Prev-IndexNL-Next

Nederlog


  July
1, 2014
Crisis: NSA-chief, Facebook, Snowden, Children (PTSD), SCOTUS, Pitchforks
   "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. New NSA chief says 'sky not falling down' after Snowden
     revelations

2. Anger Follows Facebook's Secret Study to Manipulate
     Emotions

3. Snowden Asylum in Germany? Support Grows for NSA
     Whistleblower After Merkel Cancels Verizon Contract

4. Pity the Children
5. Does Cell-Phone Case Imperil NSA Spying?
6. The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of July 1. It is an ordinary crisis log.

There are six crisis items today, and this also is the second Nederlog of today: There earlier was a non-crisis issue on "The books I wrote (and the essays as well)".

I think this is a fairly interesting crisis issue, and this holds especially for the last item, which is by a very rich man, who talks a lot of sense - I like it, though I offer no bets on how many of his very rich mates he will turn around. (I have really no idea, and have known very few rich men, and no billionaires at all.)

1. New NSA chief says 'sky not falling down' after Snowden revelations

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

The new director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, has played down the damage caused by Edward Snowden's revelations – in contrast to claims by his predecessor and British counterparts that it was one of the worst breaches in intelligence history.

Rogers said in an interview with the New York Times that some terrorists had made changes in the way they communicate as a result of the revelations focusing on the US spying communications agency, but overall he had concluded the sky was not falling.

His predecessor, General Keith Alexander, described the leak of tens of thousands of documents from the NSA and British counterpart GCHQ – as well as the surveillance agencies of Australia, New Zealand and Canada – as "the greatest damage to our combined nations' intelligence systems that we have ever suffered". British intelligence has spoken of areas of the world having "gone dark" and of disruption caused to intelligence-gathering.

I say - but my main problem is that there never is given any evidence. And clearly, the NSA and the GCHQ have lied a lot, and have done very many illegal things.

Also, Glenn Greenwald is quite right that if there had been any evidence that Snowden's revelations had killed anyone the NSA and the GCHQ would have brought this forward, quite gleefully also, whereas any terrorist does know, since a long time also, that communication by the internet or by cell phones is risky and dangerous.

Finally, I am absolutely convinced that (1) the aim of the NSA and the GCHQ was and very probably still is to get everything of everyone's communications by
computer or cell phone from anywhere, and that (2) "terrorism" only is a pretext for doing this: The real aim is to get total control over the civilian populations, for the first is what we know thanks to Snowden, and the second is the only rational explanation of the first fact.

Here is another quotation, from considerably more I could have given:
Since taking over, Rogers has said the NSA will have to be more transparent in order to restore public trust and acknowledged that, unlike his predecessors, he would have to engage in public debate about the agency's role. In one of his first public comments, early in June, he rejected claims made by others in US and British intelligence that Snowden was working for the Chinese, Russian or any other foreign spy agency.
OK - this is at least saner than Hayden or Alexander. Then again, I do not know anything about Rogers' dreams, but I do hope he is not indulging Startrek whims in his office: That is so horribly silly!

2. Anger Follows Facebook's Secret Study to Manipulate Emotions 

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

New details surrounding how Facebook allowed academic researchers to conduct a secret experiment on nearly 700,000 of its users to determine if digital manipulation of their emotions could be achieved has spurred widespread condemnation and new fears about the power of such systems when turned against the millions of people who use them on a daily basis.

The experiment in question, which sought to document evidence of a "massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks," was authorized by Facebook in 2012 and conducted with outside assistance by researchers at Cornell and the University of California.

As the Wall Street Journal describes it, the purpose of the live experiment was to "determine whether it could alter the emotional state of [Facebook] users and prompt them to post either more positive or negative content." To achieve this, the site secretly and without the knowledge of those being subjected to the research "enabled an algorithm, for one week, to automatically omit content that contained words associated with either positive or negative emotions from the central news feeds of 689,003 users."

Well... I think this was improper and immoral, but (1) it is a considerable lot less serious than the NSA etc.'s stealing of all the data of anyone with a computer or a cell phone and (2) it all is legal, for the over a billion idiots and none to smart people who signed up to Facebook have signed away all their rights: Facebook can do what it damned well pleases, and this includes feeding nearly 700.000 people false information to manipulate them.

There is a lot of hullaballoo about this, which I can understand up to a point, but it also is a fact that I never did do Facebook, because I know it is a crooked data-miner with very stinking rules, and I can write my own website, so overall my attitude is: Well, if you want to be stupid or lazy and join Facebook, that's too bad for you - but I really can't be bothered, for there are much better places and much better ways to use a computer than to join Facebook.

For more see my On the sham called "Facebook", from 2011. (It's not that its clients have not been warned!)

3. Snowden Asylum in Germany? Support Grows for NSA Whistleblower After Merkel Cancels Verizon Contract

The next item is an article by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

This starts as follows:

Revelations by Edward Snowden about U.S. surveillance continue to shake Germany more than one year after he came forward as an National Security Agency whistleblower. Reports based on Snowden’s leaks revealed vast NSA spying in Germany, including on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone. Last week the German government canceled its contract with the U.S. telecommunications firm Verizon. Verizon has been providing network infrastructure for the German government’s Berlin-Bonn network, used for communication between government ministries, since 2010. Meanwhile, the German Parliament is continuing to conduct an inquiry into spying by the NSA and German secret services. Some German lawmakers are calling on Merkel’s government to grant Snowden asylum. We are joined by Snowden’s European lawyer, Wolfgang Kaleck, founder and general secretary for the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.

The article also quotes Snowden, who recently said:

What I witnessed over the course of my career was the construction of a system that violated the rights not just Americans, but of people around the world—and not just constitutional rights, but human rights. And it happened on a massive and unprecedented scale, and it was happening entirely in secret, without the public allowed to know even the barest outlines of the policies.

And I very strongly believed that if the public knew about these programs, these programs would not survive. We would consider them not only unlawful, but simply immoral. And even if they could be shown to be effective in some percentage of cases, we would reject them nonetheless, in the same manner that we reject torture, because even if—even if torture was effective, we reject it regardless of that effectiveness. We reject it because it is barbaric, it is immoral, and it is contrary to our basic principles as a civilization.

Mass surveillance, where we place everybody under constant monitoring, where we watch communications, we watch what books you buy, we watch the purchases you make, we watch your travels, we watch your associations, we watch who you love, and we watch who you are, we watch you develop as a person—these are not the values of Western societies. These are not the values of liberal societies. And I do not believe that America, as a nation, or the West, as a culture, would allow them to continue.

I entirely agree, except that I am 33 years older than is Snowden, and I do not have his degree of faith in what "we" think or want. I mean: I wish he was right, but I have seen too much stupidity, dishonesty and cowardice in ordinary men also in situations that were not dangerous at all - and including intellectuals and academics - to trust that they judge like I do, or like really intelligent cultivated men do.

Anyway - there is a lot more, and in fact this is an interview with Wolfgang Kaleck, who is Edward's Snowden European lawyer, but to read this you have to use the last dotted link.

4. Pity the Children

The next item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:
For the United States, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be over soon. We will leave behind, after our defeats, wreckage and death, the contagion of violence and hatred, unending grief, and millions of children who were brutalized and robbed of their childhood. Americans who did not suffer will forget. People maimed physically or psychologically by the violence, especially the Iraqi and Afghan children, will never escape. Time and memory will play their usual tricks. Those who endured war will begin to wonder, years from now, what was real and what was not. And those who did not taste of war’s noxious poison will stop wondering at all.
Yes, indeed: My father survived 3 years, 9 months and 15 days of German concentration camps, as a political prisoner, and developed PTSD later, and all his life afterward dreamt at night about the war and the concentration camps - so yes: What Hedges says here is quite true, and is also quite important: Those who have been in a war, in any major way, will never loose it, as long as their memories and brains work.

The article consists of three pages of reflections and interviews and quotations, and is good.


5. Does Cell-Phone Case Imperil NSA Spying?

The next item is an article by Marjorie Cohn, who is a professor at Thomas Jefferson school of law, and it is on Consortiumnews:

This begins as follows:

In one of the most significant Fourth Amendment rulings ever handed down by the Supreme Court, all nine justices agreed in an opinion involving two companion cases, Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, that police generally need a warrant before reading data on the cell phone of an arrestee.

This decision may well presage how the Court will rule on the constitutionality of the National Security Agency (NSA) metadata collection program when that issue inevitably comes before it.

In fact, the rest of the article gives reasons for its second paragraph, and it ends like this:
If the Court is consistent in its analysis, it will determine that the collection by the government of all of our electronic records implicates the same privacy concerns as the inspection of the data on our cell phones. It remains to be seen if and when the metadata collection issue comes before the Court. But the fact that the cell phone decision was 9-0 is a strong indication that all of the justices, regardless of ideology, are deeply concerned about protecting the privacy of our electronic communications.
OK - and indeed they also should be "deeply concerned about protecting the privacy of our electronic communications". Whether they will be, in a later case, is still open, but I agree with Cohn that this is some evidence that indeed they may be, as indeed would also be the right way, and according to their own Constitution and international laws.

6. The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats

The next and last item
is an article by Nick Hanauer (<- Wikipedia), that I mentioned earlier but did not quote. It appears now on Commondreams:
It starts as follows:
Memo: From Nick Hanauer
To: My Fellow Zillionaires

You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for which I was the first nonfamily investor. Then I founded aQuantive, an Internet advertising company that was sold to Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. In cash. My friends and I own a bank. I tell you all this to demonstrate that in many ways I’m no different from you. Like you, I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. And also like you, I have been rewarded obscenely for my success, with a life that the other 99.99 percent of Americans can’t even imagine. Multiple homes, my own plane, etc., etc.

OK - we get it: Hanauer is very rich. And he is worried, and soon starts saying why:
And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.
His argument is rather simple, and runs as follows:

But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.

He is quite right, except for the pitchforks: These will be guns, which very many Americans have, because of the NRA and the American gun laws. Indeed, that seems also the reason why the American police is now militarized: The government wants to continue the present policies that mostly favor the rich, at the cost of the poor, and needs to make sure it can repress any uprising by the many poor.

I think they will probably be able to stop some uprisings, but probably not if these last long (weeks) and if they lame considerable parts of the country. Also, there are as many or more guns in the United States as there are people, which is a great many.

Here is Hanauer again:

And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.

I think he is right - and he also has a remedy (with his bolding):

The most ironic thing about rising inequality is how completely unnecessary and self-defeating it is. If we do something about it, if we adjust our policies in the way that, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression—so that we help the 99 percent and preempt the revolutionaries and crazies, the ones with the pitchforks—that will be the best thing possible for us rich folks, too. It’s not just that we’ll escape with our lives; it’s that we’ll most certainly get even richer.

The model for us rich guys here should be Henry Ford, who realized that all his autoworkers in Michigan weren’t only cheap labor to be exploited; they were consumers, too. Ford figured that if he raised their wages, to a then-exorbitant $5 a day, they’d be able to afford his Model Ts.

What a great idea. My suggestion to you is: Let’s do it all over again.
And that also is right. He also has this, which I again agree with:
Which is why the fundamental law of capitalism must be: If workers have more money, businesses have more customers. Which makes middle-class consumers, not rich businesspeople like us, the true job creators. Which means a thriving middle class is the source of American prosperity, not a consequence of it. The middle class creates us rich people, not the other way around.
There is quite a lot more, and it seems all good to me, and I recommend that you read all of it. I quote one more bit:
The most insidious thing about trickle-down economics isn’t believing that if the rich get richer, it’s good for the economy. It’s believing that if the poor get richer, it’s bad for the economy.
Yes, indeed. To be sure: I don't know whether Hanauer will have any considerable following among his fellow Zillionaires, as he called them. But he can reason, and what he says seems correct, that is, unless you are absolutely convinced we need socialism or communism, rather than capitalism.

Hanauer doesn't think so, and neither do I: He wants capitalism-with-a-
human-face, as did Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Maynard Keynes.
Indeed, the one argument I missed is that this worked for some 35 years.

---------------------------------

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)



       home - index - summaries - mail