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Nederlog


  April
2, 2014
Crisis: Guardian, NSA, US oligarchy, 1 %, Chomsky
   "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 wins newspaper and website of the year at
     British press awards

2. NSA performed warrantless searches on Americans' calls
     and emails – Clapper

3.
How Sheldon Adelson and the American Oligarchs Are
     Ruining Democracy

4. How You, I, and Everyone Got the Top 1 Percent All
     Wrong

5. Noam Chomsky: The Dimming Prospects for Human
     Survival


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of April 2. It is another crisis issue.

It is not a very important issue, but I must deal with what I found, and besides I have today some more eye-problems, which makes it a good thing there are not 12 articles and 9 sections.

1. Guardian wins newspaper and website of the year at British press awards

The first article today is by Kevin Rawlinson on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The Guardian was named newspaper of the year at the press awards for its reporting on government surveillance.

The prize was one of a host given to the Guardian and its journalists, with theguardian.com handed the digital award and the writers Rob Evans, Paul Lewis and Patrick Kingsley all honoured at the ceremony in London.

The judges said the Guardian "broke a story of global significance that went to the heart of the debate on press freedom. The fact that the coverage polarised opinion even within the press showed how important it was.

"The job of a newspaper is to speak truth to power and the past year has seen the Guardian do this with will and verve."

Clearly, I think this was earned and indeed I agree with the judges on what is the job of the newspaper.

Also, there is this bit by Alan Rusbridger:

Rusbridger said: "It's a great honour for the Guardian to be named newspaper of the year by a jury of our peers. The story was not, in the end, publishable out of London and I want in particular to thank colleagues on ProPublica and the New York Times for collaborating with us. The support of editors and press freedom bodies around the world was also crucial.

"I want to acknowledge the personal cost to Edward Snowden involved in his decision to become a whistleblower. I must thank a team of extremely talented colleagues on the Guardian."
Indeed, this is not as empty as you might think it seems, and the reason is that considerable amounts of the press think differently. So it is good to know that this year the Guardian did get "named newspaper of the year by a jury of our peers".

2. NSA performed warrantless searches on Americans' calls and emails – Clapper 

The next item is an article by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

US intelligence chiefs have confirmed that the National Security Agency has used a "back door" in surveillance law to perform warrantless searches on Americans’ communications.

The NSA's collection programs are ostensibly targeted at foreigners, but in August the Guardian revealed a secret rule change allowing NSA analysts to search for Americans' details within the databases.

Now, in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the intelligence committee, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has confirmed for the first time the use of this legal authority to search for data related to “US persons”.

“There have been queries, using US person identifiers, of communications lawfully acquired to obtain foreign intelligence targeting non-US persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States,” Clapper wrote in the letter, which has been obtained by the Guardian.

“These queries were performed pursuant to minimization procedures approved by the Fisa court and consistent with the statute and the fourth amendment.”

I note the bureaucratic jargon - "queries (..) performed pursuant to minimization procedures" - but OK: Clapper admitted a little, while answering a letter Senator Wyden sent him in January. But his saying about the fourth amendment must be a lie: What Clapper does is explicitly forbidden by the fourth amendment, and that is also why he furthers his searches by secret courts, that generally rubber stamp his decisions, which again are almost all secret.

There is considerably more there that I leave to you, but this is the end:

On Tuesday, Wyden and Udall said the NSA’s warrantless searches of Americans’ emails and phone calls “should be concerning to all.”

“This is unacceptable. It raises serious constitutional questions, and poses a real threat to the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans. If a government agency thinks that a particular American is engaged in terrorism or espionage, the fourth amendment requires that the government secure a warrant or emergency authorisation before monitoring his or her communications. This fact should be beyond dispute,” the two senators said in a joint statement.

They continued: “Today’s admission by the Director of National Intelligence is further proof that meaningful surveillance reform must include closing the back-door searches loophole and requiring the intelligence community to show probable cause before deliberately searching through data collected under section 702 to find the communications of individual Americans."

Yes, indeed.

3. How Sheldon Adelson and the American Oligarchs Are Ruining Democracy 

Next, an article by Sen. Bernie Sanders on Truth Dig:

This contains the following:

The disastrous 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United threw out campaign funding laws that limited what wealthy individuals and corporations could spend on elections. Since that ruling, campaign spending by Adelson, the Koch brothers and a handful of other billionaire families has fundamentally undermined American democracy. If present trends continue, elections will not be decided by one-person, one-vote, but by a small number of very wealthy families who spend huge amounts of money supporting right-wing candidates who protect their interests.

This process—a handful of the wealthiest people in our country controlling the political process—is called “oligarchy.”

The great political struggle we now face is whether the United States retains its democratic heritage or whether we move toward an oligarchic form of society where the real political power rests with a handful of billionaires, not ordinary Americans.

Also, it turns out that I gave the whole speech already on March 29, 2014, basically because I did (and do) like the speech, but it was rendered, also on Truth Dig, as CAPITALS ONLY, which I found (and find) a bit embarrassing.

So I am glad to refer you to the last link, and now also to the following video:

 

And yes, I know you might have seen it before, but Senator Sanders is one of the few in the Senate and the House who talks sense, and I think he is right in fearing that the Citizen United ruling by the Supreme Court may change the United States into a fully fledged oligarchy, and may do this also real soon. 

4.  How You, I, and Everyone Got the Top 1 Percent All Wrong

Next, an article by Derek Thomson, who must be a universal genius given the title of his article, that appeared in the Atlantic:
Fortunately he vastly exaggerates. I suppose he means that he has been wrong before, in blaming the 1% while he should have blamed the 1% of the 1%.

What he writes is this:
In fact, the gain in wealth share is all about the top 0.1 percent of the country. While nine-tenths of the top percentile hasn't seen much change at all since 1960, the 0.01 percent has essentially quadrupled its share of the country's wealth in half a century.
And he supports it by this chart:



Actually, what I see is that the wealth of the top 1% has considerably increased; that the wealth of the top 0.1% has more increased; and that the wealth of the 0.01% has most increased. (Also, there are scaling effects here, but I'll leave these out.)

And I see that all of those rises for the rich, very rich, and mega-rich started with Reagan.

Anyway... this was not good journalism, by Mr. Thomson: His title is completely wrong and misleading; his argument is mostly missing; and what he does convey was known to me and many others since quite a long time.

Also, I think "the 1%" still seems a reasonable criterion and distinction (1) to help explain the differences between the vast majority and the few and (2) to identify those responsible for much that went wrong for the vast majority - but yes, it is true that the more you had to start with, the more you profited, on average. But then that is to be expected anyway: As the Dutch proverb has it: "The devil always shits on the biggest heap".

5.  Noam Chomsky: The Dimming Prospects for Human Survival

Finally, an article by Noam Chomsky that I found on AlterNet:
This is one quotation from it, which is also what Chomsky is most concerned with:

But another dire peril casts its shadow over any contemplation of the future - environmental disaster. It's not clear that there even is an escape, though the longer we delay, the more severe the threat becomes - and not in the distant future. The commitment of governments to the security of their populations is therefore clearly exhibited by how they address this issue.

Today the United States is crowing about "100 years of energy independence" as the country becomes "the Saudi Arabia of the next century" - very likely the final century of human civilization if current policies persist.

One might even take a speech of President Obama's two years ago in the oil town of Cushing, Okla., to be an eloquent death-knell for the species.

He proclaimed with pride, to ample applause, that "Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That's important to know. Over the last three years, I've directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We're opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We've quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We've added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some."

I agree with Chomsky that was not a happy nor wise speech, and I also agree that the climate change is a major danger.

Then again, I have also argued before that I do not think the present governments - who must do it: no one else is remotely as effective - are capable of dealing with it, successfully, I mean, for they all can derive some Good Feelings About Our Noble Politicians Who Fight For Our Existence from it, and often do.

So... what to expect? Here is the last bit by Chomsky:
What are the prospects for survival then? They are not bright. But the achievements of those who have struggled for centuries for greater freedom and justice leave a legacy that can be taken up and carried forward - and must be, and soon, if hopes for decent survival are to be sustained.
Yes. And as Burke adviced: If you are desperate, work on.
---------------------------------
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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