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Nederlog


  December
3, 2013
Crisis: Snowden+Rusbridger+Greenwald * 8, TIPP, the pope
  "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. From Turing to Snowden: how US-UK pact forged
       modern surveillance

  2. Decoded: the main stories from the Snowden files
       explained

  3. Edward Snowden revelations prompt UN investigation
       into surveillance

  4. Tim Berners-Lee: Spies' cracking of encryption
       undermines the web

  5. How the Snowden leak is changing the tech landscape
  6.
An open letter from Carl Bernstein to Guardian editor
       Alan Rusbridger

  7. Greenwald: Privatized Reporting Claims Are Absurd
  8. The Long Arm of US Law: What Next for Edward
       Snowden?

  9. The lies behind this transatlantic trade deal
10. Welcome Back, Jesus
About ME/CFS

Introduction

This is another crisis issue and I've got 10 sections with 12 dotted articles.

In fact, today is the day Alan Rusbridger - the editor of the Guardian - is to appear before a commission to explain why he has (not) been naughty, to that great, objective, honourable, and deeply honest government of David Cameron,
whom we all must trust that his government always does well, and indeed the Guardian has quite a few of the articles that are linked below.

But I do not know whether it is coincidence. Also, this is the largest crisis file in over half a year, and I have divided into 8 articles that are about Snowden, Greenwald or Rusbridger, and two on the TIPP and on the pope.

Finally, some of the files that are linked are survey files, that are quite good, and that should be read all, at least if you are seriously interested.

1. From Turing to Snowden: how US-UK pact forged modern surveillance

To start with, a long file by Nick Hopkins in the Guardian, that attempts to explain a lot about modern spying:

This is from the beginning:

When the first of the Snowden revelations was published in the Guardian in June – revealing that the NSA was secretly storing and analysing details of millions of phone calls made in the US – the transformation was recognised immediately.

"The administration is saying that without any individual suspicion of wrongdoing, the government is allowed to know whom Americans are calling every time they make a phone call, for how long they talk and where," the New York Times said in an editorial.

"Through a series of legal contortions Obama has argued that Congress, since 9/11, intended to implicitly authorise mass surveillance. But this strategy mostly consists of wordplay, fearmongering and a highly selective reading of the law."

As the focus of the stories turned to the UK over the following weeks, it would soon become clear that all those criticisms could be levelled at Britain too. The UK hasn't just been a partner in this technological adventure, it has been a pioneer, with the two countries working more closely in the field of intelligence-gathering than in perhaps any other since the second world war.

But in fact this is a long article trying to outline the history of spying, and also its frightening modern accent, that everybody is spied upon, and everything he or she does is registered and analysed, albeit mostly only by computers.

I give only two more quotations, the first by Edward Snowden:

"Bathtub falls and police officers kill more Americans than terrorism, yet we've been asked to sacrifice our most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it."

Quite so! The second is this:

In Britain, the challenge thrown down by the explosion in use of the web, mobile phones and social media was met by a GCHQ programme that showed remarkable ambition. It was called Mastering the Internet (MTI).

In America, similar projects were just as audacious. The files released by Snowden show the agencies have been, and remain, determined to eavesdrop on every possible method of communication, regardless of how much extraneous material they gather in the process; they have put taps on the cables that carry raw internet traffic across the world; they have gone further "upstream" and devised ways of getting material from the computers which run the big internet service providers; they have refined their relationships with mobile phone companies so they can get details of every call made and received; and they found ways of defeating encryption software too, setting supercomputers to crack codes, or by inserting secret "back doors" into the software itself.

The scale of this technological achievement is admirable, the logic behind it clear; but all this impressive architecture has been built without any political discussion about whether this is the right thing to do, or any endorsement from millions of members of the public, whose personal lives are now being recycled through giant databases.

But there is a lot more, that I leave to you.

2.
Decoded: the main stories from the Snowden files explained

Next, another Guardian file with explanations, without an attributed author:

This has as a subtitle

Revelations about mass surveillance by the NSA and GCHQ have shocked some and embarrassed others. Here we outline the main stories, what they mean and why they matter

and it proceeds to give the main stories on the pattern Story | Reaction | Fallout.

I found this quite helpful, even though I have followed the stories closely for almost half a year now.

3.  Edward Snowden revelations prompt UN investigation into surveillance

Next, an article by Nick Hopkins and Matthew Taylor in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The UN's senior counter-terrorism official is to launch an investigation into the surveillance powers of American and British intelligence agencies following Edward Snowden's revelations that they are using secret programmes to store and analyse billions of emails, phone calls and text messages.

The UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC said his inquiry would also seek to establish whether the British parliament had been misled about the capabilities of Britain's eavesdropping headquarters, GCHQ, and whether the current system of oversight and scrutiny was strong enough to meet United Nations standards.

The inquiry will make a series of recommendations to the UN general assembly next year.

Note that this is a UN special rapporteur. He also had an article by himself in the Guardian, which you can find here:

And this starts as follows:

The Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger, is due to appear before the House of Commons home affairs select committee on Tuesday to answer questions about his newspaper's publication of intelligence files leaked by Edward Snowden. Unlike the directors of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, who gave evidence recently before the intelligence and security committee, Rusbridger will not be provided with a list of questions in advance.

There are at least five legal and political issues arising out of Snowden's revelations on which reasonable opinion is divided. These include whether Snowden should enjoy the legal protection accorded a whistleblower who reveals wrongdoing; whether his revelations have weakened the counter-terrorism apparatus of the US or the UK; whether, conversely, they show the need for an overhaul of surveillance powers on both sides of the Atlantic (and even an international agreement to protect partners like Germany); whether parliament has been misled by the services about the extent of intrusive surveillance; and whether the current system for parliamentary oversight of the intelligence and security services is sufficiently robust to meet the international standards laid down by my predecessor at the UN, Martin Scheinin.

And it also says:

The astonishing suggestion that this sort of journalism can be equated with aiding and abetting terrorism needs to be scotched decisively. Attacking the Guardian is an attempt to do the bidding of the services themselves, by distracting attention from the real issues. It is the role of a free press to hold governments to account, and yet there have even been outrageous suggestions from some Conservative MPs that the Guardian should face a criminal investigation.

And says this:

When it comes to assessing the balance that must be struck between maintaining secrecy and exposing information in the public interest there are often borderline cases. This isn't one. It's a no-brainer. The Guardian's revelations are precisely the sort of information that a free press is supposed to reveal.

Yes indeed. There is a lot more, that I again leave to you.

4. Tim Berners-Lee: Spies' cracking of encryption undermines the web

Next, an article by Ted Pilkington in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Tim Berners-Lee is known as the gentle genius with the mild touch, a man who is strikingly modest despite having created one of the epochal inventions of the modern age, the world wide web. But get him on the subject of what the National Security Agency and its British equivalent, GCHQ, have been doing to crack encryption used by hundreds of millions of people to protect their personal data online, and his face hardens, his eyes squint and he fumes.

"I think that's appalling, deliberately to break software," he says in an entirely uncharacteristic outburst of ire. Of all the reasons he is concerned about Edward Snowden's disclosures relating to UK and US spying on the web – and there are many, as we shall see – it is the cracking of encryption revealed by the Guardian in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica that seems to rile him most.

There is a lot more in the article.

5. How the Snowden leak is changing the tech landscape

Next, an article in the Guardian that is unattributed:

This starts as follows:

Revelations about the extent of the surveillance programmes undertaken by the NSA and GCHQ – as well as their efforts to undermine online security and encryption – have provoked fierce reaction around the world, sparking technical innovations, legal challenges, and moves towards political reform.

Leading technology firms including Google, Apple, Microsoft and Yahooincrease the encryption used for data travelling between the company's data centres, which the Washington Post revealed have been working to rebuild users' trust after the disclosure that the NSA can access information on their servers. For Google, this has involved announcing efforts to was being accessed by the NSA, as well as joining legal calls for the release of more government information at users' request.

Other technology startups have taken more drastic action. Lavabit, a secure email provider reportedly used by Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, shut down after the government requested a back door into its systems. Another company, Silent Circle, closed its email service shortly afterwards.

And this is also mostly an overview article that is helpful.

6.  An open letter from Carl Bernstein to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger

Next, an article by Carl Bernstein in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Dear Alan,

There is plenty of time – and there are abundant venues – to debate relevant questions about Mr Snowden's historical role, his legal fate, the morality of his actions, and the meaning of the information he has chosen to disclose.

But your appearance before the Commons today strikes me as something quite different in purpose and dangerously pernicious: an attempt by the highest UK authorities to shift the issue from government policies and excessive government secrecy in the United States and Great Britain to the conduct of the press – which has been quite admirable and responsible in the case of the Guardian, particularly, and the way it has handled information initially provided by Mr Snowden.

There is quite a lot more, and it ends with

With warmest regards and admiration,
Carl Bernstein

I suppose I disagree with Bernstein on Snowden and also on what Snowden should have done (gone to Bernstein, according to Bernstein), but the rest seems OK.

7. Greenwald: Privatized Reporting Claims Are Absurd

Next, another double article on the same subject. The first is a brief one by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truth Dig:

This starts as follows

Glenn Greenwald responded Sunday to accusations from news personalities that he has “monopolized” and “privatized” reporting (an accusation that seems to be newly cooked up for the purpose of discrediting journalists) on documents given to him by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The instigator of Greenwald’s comprehensive response is writer Mark Ames. At PandoDaily last week, Ames wrote that Greenwald and fellow reporter Laura Poitras “promptly sold [the Snowden] secrets to a billionaire,” Pierre Omidyar, with whom Greenwald is forming a new news organization, and made “a decision to privatize the NSA cache” by joining Omidyar and giving him a “monopoly” over those documents.

Well, that indeed seems utter and total balderdash. And there also was a link there to a story of Glenn Greenwald, on this balderdash - and I quote it by the title it has:
Glenn Greenwald starts with explaining he so far has avoided answering this:
But now, this week's attack has been seized on by various national security establishment functionaries and DC journalists to impugn our NSA reporting and, in some cases, to argue that this "privatizing" theory should be used as a basis to prosecute me for the journalism I'm doing. Amazingly, it's being cited by all sorts of DC journalists and think tank advocates whose own work is paid for by billionaires and other assorted plutocrats: such as Josh Marshall, whose TPM journalism has been "privatized" and funded by the Romney-supporting Silicon Valley oligarch Marc Andreesen, and former Bush Homeland Security Adviser and current CNN analyst Fran Townsend ("profiteering!", exclaims the Time Warner Corp. employee and advocate of the American plundering of Iraq).

Indeed, Pando.com itself is partially funded by libertarian billionaire Peter Thiel, the co-founder of Paypal and CIA-serving Palantir Technologies. The very same author of this week's Pando post had previously described Thiel (before he was funded by him) as "an enemy of democracy" and the head of a firm "which last year was caught organizing an illegal spy ring targeting American political opponents of the US Chamber of Commerce, including journalists, progressive activists and union leaders" (one of whom happened to be me, targeted with threatened career destruction for the crime of advocating for WikiLeaks)).

The rest of the fairly long piece is a spirited defense of his way of proceeding, that I leave to you. I only cite one more bit:
Even using the more limited approach we've undertaken, we've already been accused of possible criminality and/or had our prosecution advocated by the likes of Alan Dershowitz, Peter King, David Gregory, Dianne FeinsteinMarc Thiessen, Andrew Ross Sorkin (who later apologized), and many others. The UK government is formally equating our journalism with "terrorism" and "espionage" and has said there are criminal investigations pending. Eric Holder's recent statement about whether I'd be prosecuted if I tried to enter the US was so riddled with caveats and uncertainties that it raised more questions than it answered.
Yes, quite so.

8.
The Long Arm of US Law: What Next for Edward Snowden?

Next, an article by Ewen MacAskill:
This starts as follows:

After an eventful six months, Edward Snowden will be hoping for a quieter time ahead – but not as quiet as life in a maximum-security American jail. In Russia since fleeing Hong Kong in June, the NSA computer specialist-turned- whistleblower is living under fairly restrictive conditions. But at least he still has access to the internet – crucial to him – although the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, made it a condition of granting Snowden temporary asylum that he do nothing to embarrass the US further.

Snowden has said he no longer has the documents he leaked, having passed all of them to the journalists he met in Hong Kong in June.

On 21 June, his 30th birthday, the US indicted him on three charges, including two under the Espionage Act: theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorised person, with a possible combined sentence of up to 30 years in jail. Further charges could be added. The death penalty is also available under a section of the act but the US attorney general, Eric Holder, said in July that Snowden would not face execution.

It ends as follows:

Snowden has permission to live, work and travel in Russia until 31 July next year, although he is likely to be granted further extensions beyond that. His supporters in Germany, including prominent members of the Green party, are pushing for him to be granted asylum in the country, given the service they say he has done in revealing the scale of surveillance, particularly the secret US monitoring of Angela Merkel's mobile phone. But the German government has made it clear that this is an unlikely as it does not view him as a political refugee.

One of the worst-case scenarios for Snowden is if Russia, after a few years of exploiting his presence for propaganda purposes, decided to do a deal with the US, possibly exchanging him for a high-profile Russian in an American jail.
Indeed.

9.
The lies behind this transatlantic trade deal

Next, we get to a different subject, namely TTIP, as treated by George Monbiot in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Panic spreads through the European commission like ferrets in a rabbit warren. Its plans to create a single market incorporating Europe and the United States, progressing so nicely when hardly anyone knew, have been blown wide open. All over Europe people are asking why this is happening; why we were not consulted; for whom it is being done.

They have good reason to ask. The commission insists that its Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership should include a toxic mechanism called investor-state dispute settlement. Where this has been forced into other trade agreements, it has allowed big corporations to sue governments before secretive arbitration panels composed of corporate lawyers, which bypass domestic courts and override the will of parliaments.

This mechanism could threaten almost any means by which governments might seek to defend their citizens or protect the natural world. Already it is being used by mining companies to sue governments trying to keep them out of protected areas; by banks fighting financial regulation; by a nuclear company contesting Germany's decision to switch off atomic power.
And it ends as follows:

Caroline Lucas, one of the few MPs interested in the sovereignty of parliament, has published an early-day motion on the issue. It has so far been signed by seven MPs. For the government, Clarke argues that to ignore the potential economic gains "in favour of blowing up a controversy around one small part of the negotiations, known as investor protection, seems to me positively Scrooge-like".

Quite right too. Overriding our laws, stripping away our rights, making parliament redundant: these are trivial and irrelevant beside the issue of how much money could be made. Don't worry your little heads about it.

Yes, indeed.

10.
Welcome Back, Jesus

Finally, an article by Robert Scheer on Truth Dig, on pope Francis' last publication:
It starts as follows:

Forget, for the moment, that he is the pope, and that Holy Father Francis’ apostolic exhortation last week was addressed “to the bishops, clergy, consecrated persons and the lay faithful.” Even if, like me, you don’t fall into one of those categories and also take issue with the Catholic Church’s teachings on a number of contested social issues, it is difficult to deny the inherent wisdom and clarity of the pontiff’s critique of the modern capitalist economy. No one else has put it as powerfully and succinctly. 

It is an appraisal based not on “just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope,” as Rush Limbaugh sneered, but rather the words of Jesus telling the tale of the Good Samaritan found in Luke, not in “Das Kapital.” As opposed to Karl Marx’s emphasis on the growing misery of a much needed but exploited working class, Francis condemns today’s economy of “exclusion” leaving the “other” as the roadkill of modern capitalism: “Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.”

There is considerably more.
---------------------------------
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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