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Nederlog


  June
11, 2014
Crisis: Snowden, Europe, NSA, "Labour" Party, Cantor, 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.  Edward Snowden's NSA leaks 'an important service',
      says Al Gore

2.  An Ignored Pre-9/11 Warning on Spying
3.  Too Big To Comply? NSA Says It’s Too Large, Complex to
      Comply With Court Order

4.  Unchallenged by craven Labour, Britain slides towards
      ever more selfishness

5.  GOP House Majority Leader Ousted in Primary Shocker
6.  Personal (2 videos with Glenn Greenwald)

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of June 11. It is an ordinary crisis log.

I will not give a summary, and only say that the last autobiographical part I wrote - mostly in Dutch - now is in the autobiography-section and has some additions as well (since last Sunday) - but this was for the very few.

Now to the latest
crisis news.

1. Edward Snowden's NSA leaks 'an important service', says Al Gore

The first item is an article by Ewen McAskill on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Edward Snowden has secured his highest endorsement yet in the US when former vice-president Al Gore described the leaking of top secret intelligence documents as "an important service".

Asked if he regarded Snowden as a traitor or whistleblower, Gore veered away from the "traitor" label. He refused to go as far as labelling him a whistleblower but signalled he viewed him as being closer to that category than a traitor, saying: "What he revealed in the course of violating important laws included violations of the US constitution that were way more serious than the crimes he committed."

I say. Since I have followed the story closely for over a year now (as indeed has Ewen McAskill) I can report that this is not much different from what I reported on June 17, 2013, so I am not much impressed.

What I am also not impressed with is this passage:
Gore replied: "I would push it more away from the traitor side. And I will tell you why. He clearly violated the law so you can't say OK, what he did is all right. It's not. But what he revealed in the course of violating important laws included violations of the US constitution that were way more serious than the crimes he committed."
My reason for not being impressed is that it keeps this on the level of law-breaking and blaming Snowden, if not as much as some, whereas it is quite clear that the whole US government broke and breaks many laws very willingly: the whole NSA operation is an enormous breakage of the law, against hundreds of millions of Americans, every day again and again.

As to "
He clearly violated the law so you can't say OK, what he did is all right":

No, that seems mostly nonsense to me in a society were war criminals like Kissinger, Bush Jr, Cheney and Rumsfeld are cleared as a matter of course of all wrongdoing by the president, as if on that level any crime passes as a non-crime.

Besides: Snowden may have broken the law in some sense, but he did it out of loyalty to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which he also had sworn to uphold, and which he saw daily were broken billionfold against hundreds of millions of American citizens who had not done anything criminal.

And what I am also not impressed with is this:
Gore called on the internet companies to work with the public to help draw up a "digital Magna Carta" that provides protection of freedoms. "They need to pay attention to correcting some of these gross abuses of individual privacy that are ongoing in the business sphere," he said.
This seems gross obfuscation to me: The existing Bill of Rights is quite adequate to the so-called "digital era", and it clearly forbids the actions of the US government and its contractors and employees.

It would have been much better if Gore had pointed out that, instead of pretending there are no rules. There are legal rules; they are in the Bill of Rights; and they are being broken billions of times a day, by criminals who hide their crimes behind their being government employees, while pretending anything they do should be trusted, and may not be investigated, because it is done by or for the government.


To end the present subject, here is a video of 2 m 52 s by The Young Turks, that is considerably more pro Gore than I am: 

But indeed: I neither met, nor worked for, nor am beholden to Al Gore.

2.  An Ignored Pre-9/11 Warning on Spying

The next item is an article by Arjen Kamphuis on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:

In the first 21 months of the Twenty-first Century, the dot-com stock bubble burst and then the 9/11 attacks propelled the United States into the “global war on terror.” Yet, between those two events a largely forgotten report to the European Parliament was issued on July 11, 2001, describing the scale and impact of electronic espionage in Europe by the U.S. and its “Echelon” partners (Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand).

Speculation about this surveillance network had existed for years but it wasn’t until 1999 when a journalist published a report on the topic that the danger began to be taken seriously. That gave rise to the parliamentary report which – besides offering a detailed analysis of the problem – urged European governments to inform their citizens about Echelon and provided concrete examples of policies that Europe could take to significantly limit foreign intelligence spying.
In fact, the report is indeed on line (but I should warn you it is nearly 800 Kb of rather formalistic prose). The above continues:

Under the heading, “Measures to encourage self-protection by citizens and enterprises,” the report suggested improved data security and confidentiality for communications by EU citizens. The document also recommended “practical assistance in designing and implementing comprehensive protection measures, including the security of information technology.”

Europe was urged to “take appropriate measures to promote, develop and manufacture European encryption technology and software and, above all, to support projects aimed at developing user encryption technology, which are open-source.” The report recommended software projects whose source text is published, thereby guaranteeing that the software has no “back doors” built in so intelligence services can steal information.

If those recommendations had been implemented, history might have taken a very different course.
I agree, and this was a particularly good and prescient report - but I also note the "had" and the "might": In fact, the recommendations were not implemented.

Kamphuis does a decent job of outlining what might have been (I do think he is a bit too optimistic as to people's average abilities, but OK), and he also supports free software, and - quite correctly - points out this is the much safer and much cheaper alternative that should have been followed, in 2001.

He ends thus:

Europe could still change. It has everything it needs to make and implement these more independent and secure IT policies. No matter how regrettable the policy failures of the last decade and no matter how many wasted billions of dollars, it is not too late to make the turn.

Today could be the first day of such a new course. Concrete examples in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, the UK and many other places show that this is not only possible, but almost immediately leads to huge savings, improved safety and independence from foreign parties in future IT choices.

And he is right, and the linked examples in the last paragraph are good ...
and why are you not running Linux yet?!
It really is easy now.

3. Too Big To Comply? NSA Says It’s Too Large, Complex to Comply With Court Order

The next item is an article by Patrick Toomey on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

In an era of too-big-to-fail banks, we should have known it was coming: An intelligence agency too big to rein in — and brazen enough to say so.

In a remarkable legal filing on Friday afternoon, the NSA told a federal court that its spying operations are too massive and technically complex to comply with an order to preserve evidence. The NSA, in other words, now says that it cannot comply with the rules that apply to any other party before a court — the very rules that ensure legal accountability — because it is too big.

There is also this:

Perhaps most troubling, the new assertions continue the NSA's decade-long effort to evade judicial review — at least in any public court. For years, in cases like the ACLU's Amnesty v. Clapper, the NSA evaded review by telling courts that plaintiffs were speculating wildly when they claimed that the agency had intercepted their communications. Today, of course, we know those claims were prescient: Recent disclosures show that the NSA was scanning Americans' international emails en masse all along. Now, the NSA would put up a new roadblock — claiming that it is unable to preserve the very evidence that would allow a court to fully and fairly review those activities.

As Brett Max Kaufman and I have written before, our system of oversight is broken — this is only the latest warning sign flashing red. The NSA has grown far beyond the ability of its overseers to properly police its spying activities.

Yes, though it is noteworthy that the line that "the NSA evaded review by telling courts that plaintiffs were speculating wildly when they claimed that the agency had intercepted their communications" now seems to have been blocked: They are spying on everyone, and it is illegal.

That they are too big to comply with the rules for evidence of a court indeed is a new and brazen defense, which indeed is not legally valid.

4. Unchallenged by craven Labour, Britain slides towards ever more selfishness

The next item is an article by George Monbiot on The Guardian:

As my readers may know, I am a psychologist (though in fact mostly because I was kicked out of the faculty of philosophy briefly before taking my M.A. as "a fascist" and "a terrorist" because I asked questions about the quasi-"marxist" degenerate sickness that ruled the University of Amsterdam from 1971-1995), which also means (besides having only straight A's when taking the M.A. in psychology) that I am incapable of trusting "the psychological research" that marrs much of the beginning of Monbiot's article (for me, at least).

Sorry, but I do have the degree. Then again, I agree with what it leads up to, which is this:

There is no better political passion killer than Labour's Zero-Based Review. Its cover is Tory blue. So are the contents. It promises to sustain the coalition's programme of cuts and even threatens to apply them to the health service. But, though it treats the deficit as a threat that must be countered at any cost, it says not a word about plugging the gap with innovative measures such as a Robin Hood tax on financial transactions, a land value tax, a progressively banded council tax or a windfall tax on extreme wealth. Nor does it mention tax avoidance and evasion. The poor must bear the pain through spending cuts, sustaining a cruel and wildly unequal social settlement.

Last month Chris Leslie, Labour's shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, promised, like George Osborne, that the cuts would be sustained for "decades ahead". He asserted that Labour's purpose in government would be to "finish that task on which [the chancellor] has failed": namely "to eradicate the deficit". The following day the shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, sought to explain why Labour had joined the political arms race on immigration. In doing so, he revealed that his party will be "radical in reforming our economy" in support of "a determinedly pro-business agenda". They appear to believe that success depends on becoming indistinguishable from their opponents.

What this shows me - much rather than the applicability of some extremely doubtful "psychological research" - is that Blair and Brown have succeeded in destroying Labour, just as Clinton and Obama succeeded in destroying the Democrats: All ruling political parties these days serve the corporations, and indeed are paid by the corporations. (See: Third Way, incidentally utter propaganda trash: "William K. Black said that "Third Way is this group that pretends sometimes to be center-left but is actually completely a creation of Wall Street--it's run by Wall Street for Wall Street with this false flag operation as if it were a center-left group. It's nothing of the sort.")

It is that which the latest blue Labour report shows (and it is the same in Holland, by the way).

5. GOP House Majority Leader Ousted in Primary Shocker

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This is about the fall, or at least: the defeat, of Eric Cantor, and I could have taken it from many places, since it is Big News. It starts as follows:
In a historic primary upset in Virginia on Tuesday, House Majority Leader and Republican Congressman Eric Cantor, was defeated by his Tea Party-backed challenger Dave Brat.

The defeat is being treated as a shocking political development by national media outlets and pundits, as few thought it possible that Cantor—one of the most powerful GOP leaders in Washington—was under serious threat from Brat, a college professor who ran as "the true conservative" to the right of the Majority Leader as he took a specifically hardline and regressive stance on immigration.

Though Cantor raised a reported $5.4 million compared to Brat's $200,000 and outspent him 20-to-1, his challenger was ahead by a margin of 56 to 44 percent when Cantor conceded the race just before 8:30 PM.

There is considerably more in the article, but this suffices, except for the remarks that Cantor is the first House Majority leader to loose an election since 1899.

6. Personal (2 videos with Glenn Greenwald)

This last item also is crisis related, and it is personal only because I made the selections, namely of two recent videos with Glenn Greenwald, and also because I have a brief introduction that outlines some of my reservations about many talks that I have seen on video.

Here it is:

To start with, I should remark that while I have linked to quite a few videos the last 4 years or so, quite a few of which were videos of people talking, I am not somebody who likes them a lot, and that applies especially to what are called "talking heads": Videos of talks by persons, that visually consist of their talking heads.

My main problem with them, apart from the fact that those talking almost always express themselves better (or at least: less bad) in writing plus the fact that most talkers are quite bad, for various reasons - two of which are that either they are trained political liars who mostly lie, and deliver their lies fairly well, but which still remain lies and deceptions, or that they simply do not talk well at all even if they are quite honest - and most importantly: I read a whole lot faster than any talker can talk, which means that I tend to be bored by both the audio and the video of most talks.

Then again, I do realize that "the talking heads format" is there for a reason - it is the personal (or on video, mostly: "personal") format any human being is most used to: someone is talking to you - and it will also not disappear or be replaced by text. (As an aside: I do like the policy of Democracy Now!, for they decided that while their main format is video-interviews, they do also give the spoken text in written form, which is what I read: I never watch their videos, since that takes at least 5 times longer.)

Anyway, having outlined some of my reasons why I am not a big favorite of "talking heads", here are two videos of talking heads:

First, a good brief interview with Glenn Greenwald: The questions are mostly good, as are the answers:
Next, and from the same source, a decently done interview, including Q&A, with Glenn Greenwald in Germany:  I think you may learn some from either interview, but as I said, I agree I am not a big fan of "the talking heads format", indeed since a very long time (I tend to avoid set talks of any kind since at least 45 years: they almost always bore me very much).
---------------------------------
P.S. 12 jun 2014: I corrected a few typos.
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.)


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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