31, 2014
Crisis: Australia, NSA, Congress, Jewish, Israel, Abramson, Totalitarian Future
  "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

Australian court's gagging order condemned as 'abuse of
     legal process'

2. NSA Court Judges Invest in Verizon While Surveillance
     Warps Law and Journalism

3. Can Congress Rein In the Spies?
A Venerable Jewish Voice for Peace
 Israel Bombs Gaza Back to the Stone Age … as Collective

6. Jill Abramson’s sad admission

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of July 31. It is a crisis log.
1. Australian court's gagging order condemned as 'abuse of legal process'

The first item is an article by Robert Booth and Rob Evans on The Guardian:

This continues a story I reviewed yesterday. It starts as follows:

A sweeping gagging order issued by an Australian court to block reporting of bribery allegations involving several international political leaders has been attacked by journalists and lawyers as "unacceptable" and "an abuse of legal process".

The extraordinary prohibition emerged from a criminal case in the Australian courts and relates to part of an ongoing investigation by prosecutors across three continents into allegations of multimillion-pound bribes paid in the banknote-printing industry.

Business executives at a company called Securency are alleged to have conspired to win lucrative contracts to print plastic notes in several south-east Asian countries allegedly by paying bribes to high-ranking politicians and officials between 1999 and 2005.

Clearly, the corruption of these high-ranking politicians and officials must remain hidden, according to the judge, for that is the modern concept of justice: to serve the government and the rich. No?

Well... there is this, from the Honorable Judge himself:
The judge who issued the ruling , the Hon Justice Hollingworth, said it was "to prevent damage to Australia's international relations that may be caused by the publication of material that may damage the reputations of specified individuals who are not the subject of charges in these proceedings."
Actually, the last "are" also should have been a "may be", it seems to me, but the Honorable Judge did clearly state his Honorable Judicial intention: "to prevent damage" (that may be caused by material that may damage).

There is meanwhile a full publication on Wikileaks (<- link) but The Guardian, although it notices it, cannot publish, because of the Honorable Judge's idiotic ruling.

To end, here is the opinion of "a leading media lawyer":

Mark Stephens, a leading media lawyer in London, said it was "an attempt to silence the world on a matter of enormous public importance" even though the court cited damage to Australia's international relations rather than national security.

"It is an abuse of legal process to allow a super-injunction to be used to cover up governmental embarrassment on matters of enormous public interest," he said.

I agree, and as I said yesterday:
Real justice is public justice; anything that is not public justice must be suspected to be injustice. (It may be justified in rare cases, but not to shield political leaders from bribery allegations.)
2. NSA Court Judges Invest in Verizon While Surveillance Warps Law and Journalism

The next item is an article by Thor Benson on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

We must never be surprised when we learn once again that our lawmakers and law interpreters are in bed with the country’s largest corporations—this is how the American government now operates. A July 25 article in Vice includes documentation that shows three judges from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, the tribunal that evaluates the legality of the NSA’s practices, own stock in Verizon.
The main reason this is here is the first sentence in the quote, which is bolstered up by the following:

The Vice article notes that judges are supposed to remove themselves from cases in which they might have a “financial stake in the outcome” or from any case in which they might find it difficult to be impartial. The Verge also pointed out that telecommunication companies like Verizon receive millions of dollars from the government in their “record-sharing deals.”

Indeed - and that is why the first sentence does make sense, and especially about the judges of the FISA Court. (And who knows what the NSA knows about them?)

3. Can Congress Rein In the Spies?

The next item is by David Cole on the NYRB:

This starts as follows:

On Tuesday, Senator Patrick Leahy introduced the revised USA Freedom Act, a bipartisan bill to rein in the National Security Agency’s collection of telephone and Internet records. If Congress enacts Senator Leahy’s bill in its current form, it will mark the most significant reform of US intelligence gathering since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, enacted in the 1970s in response to the Church Committee’s revelations of abusive spying practices on political dissidents and activists.

This time, of course, the calls for reform were sparked not by a congressional inquiry, but by information leaked by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who risked criminal prosecution and de facto banishment to let Americans know what its most expansive spy agency was doing to their rights in the name of their security.

Quite so, and it is good to know Leahy tried once again:

In May, the House passed an earlier version of the USA Freedom Act, which unfortunately had been watered down at the behest of Obama administration officials in secret last-minute negotiations. Senator

Leahy’s bill would significantly strengthen the House bill. Leahy’s bill comes not a moment too soon. Two reports issued on Monday bring into full view the costs of a system that allows its government to conduct dragnet surveillance without specific suspicions of wrongdoing. In With Liberty to Monitor All, Human Rights Watch and the ACLU make a powerful case that mass surveillance has already had a devastating effect on journalists’ ability to monitor and report on national security measures, and on lawyers’ ability to represent victims of government overreaching.

There also is this quite valid consideration:

Without disclosures by media, we would not know about the CIA’s torture, rendition, and secret prison programs, President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping orders, and much of the abuse at Abu Ghraib.

And there is this about Leahy's new bill (after skipping some, that is also interesting):
The House version would have permitted “bulk collection” of calling records to continue, by allowing the government, for example, to demand all phone records related to a particular city or zip code. Senator Leahy’s bill, by contrast, requires the government to specify a “person, account, address, or personal device” that “narrowly limit[s] the scope of the tangible things sought to the greatest extent reasonably practicable.” And it expressly bars the government from requesting information related to a “broad geographic region” or “an electronic communication service provider,” which could sweep up thousands of innocent persons’ information,unless the provider itself is the target of an investigation. And it authorizes requests for call records only for investigations of terrorism, not for general inquiries into foreign affairs.

Cole ends thus, after noting that Leahy's bill (as is) doesn't solve all problems but does seem a good first step:

Now the only question is whether Congress can stick to this strengthened version, or whether the Obama administration’s intelligence hawks will, as they did on the House side, sabotage the reform at the last minute.

I think the chances on the last possibility are a virtual certainty, but even so, this is a bit heartening. Will it work? Mmmm... but this is an interesting piece that deserves to be read all.

4. A Venerable Jewish Voice for Peace

The next item is an article by Amy Goodman on Truthdig:

This is based on an interview of Amy Goodman with Henry Siegman (<- Wikipedia) who was educated as an orthodox rabbi and meanwhile is 83 or 84:
Henry Siegman, a venerable dean of American Jewish thought and president of the U.S./Middle East Project, sat down for an interview with the “Democracy Now!” news hour. An ordained rabbi, Siegman is the former executive director of the American Jewish Congress and former executive head of the Synagogue Council of America, two of the major, mainstream Jewish organizations in the United States. He says the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories must end.
There is also this:
Henry Siegman became a prominent leader in American Jewish life. When I asked him to reflect on his long history with Zionism and to respond to the current assault on Gaza, he said: “It’s disastrous. ... When one thinks that this is what is necessary for Israel to survive, that the Zionist dream is based on the repeated slaughter of innocents on a scale that we’re watching these days on television, that is really a profound crisis - and should be a profound crisis - in the thinking of all of us who were committed to the establishment of the state and to its success.”
And this:
Siegman (..) replied: “If you don’t want to kill Palestinians, if that’s what pains you so much, you don’t have to kill them. You can give them their rights, and you can end the occupation. And to put the blame for the occupation and for the killing of innocents that we are seeing in Gaza now on the Palestinians—why? Because they want a state of their own? They want what Jews wanted and achieved?”
Yes, indeed. And there is more under the last dotted link, and you can see the interview on Democracy Now!

5. Israel Bombs Gaza Back to the Stone Age … as Collective Punishment 

The next item is an article by Washington's Blog:

This starts as follows (colors in the original):

Israel Commits War Crimes In Gaza

We previously noted:

Israel is currently bombing Gaza back to the stone age ….


Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai said:

We must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages destroying all the infrastructure including roads & water.

Or as Haaretz puts it:

Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Israel’s operation in Gaza: “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages ….”

Destroying civilian infrastructure is – of course – a war crime under the Geneva Convention.

The following are also war crimes under the Geneva Convention:

  • The indiscriminate or disproportionate use of force
  • Collective punishment for the acts of a few
  • Targeting civilians


Indeed, the UN has repeatedly found Israeli’s actions in Gaza to be a war crime. See this, this and this.

The same year, Gilad Sharon – the son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon – wrote an Op-Ed in the Jerusalem Post saying:

We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.

“There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing.”

Many observers allege that Israel is intentionally targeting essential infrastructure such as water supplies.

Israel has now bombed Gaza’s only power plant -  knocking out power for a year – and so Gazans are being urged to ration water as pumps grind to a halt.

Israel has also repeatedly bombed UN shelters for civilians … killing scores of women and children.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link.

6.  Jill Abramson’s sad admission 

The next item is an article by Patrick L. Smith on Salon:

This starts as follows:

There are some singular features of our time — truly the time of the assassins, to take Henry Miller’s phrase. The consolidated surveillance state confronts us. We recommit to honoring will above intelligence at the very moment history offers us an extraordinary chance to turn away from our 20th century lust for power.

Another of these features — or a function of them, maybe — is the assassination of journalism as the essential infrastructure of our public space. I am not much for the “golden age” of anything, however often people get lost in such notions, but we have now not much more than the desiccated remains of whatever our press may once have been.

Prompting these admittedly grim thoughts is a speech Jill Abramson recently gave. Abramson, the executive editor at the New York Times, was canned a couple of months ago and now takes to the lecture circuit before assuming duties as an adjunct in nonfiction at Harvard
I agree that "the consolidated surveillance state confronts us" and I also agree with "we have now not much more than the desiccated remains of whatever our press may once have been" - and indeed that also holds for Holland (watch the awful NRC that I've read daily from 1970-2010, if you read Dutch and have any intelligence).

There is considerably more, but the essence of Patrick L. Smith's case, that is much longer than I quote, is this:

Abramson was the Times’ Washington bureau chief at the time. The debris in lower Manhattan was still settling when Ari Fleischer, Bush’s press secretary, arranged a conference call that included “every leading editor in Washington.”

Abramson dilates on this key moment:

“The purpose of his call was to make an agreement with the press—this was just days after 9/11—that we not publish any stories that would go into details about the sources and methods of our intelligence programs. I have to say, that in the wake of 9/11, all of us readily agreed to that.”

And then the reflection:

“It wasn’t complicated to withhold such information. And for some years, really quite a few years, I don’t think the press, in general, did publish any stories that upset the Bush White House or seemed to breach that agreement.”

Which means she betrayed her job, I agree, which is to print "All The News That's Fit To Print" (her own paper's slogan), very much rather than to print "Only The News The Government Thinks Good For You", which she herself says she did, no doubt honestly.

I suppose she did it "for patriotic reasons", but that makes it only worse: You may be a fine American patriot without serving your government, and indeed without believing your government, and not believing your government, and testing what it claims, is the first task of any responsible journalist.


The next item is by JimQ on Washington's Blog:

I reviewed - sort of: it was a long article, as is the present one - Part One of this yesterday. This is a repeat of the introduction I wrote yesterday, that again applies:
This is a long article that is the first of two, or more. It is interesting and based on quotations by Aldous Huxley, from "Brave New World Revisited", that was published in 1958, 27 years after the publication of "Brave New World".

I agree that the future looks totalitarian, and also that whether indeed it will be, will be decided the next 35 years, until 2050. Happily - speaking for myself - I am 64 now and will be 100 in 2050, so it is not likely I will be around then. But I agree the future looks bleak for almost everyone.
This time it starts as follows - and I agree over-population is the main factor of the many problems humans have, although it is not the only one by far:

Totalitarianism Now

“Where the republican or limited monarchical tradition is weak, the best of constitutions will not prevent ambi­tious politicians from succumbing with glee and gusto to the temptations of power. And in any country where numbers have begun to press heavily upon avail­able resources, these temptations cannot fail to arise. Over-population leads to economic insecurity and so­cial unrest. Unrest and insecurity lead to more con­trol by central governments and an increase of their power. In the absence of a constitutional tradition, this increased power will probably be exercised in a dictatorial fashion.” Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited – 1958

Yes, indeed. I will quote some more than I did yesterday. First, there is this:
The 4.4 billion increase (157%) in the world’s population since Huxley’s warning in 1958 is attributable to vast supplies of cheap easily accessible oil, natural gas and coal, which have allowed technological and agricultural advancements that have vastly expanded food production, water purification, global transportation, and medical advancements. With the peak in traditional worldwide oil production reached around 2005, and modest subsequent production increases obtained only by mining tar sands, fracking shale and drilling in deep water at much higher production costs, the era of cheap plentiful energy has come to an end.
Note these 4.4 billion have been all added during the course of my life, as I was born in 1950 - and my point is not myself, but (1) that it happened very fast indeed, for it is an exponential process, while (2) none of the many added intelligences have worked out a useful plan to get more cheap energy, which indeed is the motor of almost all human development.

As to cheap energy, there is this:
Oil prices were $25 per barrel when George Bush and the neo-cons launched their Iraq Freedom campaign in 2003. Eleven years later, with U.S. oil production at 44 year highs and consumption at 2000 levels, a barrel of oil is over $100 per barrel.
Indeed, I do not see this lower, whereas - as the article also says - the 2008 crisis happened while a barrel of oil cost $140.

As to the growth towards totalitarianism, there is this:

Huxley saw it beginning to happen even during the late 1950’s:

“Meanwhile impersonal forces over which we have almost no control seem to be pushing us all in the direction of the Brave New Worldian nightmare; and this impersonal pushing is being consciously acceler­ated by representatives of commercial and political organizations who have developed a number of new tech­niques for manipulating, in the interest of some minor­ity, the thoughts and feelings of the masses.” Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited – 1958

I think Huxley underestimated the lengths to which a minority of criminal wealthy bankers, their crony capitalist corporate co-conspirators, and feckless bought off politicians would go in their sociopathic manipulation of the masses to gorge themselves upon the world’s resources and wealth. In 1958 the manipulators only had TV in its infancy and independent newspapers published by journalists who attempted to report the truth. They’ve come a long way baby.

Incidentally, this illustrates my point on style, that I made when reviewing Part One: "criminal", "crony ... co-conspirators", "feckless bought off" and "sociopathic manipulation" in one statement. And while I do understand the feelings and the anger, this seems a bit too much.

But I agree with the point and here is my overview of some techniques for manipulating the masses that were developed mostly since the 1970ies:

  • We've mostly lost the independent paper press, which is a loss that still is not sufficiently appreciated.
  • We've gained an enormous amount of TV, most of which is stupid, and makes stupid, and a considerable amount of which is also is advertise- ment and/or propaganda.
  • Much of the TV and much of the remaining press is in the hands of a few very conservative billionair tycoons, like Murdoch, and these manipulate and deceive as a matter of course and of standard policy.
  • Propaganda aka "public relations", which is the art of conscious lying and deception, has enormously grown, and is now used everywhere.
  • Education has grown steadily worse since the middle 1960s, and also grown steadily more expensive nearly everywhere.
  • Lobbying parliamentarians and politicians has enormously grown, virtually guaranteeing that most politicians will be bought somehow at some point, and often very soon.

Then there is another factor with considerable relevance for keeping the masses quiet and well behaved:

Consumer debt outstanding in 1958 totaled $48 billion, all non-revolving debt mainly for auto purchases. The credit card did not exist. Consumer debt outstanding today totals $3.2 trillion. Has this 6,667% increase in consumer debt benefitted the average person or Jamie Dimon and his ilk?

Well... both, I would say, although indeed Dimon profits much more. But surely a considerable part of consumer debt is based on greed (which I agree again is caused by advertisements, propaganda, false promises, deception, and stupidity). I think I am justified in saying so because I have now lived nearly fifty years by myself on the lowest possible income my country provides, and I have no debts whatsoever (and indeed also no car and no TV). [2]

Then there is this on the real wage (in America):

(...) real wages haven’t advanced in the last 40 years, while corporate profits reach record heights and a small cadre of oligarchs reap the rewards of debt enslavement of the many.

I believe the story, but should point out that I live - everything included - from about 1 1/2 hour of American average wages each day, since 30 years.

Then we get this as regards Our Totalitarian Future (which is the title of these two articles):

The definition of totalitarianism is a political system in which the state holds total authority over the society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life wherever possible. Our two party farce of a political system is aligned to control our lives through laws, regulations, rules, bylaws, procedures, tax codes, taxation, inflation, and debt, enforced by government apparatchiks, bureaucrats, politicians, bankers, police state thugs, and when all else fails – the military. While the masses were distracted by facebooking, texting, twittering, instagramming, taking selfies, playing Words with Friends, engaging make believe enemies on their PS3 or Xbox, watching the Kardashians on one of their 700 cable TV stations, or shopping for Chinese produced crap at one of our 1.5 million cookie cutter chain retail boxes, those in control of this country covertly turned the nation into a surveillance state while militarizing local police forces. They know the endless growth story is over. Our oppressors fear the repercussions when the masses realize it’s all been a big lie and they are left impoverished and hungry. They are attempting to instigate foreign wars, while preparing for the coming civil war.

The definition of totalitarianism (<- Wikipedia) is the same as in Wikipedia. Incidentally, Benito Mussolini's definition of fascism (<- Wikipedia) is: The merger of the corporations and the state, which also has happened in the U.S.: Part of that is "the revolving door", between jobs in government (powerful, less payment) and jobs in corporations (less powerful, more payment), and another part is that a considerable slice of the government's activities, including spying, are done these days by corporations rather than by the government.

Incidentally, while I agree with most, one problem I have with this and indeed with other lefties is that this contains considerable contempt of "the masses".
My problem with it is not so much the contempt, since I have a very high IQ and never thought "the masses" are intelligent, as with the leftist expectation that the activities of "
the masses", once these are aroused, will save us. I believe one's intellectual capacities are mostly innate and unalterable, and I do not expect much good from "the masses" - but that is also one of the reasons I gave up on politics and the left when I was 20.

I will leave the problem unanswered, although it is important, and turn to the following diagnosis:

The confusion, chaos, mayhem and war currently shaking the foundations of our planet are a direct result of too many people jammed into too small of a space with too few resources and too few opportunities for economic advancement.

Yes and no. What the writer seems to miss is that half of 7.2 billion people there are now has an IQ that is at most 100, while nearly all feel "needs" for riches that were developed by much watching of American popular TV-series. Also very few know much of science, literature or philosophy, while very many like to partake, indeed almost always anonymously, in almost any discussion, all regardless of their enormous ignorance and low intelligence.

Again, this is from near the end of the present article:

Huxley’s Brave New World dystopian America had a good run from 1950 until 2000. Our keepers kept us fat, dumb, distracted, and in debt up to our eyeballs. Since 2000 Orwell’s 1984 dystopian Surveillance States of America seems to be taking shape, under the watchful eye of our very own Big Brother, the NSA. Fear, punishment, slogans (See Something Say Something) and appeals to non-thinking patriotism have replaced freedom, liberty, individual rights, the Constitution, personal responsibility for our own lives and questioning authority.

First, I am not sure in what sense Huxley's dystopia "had a good run" - but maybe that is not so important.

Second, I mostly disagree with "Our keepers kept us fat, dumb, distracted, and in debt up to our eyeballs": They may have done that, but surely they could do so only because (1) most people are not intelligent and therefore easily deceived, and because (2) most people wanted what they were offered, even though they easily could have known that was quite greedy, and not open to most non-Americans. (The same holds for the Europeans.)

Third, I mostly agree with the rest - and see my
See Crisis: Hypotheses about the causes of the crisis and Crisis + DSM-5: It's the deregulation, stupid! - and again I add: Half of the people have an IQ of 100 maximally. (And especially these are the natural aim of propaganda of all kinds.)

Here is the last quotation of Huxley:

“But liberty, as we all know, cannot flour­ish in a country that is permanently on a war footing, or even a near-war footing. Permanent crisis justifies permanent control of everybody and everything by the agencies of the central government. And permanent crisis is what we have to expect in a world in which over-population is producing a state of things, in which dictatorship becomes almost inevitable.” Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited – 1958

And again I add that this tends to be so only because at least half of humankind does not think very well or know much, and because leadership positions tend to be taken by the biggest bastards, who work for themselves, and through deceiving others.

In fact, here is my own conclusion, from my 2002 essay "On a fundamental problem in ethics and morals" (and I note that there are five earlier sections):

6. What can be done about this

If human beings were on average like the men and women whose ideas they claim to practise, the human world would be a very different place. Alas, it isn't - and one cannot blame the human average for not being like the intellectually or morally best, just as one  cannot blame the human average for neither being pretty nor smart: Thus they are born, and they never asked to be born, nor to be born with their limitations, appearance, needs and shortcomings.

However, if human beings on average remain as they have been these last 25 Centuries - say: per one genius a hundredthousand hooligans, cowards, hypocrites, fools, followers and supposedly decent average conformists - there soon will be no more human beings, for they will exterminate one another, very probably for the purportedly best of moral reasons. 

Fortunately (and perhaps unfortunately as well), there is now arising a possibility to do something about the curse of humanity - the average stupidity, and the resulting average conformism, totalitarianism, and hypocrisy: 

It should be possible within the next 100 years to learn the real natural foundations of true and general human intelligence, and to develop means to help every parent to have children considerably more intelligent than they are, and to provide every prospective parent with these means.

Indeed, if this is NOT done, the risk is great that if humanity survives, it will survive in the form of a small master race descending from the current social élites (who already have their nose-jobs; have their wrinkles surgically removed and their tits enlarged etc.) and a much larger group of - probably quite happy (!) - born slaves and second-raters, visibly more ugly and smaller than their masters and mistresses, and evidently much more stupid and ignorant.

And if this IS done, then still there is no assurance whatsoever that humanity will survive,  but if it does at least there is the chance it will be better in understanding logical consequences; better at understanding and inventing  all manner of things; and possibly capable of making the sort of society almost every truly intelligent man or woman these past 25 centuries has dreamt of - with honest, rational, reasonable, righteous men and women.

And with this I leave you today.


[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.)

[2] This is the plain truth, but the story behind it is fairly complicated: I started having big debts in the 1990ies, because my health and myself had collapsed after four years of constant too little sleep and many threats, and I had failed to do the necessary paper work. But once I had straightened out that, and won several court cases, this all got settled in the early 2000s, and I can live from minimal dole, and have done so for over 30 years - although I also grant that the Dutch dole is better than the English or American equivalents. (And it helps a lot that I have simple tastes and needs, don't drink or smoke, and have many books.)

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)

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)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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