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."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. How Covert Agents Infiltrate
the Internet to Manipulate,
Deceive, and Destroy
2. Inside the Mind of James Clapper
3. The internet is fucked
4. Four Darknesses: Internet
Being Manipulated, Deceived
by Western Intel Trolls
5. This Is No Recovery, This Is a Bubble –
And It Will Burst
This is today's crisis file,
which starts with two good pieces by Glenn Greenwald,
and also reviews good pieces by Juan Cole and Ha-Joon Chang. Also,
while I agree that the internet is fucked, I found the piece in The
Verge about it rather unconvincing and ill written.
Finally, I made a mistake yesterday: I use now 1600 mcg of
metafolate rather than 800. I have corrected it and I'm sorry, and
explain this also in the personal section.
1. How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to
Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations
The first article is
by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
There is a whole lot
more, including quite a few diagrams. In fact, it concerns this:
One of the many pressing
stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western
intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online
discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction.
It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant
Over the last several
weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series
trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint
Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other
three partners in the English-speaking “Five
Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are
new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception:
Training for Online Covert Operations.”
these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the
key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the
targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse
“hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into
compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here,
I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all
of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to
control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in
doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.
Among the core
self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1)
to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to
destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use
social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and
activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how
extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of
using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material
to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake
victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose
reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on
This was all quoted from
the beginning. There is a whole lot more, including many diagrams, and
I strongly recommend you read it all yourself. It probably will make
you more afraid of the NSA and GCHQ, but indeed that is quite justified.
Incidentally, the story is not - not at all - covered by many news
outlets, and also seems censored on Reddit.
the Mind of James Clapper
article is also by Glenn
Greenwald, and I found it on Common Dreams:
This is a bit less serious and also
less long than the previous piece, although it is serious enough. It
starts as follows:
I’m going to have
a story published later today about a new document, but until then, this
new interview with (and profile of) Director of National
Intelligence James Clapper by the Daily Beast‘s Eli Lake is
worth spending a few moments examining.
I will skip most, but
briefly consider two points.
First, there is this (that starts with a quotation):
OK. Next, there is this
about James Clapper, that again starts with a quote:
To this day the
U.S. government doesn’t know the full extent of what Snowden
revealed or whether more documents that have yet to be
published in the press have made their way into the hands of Russian or
Chinese intelligence agencies.
It’s been rather amazing
to watch not only the standard roster of government-loyal American
journalists, but also those who fancy themselves some sort of cynical
regurgitate the government’s evidence-free assertion that
Snowden took and then gave to journalists 1.7 million documents. It
amazes me because: (1) anyone at this point who is willing to equate
evidence-free government assertions with Truth is drowning in some
extreme levels of authoritarianism, by definition; and (2) the
government clearly has no idea what Snowden took, as report after
report has made crystal clear.
As Glenn Greenwald also
explains, Clapper may, altenatively, suffer from "pathological
self-delusion" - which indeed is my own guess.
Yes, that’s right: James
Clapper has converted the wall outside of his office into a flamboyant
homage to the very same U.S. Constitution that he vandalizes on a daily
Covering nearly an
entire wall of the waiting area outside Clapper’s office is a
wooden relief sculpture dedicated to the U.S. Constitution. It
contains a flag, a rendition of the constitutional assembly, and a copy
of the document itself. It also has a plaque that reads, “What is the
magic of the Constitution? The magic is how it states: We, the people.
For the first time in history, government was about the people, not
about the leader.”
There is considerably more in the article.
internet is fucked
article is by Nilay Patel on The Verge:
This starts as
Here’s a simple truth:
the internet has radically changed the world. Over the course of the
past 20 years, the idea of networking all the world’s computers has
gone from a research science pipe dream to a necessary condition of
economic and social development, from government and university labs to
kitchen tables and city streets. We are all travelers now, desperate
souls searching for a signal to connect us all. It is awesome.
And we’re fucking
Well... I am sorry,
but I am not "we", and I haven't done anything to fuck
up the internet. In fact, this holds for almost all normal users of the
net, of which there are billions.
And those who are
fucking it up - as I agree happens - are not the normal
users, but are the directors of quite a few of the internet
corporations and of the NSA and the security services.
In fact, it seems as
if Nilay Patel does mean something like I just said, for he continues:
Massive companies like
AT&T and Comcast have spent the first two months of 2014 boldly
announcing plans to close and control the internet through additional
fees, pay-to-play schemes, and sheer brutal size — all while the legal
rules designed to protect against these kinds of abuses were
struck down in court for basically making too much sense.
Yes, that seems to be
correct - but then there is, further down below, more of the same
as started this article:
We’re really, really
fucking this up.
But we can fix it, I
swear. We just have to start telling each other the truth. Not the
doublespeak bullshit of regulators and lobbyists, but the actual truth.
Once we have the truth, we have the power — the power to demand better
not only from our government, but from the companies that serve us as
well. "This is a political fight," says Craig Aaron, president of the
advocacy group Free Press. "When the internet speaks with a unified
voice politicians rip their hair out."
We can do it. Let’s start.
Go ahead, say it out loud. The internet is a utility.
"We" fucked it up but
- "I swear" - "we" can fix it. How? By starting to tell the
truth. And then it seems "we" (almost) all have to say is "The internet is a utility". And then "we" are almost there, with
fixing it. (?!?!)
I'm sorry: "We" didn't fuck it up, and "we" - whoever "we" are, with a few rare exceptions - can't fix it
either, and "we" on the internet certainly do not speak "with a unified voice", because the internet never was unified, after the
very first days: people are all different from each other. Also, I
totally miss the point of saying that the internet is a utility. I
mean: yes... but so what? The roads and bridges in the US also are
utilities, and nevertheless are hardly maintained.
But OK... Nilay Patel
seems to mean well, and there is a lot more in the article, and some of
it, e.g. about internet speeds, I did not know.
Then again, it is not
my style of writing, and if this is the writing standard of The Verge -
which I only saw today, for the first time - I'm afraid it is a bit too
dumb for me.
Darknesses: Internet Being Manipulated, Deceived by Western Intel Trolls
Next, an article by Juan
Cole on Truth Dig:
This starts as follows:
Yes, indeed, and I wrote
about this before, whereas Juan Cole next provides a link to Glenn
Greenwald's article, that I reviewed under item 1.
Researchers on online
have shown that internet trolls (people who use insincere techniques to
disrupt conversations) really are psychopaths, marked by narcissism,
sadism, Machiavellianism. Professors Eric Buckels, Paul
Trapnell, and Delroy Paulhus administered surveys to students and found
that about 6 percent of them enjoyed messing with other people’s heads
on the internet, or trolling. This same group scored high on the
four most vicious personality traits, known as the dark tetrad.
They agreed when asked questions like this:
I have been compared to
famous people (narcissism)
It’s not wise to tell your secrets (Machiavellianism)
Payback needs to be quick and nasty (psychopathy)
Hurting people is exciting (sadism)
In video games, I like the realistic blood sports (vicarious sadism)
Now it turns out that
Western intelligence agencies who say that they are fighting al-Qaeda
are actually spending time trolling the internet, displaying all the
same Dark Tetrad characteristics. Their victims include
“hacktivists,” but note that they are targeting these individuals on
suspicion of hacking and that the persons targeted have not been
convicted of any crime.
And about the tactics of the totally anonymous assholes of the
NSA and the GCHQ, who can read everything you do, and can
anonymously do as they please with it, all very well paid by tax
dollars also, Cole correctly remarks, with my bolding:
Indeed, and that is part
of the point, that he further explained as follows:
Again, these things were
being done by government employees to people they just
didn’t like. There is no pretense of law or due process here.
To have such
institutions, pay for by tax payers, engaging in trolling the internet
is highly corrosive of the values of a democratic country.
Democratic politics depends on citizens knowing each other and knowing
where they stand politically. To have secret government officers
manipulating the reputations of people, breaking up their friendships
and associations, and entrapping them with sex set-ups creates a
situation where it is impossible to trust democratic process.
Whenever you hear of a powerful person being embroiled in a scandal,
you have to now at least ask, was this an intelligence agency that took
him or her down? Was it because they were in the way of some
corrupt goal? For when there is no real civilian oversight over
invisible government, the opportunity for graft and other criminal
behavior is enormous.
Yes, quite so. And there is
civilian oversight over invisible government", for Obama, and Hayden, and Clapper, and Feinstein, and
Rogers are against this:
They all think it is much better if their secret spooks know everything
about anyone and can secretly manipulate everything, for that
supports their powers, while secretively undermining and destroying
anyone who is not pleased with that.
Anyway - this is a good article that you ought to read all of.
5. This Is No Recovery, This Is a Bubble –
And It Will Burst
Next, there is an article by
Ha-Joon Chang, who teaches economics at the University of Cambridge in
London. It was originally in the Guardian, but I found it on
It starts as follows, with
to the stock market, the UK economy is in a boom. Not just any old
boom, but a historic one. On 28 October 2013, the FTSE 100 index
hit 6,734, breaching the level achieved at the height of the
economic boom before the 2008 global financial crisis (that was 6,730,
recorded in October 2007).
There is more Good News
about the stock markets in the USA, which Ha-Joon Chang also relates,
and which found its way to the Dutch NRC, that opened nearly two weeks
ago with a headline over the whole page that said (translated) "Growth
spurt economy gives hope: are the dark days past?".
Since then, it has had
ups and downs, but on 21 February 2014 the FTSE 100 climbed to a new
height of 6,838. At this rate, it may soon surpass the highest ever
level reached since the index began in 1984 – that was 6,930, recorded
in December 1999, during the heady days of the dotcom bubble.
Except that, at least according to Ha-Joon Chang, this is mostly fake
"Good News" and is in fact another bubble:
This is definitely
the biggest stock market bubble in modern history.
Ha-Joon Chang considers
some evidence, including Ben Bernanke's optimism in 2004, who thought
that we had then entered an era of "great moderation" - except that he
was quite mistaken.
Even more extraordinary
than the inflated prices is that, unlike in the two previous share
price booms, no one is offering a plausible narrative explaining why
the evidently unsustainable levels of share prices are actually
Here is Chang's conclusion, about what needs to be done, and what may
be expected if this is not done:
This will require
a more sustainable increase in consumption based on rising wages rather
than debts, greater productive investments that will expand the
economy's ability to produce, and the introduction of financial
regulation that will make banks lend more to productive enterprises
than to consumers. Unfortunately, these are exactly the things that the
current policymakers in the US and the UK don't want to do.
Yes, I think that the
probability is that he is right.
We are heading for
Finally, as I also
said in the introduction, I made a mistake in yesterday's piece that I
ought to have seen but missed: I am taking 1600 mcg of metafolate
lately, that is, twice 800 mcg a day.
I'm sorry, and I have already uploaded a correction in yesterday's
Nederlog. The explanation is that I did a lot yesterday, but
forgot to multiply by two.
 Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, that the governors do not
rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the
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 one of the
citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the
supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to
be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I
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: