"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."
1. NSA review to leave spying
2. The NSA's Winter of
3. Instead of Reining In Mass
Surveillance, Obama Tries to
Put Lipstick On a
4. BLOGSCAN - US Supreme Court
Turns Down Pfizer
Appeal of RICO
5. The Big Winner Of The
is another crisis item, and while it is on a Saturday, I still have
five items, and a brief personal note. This was written and uploaded a
bit earlier than on most days.
NSA review to leave spying programs largely unchanged,
start with, an article by Spencer Ackerman in the Guardian that has the
most amazing news - well, not really:
This starts as follows:
I am not amazed, and
indeed I would have been amazed if Obama had offered to reign
in his -
secret, covered by secret courts - spying on everyone, for that takes
courage and vision, and would lessen the gigantic possibilities for
control and manipulation the NSA and the American government now has.
A participant in a White
House-sponsored review of surveillance activities described as
“shameful” an apparent decision to leave most of the National Security
Agency’s controversial bulk spying intact.
Sascha Meinrath, director
of the Open Technology Institute, said Friday that the review panel he
advised is at risk of missing an opportunity to restore confidence in
US surveillance practices.
“The review group was
searching for ways to make the most modest pivot necessary to continue
business as usual,” Meinrath said.
Headed by the CIA’s
former deputy director, Michael Morrell, the review is expected to
deliver its report to President Barack Obama on Sunday, the White House
confirmed, although it is less clear when and how substantially its
report will be available to the public.
There is considerably more in the article I an going to leave to you,
but here is most of its ending:
"Yes, we scan!"
The Open Technology
Institute’s Meinrath said (..)
“I think what they’re
going to find is when the initial dust settles from this attempt to
spin the story is that people are going to be quick to realize this is
not meaningful reform, this is not a bold new direction, and it is not
going to do much to rein in a surveillance regime run amok.”
The NSA's Winter of Discontent
Next, an article by
Laura Murphy, that originated on the Blog of Rights / ACLU, but that I
found on Common Dreams:
This is considerably
more optimistic than the previous item, and starts thus:
The summer of Snowden is
fast becoming the NSA's winter of discontent.
This week, tech giants
Google, Apple, Facebook and others published an open letter to
President Obama and Congress urging comprehensive reform of "government
surveillance efforts." Then more than 500 writers, including five
Pulitzer Prize winners, signed
a petition to the United Nations calling for a digital bill of
rights to protect freedom and privacy online. In that eloquent way of
theirs, they wrote: "A person under surveillance is no longer free; a
society under surveillance is no longer a democracy."
I agree, but the
president seems to see it quite otherwise, and one should trust him,
the president says (and not try to find out things). In any
case, the article is somewhat optimistic,
and indeed also gives reasonable evidence.
I leave it mostly to
you, but quote the ending:
And with pressure
intensifying in the House for a vote, the USA FREEDOM Act
should hit the floor sometime in the new year—a vote the Obama
administration and the NSA will no doubt lobby
Here's hoping the NSA's
winter of discontent becomes a democratic spring. Innocent Americans
should never have to worry their government's awesome surveillance
capabilities are intercepting, filtering, collecting, analyzing, and
storing the intimate details of their lives. Appallingly, they do.
I hope so too, but my
expectation of that outcome is not larger than a probability of 1/2 at
3. Instead of Reining In Mass
Surveillance, Obama Tries to Put Lipstick On a Pig
Next, an article on the same
subject as the last two on Washington's Blog, that was written
later than the
previous item, and that is considerably less optimistic:
We were right to doubt
Obama is simply going to
put lipstick on a pig … and make
no real changes.
It then quotes the
Guardian I quoted above, and continues to quote the Washington Post:
And the Washington Post writes:
administration has decided to preserve a controversial arrangement
under which a single military official is permitted to direct both the
National Security Agency and the military’s cyberwarfare command, U.S.
officials said. The decision by President Obama comes amid signs that
the White House is not inclined to impose significant new restraints on
the NSA’s activities and favors maintaining an agency program that
collects data on virtually every phone call that Americans make
…. Some officials, including top U.S. intelligence officials, had
argued that the NSA and Cyber Command should be placed under separate
leadership to ensure greater accountability and avoid an undue
concentration of power.
“The big picture is
there’s not going to be that much [additional] constraint” by the White
House, said a second U.S. official, speaking on the condition of
anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “They’re really not
hurting [NSA] that much.”
Of course, the other main
defenders of the status quo – congressional intelligence chairs
Feinstein and Rogers – are mounting their own
phony “reform” efforts.
Yes. In any case, if
the Leahy-Sensenbrenner motion doesn't make it, nothing will stop Obama
to carry on as before, although possibly with some props a bit altered.
- US Supreme Court Turns Down Pfizer Appeal of RICO Conviction
Next, a change of
subject, namely to the very corrupt US Big Pharma. The article is
brief, by Roy M. Poses MD, and is on Health Care Renewal:
This starts as follows:
Inc, which boasts of being the
world's largest research based pharmaceutical company, also seems to be
one of the world's largest examples of health care corporations that
have withstood an amazing number of settlements, fines, and at times
convictions for misbehavior without major apologies, significant
changes in leadership or corporate culture, or bankruptcy. (Look here
for a list of the cases, and here for
all we have written about Pfizer).
However, none of the
individuals who work for Pfizer is prosecuted in any way, I
because they too are "too big to fail", or because they may argue, if
they should be treated like bank managers, or because Mr Eric Holder is
there to protect the mega-rich and not to attack them.
amazingly, has the malodorous
distinction of having been convicted by a US jury as a RICO - a
racketeering influenced corrupt organization in 2010 (look here).
Pfizer executives, of course, kept their office of counsel busy by
appealing the conviction, all the way up to the US Supreme Court.
on the 1BoringOldMan blog, the court has now turned down the appeal and
let the conviction, which had been affirmed by lower federal court,
stand. So Pfizer is now officially a racketeering influenced
In any case, they can go on, though they are corrupt racketeers, and
they will go on, until they are personally attacked and personally
jailed: the profits are enormous. The article concludes
As we have said
endlessly, true health care reform will not occur until the leaders of
large health care organizations are made accountable for their actions,
and are prevented from becoming amazingly rich while their
organizations repeatedly commit unethical or illegal acts that harm
patients' and the public's health.
And that is what US medicine
now is like: A set of "racketeering influenced
corrupt organizations", that are only out to maximize their own
profits, and that are capable of doing almost anything for that,
including falsifying or withholding data, ghostwriting, and
bullshitting for decades, as do and did the psychiatrists, since 1980.
5. The Big Winner Of The Budget Deal
Finally for today, a video
by The Young Turks:
This is a nearly 11 minute
discussion of the big winner in the American budget deal, which is the
Pentagon. This receives, for itself, almost ten times as much as is
spend on education. They get 652 billion dollars, in a time of peace
The discussion is fairly
long and fairly sarcastic, and has several good graphics, such as this
Yesterday I said I
had been less well for two days, and suspected my vitamins. Whether
that's correct is not answered, as I cleared up in the evening. I did
take today the vitamins of "the earlier program". It remains
problematic, but it also is a fact that this year was better than the
last year, which was pretty awful in the second half. My eyes are still
far from OK, and I still feel them most of the day, but they are a lot
better than they were a year ago.
Anyway. If tomorrow there is little or no crisis news, I'll write a
Nederlog on something else, and indeed may continue with my Dutch
autobio. But I don't know, and you'll have to find out for yourselves,
 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.