21, 2014
Crisis: NSA and sys admins, NSA attorney, NSA telephones,  world food,  WWs, 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. Inside the NSA’s Secret Efforts to Hunt and Hack System

2. NSA Attorney: Tech Companies Knew About Bulk Data

Report: NSA Can Swallow a "Nation’s Telephone Network

4. Radical U.N. Report Promotes Democratic Control of Food
     and an End to Corporate Domination

5. The World Wars on TV-film
6. Personal

 About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of March 21. It is again a crisis issue, though I have to admit I've found only four items the last two days. But here they are, joined to a non-crisis item about seeing both World Wars as presented on TV, and a brief personal column that details Nederlog.

And it is Spring today, above the equator, which I like - and I am going to cycle as soon as I have uploaded this file. Nice!

1. Inside the NSA’s Secret Efforts to Hunt and Hack System Administrators

The first article is by
Ryan Gallagher and Peter Maass on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

Across the world, people who work as system administrators keep computer networks in order – and this has turned them into unwitting targets of the National Security Agency for simply doing their jobs. According to a secret document provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the agency tracks down the private email and Facebook accounts of system administrators (or sys admins, as they are often called), before hacking their computers to gain access to the networks they control.

The document consists of several posts – one of them is titled “I hunt sys admins” – that were published in 2012 on an internal discussion board hosted on the agency’s classified servers. They were written by an NSA official involved in the agency’s effort to break into foreign network routers, the devices that connect computer networks and transport data across the Internet. By infiltrating the computers of system administrators who work for foreign phone and Internet companies, the NSA can gain access to the calls and emails that flow over their networks.

The classified posts reveal how the NSA official aspired to create a database that would function as an international hit list of sys admins to potentially target. Yet the document makes clear that the admins are not suspected of any criminal activity – they are targeted only because they control access to networks the agency wants to infiltrate. “Who better to target than the person that already has the ‘keys to the kingdom’?” one of the posts says.

There is a lot more in the original, that also stresses that system administrators generally have done nothing wrong.

2. NSA Attorney: Tech Companies Knew About Bulk Data Mining

The next article is
by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Despite months of denial from leading tech companies that they were aware of the government's mining of user information, the National Security Agency's senior attorney testified Wednesday that information was obtained with the "full knowledge and assistance" of those firms.

Appearing before a hearing of Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, NSA general counsel Rajesh De responded to questions regarding the agency's bulk collection of information under the FISA Amendments Act (“FAA”), also known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

When asked if bulk collection occurrs with the “full knowledge and assistance of any company from which information is obtained,” De responded, “Yes.”

The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman responded on Twitter following this revelation:

It also turns out there was an ambiguity about the name "PRISM", that probably was not known to Yahoo, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Paltalk, and AOL, but apart from that, they seem all have to known.

Also, it is not clear to me to what extent these companies were legally forced to do as they did.

And finally, it is a bit difficult to trust the leading attorney of an institution that lives by the
Deny, Disrupt, Degrade and Deceive program of the GCHQ.

3. Report: NSA Can Swallow a "Nation’s Telephone Network Whole" 

The next article is by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

The National Security Agency has the ability to record every single phone call made in an unnamed foreign country and can rewind and revisit those calls up to a month later, The Washington Post revealed Tuesday.

Citing "people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden," reporters Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani outline the NSA's "MYSTIC" voice interception program and its RETRO (retrospective retrieval) tool, which was first used against a country in 2011.

"In the initial deployment, collection systems are recording “every single” conversation nationwide, storing billions of them in a 30-day rolling buffer that clears the oldest calls as new ones arrive, according to a classified summary," according to The Washington Post.

I say. And why the "30-day rolling buffer"?  Anyway... it is a safe bet your telephone calls are stored by the NSA, for 30 days at least.

4. Radical U.N. Report Promotes Democratic Control of Food and an End to Corporate Domination

Next, an article by Sonali Kolhatkar on Truth Dig:
This starts as follows:

A new report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the “Right to Food” took aim at the entire basis on which food is produced and distributed on a global scale. Reflecting the type of progressive analysis of our food system from experts like Vandana Shiva and Michael Pollan, report author Olivier De Schutter called for an undermining of large agribusinesses and an infusion of democratic control.

Although the report’s recommendations are revolutionary, news of its release went largely unreported in the major U.S. media.

De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, spent six years visiting more than a dozen countries and concluded that the world’s entire food system should be rebuilt, starting with the promotion of local, sustainable farming so that ordinary people have control over what they can grow and eat. This certainly does not sound radical to those of us in U.S. cities where there has been a rapid expansion of farmers markets and an explosion in backyard farming. But in poor American communities and in poor countries as a whole, it is a radical notion for food to be grown locally, sustainably and democratically. 

Also, in case you wanted to know:
The World Food Programme estimates that there are 842 million hungry people worldwide.
To me these are 842 million reasons to change the current corporation-driven set-up.

I find this quite interesting, and it goes on for two pages. Here is a quotation from the end:
Like other basic human needs such as water, shelter and health care, our food shouldn’t be subject to the drive for profit. In calling for democratic control of our food, De Schutter and Patel are threatening the business interests of some of the world’s largest and wealthiest corporations. Given that De Schutter’s report has been submitted to the highest international representatives of civil society, it has the potential to effect change, but only if there is enough pressure from below.
Again, there are 842 million reasons to favor this - for there is food enough to feed all, except for the ways the food is distributed and sold, which are for profit of a few large corporations, rather than to feed the people.

Anyway: Recommended!

5. The World Wars on TV-film

As I have said several times in Nederlog, I do not have a TV since 1970: I'd found by then it did not teach me much, and certainly far less than books, and I found that most that I saw on TV was, well considered, pretty boring, while I have a strong distaste, from a very early age onwards, of being lied to and flattered by advertisements.

I must be fairly unique, not having a TV for 44 years now, and I still do not want it, and I also believe that while I certainly have missed some, I gained more. Then again, you are free to choose otherwise, and I certainly do not hold that all the choices and preferences that are fit for me are fit for others.

Also, while I missed a few programs I would have liked to see, it turned out that most that was good since the 1960ies is on Youtube these days, and that is how I did succeed in seeing most of "All in the Family" a couple of months ago, which I also wrote about in the last link.

After that, which was quite enjoyable, I thought a more serious subject deserved my attention, namely World War I and World War II, at least as these have been put on films, and especially films for TV.

So I saw most or all of three or four series on World War I, and saw several in color, which was added in later, but indeed adds some, and then did the same for World War II.

It did not teach me much, but here are some numbers about WW I:

                       Allies:          Germans etc.

Military dead       5,250,000       4,386,000
wounded           12,831,500       8,388,000
missing              4,121,000       3,629,000
Total:               22,477,500     16,403,000

That sums to nearly 39 millions killed or wounded in WW I alone, apart from the Spanish Flu, that followed on its heels, and killed about as many. The numbers for WW II are worse, though it wasn't followed by an epidemy.

What are the reasons I did not learn much?

One part of the reason is that I read a fair amount about both wars, from general interest, and also from particular interest: Both of my parents were in the real resistance in WW II, which few Dutchmen were, and less than there were in the Dutch SS, for example, and my father and his father were convicted as "political terrorists" in 1941, by collaborating Dutch judges, and sentenced to concentration camp imprisonment, which my grandfather did not survive.

Another part of the reason is that the spoken comments to the films generally are
fairly ordinary and middle of the road, and also are neither extensive nor very specific. In part, this was due to their audiences, and in part to the fact that speech is fairly slow.

I did see a lot of moving images I had not seen before, which was sometimes interesting, but also often were - much too often, for my tastes - of firing large guns.

In fact, the main things I learned, that I also did not know before, or at least hadn't realized as clearly, were about clothes and personal care.

For it turns out that a 100 years ago, in 1914, men looked more or less the same as they do now, in ordinary circumstances. There are of course quite a few differences - men far more often wore a cap or a hat then, and much more often had moustaches, for example, and there are many small differences in cuts and fabrics - but by and large they looked rather similar to the men of 2014. (Note this must be in part due to the rapid advance of the safety razor, that was introduced around 1900.)

But for women it was quite different in 1914: Even in factories, their skirts were hanging on their heels, and were closed up from the neck downwards; they used very little make-up; and there were no bras yet.

All of that was quite radically changed by the time WW II broke out: Far shorter skirts, both below (to the knees) and above (with some nakedness); far more make-up, though not as much as at present; and by and large looking as they are now, although again with differences in styles, fabrics, cuts and fashions.

There were quite large and quite visible differences between males and females in the two wars, and indeed women also had fewer children, and had a bit more independence, and also had the vote from the 1920ies onwards.

But this - the rather radical differences in clothing styles for women between 1914 and 1939, say - was the main thing I learned from around 7 series of programs about WW I and WW II, all made - compiled at least - between 1964 and 2007, and all directed at  general audiences.

And while this was interesting, I did not learn many other things, so by and large this was a bit disappointing.

6. Personal

Finally, here is a survey of Nederlog, that is currently in its 11th year, and that seems to be the best read part of my > 500 MB site (mostly filled with html, generally in the  directories philosophy, logic, computing, me, me in amsterdam, and indeed nederlog, and mostly written by me):
years    items    amounts
2004 -    307 -    3.3 MB
2005 -    130 -    1.6 MB
2006 -    171 -    2.6 MB
2007 -    235 -    3.6 MB
2008 -    378 -   10.3 MB
2009 -    391 -   12.5 MB
2010 -    296 -   12.7 MB
2011 -    320 -   14.0 MB
2012 -    265 -   11.3 MB
2013 -    383 -   14.2 MB
10 jr -   2611 -   86.1 MB
Note 2014 is not in the above table, and I only included the NL...html items, with a date on the dots: there are considerably more items if I count the illustrations.

Finally, it is pleasant that the older Nederlogs are read - it seems - at least as much as the newer ones, even though Nederlog was mostly in Dutch from 2004-2009, and is mostly in English since 2010, and I also should remark that the most read file on the site, since many years also, is not part of Nederlog, but is this: Why philosophy is important (in the
philosophy section).

I agree that is a good file.
P.S. Mar 22, 2014: Made some corrections and a few additions.
[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[2]
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

       home - index - summaries - mail