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Nederlog


  April
24, 2014
Crisis: Digital rights, Whistleblowers, FBI, internet, Brazil, Stoller, Personal
   "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. 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’ Summit

3. What You Should Know About FBI's Gargantuan
     Biometric Database

4. The internet is fucked
5. Brazil's 'Internet Bill of Rights' a Victory for Web Freedom
6. Matt Stoller: No, America Is Not an Oligarchy
7. Personal

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

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.

1. 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:

While views on speech often differ from culture to culture, the reaction to the NSA’s online surveillance project has been swift and global. A set of principles demanding an end to mass surveillance (full disclosure: these were developed in part by my organisation) has attracted signatories from hundreds of countries, united in their opposition to dragnet surveillance everywhere. At the same time, engineers and developers are working together across national lines to build software and tools that will help users everywhere protect themselves against spying.

The fight to protect digital rights is most certainly an uphill battle, but a new generation of activists is ensuring that it’s not a silent one.
2.  Daniel Ellsberg, Thomas Drake and Jesslyn Radack Tell It Like It Is at Whistle-Blowers’ Summit

The next item is an article by Kasia Anderson on Truth Dig:

This starts as follows:

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.
And here is Daniel Ellsberg:
“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 accountability.”

Quite so, although I knew this already when 16, if not through native intelligence then through being raised by sincere and intelligent communist parents. [2] 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 all.

3.  What You Should Know About FBI's Gargantuan Biometric Database

The next item is an article by Tana Ganeva on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

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 things. 
 
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.

4. The 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 the 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 recent 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 start.
(...)
Go ahead, say it out loud. The internet is a utility.

"We" fucked it up but - "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 Patel 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.
Yes, indeed.

5. Brazil's 'Internet Bill of Rights' a Victory for Web Freedom

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 freedom worldwide.

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, Brazil.

“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."

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.

In any case, there is considerably more in the article, and yes: it is a step forward.

6. Matt Stoller: No, America Is Not an Oligarchy

The next item is an article by Matt Stoller on Naked Capitalism:
This starts as follows:

A lot of people are misreading this 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.

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:
Oligarchy (..) (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 preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
And
The central 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 Fine Democracy!

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 that as 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.

7. Personal

Finally, a 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, 2014.

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 made to 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.
---------------------------------
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.)

[2] 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.

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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