collecting massive amounts of sensitive information about virtually everyone," Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the ACLUE, told the HuffPo, warning that abuses of a program like this were easy to see.

"Wherever you are, the NSA's databases store information about your political views, your medical history, your intimate relationships and your activities online," he said. "The NSA says this personal information won't be abused, but these documents show that the NSA probably defines 'abuse' very narrowly."

Yes, quite so. In fact, the original article, with considerably more material, and written by Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher and Ryan Grim is on Huffington Post:

This starts as follows:

The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target's credibility, reputation and authority.

The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. “A previous SIGINT" -- or signals intelligence, the interception of communications -- "assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the document argues.

Among the vulnerabilities listed by the NSA that can be effectively exploited are “viewing sexually explicit material online” and “using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls.”
There is rather a lot more, including NSA graphics - but I stress again this may be done with absolutely everyone, and for any imputed crime or shortcoming, and indeed this may have been done already, with judges, senators and congressmen, although this is unknown, simply because they chose to rather collaborate nicely with the NSA rather than get exposed.

Indeed, that is also one of my scepticisms against the U.S. Congress and Senate really being able to pass a strong motion.

But we will see: They certainly have sufficient reasons to pass a strong motion, if they dare.

3. Weak Growth: Agency Strips Netherlands' AAA Rating

Next, an article in the Spiegel on line, in English, on "my own country" (in quotation marks, because I live here only because of my ill health and not out of free choice: I would have left Holland in 1980, at the latest, if I had been healthy):

This starts as follows:

The list of euro-zone countries with immaculate credit ratings took another hit this week. On Friday morning, Standard & Poor's (S&P) removed the Netherlands' top rating, downgrading the country to AA+. This leaves only three countries in the common currency area with the best grade of AAA: Finland, Luxembourg and Germany. Two years ago, six countries still had that rating.

S&P stated the downgrade resulted from weaker prospects for economic growth than previously anticipated. The agency said the atmosphere would make it more difficult for the government to reach its fiscal targets. Despite a "stable" outlook for the Netherlands, the company said the development of the country's per capita gross domestic product is "persistently lower" than nations with similarly high levels of economic development. The other two major rating agencies, Moody's and Fitch, have also threatened the Netherlands with a downgrade.

As far as I am concerned this has been earned, although I have two minor critical points: (1) the Dutch live economically mostly by trading rather than by producing, and therefore will in a time of world crisis be more hit than countries that have a different type of economy, and (2) this shows that the crisis continues, in spite of the currently high stock prices, that almost only help the rich anyway.

4. From Apple to Amazon: The New Monuments to Digital Domination

Next, also in the Spiegel on line, an article by Thomas Schulz:

This starts as follows:

A few weeks before his death, Steve Jobs commissioned one last marvel of ingenuity. He knew that it would be his legacy, a symbol of his work and an expression of creative global supremacy: a new headquarters for Apple, designed by British star architect Sir Norman Foster. "The best office building in the world," Jobs called it when he first revealed the plans, "a little like a spaceship."

It will also probably be the most expensive company headquarters in the world, a gigantic, circular monolith with an estimated price tag of $5 billion (€3.7 billion), eclipsing even the cost of rebuilding the World Trade Center in New York, which has been under construction for the past 10 years.

There is a picture (or "picture") that starts the article. And of course, it is not only the (late) CEO of Apple who has grandiose dreams: As the article also shows, similar plans are being made, for similarly grandiose buildings by Facebook, by Google, by Amazon, and by Nvidia.

Also, as the article says:

These plans -- which are accessible to the public thanks to administrative urban planning procedures -- include detailed computer simulations, cost estimates and blueprints that leave no doubt that these are supposed to be more than mere corporate headquarters. No, they are to be monuments, architectural techno-visions that reflect the now inexorable digital domination. They are an expression of the worldwide economic and cultural supremacy that Silicon Valley and its leaders overtly claim for themselves.

Which means to me that they are fundamentally sick, were it only because - as the article does not say - none of these highly pretentious superfirms pays much or any taxes. And that is the reason I mention their plans.

5. The Obama Administration and the Press

Finally, a long report by Leonard Downie Jr., with contributions by Sara Rafsky:

This starts with the following epigraph:

U.S. President Barack Obama came into office pledging open government, but he has fallen short of his promise. Journalists and transparency advocates say the White House curbs routine disclosure of information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny by the press. Aggressive prosecution of leakers of classified information and broad electronic surveillance programs deter government sources from speaking to journalists.

Yes, although I think his pledge by now clearly was a plain lie, and his program was "Yes, we scan!". In any case, this is a long report, that I have not yet read all of, but that is informed and serious, and that is because of things like these:

At this writing, no connection has been established between the NSA surveillance programs and the many leak investigations being conducted by the Obama administration—but the surveillance has added to the fearful atmosphere surrounding contacts between American journalists and government sources.

“There is greater concern that their communications are being monitored—office phones, e-mail systems,” Post reporter Chandrasekaran said. “I have to resort to personal e-mail or face to face, even for things I would consider routine.”

Journalists who aren’t worried about their communications being monitored should be; if not, they could be putting their sources at risk, said Oktavía Jónsdóttir, program director of the S.A.F.E. Initiative of the Washington-based nonprofit IREX, which advocates for independent media and civil society internationally.

“The key I think is whether journalists today can guarantee their sources anonymity, and at this point that is very difficult, but I will say, not impossible,” Jónsdóttir said. “Sources need to understand the risks they take, agree with the journalists how far they will go and then put ultimate trust in that individual’s ability to protect that information and ensure that even though the information may be compromised, the source is not.”

Washington Post national security reporter Dana Priest told me: “People think they’re looking at reporters’ records. I’m writing fewer things in e-mail. I’m even afraid to tell officials what I want to talk about because it’s all going into one giant computer.”

Yes indeed, and it doesn't seem much is needed to kill nearly all real journalism, if only by driving out anyone who wants to do any real investigative journalism.


[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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