This is today's crisis issue, after a Dutch
part earlier today. I do not think that the crisis is very relevant
today, at least judged by what I found on the internet, but that is
just my impression, and in any case there is a video
in item 5, with a prominent German economist, that
shows the crisis is far from over, and may easily grow worse.
In any case, if you are
bored, there also is another video, in item 6, that
shows the last
performance of the Beatles, now over 45 years ago. I was 18 at the
time, and learned since then that time flies...
Radical Fix for the Justice System:
In fact, this
is a reaction to a
considerably longer article, that does not contain the term
"socialism", though its title has the word "socialized", but in any
case it does make a fair point, which is this - and I quote a quotation:
But when Bill
Gates spends hundreds or thousands of times more than I could to defend
himself against a criminal indictment, the very act of doing so
actually diminishes my status as a citizen. In a democracy, what makes
people equal before the state isn’t that everyone has adequate
procedural rights. It’s that everyone has the exact same procedural
rights. It must be that, in the eyes of the law, there is no difference
between rich and poor. If the rich have more rights—if they have fuller
status as citizens—then by definition everyone else has fewer rights
and lesser status.
Yes, that seems to be a
reasonable argument, though I do not know about "procedural rights"
In any case, the reason I do not much believe that a poor man has
the same rights in a court of law as a rich man, is that it turned out,
repeatedly also, that I did not have them, when I wanted to
prosecute the City and the University of Amsterdam: I could only
certain class of lawyer, who generally did not do what I wanted (and
that very slowly, and with considerable arrogance), and who
also did not
explain things clearly or at all, and who also were nearly all lacking
intelligence and knowledge.
And the main reason that I won my case against the University is that I
kicked out two incompetent and quite disinterested lawyers, and did it
This is probably due to the peculiarities of the Dutch system of law,
where at the time poor people could and did get a free lawyer, but then
that often was
not a good lawyer, and rich people could get a good lawyer by paying
him. It seems to me that this is the case everywhere, in
some specific set-up that may vary: The rich get the good lawyers, and
the poor get
the rest, somehow. (And these days the Dutch poor have to pay too, and
usually get a second-rate lawyer at best.)
2.Pete Seeger and the
NSA Next, an article by Cindy Cohn, who is the legal
director of the Electronic Frontier Foundations, on Common Dreams:
Actually, it is mostly about
the NSA, but Pete Seeger (who, as you probably know, recently died aged
94) comes in as follows:
In 1955, Seeger was
called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he
defiantly refused to answer questions about others who he associated
with and who shared his political beliefs and associations, believing
Congress was violating his First Amendment rights. He was especially
concerned about revealing his associations:
I will be glad to
tell what songs I have ever sung, because singing is my business. . .
. But I decline to say who has ever listened to them, who has
written them, or other people who have sung them.
But if the same thing
were to happen today, a Congressional subpoena and a public hearing
wouldn’t be necessary for the government to learn all of our
associations and other "private affairs." Since the NSA has been
collecting and keeping them, they could just get that same information
from their own storehouses of our records.
That is all quite right. I
will say more about it below, but I first want to say a few things
about Pete Seeger, whom I have known about a long time, because my
parents were communists, and he was a communist, for which reason I
certainly knew of him in the 1950ies.
I didn't like him much, although that didn't have much to do with his
qualities: I didn't like banjos; he didn't have a great voice; and I,
who didn't know any English then, didn't understand what he was singing
about either - and by the time I could understand his texts, there were
many more like him, some with better voices and better texts, and with
guitars, and a lot
younger, so again I did not pay much attention to him.
This also explains why I did not pay any attention to his death. But
Cindy Cohn did not want to write about Pete Seeger: she wanted to write
about the NSA, and she continues thus:
It doesn't matter whether
the government wants associations to look for possibly "illegal"
activities of civil rights activists, Communist sympathizers,
anarchists, trade unionists, war resisters, gun rights activists,
environmental activists, drug legalization advocates, or wants to go
after legitimate criminals and potential terrorists, if the government
can't justify the collection of this "metadata" on this "strict
scrutiny" standard, they’re not allowed to collect any of it. Yet right
now, they collect all of it.
Yes, quite so: this is also as
I understand the American law and the Constitution (and I have read
both, though not much of the law). Cindy Cohn also says:
Each of these
programs effectively allows the government to do to you what Pete
Seeger refused to let them do to him—track your associations, beliefs
and other private affairs without proper legal protections. And
they can do this at scale that was unimaginable in 1955, thanks to the
digital nature of our communications, the digital tools that allow them
to search automatically rather than by hand and the fact that so
much more about these private affairs is in the hands of third parties
like our phone and internet companies.
Indeed - though I should add
that the "third parties" argument seems worthless to me ("since you
gave them to someone else, you gave them to everyone", is roughly how
this runs, which is as mad as it sounds): It is the same with
non-electronic paper mail. Anyone who has a letter in an
steam the envelop open and read the letter with very little
trouble: the point is not and never was what one can do,
what one is or should be allowed to do.
That is: In a free state, many things are forbidden
that people can do, in order to protect the people, while in an
unfree state, the government is allowed to do anything
it pleases, if it can do them. The USA now is not a free state
Also, I never gave the NSA any permission to read my mails, although I
know now that they probably do, because they can, and because so far no
one who should stop them has done so.
3. Revealed: NSA Receiving Data of Tens of
Thousands of Internet Users
Next, an article by Sarah Lazare, on Common Dreams:
This is mostly
about the following bit, that came to light after a tip of the veil was
Information from Yahoo,
Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Facebook reveals that in the first six
months of 2013 alone, the NSA requested private data from at least
59,000 user accounts, the Washington Post summarizes.
According to a Yahoo
announcement, the company was asked by the the NSA to turn over
content from at least 30,000 users during the first six months of 2013.
During this same period, Facebook was asked to turn over data from at
least 5,000 users, according to a post
from the corporation. Microsoft was asked to hand over
info from at
least 15,000 users during this period.
Note this is in half
year. What these nearly 60,000 people - 10,000 a month, on average -
are supposed to have done is not revealed.
Recession After 30 Years of Neoliberal Counterrevolution
Next, an article by Yves Smith
on Naked Capitalism:
This is concerned with the
following (skipping a bit from the start):
The revelations made
public in recent months by Snowden have shown just
how easy it is to spy on Germany, how poorly prepared the country's
officials are and how clueless the population is.
They have also led the
government to promise a large digital offensive. No matter what areas
of life are affected by the web, it is to become safer, more
people-friendly and more powerful. People in Germany are to regain
their digital sovereignty and be able to surf the net with confidence.
And the country itself is to achieve digital independence by
establishing an independent infrastructure that is free of reliance on
Such are the goals of the
"digital agenda" that the government hopes to assemble in the first
quarter of this year. And though the starting point is poor, the
Snowden affair could nonetheless become something of a turning point.
Then again, the article
also makes clear that for the moment the Germans are more involved with
politics and power than with saving the internet. So do not hold your
6. It was 45 years ago...
Finally, merely as an
amusement, a reminder of when the Beatles last played together, which
was 45 years ago last week, for it was on January 30, 1969, that they
last played a brief gig, that was stopped by the police, who were sent
"to turn that noise off":
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
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.
note the whole file I
quote from is quite pertinent.)
(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: