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. New NSA chief says 'sky not
falling down' after Snowden
2. Anger Follows Facebook's
Secret Study to Manipulate
3. Snowden Asylum in Germany?
Support Grows for NSA
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
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
item is an article by Ewen MacAskill on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
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
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
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.
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
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
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!
Follows Facebook's Secret Study to Manipulate
item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as
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
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
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
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
Whistleblower After Merkel Cancels Verizon Contract
is an article
by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts as
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
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
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.
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
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.
Cell-Phone Case Imperil NSA Spying?
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 fact, the rest of the
article gives reasons for its second paragraph, and it ends like this:
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.
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
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
and last item is an
by Nick Hanauer
(<- Wikipedia), that I mentioned earlier but did not quote. It
appears now on Commondreams:
It starts as follows:
OK - we get it: Hanauer
is very rich. And he is worried, and soon starts saying why:
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,
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.
argument is rather simple, and runs as follows:
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.
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.
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:
I think he is right -
and he also has a remedy (with his bolding):
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.
And that also is right.
He also has this, which I again agree with:
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
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.
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
 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: