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."
to Vote on Adding Phone, Email Privacy to State
2. The NSA’s New Partner in
Spying: Saudi Arabia’s Brutal
3. The Snowden Case
of the Biggest Threats to Human Existence
5. Administration Plans Orwellian
Statistics Fudge to Make
Offshored Production Look Like
6. Gen. Dempsey: We're Pulling
Out Our Cold War Military
Plans over Ukraine
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
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,
This article starts as
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.
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
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.
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:
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
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.
NSA’s New Partner in Spying: Saudi Arabia’s Brutal State Police
item is an article by Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain on The
This starts as
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
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
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
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.)
10 of the
Biggest Threats to Human Existence
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
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.)
Loss of Biodiversity
Rise of the Machine
10. Zombie Apocalypse
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,
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
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:
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:
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
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.”
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
Plans over Ukraine
item for today is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This is from the
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.
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.
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.
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...
 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: