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. Everyone is under surveillance
now, says whistleblower
2. US and Germany remain frosty amid awkward
3. White House seeks legal immunity for firms that hand
over customer data
5. How to Keep the Internet
Open and Free
6. WHO calls for urgent action
to preserve power of
antibiotics and make new ones
This is the Nederlog of May 3.
It is a crisis issue.
There are six items with six dotted links. And mind that, while I am here
not summarizing today, the last item is a crisis item: there are fewer and fewer
drugs that work against the more and more resistant germs of disease,
and there is little hope from the pharmaceutical corporations.
is under surveillance now, says
whistleblower Edward Snowden
The first item is
article by Associated Press on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
He did so in a video
that was shown in a public debate between general Michael Hayden and
lawyer Alan Dershowitz on one side, and journalist Glenn Greenwald and
Alexis Ohanan, who co-founded Reddit, on the other side.
The US intelligence
whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that entire populations, rather
than just individuals, now live under constant surveillance.
“It's no longer based on the
traditional practice of targeted taps based on some individual
suspicion of wrongdoing,” he said. “It covers phone calls, emails,
texts, search history, what you buy, who your friends are, where you
go, who you love.”
The place was Toronto, Canada, and the issue was "Be it resolved state surveillance is a
legitimate defence of our freedoms." Also, the debate was lost by Hayden and Dershowitz,
in the sense that prior to the debate 46% voted against it, and after
the debate 59% of the audience was against.
I must say that I think it is good that the issues are - still
- publicly debated, and also good that Haynes and Dershowitz
were convincingly beaten.
There is considerably more in the article, but I will quote just one
I take it this shows how
utterly ridiculous Haynes's and Dershowitz's argument is, and
also that Greenwald's position is reasonable: He is not against
surveillance of persons on probable cause; he is against surveillance
of all, as is happening now, albeit it still mostly in secret.
“What is state
surveillance?” Greenwald asked. “If it were about targeting in a
discriminate way against those causing harm, there would be no debate.
“The actual system of
state surveillance has almost nothing to do with that. What state
surveillance actually is, is defended by the NSA's actual words, that
phrase they use over and over again: 'Collect it all.’ ”
Dershowitz and Hayden
spent the rest of the 90 minutes of the debate denying that the
pervasive surveillance systems described by Snowden and Greenwald even
exist and that surveillance programs are necessary to prevent terrorism.
“Collect it all doesn't
mean collect it all!” Hayden said, drawing laughter.
Also, I want to add one more thing, to clarify:
Surveillance of all has almost nothing to do
with preventing terrorism, and it never had. "Terrorism" was
always a pretext: The point is that surveillance of all gives
inccredible power to the very few men and women who control the
government, and it gives such enormous extra-ordinary power - the few
who rule know everything about anyone - as not even the
Stasi or the KGB could dream of.
And as Lord Acton observed:
"Power tends to
corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men
are almost always bad men."
The powers implicit in surveillance of all are FAR
greater than any power any state has ever had,
and it is therefore not surprising that these powers are extremely
corrupting, and secret, and have been covered by very many lies and by
very well-trained liars.
2. US and Germany remain frosty amid awkward visit from Merkel
The next item is an
article by Paul Lewis on The Guardian:
This starts as
German chancellor Angela
Merkel’s first visit to the White House since the revelation that her
calls were bugged by the National Security Agency was never going to be
But Merkel could not have
known how quite how awkward her appearance with US president Barack
Obama would be. And no one could have anticipated the unfortunate role
that, once again, American technology would play in Merkel's public
In fact, what
happened, thanks to American technology, that has worked well for
nearly a century, was this:
But as soon as the event
began, it was evident that Merkel, who rarely speaks English in public,
was placed at a considerable disadvantage by White House headphones
provided to reporters – and the world leaders – for simultaneous
Obama’s remarks were
clear. But when Merkel spoke, she was barely audible over a suspicious,
crackling noise. Bemused reporters tapped their headsets, wondering
aloud if they were listening to something they shouldn’t.
So here one has to
ask: Was this accidental or did it happen on purpose?
Here is a bit from
the Wikipedia article "Film":
By 1930, silent film was
practically extinct in the US and already being referred to as "the old
Of course, sounds
were recorded considerably before that, but it is now 85 years
ago that silent films had nearly completely disappeared.
I conclude it is more
probable than not that the very bad quality of Merkel's speech was engineered,
rather than due to a - quite strange - fluke, and it was engineered to
assure that she would not be able to say anything clear and audible
about surveillance, of herself, of the Germans, or of anyone else.
This must be a mere
probability, but that is the weight of the available evidence, also
Berlin had been delaying
Merkel’s visit to Washington for months, saying she would not come
until trust was restored and demanding the two countries agree a mutual
“no-spy agreement”. Merkel also wanted to discover what, exactly, was
in her personal NSA file.
Both requests were
rebuffed. Instead, Merkel will return home with something called a
“cyber dialogue”. In other words: the US won't budge an inch, but has
agreed to keep talking.
There is considerably
more under the last dotted link. I think Ms Merkel has been shown her
place by the governors of the US, which may have been quite unwise.
3. White House seeks legal immunity for
firms that hand over customer data
next item is an
article by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:
starts as follows:
The White House has asked
legislators crafting competing reforms of the National Security Agency
to provide legal immunity for telecommunications firms that provide the
government with customer data, the Guardian has learned.
In a statement of
principles privately delivered to lawmakers some weeks ago to guide
surveillance reforms, the White House said it wanted legislation
protecting “any person who complies in good faith with an order to
produce records” from legal liability for complying with court orders
for phone records to the government once the NSA no longer collects the
data in bulk.
The brief request,
contained in a four-page document, echoes a highly controversial
provision of the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act, which provided retroactive
immunity to the telecommunications companies that allowed the NSA
to access calls and call data between Americans and foreigners, voiding
against them. Barack Obama’s vote for that bill as a senator and
presidential candidate disappointed many supporters.
Let me start with
noting, once more, that global surveillance is illegal by the
Fourth Amendment - but this does not bother Obama and his government,
for they, and their successors, can get far more power over
their population than anyone ever had, and they also have many
lawyers and politicians and generals very willing to lie, and
deceive, and play word games of any kind, as long as the surveillance
continues and is as secret as possible.
The present article
is about one of the things that keeps this going, and seeks to provide legal
immunity to any provider who breaks the law by handing over
records they have of private personal data to the government.
There is considerably
more under the last dotted link, but that is what it is about:
If you cannot get it
legally, get it illegally, meanwhile insisting that “Collect it all doesn't mean collect it all!”
and promiss legal immunity to anyone who helps
collecting all, while publicly denying he does.
The next item is an
article by economist Paul Krugman on the New York Times:
This starts as follows:
Well...yes and no,
though mainly no. But first the yes: I agree with Krugman that "policy makers and politicians have ignored
both the textbooks and the lessons of history": they did.
On Wednesday, I
wrapped up the class I’ve been teaching all semester: “The Great
Recession: Causes and Consequences.” (Slides
for the lectures are available via my blog.) And while teaching the
course was fun, I found myself turning at the end to an agonizing
question: Why, at the moment it was most needed and could have done the
most good, did economics fail?
I don’t mean that economics was useless to
policy makers. On the contrary, the discipline has had a lot to offer.
While it’s true that few economists saw the crisis coming — mainly, I’d
argue, because few realized how fragile our deregulated financial
system had become, and how vulnerable debt-burdened families were to a
plunge in housing prices — the clean little secret of recent years is
that, since the fall of Lehman Brothers, basic textbook macroeconomics
has performed very well.
makers and politicians have ignored both the textbooks and the lessons
of history. And the result has been a vast economic and human
catastrophe, with trillions of dollars of productive potential
squandered and millions of families placed in dire straits for no good
Otherwise, I disagree - and I did read a reasonable amount of
economics, of various kinds and schools also, including Keynes and
Marx, and I also read a lot of other things, such as philosophy of
science and ethics, that most economists avoid.
Here are some of my reasons:
First, there were quite a lot of economists who helped to prepare the
Great Recession, from Milton Friedman
(<- Wikipedia) onwards, by bullshit
arguments. Krugman may disagree with them, as I do, but they are
Second, very "few
economists saw the crisis coming", and very many said the most
inane things about it late in 2008 and in 2009 (I know: I have listened
to them on the radio): Surely that means that macroeconomics is not
a science like physics or chemistry are, and that it cannot be relied
upon, not even on such fundamental question as whether a crisis is
Third, many economists are little better than ideologists-with-a-degree-in-
economics: They insist on the most blatant falsehoods, such as that
inequalities do not matter to economists, which Krugman himself seems
to have been very recently cured from this by Piketty's book.
Anyway...I would not trust an economist because he is an
economist. There is too much divergence in their "science", there is
too little agreement on even the simplest of questions, and they all
albeit these ideologies also differ a lot.
There is considerably more under the last dotted link, but while I
agree that "policy makers
just keep finding reasons not to do the right thing" one important reason they can do so
is that economists widely disagree about what is their "science".
5. How to Keep the Internet Open and Free
The next item is
article by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Barack Obama told
us there would be no compromise on Net neutrality. We heard him say it
back in 2007, when he first was running for president.
There is rather a lot more under the last link, that
also exhorts Americans to make themselves heard by Obama, but the fact
of the matter seems to be that Obama has, once more, been lying, and
“We have to ensure [a]
free and full exchange of information and that starts with an open
Internet,” he said in a speech at Google headquarters, the presidium of
cyberspace. “I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to
network neutrality, because once providers start to privilege some
applications or websites over others, then the smaller voices get
squeezed out and we all lose. The Internet is perhaps the most open
network in history and we have to keep it that way.”
He said it many more
times. And defenders of Net neutrality believed him, that he would
preserve Internet access for all, without selling out to providers like
Verizon and Comcast who want to charge higher fees for speedier access
– hustling more cash from those who can afford to buy a place at the
front of the line. On this issue so important to democracy, they
believed he would keep his word, would see to it that when private
interests set upon the Internet like sharks to blood in the water, its
fate would be in the hands of honest brokers who would listen politely
to the pleas of the greedy, and then show them the door.
Unfortunately, it turned out
to be Washington’s infamous revolving door.
6. WHO calls for urgent action to preserve power of
antibiotics and make new ones
next and last item for today is
article by Sarah Bosely on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
There is a lot more under the
last dotted link, which does explain things fairly well, and that also
includes this, which does not amaze me, since I have read a lot about
Pneumonia will again
become a feared killer, surgery risky and diarrhoea fatal if urgent
action is not taken to preserve the power of current antibiotics as well
as develop new ones, the World
Health Organisation has warned on Wednesday.
In its first
investigation of the extent of antimicrobial resistance across the
world, the WHO said we are facing a huge threat to public health, which
could affect anybody of any age.
No country is immune, as
bacteria and viruses resistant to drugs travel the globe with ease.
New drugs are not
on the horizon. There have been no new classes of antibiotics for 25
years, said Dr Danilo Lo Fo Wong, senior adviser on antimicrobial
resistance to WHO Europe.
It seems to me that it
is likely that many people will die, simply because there are no drugs
left to help them, because the germs that will kill them meanwhile have
become mostly resistant to all drugs.
 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.)
(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: