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Nederlog


  March
31, 2014
Crisis: NSA, Hedges, Stock Markets, Obama's Surveillance, Military
   "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. NSA revelations 'changing how businesses store
     sensitive data'

2. Fighting the Militarized State
3. 
US stock market is rigged by high-speed traders, says
     Michael Lewis

4. Beware the Surveillance Reform Trojan Horse: What's
     Not in the New NSA Laws?

5. Debunking the gutting of military storyline

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of March 31. It is another crisis issue.

As it happens, this contains news on four or five different aspects of the crisis: The NSA, the militarization of the USA, the way banks with very fast computers deceive their users, why Obama's proposals "to reform the NSA" are bullshit, and a bit about the military power and spending of the USA.


1. NSA revelations 'changing how businesses store sensitive data'

The first article today is by
Matthew Taylor on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The vast scale of online surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden is changing how businesses store commercially sensitive data, with potentially dramatic consequences for the future of the internet, according to a new study.

A survey of 1,000 business leaders from around the world has found that many are questioning their reliance on "cloud computing" in favour of more secure forms of data storage as the whistleblower's revelations continue to reverberate.

The moves by businesses mirror efforts by individual countries, such as Brazil and Germany, which are encouraging regional online traffic to be routed locally rather than through the US, in a move that could have a big impact on US technology companies such as Facebook and Google.

This is good news, as far as I am concerned: I never saw the use of cloud computing, and never engaged in it and, more seriously, I like it that "business leaders from around the world" are worried about the safety of their data, as indeed they have every right to be, for the NSA and the GCHQ hoover up everything they can find, and are also willing to go very far to force access, including tracking system administrators and debasing encryption formats.

The reasons that I like it is that
"business leaders" have every reason to be very worried - and they command a lot of money, and money talks.

Here is Daniel Castro,
a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation:
"The Snowden revelations have led to a paradigm shift in how IT decision-makers buy technology," he said. "Now companies are not just competing on price and quality, they are also competing on geography. This might be the final nail in the coffin for the vision of a global, borderless internet."
And here is Ian Brown, from the Oxford Internet Institute:
"We'll have to see over the next year how much impact this type of reaction has on the bottom line of US tech companies, but it will give them even more incentive to put pressure on the Obama administration and US Congress for significant surveillance reform."
There is considerably more in the article, including the fact that it is not just the big firms, but also the medium and small sized ones that are taking steps to protect against the stealing of their data, their patents, their ideas, and their techniques.

2. Fighting the Militarized State  

The next item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truth Dig:

This starts as follows:

The Barack Obama administration, determined to thwart the attempt by other plaintiffs and myself to have the courts void a law that permits the military to arrest U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and indefinitely detain them, has filed a detailed brief with the Supreme Court asking the justices to refuse to accept our petition to hear our appeal. We will respond within 10 days.

“The administration’s unstated goal appears to be to get court to agree that [the administration] has the authority to use the military to detain U.S. citizens,” Bruce Afran, one of two attorneys handling the case, said when I spoke with him Sunday. “It appears to be asking the court to go against nearly 150 years of repeated decisions in which the court has refused to give the military such power. No court in U.S. history has ever recognized the right of the government to use the military to detain citizens. It would be very easy for the government to state in the brief that citizens and permanent residents are not within the scope of this law. But once again, it will not do this. It says the opposite. It argues that the activities of the plaintiffs do not fall within the scope of the law, but it clearly is reserving for itself the right to use the statute to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely.”

And it ends as follows:

Once arbitrary and indefinite detention by the military is lawful, the government will use it. If we do not win this case, all those deemed to be hostile or critical of the state, including some Muslims, journalists, dissidents and activists, will find themselves under threat.

I spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent, 15 of them with The New York Times. I interviewed numerous individuals deemed by the U.S. government to be terrorists and traveled with armed groups, including units of al-Qaida, labeled as terrorist organizations. When I reported the statements and activities of these individuals and groups, U.S. officialdom often made little distinction between them and me. This was true during the wars in Central America. It was true in the Middle East. And it was true when I covered global terrorism. There was no law at the time that permitted the government, because of my work as a reporter, to order the military to seize and detain me. Now there is. This law, if it is not struck down, will essentially replace our civilian judiciary with a military one. Those targeted under this law will not be warned beforehand that they will be arrested. They will not have a chance to get a lawyer. They will not see the inside of a courtroom. They will simply vanish.

Yes, indeed. And besides telling you about the militarization of the U.S. government, it also tells you what manner of man Barack Obama is.

And also I fear that the present Supreme Court will side with Obama and the military - and indeed after that I fear the vanishings will start.

3.  US stock market is rigged by high-speed traders, says Michael Lewis 

Next, an article by Reuters on The Guardian - and this is the third different subject of this Nederlog as well:

This starts as follows:

The US stock market is rigged in favour of high-speed electronic trading firms, which use their advantages to extract billions from investors, according to the acclaimed author Michael Lewis.

In his new book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, Lewis says that firms are using their speed advantage to profit at the expense of other market participants to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

"They are able to identify your desire to buy shares in Microsoft and buy them in front of you and sell them back to you at a higher price," Lewis, whose book is available on Monday, said on the television program 60 Minutes on Sunday.

"This speed advantage that the faster traders have is milliseconds, some of it is fractions of milliseconds," said Lewis, whose books include The Big Short and Moneyball.

I believe it easily, the more so as the article also makes clear all of this is legal. There is considerably more in the article, including an example of how it works.

4. Beware the Surveillance Reform Trojan Horse: What's Not in the New NSA Laws?

Next, an article by Trevor Timm that I found on Common Dreams but that originated on The Guardian:
I agreed with Timm 5 days ago and I do so again, and start with quoting his epigraph, also bold in the article:

Here's what the privacy geeks are worried about after a whirlwind week – that the spies might get more out of these bills than Snowden or the people he tried to protect

Yes, indeed. First, there is this:
Rep Justin Amash, one of the NSA's leading critics in the House, said of the Intelligence Committee bill: "It doesn't end bulk collection but actually puts more Americans in danger of having their constitutionally protected rights violated." While the Obama plan is undoubtedly more promising, with court requests and much more, Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union has several important questions about the proposal that need to be answered before anyone will really be able to judge. And the Cato Institute's Julian Sanchez detailed why neither of these proposals are as good as the USA Freedom Act, which may now be getting boxed out.
Indeed - and by my lights, the USA Freedom Act is the only reasonable proposal that I know of that is considered in the Senate or Congress.

Then there is this:
Curiously, a large majority of the House bill focuses on new ways for the government to collect data from "electronic communications service providers" – also known as the internet companies. Why is a bill that's supposedly about ending bulk collection of phone-call data focused on more collection of data from internet companies?
Well, I take it that is like Obama's "Change!", which meant he did not change, and like Obama's "Transparency", which meant he leads the most obfuscated, intransparent and secretive US-government ever.

And there is this:
According to the first report in the New York Times on Monday, the NSA would only be allowed to search phone records under the Obama proposal if the agency could prove a reasonable suspicion to terrorism. By the end of the week, the White House’s "fact sheet" said the NSA would be able to search "within two hops" of phone records – that's potentially tens of thousands of people – based on a phrase that should send chills down the spine of every journalist who has ever had a source the government may not like: "national security concerns". Why do they even need the extraordinary "two-hops" power at all again?
Finally, everybody who covers or led the NSA is suddenly in favor of the White House proposals, and pretends this is "a bipartisan solution". I say it is a deception, and Timm ends like this:
Maybe it's time we heed the warning of the late George Carlin: "'Bipartisan' usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out."
Anyway - this is a good and important article that I recommend you read all of (but it won't make you happier - just a bit more realistic).

5. Debunking the gutting of military storyline

Finally, an article by JimQ on Washington's Blog, of which I give the title once as it is in the original (but I dislike caps only):
I think this is a good article, but I only use it to quote two quotations and one figure, because I like the quotations and the figure:

The first quote is by general Smedley Butler, who was an interesting man (as the last link to Wikipedia makes clear):

“War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.” – General Smedley Butler – War is a Racket

The second quote is also by an U.S. general, although he was ending his presidency at the time of the following quotation:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The figure is the following, that details the amount of money nations give to their armies etc.:



What do these quotations and figures prove? Nothing by themselves, but they should be suggestive.
---------------------------------
Note
[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
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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