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Nederlog

February 7, 2014

Crisis: Snowden (?), Chomsky, TPP, Surveillance, Fight back


   "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  
Sections     
Introduction   

1.
The New Snowden Revelation Is Dangerous for
     Anonymous — And for All of Us

2. 
Chomsky: No Wonder the World Is Terrified of America --
     We're the Biggest Threat

3. As TPP Opposition Soars, Corporate Media Blackout
     Deafening

4. Selling Your Secrets in the Wild West of Surveillance
5.
Get ready: the day we fight back against mass
     surveillance is coming


About ME/CFS


Introduction: 

This is the crisis file for today. It is uploaded a few hours earlier than is normal.

1. The New Snowden Revelation Is Dangerous for Anonymous — And for All of Us

First, an article by Gabriella Coleman on Wired - that I don't quite agree with:
This starts as follows:

The latest Snowden-related revelation is that Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) proactively targeted the communications infrastructure used by the online activist collective known as Anonymous.

Specifically, they implemented distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on the internet relay chat (IRC) rooms used by Anonymous. They also implanted malware to out the personal identity details of specific participants. And while we only know for sure that the U.K.’s GCHQ and secret spy unit known as the “Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group” (JTRIG) launched these attacks in an operation called “Rolling Thunder,” the U.S.’ NSA was likely aware of what they were doing because the British intelligence agents presented their program interventions at the NSA conference SIGDEV in 2012. (Not to mention the two agencies sharing close ties in general.)

Why is this important? Coleman explains:

Whether you agree with the activities of Anonymous or not — which have included everything from supporting the Arab Spring protests to DDoSing copyright organizations to doxing child pornography site users — the salient point is that democratic governments now seem to be using their very tactics against them.

The key difference, however, is that while those involved in Anonymous can and have faced their day in court for those tactics, the British government has not. When Anonymous engages in lawbreaking, they are always taking a huge risk in doing so. But with unlimited resources and no oversight, organizations like the GCHQ (and theoretically the NSA) can do as they please. And it’s this power differential that makes all the difference.

Well...no, not quite.

On the basis of what I know I much dislike and fear the NSA and the GCHQ (and my fear is not about myself, by the way, but about others), and I am much more positive about Anonymous, though I also know much less about them.

But another relevant difference is that the NSA and the GCHQ are governmental institutions, which have certain tasks, and one of these is spying. I disagree with much they do; I think they massively break the law; I do not at all believe - as they seem to do - that anything
they can do is permissible (for that means that all morality and all standards go overboard); and I think it is very important that they are limited and properly controlled as soon as possible, but I do not think that the only difference ("all the difference") is "this power differential".

You may as well say that the only difference between a policeman (who may be crooked, and who may act illegally and improperly, and who may not work according to regulations) and a burglar is "
this power differential". Again it is not, because the first party is part of the government and at least formally on the side of the law, and the other party is private, non-governmental and not on the side of the law, not even merely formally.

There is considerably more in the article, but it all is much weaker than it could be because it doesn't consider that there is more than "
this power differential": there is the major difference that the NSA and the GCHQ are governmental institutions who break the law, which is worse than private persons doing the same.

2.  Chomsky: No Wonder the World Is Terrified of America -- We're the Biggest Threat

Next,
an article by Noam Chomsky on AlterNet:
This starts as follows, and is not a big article:
As the year 2013 drew to an end, the BBC reported on the results of the WIN/Gallup International poll on the question: “Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?”
 
The United States was the champion by a substantial margin, winning three times the votes of second-place Pakistan.
But then that is to be expected from the fact that the military budget of the US is enormous, and that there are many military actions undertaken by the US, many indeed of doubtful legality at best.

3.  As TPP Opposition Soars, Corporate Media Blackout Deafening 

Next, an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Last week, more than 550 groups, representing tens of millions of individual members, signed a letter to members of Congress urging them to vote against a push by President Obama for 'fast track' authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a so-called "free trade" now under negotation between the U.S. and eleven other Pacific rim nations.

The week before that, another 50 groups launched an energized online campaign called StopFastTrack.com in order to kill the TPP agreement—dubbed "NAFTA on steroids"—that they say "threatens everything you care about: democracy, jobs, the environment, and the Internet."

But if you watch the evening cable or broadcast news shows, you might not know anything about the TPP—not what it is, not why Obama says it would be good for the country, and certainly not why these hundreds of public interest groups, environmentalists, economists, and labor organizations say trade agreements like this are the source of economic and labor woes, not the solution to them.
Yes, quite so - although I must admit I rarely watch "the evening cable or broadcast news shows". But the numbers are quite conclusive, and I agree they are disquieting.

My reason is this: If "the media" - such as are seen or read by the majority - by and large ignore a major development that is of basic and fundamental importance to "
democracy, jobs, the environment, and the Internet", which I agree the TPP is, then democracy ceased to work: You can only approve or disapprove if you know, and by and large the majority will only know what is in the major news media.

And this is one example that indeed
democracy ceased to work, at least so far as the TPP is concerned: although the US government insists on its great importance, the US population is largely both ignorant and blind, simply because they are not told anything, or are told hardly anything, and the little they are told is slanted.

4. Selling Your Secrets in the Wild West of Surveillance

Next, an article by Pratap Chatterjee on Common Dreams (and originally on tomdispatch):

This starts as follows:
Imagine that you could wander unseen through a city, sneaking into houses and offices of your choosing at any time, day or night.  Imagine that, once inside, you could observe everything happening, unnoticed by others -- from the combinations used to secure bank safes to the clandestine rendezvous of lovers. Imagine also that you have the ability to silently record everybody’s actions, whether they are at work or play without leaving a trace. Such omniscience could, of course, make you rich, but perhaps more important, it could make you very powerful.

That scenario out of some futuristic sci-fi novel is, in fact, almost reality right now.  After all, globalization and the Internet have connected all our lives in a single, seamless virtual city where everything is accessible at the tap of a finger. We store our money in online vaults; we conduct most of our conversations and often get from place to place with the help of our mobile devices. Almost everything that we do in the digital realm is recorded and lives on forever in a computer memory that, with the right software and the correct passwords, can be accessed by others, whether you want them to or not.

Yes indeed - and this is a good sketch of the powers of the NSA, the GCHQ and related secret services. And Chatterjee goes on:

Now -- one more moment of imagining -- what if every one of your transactions in that world was infiltrated? What if the government had paid developers to put trapdoors and secret passages into the structures that are being built in this new digital world to connect all of us all the time? What if they had locksmiths on call to help create master keys for all the rooms? And what if they could pay bounty hunters to stalk us and build profiles of our lives and secrets to use against us?

Well, check your imagination at the door, because this is indeed the brave new dystopian world that the U.S. government is building, according to the latest revelations from the treasure trove of documents released by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

There is a lot more, all well told and well researched. He also advices readers to use Linux and Duck Duck Go. It may not keep you from being spied upon, but it does make it more difficult.top

Recommended.

5.
Get ready: the day we fight back against mass surveillance is coming

Finally for today, an article by Dan Gillmor in the Guardian (and at other places):
This starts as follows:

Two years ago, major websites like Google, Reddit and Wikipedia went dark for a day. They were protesting the then-pending "Stop Online Piracy Act," federal legislation that would have done enormous damage to the open internet by creating system of censorship and deterring digital-media innovators. The 18 January 2012 blackout created an outpouring of opposition from average Americans who suddenly realized what was at stake, and Congress backed off a bill that almost certainly would have passed otherwise.

There won't be a website blackout next Tuesday, 11 February, but there will be another virtual call to arms. In the US the primary goal this time is to help reverse America's retreat from liberty by telling lawmakers we can't abide a surveillance state – and by insisting they vote for a measure, called the USA Freedom Act, that would begin to restore the civil liberties we've lost in recent times. (For people outside the US the goal will be similar, to push authorities toward policies favoring liberty and privacy.)

Not only that:

Next week's protest organizers are calling it "The Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance". They've lined up an array of backers of various political persuasions. You don't often see the American Civil Liberties Union on the same side of an issue as the very conservative FreedomWorks, but they are this time.

There is considerably more, and it ends like this, indeed also correctly:
Fighting back will be a long, difficult process, and will take more than contacting members of Congress. But this is one useful activity, among many others we'll need to try. Let's not allow realism to turn to despair, meanwhile. The stakes are too high.
And to conclude on the meaning of my "also correctly": Yes, it "will be a long, difficult process".

But it is about keeping your freedom, and about keeping democracy: Both will be stolen from you by the NSA, the GCHQ and the other governmental spies, if you do not react, in sufficient numbers, and with sufficient persistence.

---------------

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

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)[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
Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)


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