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."
Twitter, Facebook and Google Executives be the
Arbiters of What We See and
rights chief criticises security council over
3. Ferguson Exposes America’s Enduring Legacy of White
4. Information Scarce,
Warnings Mount as US Expands War
Collection Reveals Personal Details, Rights
6. Journalism is Under
Attack, and Not Just in Ferguson
This is a Nederlog of Friday,
August 22. It is a crisis log.
It gets published some hours sooner than is usual so as to give me the
opportunity to do some things.
1. Should Twitter, Facebook and Google Executives be the
Arbiters of What We See and Read?
item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
I start with answering the
question the title asks: I am against censorship, and certainly
also against censorship by the executives of Facebook, Twitter and
There have been
increasingly vocal calls for Twitter, Facebook and other Silicon Valley
corporations to more aggressively police what their users are permitted
to see and read. Last month in The Washington Post, for
instance, MSNBC host Ronan Farrow demanded
that social media companies ban the accounts of “terrorists” who issue
“direct calls” for violence.
This week, the
announcement by Twitter CEO Dick Costolo Crisis: Censorship*2, Human Rights, Racism, Metadata, Unfree
the company would prohibit the posting of the James Foley beheading
video and photos from it (and suspend the accounts of anyone who links
to the video) met with overwhelming approval. What made that so
significant, as The Guardian‘s James Ball noted
today, was that “Twitter has promoted its free speech credentials
aggressively since the network’s inception.” By contrast, Facebook
has long actively regulated what its users are permitted to say and
read; at the end of 2013, the company reversed
its prior ruling and decided that posting of beheading videos would
be allowed, but only if the user did not express support for the act.
Also, I think Costolo's decision was a mistake.
My reasoning is this: I have no doubt Foley's beheading makes an awful
video, and I haven't seen it, but surely it also is evidence that those
who do these beheadings and make these videos are extremely violent and
are - I would say - sick: it is sadistic cruelty to kill a man like
that, whatever you think about him.
To prohibit such evidence means that I - a 64 year old
philosopher and psychologist - must believe the sayings of executives
that they are fit to judge as to what I (and others) am
supposed to be fit to judge, and I do not believe anyone else
is fit to judge what I am supposed to see and not see, and most
certainly not executives of commercial companies I
anyway dislike and distrust.
I also do not like violence and I am not a sadist, but surely if
someone or some group is accused of being terrorists I want to be able
to see the (supposed, accused) terrorists' own evidence of their own
violence, including their own propaganda.
(And I have not tried to see Foley's execution, because I anyway
think IS or ISIS is a religiously mad and cruel group, and I don't like
Finally, as to those who do not want to be shocked: (1) a lot
of what people do to other people (and to animals) is shocking
and cruel, and has been so during all of human history, and (2) if you
do not want to be shocked, there is a simple way to avoid most shocks:
do not watch. (And I mostly don't, indeed as I don't watch most of the
press. But I do not want this material to be censored,
and certainly not by commercial executives.)
There is a lot more in Glenn Greenwald's article, that is quite good,
and that I leave to your interests.
human rights chief criticises security council over global conflicts
item is an article by the Associated Press on The Guardian:
starts as follows:
In her last address to
the security council, the UN human rights chief has sharply criticised
the body for its ineffectiveness on Syria and other intractable
conflicts, saying its members have often put national interests ahead
of stopping mass atrocities.
“I firmly believe that
greater responsiveness by this council would have saved hundreds of
thousands of lives,” said Navi Pillay, whose term as high commissioner
for human rights ends on 30 August.
Pillay said Syria’s
conflict “is metastasing outwards in an uncontrollable process whose
eventual limits we cannot predict”. She also cited conflicts in
Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Congo, Iraq, Libya, Mali,
Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Ukraine and Gaza.
“These crises hammer home
the full cost of the international community’s failure to prevent
conflict,” Pillay said. “None of these crises erupted without warning.”
is considerably more under the last dotted link.
suppose Navi Pillay means well, and she spoke some bitter truths, but
the crux of her story is that hundreds of thousands would have
lived if the United Nations had acted better than it did, and that the
United Nations probably will continue to do too little, because many
countries put their national interests first.
3. Ferguson Exposes America’s Enduring Legacy of White Bigotry
item is an article by Bill Boyarsky on Truthdig:
There is this factual
evidence in Bill Boyarsky's article for his title (and there is more
than I quote):
Unemployment is higher
among blacks, according to the Times analysis. Since the early 1970s,
the unemployment rate among African-Americans has been about 2 to 2.5
times higher than that of whites. Among those working full time in
2013, the median weekly earnings for African-Americans were slightly
over $600, compared with $800 for whites. When it comes to accumulated
wealth—savings; investments; or money to send kids to college, pay for
retirement, or as a resource in the event of a layoff or bad
health—white families in 2010 had six times the wealth of black
families. And, finally, black men are killed at the hand of someone
else at a much higher rate than whites. About 76 of every 100,000 black
men between the ages of 25 and 34 were killed in homicides in 2010,
more than nine times the rate for white men in the same age bracket.
In the intense coverage
of Ferguson, television and mainstream websites and newspapers have
neglected to cover how these trends affect the mass media itself. The
whiteness of the news business shapes the coverage and the way the
public sees race relations.
Scarce, Warnings Mount as US Expands War in Iraq
item is an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:
This starts as
The U.S. unleashed fresh
onslaughts of air strikes on ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria)
positions in Iraq on Wednesday and Thursday—the latest in an
expanding war campaign where public information about the details
and aims of the operation remain sparse.
U.S. Central Command
announced that it used that it used drones, fighter jets, and attack
aircraft to launch 14 air strikes in the vicinity of the Mosul Dam in
northern Iraq on Wednesday, attacks that were followed by six
additional air strikes on Thursday. According to the Central Command,
this brings the total number of air strikes on Iraq since August 8 to
90—with 57 of them near the Mosul Dam.
One problem with this is
that so much of it is effectively secret:
the Associated Press reports, the public information
about U.S. military attacks on Iraq by ground and air remain "thin." It
is not clear which military branches are carrying out the air strikes,
and U.S. Central Command is refusing to publicly disclose which bases
are being used to launch attacks. The U.S. also is not disclosing
information about civilians and combatants in Iraq killed and wounded
in the attacks. Furthermore, an estimated thousands of U.S. military
and security contractors remain in Iraq, their total number not
This makes it very
difficult to judge rationally, but indeed that also is the end of
Obama's government's policies towards the free press, on which see item 1 and item 6: As far as I
understand Obama & Clapper's words, the press is free to the extent
that it prints what the government likes to see printed.
Metadata Collection Reveals
Personal Details, Rights Groups Assert
item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as
"Metadata is not
trivial," Electronic Frontier Foundation legal fellow Andrew Crocker said
Wednesday, announcing the filing of an amicus brief in Klayman
v. Obama, the high-profile lawsuit challenging the National
Security Agency's program of mass surveillance.
filed jointly by the EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union,
declares that "call records collected by the government are not just metadata — they are intimate portraits of the lives of
millions of Americans."
Larry Klayman, a
conservative activist and founder of the political advocacy group
Freedom Watch, filed his lawsuit
against the NSA and President Obama in June, 2013. It alleges that the
government is conducting a "secret and illegal government scheme to
intercept vast quantities of domestic telephonic communications," in
violation of the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments.
Quite so. And that makes it completely illegal,
in spite of the fact that it has been happening and has been protected
by the US governments at least since 2007.
The article ends as
In fact, the "vast"
quantity of metadata the government collects, the duration for which it
does so, and the modern nature of people's phone use, means that such
dragnet surveillance "provides a window into the thoughts, beliefs,
traits, habits, and associations of millions of Americans," the brief
reads. "The Court should reject any contrary suggestion. Given the
detailed portrait that can be drawn from metadata alone — and given the
especially revealing nature of large quantities of metadata — the
collection of this sensitive information receives the highest
protection of the Fourth Amendment."
Yes indeed. (But it
will be up to the judge - who may be blackmailed by the NSA, though no
one but the NSA may know. That is one of the many niceties the NSA has
introduced, surveilling all: You do not know whether a judge is
6. Journalism is Under Attack, and Not Just
item is an article by Noa Yachot on Common Dreams:
This is in fact by a
"communications strategist for the ACLU" - and I am quoting this
because I do not know what "a communications strategist" is
supposed to do, or indeed whether one can get an M.A. or Ph.D. in it.
(It's not, as such, on Wikipedia.) And while I like the ACLU, I do not
like nonsense titles that seem to derive from the advertisement
and propaganda worlds.
Anyway, this article
gets reviewed because I agree with the title and also because I think
there just is no democracy and no free and open society
without a really free press, while the (real) free press gets
to be less and less in the world in which I live, and gets replaced by
a "press" that mostly only prints what the government or their chiefs
like to see printed (which the government calls "freedom", while it
calls the few
journalists who print stuff it doesn't like "traitors").
Here are two
The Obama administration
is the most aggressive in U.S. history when it comes to prosecuting
journalists' sources for disclosing unauthorized leaks. It has gone
after the journalists, too. In just one example, it continues to pursue
a Bush-era subpoena of James
Risen, a New York Times journalist, to testify against a
source accused of leaking information about CIA efforts to derail
Iran's nuclear program. In an effort to sever journalists from their
sources, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently went
so far as to sign a directive forbidding intelligence officials
from talking to the press – even about unclassified matters – without
securing permission in advance.
surveillance, in addition to imperiling the privacy rights of millions
of Americans, has also severely undermined the freedom of the press. A
recent ACLU-Human Rights Watch report
shows that many journalists have found information and sources
increasingly hard to come by. To make matters more burdensome, they've
had to resort to elaborate techniques to keep their communications
secret. The result? We get less information about what our government
is doing in our name.
Yes. And less
information means that you are treated more as some sort of fool who
should not know what the taxes he pays are used for ("in your
own best interests"), which in turn gives more power to the few, which
again leads to less information, though with more amusement and
interest stories, so at least the less intelligent half of the
population will love it, and soon you are living in a completely
manipulated propaganda world where you are only free to say
"Yes, thank you kindly, most superior people who govern us fools".
It hasn't come as far yet, but that is the tendency.
 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: