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Nederlog


  July
26, 2014
Crisis: Missouri, NSA, Snowden, Threats, Orwellian Statistics, Cold War
  "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.
Missouri to Vote on Adding Phone, Email Privacy to State
     Constitution

2. The NSA’s New Partner in Spying: Saudi Arabia’s Brutal
     State Police

3. The Snowden Case
4.
10 of the Biggest Threats to Human Existence
5. Administration Plans Orwellian Statistics Fudge to Make
     Offshored Production Look Like US Made

6. Gen. Dempsey: We're Pulling Out Our Cold War Military
     Plans over Ukraine


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of July 26. It is a crisis log.

I found six items today, although not all are that important. They follow below, and are listed above, and I will only say something about item 4 and item 6 here.

Item 4 I listed because I listed a previous article that dealt with five threats to humankind's continued existence, and I wanted to compare. Also, while I think it less likely that mankind will disappear, I consider it likely there will be a horrible fifty or maybe even hundred years to come (which I mostly will miss because of my age).

Item 6 is listed because, while I still think most of the news that reaches me about the Ukraine is propaganda, and I do not know Russian nor Ukrainian, I do know a reasonable amount about the cold war.

Anyway, here goes...
 

1. Missouri to Vote on Adding Phone, Email Privacy to State Constitution

The first item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams (that has had a sort of face lift in its appearance, that I do not know whether I like, as yet):
This article starts as follows:

Missouri voters in August will decide whether to add an electronic privacy provision to the state constitution, giving telecommunications the same protections that currently prevent police officers from searching through people's paper documents, mailboxes, homes, and possessions without a warrant.

The Missouri House of Representatives voted 114-28 to put Amendment 9 (PDF) on the ballot. The measure would protect "all electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures," and states that all warrants must give "probable cause, supported by written oath or affirmation."

"It is essential to our freedoms and liberty that the laws of this state have provisions in place protecting the privacy of its citizens," said Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-34), who sponsored the bill. "As technology continues to advance and concerns grow regarding government intrusion in the digital age, this proposed amendment would bring our state constitution into the 21st Century."

Amendment 9 has overwhelming cross-party support from both politicians and activists. The ACLU of Missouri called it a "common sense measure," stating that current privacy protections are "quaint and obsolete" in the face of new technologies and government power.

Let me start by noting this definitely is a Snowden Effect: Without Snowden's courage (and that of the journalists - Greenwald, Poitras, MacAskill, the Guardian, and some others - who wrote about it) this would not have been proposed.

I also agree with it, though indeed it also is my opinion that, both in law and in morals, the following proposed measure is still the law, in principle:
The measure would protect "all electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures," and states that all warrants must give "probable cause, supported by written oath or affirmation."
That is, it is the law if the Fourth Amendment still stands, which is a fact, though it also is a fact the NSA tramples the Fourth Amendment millions of times every day, and has the support of the government and of secret courts to do so, none of which is legal, in my opinion, but all of which is fact.

There is also this:
The bill has "national implication," Maharrey said. "We have the potential to blanket the country with constitutional provisions specifically extending privacy protection to electronic information and data. This would ensure state-level respect for privacy rights and address a practical effect of federal spying, regardless of how things play out in Congress or in federal courts."
Yes, indeed. And there is this, which indeed is my old argument:
"This idea that we can either be safe or free is just a false dichotomy," Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of ACLU-MO, told KSDK last month. And he argued that the proposed amendment only enforces existing standards of legal procedures. "In the same way that our government shouldn’t be able to look at our snail mail without a warrant, the government shouldn’t be able to look through our email without a warrant," Mittman told the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Precisely: The essential point is that this is personal and private information, as is snail mail. The fact that e-mail is bits and bytes no more makes this non-personal and non-private than the fact that the government has for hundreds of years been able to steam open envelopes.

Anyway - this is good news, and you should read all of it. And part of the good news is that this was also widely carried, by both Republicans and Democrats.

2. The NSA’s New Partner in Spying: Saudi Arabia’s Brutal State Police

The next item is an article by Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

The National Security Agency last year significantly expanded its cooperative relationship with the Saudi Ministry of Interior, one of the world’s most repressive and abusive government agencies. An April 2013 top secret memo provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden details the agency’s plans “to provide direct analytic and technical support” to the Saudis on “internal security” matters.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior—referred to in the document as MOI— has been condemned for years as one of the most brutal human rights violators in the world. In 2013, the U.S. State Department reported that “Ministry of Interior officials sometimes subjected prisoners and detainees to torture and other physical abuse,” specifically mentioning a 2011 episode in which MOI agents allegedly “poured an antiseptic cleaning liquid down [the] throat” of one human rights activist. The report also notes the MOI’s use of invasive surveillance targeted at political and religious dissidents.

But as the State Department publicly catalogued those very abuses, the NSA worked to provide increased surveillance assistance to the ministry that perpetrated them.

I merely list this. Also, while I suppose some somewhat rational reasons could be given that might explain why an American secret service should to some extent cooperate with the Saudis, I think the NSA is so incredibly bad, so thoroughly rotten, and also so much out of control, that anything it does should be suspected.

3. The Snowden Case

The next item is in fact two brief articles in the New York Review of Books, one by Michael Kinsley and a reply by Sue Halpern:

Since I reviewed two articles by Sue Halpern, which I both liked, I will quote her reply to Kinsley, which is quite adequate:

Many thanks to veteran pundit Michael Kinsley for reminding us that democracy requires good reporting. Aside from managing to misspell my name and that of Barton Gellman, he also insists that I quoted him as saying, “those who find value in [Greenwald’s] reporting are, at best, fools,” which I did not; this was my own paraphrasing of various Greenwald critics. More crucially, it is very clear from the record that throughout this saga, Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian acted with an admirable mix of restraint and investigative acumen, from which we all have benefited. The real question is not which reporters—friends of Kinsley’s or not—we want releasing secrets, but whether we want a government with the power to monitor every phone call and e-mail we make.

Quite so. (And I say we do not, unless we want a fascist dictatorship. Also, even if this is not intended - which no one can say with any rational assurance, because the NSA works in secret, and we still do not know much about it, though far more than it desires - this will be the effect of making only small parts of the executive government and the secret services know everything - in principle, even if your dossiers is only read by programs - about anyone, thereby making everybody else their fully known tools, without any privacy, and liable to be arrested if having inconvenient opinions.)

4. 10 of the Biggest Threats to Human Existence

The next item is an article by Larry Schwartz on Alternet:

As a matter of fact, I earlier reviewed an article that reviewed 5 major threats. You can check it out under the last link. Here are the 10 biggest threats according to Schwartz, all quoted without the considerable amounts of texts explaining them:
1. Global Climate Change
2. Loss of Biodiversity
3. Bee Decline
4. Bat Decline
5. Pandemic
6. Biological/Nuclear Terrorism
7. Super-Volcanoes
8. Asteroid Impact
9. Rise of the Machine
10. Zombie Apocalypse
I note this is a rather different list from the earlier one.  Also, in case you wander about a Zombie Apocalypse: it is a bit of speculation that depends on toxoplasmosa gondii, which is a parasite of rats and cats that makes them behave oddly, that also infected half of humanity, and may mutate. (But so far it didn't.)

Anyway...I still think a nuclear war and the NSA are the greatest danger humankind currently faces (the NSA not because it will destroy humankind, but because it will eventually enslave the vast majority, even if that may not be their current purpose: "absolute power corrupts absolutely": Lord Acton) and I also find it a little bit strange neither writer seems to find the average human intelligence level dangerous, even though 50% has an IQ not higher than 100, which almost guarantees that they are being deceived by marketeers, propagandists and "public relations" folks, that are everywhere, since the last 30 years or so. And that explains a lot about the politicians these gifted persons tend to elect.

But OK: I will leave this theme of Big Threats alone, the coming time, and especially in the form of lists.

5.
Administration Plans Orwellian Statistics Fudge to Make Offshored Production Look Like US Made

The next item is an article by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:

There are, as you probably know "lies, damned lies, and statistics", which often seems quite correct to me, mostly because statistics - which I do like, in principle - is mathematical and abstract, and most are neither good at mathematics nor at abstract thinking.

Well, now there is a new way of statistical lying:

The Administration has released a proposal to change the classification of American firms that send production offshore as “factoryless goods” producers, which would also make them manufacturers. Representatives Rosa DeLauro and George Miller are issuing letters to the OMB and the Census Bureau challenging this scheme. From their press release:

If the factoryless goods proposal were to be implemented, the value of U.S. brand-name products made outside of the United States and imported here would be counted as manufacturing “services” imports, not imported goods. Furthermore under the Administration’s broad trade data reclassification proposal, white-collar workers at firms that have offshored their production would be counted as manufacturing workers.

DeLauro, Miller and other members of Congress rely on official data when formulating public policy and the new proposal would severely hamper their ability to write laws that help working and middle class Americans. In their letter, the representatives note that “OMB acknowledges the enormous effects our data classifications systems can have, yet at the same time claims that fact will have no bearing on any revisions.”

Which is to say that if, like Apple, you let your iPhones be made by Chinese coolies instead of by American workers, which allows you to sell the iPhones at a much lower price to Americans and Europeans, although this will not benefit the coolies nor the workers, the innovation allows Apple to be counted as a “factoryless goods” producer and a manufacturer, although the iPhones themselves now are "services" imports.

I say.
"All governments lie and nothing they say should be believed." -- I.F. Stone - and this applies especially to statistics.

6.
Gen. Dempsey: We're Pulling Out Our Cold War Military Plans over Ukraine

The final item for today is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This is from the beginning:
Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey elevated the rhetoric against Russian President Vladimir Putin and directly invoked the idea that a new Cold War-like posture is now being taken by the U.S. military.

Speaking from the Aspen Security Forum, a defense industry conference in Colorado, Dempsey said Pentagon planners are now looking at military options “we haven’t had to look at for 20 years" and warned that Putin—whom he characterized as escalating the crisis inside Ukraine—“may actually light a fire” he cannot control. And not just in Ukraine or eastern Europe, Dempsey said, but globally.

Drawing a dramatic historical comparison, Dempsey equated Putin's alleged involvement in eastern Ukraine to the Soviet Union's invasion of Poland in 1939.

I say. This is caused by events in the Ukraine (that I avoid mentioning because it seems mainly propaganda to me, and I don't know Russian nor Ukrainian), but it should come - perhaps - as a relief that most of the atomic weapons are still in place, to the best of my knowledge, both in the West and in Russia.

At least, that is what I recall from an article I read some 10 years ago, which addressed the question what had happened to them, given that the Soviet Union had disappeared quite a while earlier.

I grant that is also the last I learned about it. That is: it may be different now, but I have no evidence.

The other reason this article is noteworthy is a literal rendering of a State Department's spokeswoman Marie Harf, who completely refuses to give any evidence for her statements, but who does invite journalists to believe her.


We live in interesting times...
 
---------------------------------

Notes
[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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