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Nederlog


  July
3, 2014
Crisis: Court cases, "Freedom", NSA, Exception, "Free Trade", me+M.E.
   "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. ISPs take GCHQ to court in UK over mass surveillance
2. Freedom, Power, and the Conservative Mind
3. Panel: NSA Bulk Spying Edges 'Constitutional
     Unreasonableness'

4. The Great Exception (That Wasn't)
5. "Free Trade" Champions Betray Us All
6. me+M.E.

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of July 3. It is an ordinary crisis log.

1. ISPs take GCHQ to court in UK over mass surveillance

The first item is an article by Owen Bowcott on The Guardian:
This article starts as follows:

Internet service providers from around the world are lodging formal complaints against the UK government's monitoring service, GCHQ, alleging it uses malicious software to break into their networks.

The claims from seven organisations based in six countries – Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, the UK, the US and Zimbabwe – will add to international pressure on the government after Edward Snowden's revelations about mass surveillance of the internet by UK and US intelligence agencies.

The claims are being filed with the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT), the court in London that assesses complaints about the agencies' activities and misuse of surveillance by government organisations. Most of its hearings are held at least partly in secret.

I obviously agree with the complaints by the internet service providers, but should also say that I do not trust a supposed "court" - the IPT, and in these post-postmodern days things are often not what they are called - that does "[m]ost of its hearings are held at least partly in secret": That is not real justice, but only a mock up of "justice".

Then again, I do not know whether there is any other and more real court in Great Britain where the complaints also could be filed - and mind: the secrecy only serves the GCHQ, for the internet providers only have public data.

There also is this:

The complaint alleges that the attacks were a breach of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 and an interference with the privacy rights of the employees under the European convention on human rights.

The organisations targeted, the submission states, were all "responsible and professional internet service providers".

The claimants are: the Chaos Computer Club in Germany; Greenhost in the Netherlands; Jinbonet in South Korea; GreenNet in the UK; Riseup Networks and May First/People Link in the US; and Mango Email Service in Zimbabwe.

Their complaint follows articles about mass surveillance in the Guardian based on material released by Snowden.

That seems to me to be all correct. There is quite a lot more in the article, including quotations from spokespersons of the different providers.

2. Freedom, Power, and the Conservative Mind

The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

On Monday the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Affordable Care Act, ruling that privately-owned corporations don’t have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage that conflicts with the corporate owners’ religious beliefs.

The owners of Hobby Lobby, the plaintiffs in the case, were always free to practice their religion. The Court bestowed religious freedom on their corporation as well – a leap of logic as absurd as giving corporations freedom of speech. Corporations aren’t people.

The deeper problem is the Court’s obliviousness to the growing imbalance of economic power between corporations and real people. By giving companies the right not [to - MM] offer employees contraceptive services otherwise mandated by law, the Court ignored the rights of employees to receive those services.

Yes, indeed - although I doubt the majority of the Supreme Coirt suffers from "obliviousness" (lack of awareness, forgetfulness): The majority is quite consistent in serving corporate powers over people's power, and indeed made corporations "persons", which was not "oblivious", and in fact pretty insane. (I am sorry, but it was, that is, if it wasn't intentionally evil. See William Hazlitt, "On corporate bodies".)

Reich also says:

Freedom is the one value conservatives place above all others, yet time and again their ideal of freedom ignores the growing imbalance of power in our society that’s eroding the freedoms of most people.

Which means that they abuse the concept: When conservatives and libertarians cry for "freedom" they mean: Freedom for the rich to trample the rights of the poor; freedom of the strong, to do what they want; freedom of the mean and the cruel to be mean and cruel without sanction; freedom of the greedy to be as greedy as they can be.

What they do not mean is: Freedom as a contractual obligation between several opposed parties to only have part of what each opposed party wants.

And Reich also says:

But the conservative mind has never incorporated economic power into its understanding of freedom. Conservatives still champion “free enterprise” and equate the so-called “free market” with liberty. To them, government “intrusions” on the market threaten freedom.

Yet the “free market” doesn’t exist in nature. There, only the fittest and strongest survive. The “free market” is the product of laws and rules continuously emanating from legislatures, executive departments, and courts. Government doesn’t “intrude” on the free market. It defines and organizes (and often reorganizes) it.

I completely agree with the second paragraph: I have been saying so for thirty years at least. There is no "free market" without rules, regulations, and laws, and indeed without rules, regulations, and laws there is only a fight with no holds barred.

But I disagree with the first paragraph: I think conservatives know quite well what they are doing and saying, and when they plead for "freedom" and "free markets" what they mean, but indeed do not say, is the freedom of the rich to exploit the poor with no or as little regulation as is possible, so that the exploitation is maximal. That is, it is all intentional bullshit and propaganda, and this was so from the beginning, and from long ago. (Slavery also was defended as a freedom, namely from the strong to exploit and enslave the weak: "Free market! Our hallowed freedom!")

Then again, Reich is clear enough about the real meaning of "free market":

The so-called “free market” is not expanding options and opportunities for most people. It’s extending them for the few who are wealthy enough to influence how the market is organized.

Precisely! And those calling for "freedom" and "free markets" know this very well, for it has been very profitable for decades now, for their kind of wealthy liars: Their "freedom" is the freedom of the few wealthy to exploit the many poor as they please.

3. Panel: NSA Bulk Spying Edges 'Constitutional Unreasonableness'

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on the PCLOB report, that I yesterday stopped reviewing as presented by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian, who repeated without any evidence that the PCLOB is "independent", which it clearly is not. This report also does it, but is a bit better:

It starts as follows:

A government panel tasked to examine how a controversial program of the National Security Agency is executed has determined the Section 702 program has been "effective" in improving aspects of "national security," but that the manner in which it performs its unwarranted and bulk collection of telephone and digital communications place it on the very edge of "constitutional unreasonableness."

The draft report is informative but flawed, say critics of its methods and finding, in that it takes too many of the government's own questionable claims and legal assumptions as it starting point, without a deeper and more adversarial examination of how the bulk data being collected by the agency is being gathered in the first place.

As to the first paragraph: Yes, it is a "government panel". Because it is a government panel it is not "independent": The US government breaks the law billions of times a day, which it lets the NSA do, which it protects. The first paragraph otherwise seems manipulative trash: The program has not been "effective": it has been ineffective. And bulk collection is not "on the very edge" of "constitutional unreasonableness": It is way beyond it. But OK... this is how Obama speaks, and these "independent" guys and gals are his spokespersons that he appointed, so he got what he wanted.

As to the second paragraph: I agree with the critics.

But then this sick, degenerate "ironic" lying is again endorsed:

The PCLOB is an independent oversight agency of the government (...)

The government does the breaking of the law; the government organized and finances the spying on all Americans and everybody else; the government is led by Obama; everything Obama has done and said supports the illegal spies; and Obama has personally appointed the members of the PCLOB .... how can an "oversight agency of the government" possibly be "independent"?!

Yes, they say they are; yes, Wikipedia says they are but no evidence of any kind is provided, and they are an "oversight agency of the government" - and "All governments lie and nothing they say should be believed", as I.F. Stone said, quite correctly.

But at least Queally quotes Cohn:

According to Cindy Cohn, legal director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the PCLOB falls well short of what is required in terms of oversight and holding the NSA and other government agencies accountable. "The board focuses only on the government’s methods for searching and filtering out unwanted information," she notes in a blog post on the group's website. "This ignores the fact that the government is collecting and searching through the content of millions of emails, social networking posts, and other Internet communications, steps that occur before the PCLOB analysis starts.

Yes. The PCLOB simply is a quasi-"independent" governmental agency paid to lie and mislead, and that is what they do, quite well also.

This report ends with more by Cohn:

The PCLOB's proposed reforms for Section 702 are an anemic set of recommendations that will do little to stop excessive surveillance.  For example, rather than rein in government communications searches, the PCLOB simply asks the NSA to study the issue.

The PCLOB report provides the public with much needed information about how the 702 program works. But the legal analysis is incorrect and the report fails to offer effective reforms. The government's collection and search of Americans' communications without a warrant or individually approved court order is barred by the Constitution and must be stopped. We look forward to continuing such arguments in Jewel v. NSA, our ongoing case against the NSA's mass spying programs.

Yes. And governmental agencies are not "independent", except if you speak Obama's supremely ironic and intentionally very misleading rhetorical English.

4. The Great Exception (That Wasn't)

The next item is an article by Tom Engelhardt, that I found on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
It goes without saying that the honchos of the national security state weren’t exactly happy with Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations.  Still, over the last year, the comments of such figures, politicians associated with them, and retirees from their world clearly channeling their feelings have had a striking quality: over-the-top vituperation.  About the nicest thing anyone in that crew has had to say about Snowden is that he’s a “traitor” or -- shades of the Cold War era (and of absurdity, since the State Department trapped him in the transit lounge of a Moscow airport by taking his passport away) -- a “Russian spy.”  And that’s the mild stuff.
Yes indeed. What is the explanation of this vituperation? Engelhardt has one:
Here's mine: the NSA’s goal in creating a global surveillance state was either utopian or dystopian (depending on your point of view), but in either case, breathtakingly totalistic.  Its top officials meant to sweep up every electronic or online way one human being can communicate with others, and to develop the capability to surveil and track every inhabitant of the planet.  From German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to peasants with cell phones in the backlands of Afghanistan (not to speak of American citizens anywhere), no one was to be off the hook.  Conceptually, there would be no exceptions.  And the remarkable thing is how close the agency came to achieving this.
Again: Yes indeed. There is considerably more, but Engelhardt does - in this piece - not pose the next question: What is the end of collecting all information anyone puts on line or has on his or her computer?

Here is my answer: Total power, for the very few who run the US government - for they know - in principle - everything anyone knows, believes or wishes (and this includes  very many trade secrets). And please note that this set-up was conceived already in 1968, but got implemented only from 2007 onwards, by the NSA.

5. "Free Trade" Champions Betray Us All

The next item is an article by Jim Goodman on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows, under a photograph of a large poster that says
Free Trade is Corporate Tyranny
Say No to WTO

That seems accurate enough to me, and here is the start:
Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind has apparently never met a free trade agreement he didn't like. Note it is always a “free trade” agreement, never a “fair trade” agreement.

Free trade defines an agreement that has as a first (and sometimes only) priority, the best interests of corporations namely, their profits. At what expense those profits are taken is apparently of little concern to the trade negotiators and in particular the corporate representatives that are active participants in the otherwise secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

Fair trade on the other hand would put the interests of people and the environment ahead of corporate profit. Fair trade would protect jobs rather than off-shoring them as has historically happened after passage of all free trade agreements.

Indeed, and that is a good opposition: "free trade" vs. "fair trade" - and indeed these two are opposed: In the former there are no rules and the winner takes all; in the second there is some balancing of interests (which may not work out, but at least this is attempted).

Anyway - this is a good article on the supposed (but false) benefits of "free trade" and the TPP and the TISA, by an American farmer.


6.  me+M.E. and my eyes

Finally for today a brief update on the state of my M.E. and the state of my eyes.

My eyes are still painful, but also are still improving, which they are doing now for 1 1/2 years, by some 2.5% a month, I calculated. I still need an adjusted computer and I still need to drip every few hours, but it really feels rather a lot better, or at least: rather a lot less bad, than it did 2 years ago, when almost all I could do was lie in bed in the dark.

And my M.E. also is getting less, also slowly, but I have done quite a lot the last year or so - relatively speaking, that is: relative to my lack of health - simply because I could, and I could not in any of the earlier years this century. (Thus, I have now sorted 11 boxes of papers I had standing since 2006, and simply could not sort: Big advance!)

Also, I am still using and will probably be doing so this whole month, the protocol I outlined on June 21, 2014: This does seem to help, and also I could not increase the doses - it has turned out this year - significantly for more than a few weeks at most without getting trouble, whereas the protocol that I outlined and am using now I can do pretty well for a long time (several months), it has been shown.

Incidentally, since I am being read by people with M.E.:

I am telling it as I experience it, and I have outlined what I use and how much that costs. I also should say this is - for me, and I have an excellent M.A. in psychology - experimental and speculative, and I am doing it only because I am ill 36 years now with M.E., according to my doctors (and myself), and this is about the only thing that really helped, that is, apart from other large doses of vitamins, in the middle eighties, that also helped me considerably, but the good that did was totally ruined by nearly four years of insufficient sleep, because I was forced to live above illegal drugsdealers who were protected by Amsterdam's mayors, aldermen, policemen, district attorneys and bureaucrats (and indeed the drugsmafia make insane amounts of profit and have been protected ever since by the same men and women, who do not do this for free).

Also, I am going to cycle this afternoon, and I will be trying to get some E-vitamins and B-vitamins that I will add to the protocol, because these did help me, and considerably so, in the middle eighties. I will write about this in Nederlog when I have done this.

Finally, to indicate how sick I was all of this century: I have a bicycle now, which I am going to use again this afternoon, but I could not do this for any of the years since 2000 and until the end of 2013. I still can't cycle much longer than an hour, but at least that is better than I could do for some 14 years. And two of the other things that disappeared, that plagued me for decades: I have far less muscle-aches during the day, and I do not sweat anymore as I did before (which meant I could make 6 shirts almost totally wet in three quarters of an hour).

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

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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