11, 2014
Crisis: Greenwald & Poitras, Merkel, Ryan, NSA spying
   "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. NSA Reporters Greenwald and Poitras to Return Home to
     Collect Honors

2. Angela Merkel denied access to her NSA file
3. Budget serves as GOP 'campaign manifesto' ahead of

4. US: EU Circumvention of NSA Spying Would Violate Trade

5. U.S. Claims Country Building Its Own Network to Protect
     Against NSA Spying Violates Trade Laws

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of April 11. It is another crisis issue.

I have five articles for you, of which the first announces that Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras are - briefly - returning to the US, namely to accept the George Polk Award. This one may react to in various ways, but no one knows what is going to happen.

The other four articles will probably not make you happier, but they are about the crisis.

1. NSA Reporters Greenwald and Poitras to Return Home to Collect Honors

The first article today is by Donald Kaufman on Truth Dig:
It starts like this (and isn't large):

American journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras will return to the United States on Friday for the first time since the start of the Snowden revelations to accept a George Polk award. Joining them will be Guardian reporter Ewen MacAskill and The Washington Post’s Barton Gellman.

Greenwald told reporters he’s motivated to return because “certain factions in the U.S. government have deliberately intensified the threatening climate for journalists.” He added that the U.S. government had not informed his legal counsel of any charges he or Poitras might face.

I say. That seems courageous to me, because they really do not know what may await them. As the article continues:
Barack Obama has used the Espionage Act more times than all other presidents combined. Greenwald and others point to this fact to argue that the crackdown on whistle-blowers and their partner journalists has reached a peak in U.S. history. For journalists in particular, their jobs and relationships to their sources have put them directly in the government’s cross hairs.
Yes, quite so. And I really don't know what risks they run. I hope they are not harassed, but almost anything might happen.

2. Angela Merkel denied access to her NSA file

The next item is an article by Paul Lewis and Philip Oltermann on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The US government is refusing to grant Angela Merkel access to her NSA file or answer formal questions from Germany about its surveillance activities, raising the stakes before a crucial visit by the German chancellor to Washington.

Merkel will meet Barack Obama in three weeks, on her first visit to the US capital since documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had been monitoring her phone.

The face-to-face meeting between the two world leaders had been intended as an effort to publicly heal wounds after the controversy, but Germany remains frustrated by the White House's refusal to come clean about its surveillance activities in the country.

In October, Obama personally assured Merkel that the US is no longer monitoring her calls, and promised it will not do so in the future. However, Washington has not answered a list of questions submitted by Berlin immediately after Snowden's first tranche of revelations appeared in the Guardian and Washington Post in June last year, months before the revelations over Merkel's phone.

One guess one may have at this point is that Merkel is not "exceptional", which is the mark Obama and many Americans assign to themselves, and themselves only, as if an American passport makes them "exceptional".

I am not quite serious, but I have read the argument - repeatedly and seriously - that for the US anyone is fair game who lacks an American passport: Such folks may be spied upon without any hindrance and without any legal redress or defense from the U.S. legal system, regardless from who they are.

Indeed, that seems also the main reason behind ten years - it seems - of secret tapping of Angela Merkel's phone by the NSA.

There's also this:

The Obama's administration has also refused to enter into a mutual "no-spy" agreement with Germany, in part because Berlin is unwilling or unable to share the kinds of surveillance material the Americans say would be required for such a deal.

Here I must guess again: it seems as if Obama has proposed that he will agree to "a no-spy agreement", if the Germans do the spying on the Germans that Obama deems necessary, after which he will proudly announce to the media that he is not spying on the Germans anymore.

This is a guess, but a fair one. These is also this (with a correction by me in the spelling of "Spiegel"):

Two weeks ago, the German magazine Der Spiegel said the NSA kept more than 300 reports on Merkel in a special databank concerning heads of state.

The report, published in partnership with The Intercept, a website set up by the former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was based on documents provided by Snowden. Previously, Der Spiegel revealed the NSA had monitored Merkel's mobile phone for as long as 10 years.

There is rather a lot more in the article, that I leave to you, but I do wish to quote the last paragraph, since that promises a Ph.D. for Edward Snowden:

Academics at Rostock University, meanwhile, have voted to award Edward Snowden an honorary doctorate. Members of the philosophy faculty said they wanted to reward Snowden's "civil courage" and his "substantial contribution to a new global discourse about freedom, democracy, cosmopolitanism and the rights of the individual".

3.  Budget serves as GOP 'campaign manifesto' ahead of midterms

The next item is an article by Jacob Chamberlain on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

In a move critics say would lead the country further down a path of austerity, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Paul Ryan's proposed budget plan on Thursday.

If made into law, the bill would block funding for Medicaid and food stamps, turn Medicare into a voucher system, repeal the Affordable Care Act, cut grants for college students, dramatically decrease research and infrastructure spending, and slash multiple other safety net programs for hurting U.S. residents, all the while lowering the corporate tax rate to 25 percent and increasing military spending.

That seems complete madness to me, but indeed I am poor and ill. Happily, I am not a poor and ill American, for this is what the Republicans are pushing, and about the only good news I found in the article is this:

The budget "will serve largely as a campaign manifesto" for upcoming midterm elections, Reuters reports, as it is not expected to pass in the Senate.

4.  US: EU Circumvention of NSA Spying Would Violate Trade Law 

Next, an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows

Following Edward Snowden's revelations that the U.S. is spying on people and governments across the world, European Union countries have floated proposals to build a Europe-centric communications system designed to bypass NSA surveillance.

But on Friday, the top U.S. trade negotiating body charged that such a move would violate international trade law.

"Recent proposals from countries within the European Union to create a Europe-only electronic network (dubbed a 'Schengen cloud' by advocates) or to create national-only electronic networks could potentially lead to effective exclusion or discrimination against foreign service suppliers that are directly offering network services, or dependent on them," states a report released Friday by the office of U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

This means that since the US wants to illegally spy on everyone, and wants to have everybody's personal data, which it can do because it houses much of the physical network of the internet and the internet so far works mostly unencrypted, any country that does not want to be spied upon will be discriminated by the US (and may be happy, I presume, not be called "a terrorist nation" eminently fit for drone attacks).

I am sorry if I misunderstood, but this is what it seems to amount to: A complete inversion of all values and all decency. And this from the same folks that are trying to push through the TPP.

5.  U.S. Claims Country Building Its Own Network to Protect Against NSA Spying Violates Trade Laws 

Finally, an article by Washington's Blog on the same subject as the previous item:
This starts as follows:

NSA spying is costing the U.S. tech industry tens of billions of dollars, and people around the world are trying to find non-U.S. companies to provide internet, cloud and computer products and services. And see this and this.

Numerous countries are trying to thwart NSA spying.

Many countries are planning to create their own communications infrastructures to bypass the U.S. altogether.  For example, economic powerhouse Germany is rolling out a system that would keep all data within Germany’s national borders.

The U.S. is trying to not only protect U.S. businesses, but also keep the NSA’s hand in the cookie jar by arguing (wait for it…) that closing borders to the NSA would violate trade law.

Specifically, the United States Trade Representative released a report Friday stating:

Recent proposals from countries within the European Union to create a Europe-only electronic network (dubbed a “Schengen cloud” by advocates) or to create national-only electronic networks could potentially lead to effective exclusion or discrimination against foreign service suppliers that are directly offering network services, or dependent on them.

In particular, Deutsche Telekom AG (DTAG), Germany’s biggest phone company, is publicly advocating for EU-wide statutory requirements that electronic transmissions between EU residents stay within the territory of the EU, in the name of stronger privacy protection.Specifically, DTAG has called for statutory requirements that all data generated within the EU not be unnecessarily routed outside of the EU; and has called for revocation of the U.S.-EU “Safe Harbor” Framework, which has provided a practical mechanism for both U.S companies and their business partners in Europe to export data to the United States, while adhering to EU privacy requirements. (...)

There is more quoted in the article, after which Washington's Blog asks:

What’s next?

The U.S. trade rep claiming that countries which don’t invite killer American reaper drones with open arms are unfairly competing against American weapons manufacturers?

Yes, indeed. And the frightening thing is not that Froman believes it, which he almost certainly doesn't, but that he uses these totally sick and arbitrary "arguments", which indeed come out of the same box as the US's arguments that journalists are terrorists if they write the truth about US spying: everything is reduced to propaganda and "public relations".
[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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