January 15, 2014

Crisis: Internet, Germans, Krugman, Obama, NSA

   "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

Prev- crisis -Next  

Internet for Sale: Federal Court Guts Net Neutrality
2. Report: U.S. May Continue to Spy on German Political

3. Enemies of the Poor
4. Obama's Main Idea for NSA Reform: 'No More Edward

5. The NSA Can't Tell Bernie Sanders If It's Spying On Him,
     Because That Would Violate His Privacy

About ME/CFS


This is
an ordinary crisis file with six items, in five sections, mostly about the NSA, but also with a link to an article by Paul Krugman.

And I should say this is the second Nederlog of today: The precursor is a Dutch autobiography file, where I arrived in 1974 and in the beginning of 1975, which I spent in Norway. In fact, looking back on it, my Norwegian years were the best years of my life, for various reasons, that include fine health and a very beautiful surrounding, but that go much further, and that I do not know I will catch all adequately in the first round.

Also, I write my autobiography in Dutch, which is - alas - what I am, and in pieces, and one piece at a time, on a day when I have some more energy, and the pieces I wrote originally very probably will be edited some in later versions.

Anyway, today there was another autobiographical piece, in Dutch, and now I go on in English with the crisis file of today, that also includes a link to a piece by Paul Krugman, in item 3.

1. Internet for Sale: Federal Court Guts Net Neutrality

To start with, an article by Peter Scheer on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

The Washington, D.C., District Court of Appeals just eliminated the FCC’s already-compromised protection of a free and open Internet and moved to limit the federal watchdog’s authority over broadband.

First, some background: In May 2010, the FCC issued rules meant to protect net neutrality, the principle that Internet service providers must provide access without prejudice to their customers. The ISPs, particularly the big ones like Verizon and Time Warner, don’t like this. They envision a world in which companies like Netflix and YouTube pay an extra tithe so that users can speedily stream content. A site like Truthdig, for example, might get a much shoddier connection. Former FCC chair Julius Genachowski struck a compromise position. Land-based Internet connections would continue to abide by net neutrality, but over the air broadband—the data used by your phone—could play by different rules. This was a major sop to industry, since more and more people use mobile devices to access the Internet.

That clearly was the wrong legal decision. There is some more, that includes a link to the Guardian, that I now give and follow:
This is a considerably longer article, and starts thus:

Internet providers may be able to offer faster connections to preferred websites, or even block competitors, after a US appeals court ruled that regulators could no longer enforce the principle known as “net neutrality”.

In a case seen as having profound implications for the future of digital innovation and free speech, the US court of appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favour of broadband giant Verizon, following a long-running challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s rule-making powers.

FCC regulators had argued that forcing broadband providers to provide equal internet access and bandwidth to all lawful content was a cornerstone of the open internet, and that it encouraged innovation by stimulating a “virtuous circle” that drove infrastructure improvements for all users.

But Verizon and other broadband carriers maintain that it hampers their ability to strike commercial deals with content providers, and their ability to provide higher-speed access to premium material, such as high-definition films. The carriers argue deregulation could spur more growth in emerging markets like their own.

There is considerably more, that includes this reaction:

“This ruling, if it stands, will adversely affect the daily lives of Americans and fundamentally change the open nature of the internet, where uncensored access to information has been a hallmark of the communication medium since its inception,” Barbara Stripling, the president of the American Library Association, said in a statement.

“The court’s decision gives commercial companies the astounding legal authority to block internet traffic, give preferential treatment to certain internet services or applications, and steer users to or away from certain web sites based on their own commercial interests.”

Quite so.

2. Report: U.S. May Continue to Spy on German Political Leaders

Next, an article by Philip Oltermann that I found on Alternet, but that originates in the Guardian:

This starts as follows: 

America is refusing to enter a bilateral no-spy agreement with  Germany and has declined to rule out bugging the calls of German political leaders in the immediate future, according to reports in the German media.

Last October, revelations that the National Security Agency had been bugging  Angela Merkel's mobile were met with outrage in Berlin and apologetic soundbites from Washington.

President Barack Obama had reportedly assured the German leader that the US "is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of chancellor Merkel". Barely three months on, the mood seems to have changed.

I am not amazed: The NSA already seems to believe it already is the master of the internet, and acts accordingly, as also can be seen from item 5 below.

3.   Enemies of the Poor

Next, an article by Paul Krugman in the New York Times:

This starts as follows:

Suddenly it’s O.K., even mandatory, for politicians with national ambitions to talk about helping the poor. This is easy for Democrats, who can go back to being the party of F.D.R. and L.B.J. It’s much more difficult for Republicans, who are having a hard time shaking their reputation for reverse Robin-Hoodism, for being the party that takes from the poor and gives to the rich.

And the reason that reputation is so hard to shake is that it’s justified. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that right now Republicans are doing all they can to hurt the poor, and they would have inflicted vast additional harm if they had won the 2012 election. Moreover, G.O.P. harshness toward the less fortunate isn’t just a matter of spite (although that’s part of it); it’s deeply rooted in the party’s ideology, which is why recent speeches by leading Republicans declaring that they do too care about the poor have been almost completely devoid of policy specifics.

OK - though I have certainly missed that "Suddenly it’s O.K., even mandatory, for politicians with national ambitions to talk about helping the poor", but then indeed I am not an American either.

There is a considerable amount more, that you may read yourself, but I do not want to keep you from the ending:

Will this ever change? Well, Republicans weren’t always like this. In fact, all of our major antipoverty programs — Medicaid, food stamps, the earned-income tax credit — used to have bipartisan support. And maybe someday moderation will return to the G.O.P.

For now, however, Republicans are in a deep sense enemies of America’s poor. And that will remain true no matter how hard the likes of Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio try to convince us otherwise.

I think that is quite true.

4. Obama's Main Idea for NSA Reform: 'No More Edward Snowdens'

Next, an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
As President Obama puts the final touches on what is being billed as his "overhaul of the NSA," sources close to the administration have told The Hill that his number one goal is to stop any future whistleblowers like Edward Snowden.

Despite the strong public outcry over the extreme overreach of the NSA's suveillance powers—made public by former defense contractor and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—the president is expected to do very little in regards to any "substantial overhaul to the NSA," outside of increasing scrutiny of those given access to information about the agency's controversial dragnet programs.

Am I amazed? No: not at all. This is what I expect myself. But I will wait till Saturday, I suppose, when Obama will have spoken.

5. The NSA Can't Tell Bernie Sanders If It's Spying On Him, Because That Would Violate His Privacy

Finally, an article by Sam Stein and Matt Sledge in the Huffington Post:
This starts as follows:
The National Security Agency has told Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that it can not answer his question about whether it collects information on members of Congress because doing so would violate the law.

In a letter to Sanders, which was obtained by The Huffington Post, Gen. Keith Alexander, who heads the agency, insisted that nothing the NSA "does can fairly be characterized as 'spying on Members of Congress or American elected officials.'" But Alexander wouldn't go more in depth than that, arguing that he would be violating the civilian protections of the program if he did.

Here one may imagine Keith Alexander, in his Startrek Office in his secret building, going nearly out of his mind of sheer joy, because he can offend Sanders and not answer him, by claiming that admitting that he spies is ... limiting the privacy of the members of Congress.

In fact, as the article points out:
Alexander doesn't actually say so in his letter, but it's very possible that the NSA collects data on members of Congress just as it does on everyone else, in bulk. The NSA said in a statement earlier this month that members of Congress have the "same privacy protections" as ordinary citizens, which means that they too might be caught up in the NSA's terrorism queries of its telephone database, which may sweep up millions of innocent people in a single search.
Yes, indeed. Well: the NSA themselves admit that members of Congress have the "same privacy protections" as ordinary citizens, and so it stands to reason they are spied upon by Keith Alexander (and may be blackmailed because of what was found - though that is something Alexander will deny).

Anyway...this shows, it would seem, who is in control of Congress: the NSA or the big corporations, much rather than Congress itself, or indeed those who elected them.


[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 machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komarof

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)[2]

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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