21, 2014
Crisis: Greenwald * 2, Putin and GCHQ, Precariat, Engelhardt
   "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. Glenn Greenwald book to contain 'new stories from the
     Snowden archive'

2. Greenwald: To Be Vilified by Powerful is 'Enormous Badge
     of Honor'

3. The UK's response to Snowden's revelations lets Putin off
     the hook

4. Cheer up – a renewed left is coming
5. Knowledge Is Crime

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of April 21. It is another crisis issue.

Actually, in Holland it is "Second Easter Day". The Dutch also have a "Second Christmas Day". I do not know the reasons for either, but I just found that quite a few countries have these second days. Live and learn... [2]

Anyway, I have five crisis items: Two on Glenn Greenwald, of which the first tells about his new book; a comparison of Putin and of the GCHQ, that makes Putin look clean(er than he is); a promise of "a renewed left" that I find completely implausible; and a good piece by Tom Engelhardt on what is possible for appointees of the US government these days, without having to fear the law.

1. Glenn Greenwald book to contain 'new stories from the Snowden archive'

The first article today is by Martin Pengelly on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Glenn Greenwald, one of the journalists who broke the National Security Agency revelations from Edward Snowden in the Guardian, said on Sunday a book he is writing about the case will contain “a lot of new stories from the Snowden archive”.

Speaking to Brian Stelter, the host of CNN's Reliable Sources, at the end of a week in which Guardian US and the Washington Post shared a Pulitzer prize for public service reporting, Greenwald said: “There are stories that I felt from the beginning really needed the length of a book to be able to report and to do justice to, so there’s new documents, [and] there’s new revelations in the book that I think will help inform the debate even further.”

The article also says the book is to be out next month, in May 2014, and has this about Greenwald's rights, as these are guarded and overseen by the US government:

Asked about his return to the US and whether he had expected any government action, Greenwald said: “I had lawyers working for several months, including many who have connections at the highest levels of the Justice Department, trying to get some indication about what the government’s intentions were if I want to try to return. And they were given no information – they were completely stonewalled.

“The government wouldn’t say if there was a grand jury empaneled, if there was an indictment under seal, if they intended to arrest us. They wanted to keep us in this state of uncertainty.”

Which is to say that the government sees and treats him - supposing this to be true, as I think it is - as their political enemy, quite as Nixon looked on Ellsberg.

There also is this, on what Greenwald thinks about his new book:

Greenwald said the release of his book would likely lead to more visits back to the US.

“I think the material in the book which includes a lot of new stories from the Snowden archive has a lot of impact for the United States,” he said, “and I want to come back and talk to the people most affected by that story, which are Americans.”

Also, there is more information in the article, that in part it also covers the next story.

2.  Greenwald: To Be Vilified by Powerful is 'Enormous Badge of Honor'  

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has now received both the George Polk Award and shared in a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the NSA documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, appeared on CNN to discuss the honors for the first time and said that beyond the vindication those awards have bestowed on the work of he and his colleagues, it is the continued attacks by powerful members of the nation's political and intelligence elite that convinces him that what he's "doing is the right thing."

"That's just part of what I think journalism is," said Greenwald to the host of CNN's Reliable Resources Brian Stetler. "If you want to be adversarial to those wield power, you have to expect that those who wield power aren't going to like what you're doing very much. And not only that doesn't that bother me, I see that as a vindication."

That seems to me to be the right way of looking at it. The same holds for this:

In his first televised interview since the Pulitzers were announced Wednesday, Greenwald said that most important was the recognition by the jury of the coveted award that the revelations of the mass surveillance program was journalism done in the service of the public interest.

Yes, indeed - and this also means, I think, that governments who spy on everyone - the present American and English governments, for example - are not governments that work in the public interest. They work against it, and seek to enormously increase their own powers, by surveilling everyone [3], and  by "removing" anyone who does not comply enough, in any respect they desire to be complied to (which may be very much in future governments).

Here is a link to the full interview:

3. The UK's response to Snowden's revelations lets Putin off the hook

The next item is an article by Mark Stephens on The Guardian:

This article starts as follows:

"Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law," responded Vladimir Putin to a question from Edward Snowden live on Russia Today. He added: "We don't have a mass system of such interception, and according to our law, it cannot exist." The Russian president may as well have been reading from a UK script.

Earlier this month, David Cameron welcomed a new report by the UK's lickspittle surveillance watchdog assuring us that our surveillance laws remain fit for purpose, contrary to Snowden's disclosures. The report, by the interceptions of communications commissioner, Sir Anthony May, says UK agencies do not "engage in random mass intrusion into the public affairs of law abiding UK citizens", noting that "it would be comprehensively illegal if they did".

Yes indeed. And to start with, note how extremely ambiguous May's statement is:
(1) So they do engage in non-random mass intrusion?
So they do investigate the private affairs of the public?
(3) What is "law abiding"? Being a non-muslim white Oxford graduate?
(4) Yes, "
it would be comprehensively illegal" - but do they? And if you say "no":
(5) Do you really mean that Snowden and Greenwald and Poitras lie?

Indeed, Mark Stephens raises the last possibility:

Nor is it easy to reconcile this statement with the revelations made by Snowden, as to the collection and retention of data on such a scale that every one of us is identifiable in all our failings and foibles.

Yes. And he quite correctly adds:

What is urgently needed is a well-funded, frank investigation of the most worrying of the Snowden revelations regarding the surveillance practices of GCHQ, such as the alleged interception of millions of webcam imagesmass from Yahoo users with no connection to terrorism, and the mass interception of communications via the fibre-optic cables that pass through the UK through the Tempora program. Such an investigation must go beyond Ripa and examin data handovers that may be taking place without any statutory oversight under section 94 of the Telecommunications Act.

Stephens also says:

If there is to be mass intrusion into our private spaces, then there needs to be a quid pro quo of informed public debate and informed consent.

I don't think so: There is to be no "mass intrusion into our private spaces", also not if 50% + 1 of the least intelligent approve of this, "democratically", after "having received some information", at least by my lights, and my reason is simply that to allow this gives incredible powers to any government that does survey all and everybody.

Also, a government that does investigate everyone, and keeps this on tab, to be used for any purpose at any future time, by any following government, cannot possibly be democratic, free, or open: Democratic, free and open societies do not investigate the private affairs of the great majority of its citizens. Period.

That is only done in undemocratic, unfree and closed societies, and is indeed what marks them as undemocratic, unfree and closed. But this is what the present US and British governments are doing and claim they want to do, secretively also.

4.  Cheer up – a renewed left is coming 

The next item is an article by Guy Standing on The Guardian:

I say. Reallly? I thought "the left" was destroyed by Thatcher and Reagan, and Blair and Clinton and their likes? Who even invented The Third Way? And who reduced everything to soundbytes and manipulations of the few groups that make for majorities in decently designed sections for the electorates?

But Guy Standing, who is a professor of developmental studies in London, is quite serious and says (jumping 800 years, from 1215 to 2015):
Today we need a precariat charter, a consolidated declaration that will respect the Magna Carta's 63 articles by encapsulating the needs and aspirations of the precariat, which consists of millions of people living insecurely, without occupational identity, doing a vast amount of work that is not counted, relying on volatile wages without benefits, being supplicants, dependent on charity, and denizens not citizens, in losing all forms of rights.
At this point, I can say I do not believe it - but I first have to explain "precariat" which is a term I did not know, but about which the Wikipedia has this, to start with:
In sociology and economics, the precariat is a social class formed by people suffering from precarity, which is a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare as well as being a member of a Proletariat class of industrial workers who lack their own means of production and hence sell their labour to live. Specifically, it is applied to the condition of lack of job security, in other words intermittent employment or underemployment and the resultant precarious existence.
Also, the term was created by Guy Standing, it seems, who also wrote a book about the supposed new class.

First, the precariat. I think it is nonsense to introduce a new class, and if they do exist, as a class (?!), it is only because the welfare state has been broken down, which could be (and should be) fairly easily undone.

Second, the renewed left that is coming: Based on the worst educated, poorest, and as a rule most stupid or most ignorant members of society? I'm sorry, but that is either a pipe dream or else quite dishonest. And again, the repair is obvious and payable, with the right government in place: Restore the welfare state, and give everyone a basic income that is sufficient to live decently on.
There is enough money for it, with adequate taxation, also under capitalism.

I could go on, but this is sufficient: I do not believe in Standing's ideas at all.

5.  Knowledge Is Crime

Finally, article by Tom Engelhardt
This starts by considering the possibility that general James Cartwright might be prosecuted and convicted for doing things many more in in the US government do, which hasn't happened yet, and then says:
Whatever happens to him, his ongoing case highlights a singular fact: that there is but one crime for which anyone in America’s national security state can be held accountable in a court of law, and that’s leaking information that might put those in it in a bad light or simply let the American public know something more about what its government is really doing.

If this weren't Washington 2014, but rather George Orwell’s novel 1984, then the sign emblazoned on the front of the Ministry of Truth -- “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” -- would have to be amended to add a fourth slogan: Knowledge is Crime.

And then it prepares a list of things governmental executives ansd appointees can do, these days, and does so in 4 pages (in the Truth Dig version, which I link to because I can't get a working link to just this item on Engelhardt's site).

Here is a list of those things, prepared under the title of
Seven Free Passes for the National Security State
but they are here given without the extensive comments and clarifications, which you should read if interested.

In any case, here are the things a US government official now can do without having to worry about the law, whether of the US or any other country:
Torture (and other abuses)
The planning of an extralegal prison system
The killing of detainees in that extralegal system
Perjury before Congress
Too Big to Fail, National Security-Style
As I said, these are just titles: There is a considerable amount of text for each in Engelhardt's original, and they all are explained.
[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.)

[2] I do consult Wikipedia - nearly always the English edition - some 20 times a day, on average, I think, and I got the information of "the second days" also from that source. I don't think Wikipedia is perfect, and it sometimes is biased, e.g. about ME/CFS, but overall I like it a lot.

[3] Again, I insert that the governments have the right to spy on some people, but only if there is a good probable cause that they broke the law. And I add that no government has the right to survey and gather everyone's personal data, on the presumption that they may, might, could or can break some law. That makes everyone into criminals, against whom information is gathered, to be used against them, in case the eventuality arises, in some future.

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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