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Nederlog


  March
18, 2014
Crisis: Rusbridger, Transparency, Oceans, Maher, Snowden, TYT
   "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
















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Sections
Introduction

1. Guardian editor receives European Press award for
     Edward Snowden story

2. ‘Most Transparent Administration Ever™’—Obama
     Administration Makes Mockery of Open Government

3.
Mass Scallop Die Off a 'Red Flag' for the World's Oceans
4. This May Be Bill Maher's Most Intense Rant Against
     Religions – All Of Them - Yet

5. Snowden Docs Expose How the NSA "Infects" Millions of
     Computers and Impersonates Facebook
6. Two videos

 About ME/CFS

Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of March 18. It is again a crisis issue. There wasn't really much, but I do have six items, and seven dotted links, though I grant that the Bill Maher item is here mostly because I like it, and not so much because of the crisis.

Then again: Maher has a rant against religion that was inspired by the finding that 60% - that is: sixty out of a hundred - of the present day adult Americans, who live over 400 years after the scientific revolution started, believes in the literal truth of the Biblical story of Noah's Ark.

I do agree that is quite scary and very stupid, and indeed human stupidity is the background of the crisis (for if people were considerably more intelligent than they are, on average, then at least they would be less easy to deceive).

The last bit consists of two videos by The Young Turks both of which are relevant to the crisis.

And I should say that I have re-uploaded nearly all of the files in Nederlog 2005 because there was no up arrow in them (that points to the index).

1. Guardian editor receives European Press award for Edward Snowden story

The first article is by no one less than Staff Reporter and is on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Alan Rusbridger, the editor in chief of the Guardian, has been honoured at the European Press awards for leading the team which masterminded a series of remarkable disclosures from the files leaked by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The Guardian was given "The Special Award" by judges at the European Press Prize – Europe's equivalent of the Pulitzers – at a ceremony in London which brought together leading journalists, editors and commentators from across the continent.

Announcing the award, BBC Today presenter Justin Webb said Snowden had been "the biggest global story of the year". The series of revelations about the extent of state surveillance had "set alarm bells ringing throughout the world."

He added: "One European paper, the Guardian, has played a leading role in the story. Its editor Alan Rusbridger has endured many months of difficulties at the hands of the government and its different agencies. He has fought to bring the facts to public attention and to do so in a way that is safe and decent, but also reveals the truth."

Clearly, I find no fault with that: well deserved. And not only that, it is also nice to see the European press is not quite dead, yet.

I have to admit, though, that in Holland it seems mostly over and done with, and especially with regards to the formerly quite good paper NRC-Handelsblad, which I read from 1970-2010, both inside Holland and also outside Holland, and then gave up on it because it very rapidly and quite massively decayed, after a sale and the acquisition of a new chief editor: it seems to me - who read the paper daily for 40 years - as if the staff has lost 20 to 30 IQ-points, and these days mostly is interested in amusing the readers with trivia, that are often inspired by the advertisers.

It's a great pity, but indeed it is not the only paper in trouble: many are in trouble.

2.  ‘Most Transparent Administration Ever™’—Obama Administration Makes Mockery of Open Government

The next article is
by Kevin Gosztola on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Days after President Barack Obama’s inauguration, he pledged to have his administration create an “unprecedented level of openness in government.” Then-chief of staff, Jack Lew, later contended the administration was the “most transparent administration ever.” At a rally in 2010, Obama told the public, “We have put in place the toughest ethics laws and toughest transparency rules of any administration in history.” But this slogan suggesting the Obama administration is the “most transparent” ever has been nothing but a marketing ploy, the product of an administration that Advertising Age recognized as “marketer of the year” in 2008.
Yes, indeed. Here are some figures:
“[T]he government more than ever censored materials it turned over or fully denied access to them, in 244,675 cases or 36 percent of all requests. On 196,034 other occasions, the government said it couldn’t find records, a person refused to pay for copies or the government determined the request to be unreasonable or improper,” according to the AP.
Some more:
Agencies are taking longer to respond to requests too. The AP noted, “The Pentagon reported at least two requests still pending after 10 years and the CIA was still working on at least four requests from more than eight years ago.”
And here is some information about the information that is being kept secret, such as court orders and legal opinions:
Secret legal opinions have often been drafted to authorize illegal activity, such as torture, warrantless wiretapping and the killing of American citizens with drones. The Obama administration has succeeded in keeping legal opinions secret—essentially expanding a growing body of secret law (that was much growing even more vast before Snowden blew the whistle on top secret surveillance by the NSA).
This is the conclusion, in case you doubted:
Not only is the Obama administration not the “most transparent administration ever,” it has become the inverse of the “most transparent administration ever.” It is now one of the most secretive administrations ever, outpacing Bush in his commitment to keep government actions concealed from the public.
And note that this does not mention the - at least, it seems - 95 million documents that have been classified by Obama's administration.

3. Mass Scallop Die Off a 'Red Flag' for the World's Oceans 

The next article is by Jacob Chamberlain on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

An increase of acidity in the Pacific Ocean is quickly killing off one of the world's most beloved shellfish, the scallop, according to a report by the British Columbia Shellfish Grower’s Association.

“By June of 2013, we lost almost 95 per cent of our crops,” Rob Saunders, CEO of Island Scallops in B.C. told Canada's CTV News.

The cause of this increase in acidity, scientists say, is the exponential burning of fossil fuels for energy and its subsequent pollution. Oceans naturally absorb carbon dioxide, a byproduct of fossil fuel emissions, which causes acidity to rise.

An overdose of carbon in the atmosphere subsequently causes too much acidity in the world's oceans, Chris Harley, a marine ecologist from the University of British Columbia, told CTV News. Overly acidic water is bad for shellfish, as it impairs them from developing rigid shells. Oyster hatcheries along the West Coast are also experiencing a steep decline, CTV News reports.

Note this is less about the scallops than about the oceans. There is more under the last dotted link, but I take it the scallops, at least, are lost, for the most part.

4.  This May Be Bill Maher's Most Intense Rant Against Religions – All Of Them - Yet

Next, a video that I found by way of The Huffington Post. It is by Bill Maher:
I like Bill Maher. He is funny and he is smart, and he also is often right. I doubt this rant - or "rant": it is part of the New Rules segment - was "the most intense" but in any case the reason for its existence merits it: It is a sign of widespread insanity in the US that 60% - it seems, and I didn't see the evidence, but I suppose it is correct - of the current adult American population take Noah's story to be literally true. (Do they even know what "literal" means?!)

Also, I want to make a note here on religion: Bill Maher is an atheist, and I am an atheist since birth, while my mother's family has been atheistic since the 1850ies, but I am not saying that "everyone should be atheistic", although I think that would be best.

But I am not saying it because it is quite irrealistic as an end, in the world in which I live. But there is a huge difference between being religious and believing in the literal truth of the Bible, which was a minority position already in the 19th Century, when nearly all Westerners were Christians.

So if this 60% figure is true, this marks a considerable decline in civilization.

5. Snowden Docs Expose How the NSA "Infects" Millions of Computers and Impersonates Facebook

The next article is by Amy Goodman. I found it on AlterNet:
This starts as follows: 
New disclosures from Edward Snowden show the NSA is massively expanding its computer hacking worldwide. Software that automatically hacks into computers — known as malware "implants" — had previously been kept to just a few hundred targets. But the news website The Intercept reports that the NSA is spreading the software to millions of computers under an automated system codenamed "Turbine." The Intercept has also revealed the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive.
The rest is an interview with Ryan Gallagher, who co-wrote the piece with Glenn Greenwald, that I leave to you, apart from observing that (1) the NSA does these things according to their own materials, that were outed by Edward Snowden, and (2) denies it does these things, but often in terms that are ambiguous, and that are always very brief and unspecific.

6. Two videos

Finally, two videos by The Young Turks, because I like them and they are brief. First, a brief report on the new head of Russia Today, Dmitry Kiselyov, who was appointed by Putin:
Kiselyov said recently:
"Russia is 'the only country today capable of turning the U.S.A. into radioactive dust.'"
Actually, I do not know whether he is correct (China, India, Pakistan...) but he is right Russia could do it, and indeed refers to a 'Dead Hand System' that the Russians have in place, that - supposedly - guarantees automatic launching of atomic weapons, if the humans who were to launch them cannot be reached.

So, they're talking about nuclear war, and as Cenk Uygur outlines, so are some maniacs in the US, such as Dick Cheney.

Next and last, a video of 3 minutes 50 seconds on Dianne Feinstein:

The written comment for the video says this:
"Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is calling upon the government to regulate unmanned aircraft, citing privacy issues that she said have arisen in her own personal life.

"I'm in my home and there's a demonstration out front. And I go to peek out the window and there's a drone facing me," Feinstein said. "Well, whoever was running it turned it around quickly and it crashed.""
It would seem that the drone was a toy helicopter, but then it may (or might) not have been, and I must say that what she said about drones - in the U.S. - was not bad. Also, she is right to be fearful herself, after having criticized the CIA. So I probably would not have criticized her quite as much as Cenk Uygur did, also remembering that she is 80, and at least stood up against the CIA.
---------------------------------
P.S. Mar 19, 2014: I corrected two small typos.
Notes
[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)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
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[2]
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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