26, 2014
Crisis: Snowden*2, Gaza & ICC, U.S. police, U.S. schools
  "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

The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own
     Secret Google

2. Snowden Documents Reveal NSA's 'Own Secret Google'
3. Gaza Update: Don’t Expect Quick Action by the
     International Criminal Court

4. When Did it Become the Norm for Police to Crush
     Americans' Rights?

5. Back to School, and to Widening Inequality

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, August 26. It is a crisis log.

There are five items, and I have updated the
crisis file till today.
1. The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google The first item is an article by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.

The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies. Planning documents for ICREACH, as the search engine is called, cite the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration as key participants.

ICREACH contains information on the private communications of foreigners and, it appears, millions of records on American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing. Details about its existence are contained in the archive of materials provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Next, there is this on the reach of ICREACH:

ICREACH has been accessible to more than 1,000 analysts at 23 U.S. government agencies that perform intelligence work, according to a 2010 memo. A planning document from 2007 lists the DEA, FBI, Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency as core members. Information shared through ICREACH can be used to track people’s movements, map out their networks of associates, help predict future actions, and potentially reveal religious affiliations or political beliefs.

The creation of ICREACH represented a landmark moment in the history of classified U.S. government surveillance, according to the NSA documents.

Yes, indeed: It realized Brezezinski's 1969 ideas: Now the U.S. secret services can and do spy on everyone, abd "track people’s movements, map out their networks of associates, help predict future actions, and potentially reveal religious affiliations or political beliefs", and all without any warrant, in the deepest secrecy, and covered by the U.S. government.

The U.S. population owes this system to General Alexander:

The mastermind behind ICREACH was recently retired NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander, who outlined his vision for the system in a classified 2006 letter to the then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte. The search tool, Alexander wrote, would “allow unprecedented volumes of communications metadata to be shared and analyzed,” opening up a “vast, rich source of information” for other agencies to exploit.

There is also this on the numbers involved - and I quote a graphic (note that all the data have been illegally stolen, according to the Fourth Amendment):

Billions and billions of records

People on earth .........................................    7 billion
Seconds since the birth of Christ ....................  64 billion
Google searches per month .......................... 100 billion
Stars in the Milky Way (estimated) ................ 400 billion
Records available via ICREACH (estimated) ..... 850 billion

There is a lot more in the article, which I recommend you read for yourself.

2.  Snowden Documents Reveal NSA's 'Own Secret Google'

The next item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows (and is a review of item 1):

The National Security Agency has for years been giving hundreds of billions of telecommunications records about foreigners and U.S. citizens to dozens of government bureaus, the Intercept reported on Monday.

Documents linked to Edward Snowden's leak last year, obtained by the Intercept, show the NSA shared and continues to share more than 850 billion records of emails, cell phone calls and locations, internet chats, and other metadata sent and received by people throughout the world — who have not been accused of any wrongdoing — by using a "Google-like" search engine called ICREACH, which was built specifically for the agency.

According to a 2010 CIA memo on the program, which agency colleagues "enthusiastically welcome[d]," over 1,000 analysts from 23 government agencies had access to the NSA’s cache of information, all of which was collected without a warrant. Records were regularly shared with the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the  CIA, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, among other bureaus, the documents reveal.

Note that averaged out - see item 1 - this means the NSA has over a 100 documents on each and every living person on earth. And everything has been collected illegally, without any warrant, and in secret. "Yes, we scan!"

3. Gaza Update: Don’t Expect Quick Action by the International Criminal Court

The next item is an article by Bill Blum on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Even if a newly proposed temporary cease-fire takes hold in Gaza, it won’t erase the devastation that has occurred since the breakdown of the last truce, or diminish the need to refer the conflict now well into its second month to the International Criminal Court.

Unfortunately, even if a fresh cease-fire were in place, the prospects for speedy action by the ICC would remain dim. This is a war, not only an open war between Israel and the Palestinians, or Israel and Hamas, but a covert war of the Palestinian Authority based in the West Bank under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas against Hamas and its militant ally, the Islamic Jihad. Like most wars, events on the battlefield, both public and hidden, will have to play out fully before judges and lawyers can effectively intervene.

I would guess that one priority of the ICC is to put an end to ongoing conflicts, rather than do justice after the fighting has been done. But here is the beginning of the Wikipedia on the ICC (minus eight references to footnotes):

The International Criminal Court (ICC or ICCt) is a permanent international tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression (although jurisdiction for the crime of aggression will not be active until 2017 at the earliest).

The ICC was created by the Rome Statute which came into force on 1 July 2002. The Court is headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, but its proceedings may take place anywhere. It is intended to complement existing national judicial systems, and may only exercise its jurisdiction when national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes.

The article is much longer, and tells among many other things that Israel is not one of the 122 countries who agreed to the ICC.

There is considerably more in both articles, but it seems Bill Blum's title is quite justified (also for reasons not included in this review).

4. When Did it Become the Norm for Police to Crush Americans' Rights?

The next item is an article by Alex Kane on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

The militarized police force unleashed in Ferguson, Missouri over the past two weeks has crushed the civil liberties of black residents angry over the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. That law enforcement has shown utter disregard for the rights of protesters and the press is no surprise to many, especially black people, who have had to contend with pervasive surveillance and harassment in varied forms for much of American history. Yet what makes the situation in Ferguson look especially scary and dystopic are the militarized weapons being used to crush constitutional rights.

Yes. That is, to reduce this to two statements: (1) The American police has been very heavily militarized, and (2) the American police no longer even has a semblance of maintaining constitutional rights: these are crushed intentionally.

There is considerably more, and this is from the last paragraph:

Ferguson is no anomaly. There will be plenty of lawsuits filed against the police for violating constitutional rights. But the trampling of civil liberties points to a systemic problem that individual court orders and settlements won’t fix. The police in America have decided that when it suits them, the Constitution doesn’t matter one bit.

Yes, indeed. Incidentally, as to the question the title asks:

I do not think there is a precise when, though I agree with Alex Kane that crushing Americans' constitutional rights does seem to be one of the ends of the current, very heavily armed, militarized U.S. police.

But since the militarization has been steadily going on since 1990, while the only reason I can see for it is that the Pentagon or the government has seriously counted, and seriously counts, with the possibility that they have to submerge
large people's movements by military violence, and in the interests of the rich and the government much rather than the people.

If I have to pick a date, the Occupy movement (<- Wikipedia) of 2011 seems to have flipped the switch (but as I said: the militarization of the police started already in 1990).

5.  Back to School, and to Widening Inequality

The last item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

American kids are getting ready to head back to school. But the schools they’re heading back to differ dramatically by family income.

Which helps explain the growing achievement gap between lower and higher-income children.

Thirty years ago, the average gap on SAT-type tests between children of families in the richest 10 percent and bottom 10 percent was about 90 points on an 800-point scale. Today it’s 125 points.

The gap in the mathematical abilities of American kids, by income, is one of widest among the 65 countries participating in the Program for International Student Achievement.

On their reading skills, children from high-income families score 110 points higher, on average, than those from poor families. This is about the same disparity that exists between average test scores in the United States as a whole and Tunisia.

I say. There is rather a lot more in the article, but this is one of the constantly growing differences between the rich and the poor of the last 30 years (!), that are only exacerbated by the lack of tax money, and especially in poor communities.

This will probably go on and on, namely until the banks and their managers are tamed and regulated; the taxes on the rich are significantly increased; money is taken out of politics; and the corporations - "Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility." [2] - have gotten dehumanized again, and gotten much better regulated.

In short, this will go on until radical change.

P.S. Aug 27, 2014: I added this link Brezezinski's 1969 ideas because I think it is true and important to realize that spying on everyone is an old, and extremely totalitarian idea. Indeed, it is at least 2000 or 2400 years old - but it only could be realized from the year 2000 onwards, and the only thing that is heartening about that is that it is done illegally and in deep secret in the U.S., though of course also with the government's and the judiciary's support.
[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] From Ambrose Bierce's "The devil's dictionary"

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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