who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. The fight to protect
digital rights is an uphill battle, but
not a silent one
2. Daniel Ellsberg, Thomas Drake and Jesslyn
Radack Tell It
Like It Is at Whistle-Blowers’
3. What You Should Know About FBI's Gargantuan
4. The internet is fucked
5. Brazil's 'Internet Bill
of Rights' a Victory for Web Freedom
Matt Stoller: No, America Is Not an Oligarchy
This is the Nederlog of April
24. It is a crisis issue.
There are six items, and a seventh brief personal one, that mentions my
mB12-protocol, and some additions to the site that are nigh.
Also, this Nederlog is uploaded a bit earlier than is normal.
The fight to protect digital rights is
an uphill battle,
but not a silent one
The first article today is by Jillian C. York on The Guardian:
Basically, this is a history
of the fight to protect digital rights, by
someone who works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It is
reasonably done, and ends thus:
Thomas Drake and Jesslyn Radack Tell It Like It Is at Whistle-Blowers’
While views on speech
often differ from
culture to culture, the reaction to the NSA’s online surveillance
been swift and global. A set
demanding an end to mass surveillance (full disclosure: these were
part by my organisation) has attracted signatories from hundreds of countries, united in
their opposition to dragnet
everywhere. At the same time, engineers
and developers are working together across national lines to build
tools that will help users everywhere protect themselves against spying.
The fight to protect digital
most certainly an uphill battle, but a new generation of activists is
that it’s not a silent one.
The next item is an
article by Kasia Anderson on Truth Dig:
This starts as
And here is Daniel
Unfortunately for our
shaky democracy, the U.S. has needed serious and frequent help in
exposing the misuse and abuse of government power in recent years.
Fortunately for our democracy, people like Daniel Ellsberg, Edward
Snowden, Thomas Drake and Jesslyn Radack have been paying attention.
On April 8, Ellsberg, Radack
and Drake joined Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer for a valuable
meeting of the minds at the Annenberg School for Communication and
Journalism at the University of Southern California.
“I think we have
to change the culture of secrecy … the cult of secrecy … change the
benefit of the doubt that’s given quite wrongly to politicians and the
president in terms of what the public should know and should not know.
… To even think of thinking, for example, [Director of U.S. National
Intelligence James] Clapper or [former NSA Director] Keith Alexander or
the president should be the last word on what the public should know
about what they’re doing in our name represents a kind of culpable
ignorance at this point unless you’re 16 years old. … These people do
not deserve the benefit of the doubt at this point. Behind the veil of
secrecy, extremely bad, disastrous policy-making goes on without
Quite so, although I
knew this already when 16, if not through native intelligence then
through being raised by sincere and intelligent communist parents.  But
yes: Clapper, Alexander and Obama - who are all in favor of secretive
spying on everyone - are not to be trusted, and cannot be
trusted even if they were honest and sincere, which they are not, at
3. What You Should Know About FBI's
The next item is an
article by Tana Ganeva on AlterNet:
This starts as
Since 2008, the FBI has
been hard at work transforming its massive fingerprint database (IAFIS)
into an even more massive biometric database called Next Generation
Identification. NGI will include iris scans, palm prints and images of
faces that can be scanned using face recognition technology and matched
to age, race, address, ID number, and immigration status, among other
According to documents
obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the FBI's efforts to
amass as much identifying data as possible is going quite well: the
database, which contained 13.6 million images of 7 to 8 million people
in 2012, is expected to hold 52 million photos by next year. Most of
the images come from local and state law enforcement. Although the FBI
has said it doesn't intend to collect social media images, there are no
rules in place barring the accumulation of pictures from sources other
than law enforcement.
The rest is an
interview with Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation,
that is fairly interesting. I select just one question + answer:
TG: Beyond the
spooky sci-fi aspect, why would you say face recognition is more
alarming than other biometrics?
JL: I think for a few
different reasons. One is that it's not really accurate at matching
face image to face image as fingerprint to fingerprint. But the other
reason is that it's possible to capture a face image at a distance.
It's very easy. And there are surveillance cameras everywhere. And once
face recognition technology improves, it will be possible to monitor
people as they travel through society. It would be impossible to be
anonymous in society anymore. And it has a chilling effect on people's
speech, and activities, and their willingness to engage in discussion,
religious discussion, associate with people they might not know.
Yes - and in fact I
think that: "It would be
impossible to be anonymous in society anymore" is behind all these - illegal and immoral -
collections of personal data.
It is about full and
absolute control of everyone, by a handful of totally anonymous,
secretively operating, totally covered spies, who may work for the
government or for a private contractor, because they want to know
everything about anyone, which they want in order to get complete
control for their kind of persons.
That is the only
rational explanation for making these enormous and expensive
collections of stolen private and personal data: they do not want to
protect, they want to rule.
internet is fucked
The next item is an
article by Nilay Patel on The Verge:
This starts as follows -
but then I recalled, as soon as I read that WE are fucking up
internet (that is: you and me, which is definitely false for me, at
least, and very probably for my readers as well) that
I have reviewed this article, of which I got the link from a
article, on February 26, 2014, the
day after it appeared.
So...here is the last part of what I wrote 2 months ago, making it
easier for me, also as it is well worth repeating:
We’re really, really
fucking this up.
But we can fix it, I
swear. We just have to start telling each other the truth. Not the
doublespeak bullshit of regulators and lobbyists, but the actual truth.
Once we have the truth, we have the power — the power to demand better
not only from our government, but from the companies that serve us as
well. "This is a political fight," says Craig Aaron, president of the
advocacy group Free Press. "When the internet speaks with a unified
voice politicians rip their hair out."
We can do it. Let’s
Go ahead, say it out loud. The internet is a utility.
"We" fucked it up
- "I swear" - "we" can fix it. How? By starting to tell the
truth. And then it seems "we" (almost) all have to say is "The internet is a utility". And then "we" are almost there, with
fixing it. (?!?!)
I'm sorry: "We" didn't fuck it up, and "we" - whoever "we" are, with a few rare exceptions - can't fix it
either, and "we" on the internet certainly do not speak "with a unified voice", because the internet never was unified, after the
very first days: people are all different from each other. Also, I
totally miss the point of saying that the internet is a utility. I
mean: yes... but so what? The roads and bridges in the US also are
utilities, and nevertheless are hardly maintained.
But OK... Nilay
seems to mean well, and there is a lot more in the article, and some of
it, e.g. about internet speeds, I did not know.
Then again, it is not
my style of writing, and if this is the writing standard of The Verge -
which I only saw today, for the first time - I'm afraid it is a bit too
dumb for me.
'Internet Bill of Rights' a
Victory for Web
The next item is an
article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
A landmark law
that guarantees equal access to the nation's internet and protects the
privacy of users was signed by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on
Wednesday, in a move that is being hailed as a historic step for online
OK - I am glad for the
Brazilians, and I do think it is a step in the right direction, and one
that should be taken. Then again, Brazil is only one country, albeit a
fairly large one.
The "Civil Law Marco
Internet"—dubbed the Internet Bill of Rights by its supporters—was
passed unanimously by Brazil's Senate on Tuesday. Rousseff signed the
bill at the launch of the two-day NETmundial conference in Sao Paulo,
“Internet and freedom are
wired together forever," said
Michael Freitas Mohallem, Campaign Director at Avaaz, an international
organization that collected more than 350,00 signatures in Brazil
calling for net neutrality legislation.
"Marco Civil is a bill
created, championed, and today delivered into law by the people,"
Freitas Mohallem continued. "This is a truly historical day for people
power, with Brazil now leading the world in keeping the net neutral."
Sir Tim Berners-Lee,
considered the 'Father of the Internet,' hailed the law as "a gift to
the web on its 25th birthday."
Berners-Lee said the law
"reflects the Internet as it should be: an open, neutral and
decentralized network, in which users are the engine of collaboration
and innovation." He added that by passing the bill, Brazil would
"unleash a new era—in which the rights of citizens in all countries are
protected by a Digital Rights Charter."
In any case, there is considerably more in the article, and yes: it is
a step forward.
Stoller: No, America Is Not an
next item is an
article by Matt Stoller on Naked Capitalism:
This starts as follows:
The problem with this is that
Stoller can't think logically and doesn't define his terms. First, what
is an oligarchy? Here is the Shorter OED:
A lot of people are
Princeton study on the political influence of the wealthy and
business groups versus ordinary citizens. The study does not say that
the US is an oligarchy, wherein the wealthy control politics with an
iron fist. If it were, then things like Social Security, Medicare, food
stamps, veterans programs, housing finance programs, etc wouldn’t exist.
What the study actually
says is that American voters are disorganized and their individualized
preferences don’t matter unless voters group themselves into mass
membership organizations. Then, if people belong to mass membership
organizations, their preferences do matter, but less so than business
groups and the wealthy.
(..) (1577) (..) Government by the few; a form of goverment in which
the power is confined to a few persons or families; the body of persons
composing such a government.
Also, the definition does not
say that "the wealthy control
politics" (for there are other
sources of oligarchy than wealth) and also does not say
oligarchies "control politics
with an iron fist" (they may, but need not).
As to the "few persons or families" that do occur in the
definition: The Kennedys, Bushes, and Clintons come to mind: We had two
Bushes as presidents already, in the last 28 years, separated by
a Clinton; and just escaped another Clinton that still may rule as
president from 2016 onwards. O no, the US is not an oligarchy, Mr
Stoller sings proudly, if also a bit falsely.
As to what the study did say, in the words of those who wrote
it, cited from the study:
the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero,
statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and
organized groups representing business interests have substantial
independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based
interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent
influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of
Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not
for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.
Also, the second paragraph
blames it on the voters, rather than the rich: Listen,
you dummies: You have influence, if you only organize
yourselves, and vote with the rich. And now stop whining! We live in A
So no... I don't think this is an honest review, or else Mr Stoller
lacks a lot of brainpower. Indeed, what he could have said is
long as there are "Social
Security, Medicare, food stamps, veterans programs, housing finance
programs" (which billionaires
like the Kochs want all to disappear completely: their existence marrs
their freedom) there is no extreme oligarchy
that rules with an iron fist.
That would have been correct, but as it stands the article just is
misleading, and indeed the rest of it is on a par with the beginning.
short personal section, containing three points.
First, I put back my consumption of metafolate to three a day. I raised
it three weeks ago to four a day, but this did not make much
difference, except that I got considerably more pain two days ago (and
also some days
before that, but less).
I think I correctly got the cause: Too little potassium, and
increased my dose of that for a few days, and indeed the pain got a lot
less. So now I shifted things back to 3 metafolate, and will continue
with that for a week, and next Thursday decide how I want to go on.
(Probably as the week before, but it does depend on the week.)
Apart from this there were no major changes, not in my health and not
in my taking supplements: See April 5,
Second, there are some updates (and extensions) coming soon. I have
almost finished the excerpts of my remarks to Multatuli's
Ideen - over
3 MB - and will upload the lot soon, and also will do new versions of
ideas 1 - 20, because these are quite ugly due to font changes that I
help my eyes, but that are not well done and look ugly, and are also
difficult to undo.
I guess this will be done in the weekend.
Third, there is a theoretical crisis part coming that I am making, that
involves my comments on a text of Frank Zappa that dates back to 1968,
that seems to me about the briefest good social philosophy that
I know, though - I think - it
also needs some 9 comments by me. (It's the text of a song.)
I do not know when this will be completely done, but it will probably
be next week.
Anyway... things are being done on my site, and indeed I still
am a bit
better than I was the last two years at least, and probably the last
12, which indeed were far from easy.
 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
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
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
from is quite pertinent.)
Maybe I should add: Yes, it is quite possible to have sincere and
intelligent and communist parents. They became communists because of
the Nazis, and remained so because after the war, that most Dutchmen
had collaborated through, while my parents and grandparents were in the
real resistance, and for that reason also in concentration camps, they
were much discriminated. I gave up communism aged 20, in 1970, but this
does not mean I disagreed morally with my parents.
(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: