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Nederlog


  August
16, 2014
Crisis: Getting hacked, Gaza, Corruption, Capitalism, Surveillance, Europe
  "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.
You Can Get Hacked Just By Watching This Cat Video on
     YouTube

2. Former U.N. Specialist for Palestinian Rights Suspects
     War Crimes

3. Is Corruption a Constitutional Right?
4. How the New Monopoly Capitalism Will Crush You to
     Smithereens

5.
James Risen, Surveillance and Obama’s Threat to
     Journalism

6. Washington Post: Europe Is Stuck In a “Greater
     Depression”

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, August 16. It is a crisis log.

It's a Saturday but I found six crisis items. And this NL is uploaded earlier than normal to give me the opportunity to do some other things.
 
1. You Can Get Hacked Just By Watching This Cat Video on YouTube

The first item is an article by Morgan Marquis-Boire on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Many otherwise well-informed people think they have to do something wrong, or stupid, or insecure to get hacked—like clicking on the wrong attachments, or browsing malicious websites. People also think that the NSA and its international partners are the only ones who have turned the internet into a militarized zone. But according to research I am releasing today at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, many of these commonly held beliefs are not necessarily true. The only thing you need to do to render your computer’s secrets—your private conversations, banking information, photographs—transparent to prying eyes is watch a cute cat video on YouTube, and catch the interest of a nation-state or law enforcement agency that has $1 million or so to spare.

To understand why, you have to realize that even in today’s increasingly security-conscious internet, much of the traffic is still unencrypted. You might be surprised to learn that even popular sites that advertise their use of encryption frequently still serve some unencrypted content or advertisements. While people now recognize that unencrypted traffic can be monitored, they may not recognize that it also serves as a direct path into compromising their computers.

Well yes, but (1) encrypted traffic also can be monitored, though it is very difficult or impossible to read (if everything has been done right!), and (2) my own problem is that I surf a fair amount, indeed mostly in connection with writing Nederlog, and very few of the sites I surf to are encrypted.

After some I skip, Marquis-Boire says:
In today’s internet, there are few excuses for any company to serve content unencrypted. Any unencrypted traffic can be maliciously tampered with in a manner that is invisible to the average user. The only way to solve this problem is for web providers to offer fully encrypted services.
Yes - but how to decrypt it? For that end one needs to have at least a web browser and an e-mail program that can and do encrypt and decrypt as a matter of course, and without any hassle. I don't have these, and the problem mostly starts from there.

Marquis-Boire discusses some commercial hackers, such as Hacking Team and Fin Fisher, and assures his readers these are not used to hack entire nations, but also do not give any information about how much they are used, nor by whom, and then asks:
Nevertheless, we need to have an open discussion about how we want law enforcement using this type of technology. Is it being used to catch child pornographers? Kidnappers? Drug dealers? Tax cheats? Journalists who receive leaked documents?
I think that is the wrong question, for it assumes "law enforcers" (who knows what freaks these may be?) are allowed to use illegal means "to enforce the law", and I think that assumption simply is wrong and mistaken.

The only reasonable way some "law enforcer" can get legal access using illegal means are those outlined quite clearly by the Fourth Amendment: If there is a probable cause that the one investigated illegally is a criminal and there is a judge who gave permission, for a limited time also, and for a limited purpose.
 

2.
Former U.N. Specialist for Palestinian Rights Suspects War Crimes

The next item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Richard Falk, who for six years served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, argues in a recent interview that there is no evidence that Israel’s air campaign has decreased rocket fire from Gaza. Likewise the claim that Hamas uses human shields is unfounded and Israel’s siege of Gaza is missing from media accounts of the cause of the current conflict, he contends.

And he gets quoted as follows (i.e. this is Falk):

The siege of Gaza is clearly a form of collective punishment that is prohibited by Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention that unconditionally prohibits any recourse to collective punishment. A blockade that has been maintained since the middle of 2007 is directed at the entire civilian population of Gaza. It includes many items that are needed for health, subsistence, and minimum requirements of a decent life. So in my view, Israel as the occupying power under international law of Gaza, is supposed to protect the civilian population rather than to subject it to a punitive blockade of the sort that’s been existing these past 7 years.

And also as follows (still Falk):
I think certainly there’s the basis for alleging war crimes. It requires a formal legal judgment to reach the conclusion that there have been war crimes committed. There is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty—that’s important to maintain. But certainly the evidence that I’m aware of suggests the commission of serious crimes against humanity and war crimes in the course of this operation.

Incidentally, my real family name is on the Yad Vashem monument in Israel, and refers to my father's father, who helped Jews during WW II, and was murdered by the Nazis in a concentration camp aged 64, as old as I am now. He was one of "the righteous among the nations".

Having said that, I like to add that one of the shortcomings of many Jews discussing Gaza is that they leave out all numbers: From their writings, one should believe Israel is defending itself, and one does not learn anything about 1900 Palestinians killed, 10.000 homes destroyed etc., as opposed to 60 Israelis killed and no Israeli homes destroyed.

But I do not expect much of a rational discussion, though I agree with Falk. And that probably also will have no consequences in the present climate.

3. Is Corruption a Constitutional Right?

The next item is an article by David Sirota on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Wall Street is one of the biggest sources of funding for presidential campaigns, and many of the Republican Party’s potential 2016 contenders are governors, from Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rick Perry of Texas to Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin. And so, last week, the GOP filed a federal lawsuit aimed at overturning the pay-to-play law that bars those governors from raising campaign money from Wall Street executives who manage their states’ pension funds.

In the case, New York and Tennessee’s Republican parties are represented by two former Bush administration officials, one of whose firms just won the Supreme Court case invalidating campaign contribution limits on large donors. In their complaint, the parties argue that people managing state pension money have a First Amendment right to make large donations to state officials who award those lucrative money management contracts.

Maybe you have to read the last sentence twice, but I did copy it correctly. Also, at present this is against the law, as indeed it should be, but the GOP wants to make the corruption described - X manages a pension fund, and therefore has "the right" to make large donations to state officials who may nominate X again - completely legal.

Here is the ending of the article:

“We will use all available enforcement tools to ensure that public pension funds are protected from any potential corrupting influences,” said Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC Enforcement Division. “As we have done with broker-dealers, we will hold investment advisers strictly liable for pay-to-play violations.”

The GOP lawsuit aims to stop that promise from becoming a reality. In predicating that suit on a First Amendment argument, those Republicans are forwarding a disturbing legal theory: Essentially, they are arguing that Wall Street has a constitutional right to influence politicians and the investment decisions those politicians make on behalf of pensioners.

If that theory is upheld by the courts, it will no doubt help Republican presidential candidates raise lots of financial-industry cash—but it could also mean that public pension contracts will now be for sale to the highest bidder.

4. How the New Monopoly Capitalism Will Crush You to Smithereens

The next item is an article by Lynn Stuart Parramore on AlterNet:

This starts as follows (and reminds me rather a lot of my father, who used to be quite concerend about the dangers of monopoly capitalism, in the 1960ies and 1970ies [2]):

Something wicked has crept into American society, something that many hoped was left back in the dustbins of the 19th century. We’re talking about monopoly, the ogre that screams capitalism run amok. Monopolies, or near-monopolies, as are most common in America, rise up through a lack of competition. When one or a handful of players dominate the marketplace, get ready for higher prices, low-quality products, and crap wages for you and me.

Just a few decades ago, this destructive activity would have been illegal. But advocates for small government and faulty market theories successfully drove a complete unraveling of the regulations that used to keep these monsters at bay. The result has been disastrous. Monopolies are back, and they are bigger and nastier than ever.

Yes, it is AlterNet, but Parramore has a point, and this is the introduction to an interview she did with Barry Lynn, who wrote a book about it called "Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction".

Here are a few points from the interview, with Lynn talking all the time:

What we see is that the people who have actually preached the doctrine of free markets, this last generation, when you go back and look at it historically, is that the idea of free markets really comes out of the Chicago School, the libertarian wing of academia. They were preaching free markets, but when they would preach free markets, they also preached the elimination of all regulation. But when you eliminate all regulation you end up with no markets at all, because you end up with monopolists, and monopolists are the antithesis of an open market.

Yes, indeed. In fact "free markets" were a pretext for pleading for the elimination of all regulation, which Lynn is right leads to the fact that "you end up with no markets at all". Also, the economists who pleaded for "free markets", like Milton Friedman, knew quite well they were indulging in propaganda.

Next, there is this:

The problem with most of the libertarians—and certainly with the libertarians who are official libertarians, meaning they work with the Libertarian Party, they work with libertarian operations like the Cato Institute—is that they say we need to get rid of all regulation. We need to get rid of all government.

The true populists — what they understood is that, well, you might not want to use government to fix all your ills. You might not want to use government to fix even most of your ills. But what you do need is, you need to have government to keep yourself free. To keep markets open, to prevent the consolidation of power over markets by monopolists. If you don’t have government, then every single system will be taken over by a private monopolist, which really means private government.

Yes. And this is what some of the leading libertarians - like Friedman - really want. Here is the final quotation of Lynn:

The purpose of government, the reason we founded government, is to break up dangerous concentrations of power at home and abroad. Concentrations of power that threaten our liberty as individuals at home and abroad. That is the foremost purpose of government.

I do not know that is historically correct for most governments, but to say that modern governments may exist to uphold the rights of all, including the poor, the weak and the ill, to get a fair and decent treatment and to defend them from exploitation by the rich and the powerful, is a fair justification of civilized government.

5. James Risen, Surveillance and Obama’s Threat to Journalism

The next item is an article by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Common Dreams (and original on Democracy Now!):

This starts as follows:

The Obama administration’s espionage case against alleged CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling is expected to come to trial soon, six years after he was indicted. In addition to Sterling, also on trial will be a central pillar of our democratic society: press freedom.

Federal prosecutors allege that Sterling leaked classified information to New York Times reporter and author James Risen. Risen has written many exposés on national security issues. In one, published in his 2006 book “State of War,” he details a failed CIA operation to deliver faulty nuclear bomb blueprints to the government of Iran, to disrupt that country’s alleged weapons program. Federal prosecutors think Sterling leaked the details of that operation to Risen. They want Risen to divulge his source in court, which he has so far refused to do, asserting the First Amendment’s protections of the free press. James Risen has vowed to go to jail rather than “give up everything I believe in.”

There is also this:

Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union jointly released a report in July, “With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale U.S. Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy.” In detailing the negative impacts on journalism by mass surveillance, they quote Brian Ross, chief investigative correspondent for ABC News, who said, “I feel ... like somebody in the Mafia. You’ve got to go around with a bag full of quarters and, if you can find a pay phone, use it, or, like drug dealers use, [a] throwaway burner phones. These are all the steps that we have to take to get rid of an electronic trail. To have to take those kind of steps makes journalists feel like we’re criminals and like we’re doing something wrong.”

As the article proceeds to tell, Brian Ross and other journalists who still are serving the idea of a free press, are not doing anything wrong: Obama's government is.

The reason is the following, which is the end of the article:

A crack down on the press ultimately violates the public’s right to know.

There is a reason why journalism is protected by the U.S. Constitution: A free press is an essential check and balance, necessary to hold those in power accountable. Journalism is essential to the functioning of a democratic society.

I agree, though I would have added "Real" before "Journalism" in the last sentence.

6. Washington Post: Europe Is Stuck In a “Greater Depression”

The last item of today is an article by Washington's Blog on his site:

This starts as follows (colors in the original):

“It’s a Little Misleading to JUST Call This a Depression. It’s WORSE than That”

The Washington Post’s Wonkblog reports:

Europe hasn’t recovered, because it hasn’t let itself. Too much fiscal austerity and too little monetary stimulus have, instead, put it more than halfway to a lost decade that’s already worse than the 1930s.

It’s a greater depression.

And as the latest GDP numbers show, it’s not getting any less so. Indeed, the eurozone as a whole didn’t grow at all in the second quarter. Neither did France, whose economy has actually been flat for a year now. Germany’s economy fell 0.2 percent from the previous quarter—and that after revisions revealed it had quietly gone through a double-dip recession in early 2013. Though that’s still much better than Italy: Its GDP also fell 0.2 percent, but its triple-dip recession has now wiped out all growth since 2000. The closest thing approximating good news was that Spain’s dead-cat bounce recovery continued with 0.6 percent growth. But it still has 24.5 percent unemployment.

And here are some of the causes why the depression or recession or crisis (I really do not care what you call it, as long as you don't deny it) continues and continues:
  • Quantitative easing hurts the economy. Even the Bank of England and the creators of QE admit that it is “pushing on a string“.  But the UK did tons of QE instead of actually fixing the economy
I agree - and have been saying so since 2004, when NL started, although at that time I wrote in Dutch and the real crisis hadn't started yet, but there were plenty of new laws favoring the government, the police and the rich, because - it was said, quite falsely - "of terrorists".

---------------------------------
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.)

[2] Mostly because he was a communist. But he did have a point, although that only became clear after he died and after the regulations of monopolies were undone, it seems mostly by money from the monopolies, both of which happened from 1980 onwards.  


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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