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."
Surveillance: What the Government Can’t See
2. The Rise of the Non-Working Rich
3. Citigroup: The Original Gangsta
Exactly Are the Spy Agencies Actually DOING with
their Bag of Dirty Tricks?
5. ‘We Need’ People Like Edward
Snowden, U.N. Human
Rights Commissioner Says
6. Having a Facebook
Account Is to Beg to Be Manipulated
This is the Nederlog of
17. It is an ordinary crisis log.
Yes it is, and there are six items today, that follow. Incidentally, why
do I do this - I mean writing more than 555 crisis items since September 2008?
I will not
answer that question here and now, except by saying I would not have
done it if I did not think it was important, and that I also have
something to con- tribute. Then again, I am quite restrained
about the good my own contributions do make: About 2000 daily readers
very individual point of view is sufficient stimulus for me to
writing, but it also is not sufficient to make a real
difference. (But then that is the
fate of nearly all men: even if they are heard, they do not make much
of a difference for the ongoing events.)
More about this later. Now to the items of today.
NSA Surveillance: What the Government Can’t See
item is an article by Sue Halpern on the New York Review of Books:
This starts as follows:
documents are released on the eve of a national holiday, there is a
good chance they will attract little notice. This almost happened with
a July 2 report on a national security law known as Section 702, which
allows warrantless surveillance of people who do not have US
citizenship. Bland and bureaucratic, the 150-page report,
issued by the bipartisan Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board,
mostly found that the surveillance program was working as it was
supposed to, and thus seemed certain to disappear from view before the
July Fourth fireworks on the National Mall were over.
The article then
proceeds to point out that there were thrown two spanners in the wheel:
First, the article by Barton Gellman and two colleagues in the
Washington Post, that was based on a study of a lot of data
Edward Snowden, that also took four months. This resulted in the
The main gist of
the Post investigation was this: a law ostensibly governing
surveillance of foreigners was being used by the intelligence community
to monitor a substantial number of Americans themselves. After
analyzing more than one hundred thousand intercepted emails, chats,
text messages, and the like, Gellman and his colleagues found that
about 90 percent of people whose communications were intercepted by the
government were not the intended target, that many of those unintended
targets were American citizens residing on American soil, and that many
of the documents scooped up were personal correspondence—baby pictures,
love letters, messages between attorneys and their clients.
Second, a book and an
article by Glenn Greenwald, with a similar message, that may be put as
As the Post
article pointed out, unintended or not, once those extraneous
communications were in the system, they were fair game, and not only
for the NSA, but for the FBI, which could hold onto them for future
reference. According to Gellman and his team, “The NSA treats all
content intercepted incidentally from third parties as permissible to
retain, store, search and distribute to its government customers. Raj
De, the agency’s general counsel, has testified that the NSA does not
generally attempt to remove irrelevant personal content, because it is
difficult for one analyst to know what might become relevant to
Note this concerns native
Americans. As for non-Americans, like me: I am clearly
not "exceptional", as all Americans are supposed to be, and neither is
anyone else whose birth was unamerican:
concerns about domestic surveillance, the law required the government
to obtain warrants from the secret FISA court only if it sought to
monitor “US persons.” Under Section 702, “non-US persons,” all 6.9
billion of them, remained, essentially, fair game.
But the brief of it is
that the NSA collects everything and attempts to see everything and
indeed can see most things most people do with their computers and cell
phones, although the NSA
also may have to do a few things in case the persons whose private data
stolen is American (but this is rarely a serious problem for them, for
the reasons explained in the quotations).
Also, to me it seems that is what the NSA is for, and what Section 702
is for: To collect all that can be collected, so as to be in a
to control everyone, somehow, if not now then later. And until
gets radically reigned in and turned around, if ever it is, that is
what the NSA (and the Five Eyes) will do, which also means that they
have much changed their work: They turned from spies to policemen
- who spy on everyone (1) to see whether they behave well, which again
is as the government wants, and (2) to make them behave well, by
virtually any means, foul or fair, though always anonymously
and in secret, in case they don't: See item 4.
Rise of the Non-Working Rich
item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows,
with a rather startling completely dishonest opinion:
In a new Pew
poll, more than three quarters of self-described conservatives
believe “poor people have it easy because they can get government
benefits without doing anything.”
So why aren't these "self-described conservatives" poor? Given that greed is good and
selfishness is moral, as Ayn Rand taught? Well, here the next bit of
and self-flattering bullshit
enters: "because they
are not natural born loafers, welfare queens and parasites", of course:
they grit their teeth and are busy getting rich. Or so they tell
themselves, though this must be false, eventually, for nearly
all, for to be rich is to be fairly rare: 1 in 99, at most. And
most of the rich are not self-made, these days, but inherited
As Reich says:
In reality, most of
America’s poor work hard, often in two or more jobs.
The real non-workers are
the wealthy who inherit their fortunes. And their ranks are
In fact, we’re on the
cusp of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history.
Yes, indeed, and the
reason is the tax reforms that have been made since 1980, which
all benefitted the rich, and only the rich.
Reich gives a decent
overview, and concludes as follows:
What to do? First,
restore the estate tax in full.
Second, eliminate the “stepped-up-basis on
death” rule. This obscure tax provision allows heirs to avoid
paying capital gains taxes on the increased value of assets accumulated
during the life of the deceased. Such untaxed gains account for more
than half of the value of estates worth more than $100 million,
according to the Center
on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Third, institute a wealth
tax. We already have an annual wealth tax on homes, the major asset of
the middle class. It’s called the property tax. Why not a small annual
tax on the value of stocks and bonds, the major assets of the wealthy?
We don’t have to sit by
and watch our meritocracy be replaced by a permanent aristocracy, and
our democracy be undermined by dynastic wealth. We can and must take
action — before it’s too late.
Yes, but it seems to
me it is too late right now. This does not mean one should do nothing,
but the fact of the matter is that the few rich have gotten a whole
lot richer, and have done so for thirtyfive years now.
3. Citigroup: The Original Gangsta
item is an article by Robert Scheer on Truthdig:
This starts as
Barack Obama’s Justice
Department on Monday announced that Citigroup would pay $7 billion in
fines, a move that will avoid a humiliating trial dealing with the
seamy financial products the bank had marketed to an unsuspecting
public, causing vast damage to the economy.
Citigroup is the
too-big-to-fail bank that was allowed to form only when Bill Clinton
signed legislation reversing the sensible restraints on Wall Street
instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt to avoid another Great
Those filled with Clinton
nostalgia these days might want to reflect back on how truly
destructive was his legacy for hardworking people throughout the world
who lost so much due to the financial shenanigans that he made legal.
Yes, indeed, though I am
not "filled with Clinton nostalgia": He is one of the crooks who started "The
Third Way", which was and is just propaganda
quite a few but served to help the rich and to destroy social
also outside the US, in Europe (where Blair and Kok adopted it, and
were equally bad and equally phony and deceptive as was Clinton).
As for Clinton (Bill not
Hillary, though Hillary is as bad):
In 2000, just before
leaving office, Clinton went much further in radical deregulation of
the financial industry when he signed the Commodity Futures
Modernization Act. In one swoop this eliminated from the purview of any
existing regulation or regulatory agency the new financial products,
including the mortgage-backed securities at the heart of the financial
meltdown and the subject of the $7 billion fine levied in what has to
be viewed as a copout deal.
As to the deal
Citigroup made: it simply returned a small part of the profits it made
in order not to be prosecuted, and instead to be washed clean.
Scheer ends as
The collapse of the
derivative market that Summers predicted was immune to “fraud and
counterparty insolvencies” plunged U.S. household worth $16 trillion or
24 percent between the third quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of
2009, according to a study by the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank.
That’s trillions of
dollars, not the $7 billion fine that Citigroup just got slapped with
as a means of avoiding the harsher judgment in a court of law that the
bank and its politician enablers so richly deserve.
I agree, but the
bankers and their "politician
enablers" will go on and on
with sucking riches from the poor and doing as they please, with at
best a fine of part of their profits as "sanction".
And I do not see
this ending without a radical and mostly honest candidate -
rather than the false "Yes, we scan!" president - being elected
as president, on which the chances are quite small, or else
without the whole economic system collapsing,
which may solve some problems, such as the NSA, at the cost of enormous
dangers for everyone.
In fact, I think a
collapse is more probable than the election of an honest and radical
president, but I do not have numerical probabilities , and also I am
well aware that a real collapse anyway is a major disaster with
Exactly Are the Spy Agencies Actually DOING with their Bag of Dirty
item is an article
by Washington's Blog on his site:
This is an interesting
and rather long article that starts as follows (colors and links in the
I think you should read
the article yourself. I will not list the eighteen techniques of
deception and control that Washington's Blog lists, but here is part of
a summary by Glenn Greenwald (colors and links in the original):
SPECIFIC EXAMPLES OF WHAT THEY MAY BE DOING
from Edward Snowden show
that the British spy agency GCHQ has developed numerous offensive digital tools.
But what exactly are they
doing with these dirty tricks?
We think it’s important
to think through the specific possibilities, in order to gain an
understanding of how pernicious these manipulations can be.
We quote verbatim (in
black) the names and descriptions of some of these tools – some of
which Glenn Greenwald didn’t highlight in his report.
We then provide descriptions in blue of potential misuses of
Then we discuss how
likely such misuses really are.
There is also this:
And reporter Glenn
that Snowden documents showed:
intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online
discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction.
These agencies are attempting
to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse
…. Among the core self-identified purposes … are two tactics: (1) to inject
all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the
reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social
sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and
activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see
how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast
of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations”
(posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone
else), fake victim blog posts
(pretending to be a victim of the individual
whose reputation they want to destroy), and
“negative information” on various forums.
I think this all correct and
it also is all very frightening. Indeed, here is in conclusion the
judgements of William Binney and Thomas Drake:
The U.S. government is
millions to figure out how to manipulate social media to promote
propaganda and stifle dissenting opinions. And see this
criticism of government policies is now considered “extremist” and
potential terrorism. According to Department of Defense training manuals, all
protest is now
considered “low-level terrorism”. And see this, this and this. Questioning
war is considered extremism. The government also considers anyone
who tries to protect
himself from government oppression and to claim his Constitutional
rights a “extremist”. This is not entirely new … the CIA director relabeled “dissidents” as “terrorists” so he could continue
spying on them in 1972. Indeed – for 5,000 years straight – mass
surveillance of one’s own people has always
been used to crush dissent.
The NSA is now also
collecting and retaining the
most intimate personal details of Americans, including nude and
suggestive pictures and medical and financial records … even though
they admittedly have no conceivable security value.
You may think you have
“nothing to hide”, but you’re breaking
the law numerous times every day … without even knowing it (update).
Indeed, top NSA
whistleblowers say that the NSA is blackmailing
and harassing opponents with information that it has gathered –
potentially even high-level
politicians – just
like FBI head J. Edgar Hoover blackmailed presidents and Congressmen.
Moreover, if the NSA
takes a dislike to someone, it can frame
them. This has been CONFIRMED
by top NSA whistleblowers.
Binney and Thomas
Drake both say that the U.S.
has become a police state. They
say that the U.S. government has become like
the Stasis or Soviets, Binney says that the NSA has become like “J.
Edgar Hoover on super steroids” and that “the
ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control“
And I fear that Binney and
Drake - who know a lot more about the NSA than most others - are right.
Need’ People Like Edward Snowden, U.N.
Human Rights Commissioner Says
item is a brief article by Peter Scheer on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
I agree, though I do not
think this will make much real difference, not because of Pillay but
because of Obama.
U.N. High Commissioner
for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a news conference Wednesday that
Edward Snowden is a defender of human rights and should not be
“We owe a great deal to
him for revealing this kind of information,” she said.
When asked specifically
whether President Obama should pardon Snowden, Pillay acknowledged that
he would first have to be convicted, but said, “I am raising right here
some very important arguments that could be raised on his behalf so
that these criminal proceedings are averted.”
6. Having a Facebook Account Is to Beg to
item is an article by Marty Kaplan on AlterNet:
This article start as follows:
Yes, except that I do
not belong to the billions who allow themselves to be inspected, spied
upon, deceived and abused by Facebook: See my 2011 article: "On
the sham called "Facebook".
What do you call it when
media try to manipulate your feelings without first asking for informed
Example: The average Facebook user sees only 20 percent of the
1,500 stories per day that could have shown up in their news
feed. The posts you receive are determined by algorithms whose
bottom line is Facebook’s bottom line. The company is constantly
adjusting all kinds of dials, quietly looking for the optimal mix to
make us spend more of our time and money on Facebook. Of course
the more we’re on Facebook, the more information they have about us to
fine-tune their formulas for picking ads to show us. That’s their
business model: We create and give Facebook, for free, the content they
use and the data they mine to hold our attention, which Facebook in
turn sells to advertisers.
There is considerably more in
the article, including this:
committees called Institutional Review Boards rule on what professors
can do to research subjects, but informed consent in Silicon Valley is
basically what someone can get away with, which is what’s been true for
commerce, politics and the content industries since at least the 1980s.
But I found it - as much that
I found on AlterNet - basically a relativist way
to sound vaguely leftist but not say anything much at all, much like
CNN and MSNBC.
In illustration, here are the last two lines:
I’ve seen a
lot of stories about Facebook fiddling with the happiness of our
feeds. The irony is that I encountered all of them on media whose
owners are just as determined to push my buttons as Mark Zuckerberg.
"all of them"? But apart from that: Surely, "all of them" are not
billionaire freaks like Suckerbug, or whatever his name is.
This is just like Wolf Blitzer: "A does X. B also does X. So A is like
B." That way you can "equalize" everything, provided you are stupid
enough, though it also is true many people are not precisely
And this also is my complaint about AlterNet: It is vaguely leftist,
but it is also definitely for the dimmer wits.
 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.)
 As indeed is quite rational, and as should be more
frequent: One often can say on rational grounds that there is
evidence that pr(F|H)>pr(G|H) but one often does not have
rational grounds to assess the individual probabilities numerically, in
any precise or enlightening way. (This insight is as old as Keynes' "A
Treatise on Probability", of 1921, but it still is not often seen
(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: