26, 2013
Crisis: Snowden * 4, Einstein, UN, personal
  "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.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

  1. Edward Snowden's Christmas Message to the World -

  2. Edward Snowden broadcasts Channel 4's alternative
       Christmas Day message

  3. Internet privacy as important as human rights, says
       UN's Navi Pillay

  4. You, me and Edward Snowden – we've all been let down
       by the EU

  5. Snowden: Society Deserves Chance to 'Govern,'
      'Change' Itself

  6. Albert Einstein: “A Foolish Faith In Authority Is The
       Worst Enemy Of The Truth”
  7. Personal
About ME/CFS


I had more or less promised I would today comment on my piece of a year ago, but did not (see item 7 for a brief explanation) and instead made a regular crisis item.

1. Edward Snowden's Christmas Message to the World - 2013

To start with, here is a link to Edward Snowden's Christmas message:

And here follows the full text, which I give because (1) it turned out to be fairly difficult to find and (2) I have seen two - very ugly, extremely dishonest - CNN media-whores who showed just a small part and otherwise presented the NSA's point of view:

Hi, and Merry Christmas. I'm honoured to have the chance to speak with you and your family this year.

Recently, we learned that our governments, working in concert, have created a system of worldwide mass surveillance, watching everything we do.

Great Britain's George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information. The types of collection in the book — microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us — are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go.

Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person. A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They'll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves — an unrecorded, unanalysed thought. And that's a problem, because privacy matters. Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.

The conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it. Together, we can find a better balance. End mass surveillance. And remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.

For everyone out there listening, thank you, and Merry Christmas.

I fear everything said is quite true, and indeed am glad that I was born in 1950 rather than much later, which allowed me to live through the Sixties and Seventies, that seem to be - for people living in Europe and the US etc. - the best decades of the previous century, at least in terms of available riches for everyone, the general outlook, the arts, and the sciences, and I am also glad I have no children, because I have been ill for 35 years, so far.

Edward Snowden broadcasts Channel 4's alternative Christmas Day message

Next, here is an article by Peter Walker in the Guardian of the previous item:

It starts as follows:

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who prompted a worldwide debate when he leaked a cache of top secret documents about US and UK spying, has recorded a Christmas Day television message in which he calls for an end to the mass surveillance revealed by his disclosures.

The short film was recorded for Channel 4, which has 20-year history of providing unusual but relevant figures as an alternative to the Queen's Christmas message shown by other UK broadcasters. It will be Snowden's first television appearance since arriving in Moscow.

The address, broadcast at 4.15pm on Christmas Day, was filmed in Russia where Snowden is living after being granted temporary asylum – by Laura Poitras, a film-maker who has closely collaborated with him on the NSA stories.

In the rest of the article, considerable amounts of the message are repeated, as are some other things he said.

3.  Internet privacy as important as human rights, says UN's Navi Pillay

Next, an article by Haroon Siddique in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The UN human rights chief, Navi Pillay, has compared the uproar in the international community caused by revelations of mass surveillance with the collective response that helped bring down the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Pillay, the first non-white woman to serve as a high-court judge in South Africa, made the comments in an interview with Sir Tim Berners-Lee on a special edition of BBC Radio 4's Today programme, which the inventor of the world wide web was guest editing.

Pillay has been asked by the UN to prepare a report on protection of the right to privacy, in the wake of the former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden leaking classified documents about UK and US spying and the collection of personal data.

There is considerably more in the article, of which I only quote this:
The UN general assembly unanimously voted last week to adopt a resolution, introduced by Germany and Brazil, stating that "the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy". Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, were among those spied on, according to the documents leaked by Snowden.

I agree to this, and indeed notice that the position of both the NSA and the GCHQ, and the American and English governments is the contrary:

Your position on line and on the phone is different from the rights you have elsewhere, granted by the Declaration of Human Rights and other documents: On line and on the phone you have no rights, and anything anyone can get from you is valid, because they can get it.

The previous paragraph does state the opinions of the American and English governments.

4.  You, me and Edward Snowden – we've all been let down by the EU

Next, an article by Mike Harris in the Guardian:

This is from the beginning:

Europe has seen no co-ordinated action to stop the mass state surveillance of the US and Britain. Journalists face prison for libel. Media monopolies go unopposed. This continent's history forged the desire to build a new set of European values which actively protected human rights and a club to do so: the European Union. It's time for the EU to step up, otherwise this siege is likely to become a crisis.

And this from the middle:

It's not only Hungary and Italy that have threatened free speech. In 24 of the 28 EU member states, journalists face prison due to criminal defamation laws. Just yesterday, Romania's parliament voted to reintroduce prison sentences for libel and insult, to the despair of the country's civil rights groups. The European Commission hasn't helped. In January it suggested that Romania should protect reputation better, to the bewilderment of Romanian NGOs.

On the biggest recent challenge to free speech, the EU has been left wanting. No EU member state seriously considered granting Edward Snowden asylum. The commission has been notably silent after the Guardian found the police in its offices with orders to destroy its computers.

There is rather a lot more, but yes: The EU seems to function mostly as if it is an extension of Obama's government, and the reason - that I can see - is that most of its parliamentarians belong to the governing elites of their countries.

5. Snowden: Society Deserves Chance to 'Govern,' 'Change' Itself

Next, an article by Jon Queally on Commom Dreams:

This starts as follows:

“If I defected at all, I defected from the government to the public.”

That's just one of the striking things NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden told the Washington Post's Barton Gellman during two-days of "near constant conversation" in a hotel room in Russia—a rare person-to-person interview with the man who has rocked the world by revealing vast details about how the most powerful spy agencies in the world use clandestine technologies to gaze on an increasingly digitized and interconnected population.

In fact, this is a good summary of the long recent interview Barton Gellman had with Edward Snowden in Moscow. Since I did the same on December 24, 2013, you can - if thus inclined - compare the two. (Jon Queally's article also has good subtitles.)

6. Albert Einstein: “A Foolish Faith In Authority Is The Worst Enemy Of The Truth”

As the last crisis item, an article on Washington's Blog
This is the first section (of four) and the coloring and links are in the original:

Don’t Be Foolish

Albert Einstein said:

A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of the truth.

Indeed, scientists have shown that people will go to absurd lengths - and engage in mental gymnastics – in order to cling to their belief in what those in authority have said.

Part of the reason so many are so vulnerable to naive belief in authority is that we evolved in small tribes … and we assume that the super-elites are just like us.

In reality, there are millions of psychopaths in the world … and they are largely running D.C. and on Wall Street.

These people have no hesitation in lying to promote their goals.

The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs told Morley Safer of 60 Minutes and CBS News:

Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? — stupid.

And studies show that the super-rich lie, cheat and steal more than the rest of us.

Note this is the first of four sections. I mostly agree, although I myself would add that (1) "a foolish faith in authority" is the mark of the dumb and the average, and always has been, and (2) almost anyone I've met had little or "no hesitation in lying to promote their goals" - but yes, it matters to whom you lie to and what you lie about, and the members of the elites can and do lie to many more people about much more important issues than other people. (But honesty is not common when people are speaking to others who are outside of their own  in-groups. Period. [2])

Then again, I agree that the people who are very rich and also the great majority of those who get elected (1) are usually worse people, speaking morally, than those who elect them are, on average, and (2) have acquired their eminence mostly not because of their intellectual eminence (which they often lack) but because of their moral lowness (which they commonly have, in a much greater proportion than ordinary people).

For a further assessment of moral and intellectual qualities of the human animal, see my
GW: The world, the people, the disease.


Again there was today no redoing of my piece of a year ago (yesterday). I am sorry: I will do it, eventually: it is a pessimistic diagnosis, but it got strongly confirmed.

Today I got deflected by bad sleep; by the fact that in Holland, where I have to live, alas, there is a Second Christmas Day; and also by Snowden's Christmas message, which I thought you would not want to miss, also not in Nederlog.


[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.)

[2] This also drives the corporations, the political parties and the religions: Their staffs and their personnel generally tend to lie to people - as in propaganda, as in public relations - who are not in the corporations, parties or religions. The reason is very simple: These are not members of the group.

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)

       home - index - summaries - mail