26, 2014
Crisis: Greenwald * 2, internet, 4 Darknesses, Bubble, 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

Prev- crisis -Next

1. How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate,
     Deceive, and Destroy Reputations

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
6. Personal
About ME/CFS


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:

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 documents.

Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty 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 publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”

There is a whole lot more, including quite a few diagrams. In fact, it concerns this:
By publishing 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.
And this:
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 various forums.
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.

2. Inside the Mind of James Clapper

The next 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):

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 critics, uncritically 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.

OK. Next, there is this about James Clapper, that again starts with a quote:

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.”

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 basis.
As Glenn Greenwald also explains, Clapper may, altenatively, suffer from "pathological self-delusion" - which indeed is my own guess.

There is considerably more in the article.

3. The internet is fucked 

The next article is by Nilay Patel on The Verge:

This starts as follows:

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 everything up.

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.

4. Four Darknesses: Internet Being Manipulated, Deceived by Western Intel Trolls

Next, an article by Juan Cole on Truth Dig:
This starts as follows:

Researchers on online behavior 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.

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.

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:

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.

Indeed, and that is part of the point, that he further explained as follows:
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 no "real 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  Common Dreams:
It starts as follows, with Good News:
According 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).

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.

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?".

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.

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 justified.

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.

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.

We are heading for trouble.

Yes, I think that the probability is that he is right.

6. Personal
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.
[1] 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 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 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 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 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)

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