15, 2014
Crisis: New Zealand, Snowden, NSA, Hedges, Klein, TTIP, NSA & GCHQ, Orwell, Wall Street
  "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

 New Zealand Launched Mass Surveillance Project While
     Publicly Denying It

2. Snowden: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Isn’t Telling the
     Truth About Mass Surveillance

3. Treasure Map: The NSA Breach of Telekom and Other
     German Firms

4. Sacrificing the Vulnerable, From Gaza to America
5. Naomi Klein: ‘We don’t have another decade to waste’
6. The TTIP deal hands British sovereignty to multinationals
7. The NSA and GCHQ Campaign Against German Satellite

8. Self, Orwell and the English language
9. Wall Street’s Lies Brought To Light In Court & The Result

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Monday, September 15. It is a
crisis log.

There are nine items. I think they are all crisis items, though you may doubt that in case of the article on Orwell. But Orwell is himself relevant to the crisis, especially in his four-volumed "Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters", and he gets defended against a rather low attack from a quite mediocre English writer.

Anyway - here it goes.

1. New Zealand Launched Mass Surveillance Project While Publicly Denying It

The first item is an article by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
The New Zealand spy agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), worked in 2012 and 2013 to implement a mass metadata surveillance system even as top government officials publicly insisted no such program was being planned and would not be legally permitted.

Documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the government worked in secret to exploit a new internet surveillance law enacted in the wake of revelations of illegal domestic spying to initiate a new metadata collection program that appeared designed to collect information about the communications of New Zealanders. Those actions are in direct conflict with the assurances given to the public by Prime Minister John Key (pictured above), who said the law was merely designed to fix “an ambiguous legal framework” by expressly allowing the agency to do what it had done for years, that it “isn’t and will never be wholesale spying on New Zealanders,” and the law “isn’t a revolution in the way New Zealand conducts its intelligence operations.”

Snowden, in a post for The Intercept published today, accused Prime Minster Key of fundamentally misleading the public about GCSB’s role in mass surveillance.
In fact, the first paragraph holds as well - or so I suspect - for Holland if only because of the characters of the Dutch political worthies who are primarily involved (Plasterk, Opstelten and Teeven). But that is just my being Dutch, and knowing from long experience how very well the Dutch press works against all the news that the politicians do not want others to know, like their help in turning over at least 260 billions of dollars in illegal soft drugs alone (and at least double that when other illegal drugs are counted), the last 26 years.

But OK - that is as may be. I did not copy the picture of John Key but I take it he has been grossly lying, and it is nice to even have an article by Edward Snowden, that follows, to make this clear.

First another bit of the present article, that starts with the need for new legislation in New Zealand that allowed spying on everyone:

That legislation arose after it was revealed in 2012 that the GCSB illegally surveilled the communications of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, a legal resident of New Zealand. New Zealand law at the time forbade the GCSB from using its surveillance apparatus against citizens or legal residents. That illegal GCSB surveillance of Dotcom was followed by a massive military-style police raid by New Zealand authorities on his home in connection with Dotcom’s criminal prosecution in the United States for copyright violations.

A subsequent government investigation found that the GCSB not only illegally spied on Dotcom but also dozens of other citizens and legal residents. The deputy director of GCSB resigned. The government’s response to these revelations was to refuse to prosecute those who ordered the illegal spying and, instead, to propose a new law that would allow domestic electronic surveillance.

And then it much lied about what the new law was supposed to do, and because the government's speakers lied a lot, the New Zealand parliament passed the law, albeit very narrowly, namely by 61-59 votes.

There are national New Zealand elections in five days, and Glenn Greenwald has adopted an invitation to speak today in New Zealand, since he has accepted an invitation by Kim Dotcom's Internet Party to do so.

It will be curious to see how Mr Key wriggles himself out of this.
He does seem to be the new conscienceless neoliberal only-(my)-profits-count-really: Six years of Merrill Lynch before doing politics; as politician cutting taxes and increasing privatisation; a proponent of TPP - he seems to be a real rotter, and quite as real as many other modern politicians who side with big money, while mouthing lies to their electorates.

2. Snowden: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Isn’t Telling the Truth About Mass Surveillance

The next item is an article by Edward Snowden on The Intercept:

As far as I know, this is the first article by Edward Snowden, and it is a good one. It is concerned with the personal and political integrity of New Zealand's prime minister John Key. Here are the first two paragraphs:

Like many nations around the world, New Zealand over the last year has engaged in a serious and intense debate about government surveillance. The nation’s prime minister, John Key of the National Party, has denied that New Zealand’s spy agency GCSB engages in mass surveillance, mostly as a means of convincing the country to enact a new law vesting the agency with greater powers. This week, as a national election approaches, Key repeated those denials in anticipation of a report in The Intercept today exposing the Key government’s actions in implementing a system to record citizens’ metadata.

Let me be clear: any statement that mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB, is categorically false. If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched. At the NSA I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with GCSB, called “XKEYSCORE.” It allows total, granular access to the database of communications collected in the course of mass surveillance. It is not limited to or even used largely for the purposes of cybersecurity, as has been claimed, but is instead used primarily for reading individuals’ private email, text messages, and internet traffic. I know this because it was my full-time job in Hawaii, where I worked every day in an NSA facility with a top secret clearance.

The following is what this means (according to Edward Snowden):
It means they have the ability see every website you visit, every text message you send, every call you make, every ticket you purchase, every donation you make, and every book you order online. From “I’m headed to church” to “I hate my boss” to “She’s in the hospital,” the GCSB is there. Your words are intercepted, stored, and analyzed by algorithms long before they’re ever read by your intended recipient.
And here is his message to the New Zealanders:
If you live in New Zealand, whatever party you choose to vote for, bear in mind the opportunity to send a message that this government won’t need to spy on us to hear: The liberties of free people cannot be changed behind closed doors. It’s time to stand up. It’s time to restore our democracies. It’s time to take back our rights. And it starts with you.
Yes indeed. And I hope John Key, who is a great liar, gets defeated.

3. Treasure Map: The NSA Breach of Telekom and Other German Firms 

The next item is an article by Müller-Maguhn, Poitras, Rosenbach, Sontheimer and Grothoff on the English edition of Der Spiegel:

In fact, this is an extended version of the German article I reviewed yesterday. This clearly is a rewrite in English. Here is what it tells the reader about the NSA program "Treasure Map":
Treasure Map is anything but harmless entertainment. Rather, it is the mandate for a massive raid on the digital world. It aims to map the Internet, and not just the large traffic channels, such as telecommunications cables. It also seeks to identify the devices across which our data flows, so-called routers.

Furthermore, every single end device that is connected to the Internet somewhere in the world -- every smartphone, tablet and computer -- is to be made visible. Such a map doesn't just reveal one treasure. There are millions of them.

The breathtaking mission is described in a Treasure Map presentation from the documents of the former intelligence service employee Edward Snowden which SPIEGEL has seen. It instructs analysts to "map the entire Internet -- Any device, anywhere, all the time."

Treasure Map allows for the creation of an "interactive map of the global Internet" in "near real-time," the document notes.
As noted yesterday, the German providers Netcologne and Deutsche Telekom have been marked by the NSA as being secretly accessed by the NSA. That means the 400.000 clients of Netcologne, and 60 million clients of Deutsche Telekom are virtually an open book to the NSA:
According to the logic of the undated Treasure Map documents, that would mean that the NSA and its partner agencies are perhaps not only able to monitor the networks of these companies and the data that travels through them, but also the end devices of their customers.
As the present article notes, there are considerably more firms that seem to have been cracked by the NSA or the GCHQ, though it also should be said that those who were informed by Spiegel "could not find anything wrong". Then again, and  supposing for the moment you believe them: How would one establish anything wrong when underseas cables are tapped? I really don't know.

And as the present article notes, these accesses (which have not been proved so far) are quite illegal under German law. Then again: Does the German government want to maintain the German law, also seeing that the advantages to governments of illegal and secret spying on their populations are enormous?
It maybe it doesn't really want to, but then there also are related troubles: Does the German government want that all German trade secrets get known by the NSA, which may use them for God knows what?

The article does not raise the last two questions, but is quite interesting.

4. Sacrificing the Vulnerable, From Gaza to America

The next item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

In fact, this is the record of a speech Chris Hedges made last Saturday. Hedges is talking about Gaza and the Gazans, whom he knows quite well:

An impoverished, captive people that lack an army, a navy, an air force, mechanized units, drones, artillery and any semblance of command and control do not pose a threat to Israel. And Israel’s indiscriminate use of modern, industrial weapons to kill hundreds of innocents, wound thousands more and make tens of thousands of families homeless is not a war. It is state-sponsored terror and state-sponsored murder.

The abject failure by our political class to acknowledge this fact, a fact that to most of the rest of the world is obvious, exposes the awful banality of our political system, the cynical abandonment of the most vulnerable of the earth for campaign contributions. Money, after all, has replaced the vote.

Hedges also notes that this applies to all American senators: None spoke up for the Gazans, also in spite of the fact that several well-known Jewish people did, for all 100 senators stand behind Israel.

Here is Chris Hedges again:
When you are willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable for political expediency it becomes easy, as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party have amply illustrated, to sacrifice all who are vulnerable—our own poor, workers, the sick, the elderly, students and our middle class. This is a Faustian compact. It ends by selling your soul to Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil. It ends by deifying a military machine, now largely beyond civilian control, that, along with our organs of state security, has established surveillance and a security state that make us the most spied-upon, eavesdropped, monitored and photographed populace in human history. It is impossible to describe yourself as free when you are constantly watched. This is the relationship of a master and a slave.

Yes, I agree - and that is also why I have been writing crisis columns ever since I knew about Edward Snowden, which was on June 10, 2013, who indeed very strongly confirmed that a possibility that I had only thrown up as hypothesis, on Christmas Day of 2012, was fact, bitter fact.

Hedges continues:

Politics, if we take politics to mean the shaping and discussion of issues, concerns and laws that foster the common good, is no longer the business of our traditional political institutions. These institutions, including the two major political parties, the courts and the press, are not democratic. They are used to crush any vestiges of civic life that calls, as a traditional democracy does, on its citizens to share among all its members the benefits, sacrifices and risks of a nation. They offer only the facade of politics, along with elaborate, choreographed spectacles filled with skillfully manufactured emotion and devoid of real political content. We have devolved into what Alexis de Tocqueville feared—“democratic despotism.”

Yes, though "politics" has many meanings. What is true, I agree, is that by now "our traditional political institutions (..) including the two major political parties, the courts and the press, are not democratic".

He says some more, that I do not quite agree with, but then says this, which I do agree with:

The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, has yet to rebuild itself (...)

Yes, indeed: "The left (..) has yet to rebuild itself" - and indeed has to do so fairly thoroughly: I have hardly heard any realistic leftist comment on things going on since Bertrand Russell died, in 1970 (and indeed it is to people like Russell that the left should turn, much rather than to Karl Marx).

There is also this from Chris Hedges, that I also agree with:

A rational response, especially after your uprising in Madison and the Occupy movement, would at a minimum include a moratorium on all foreclosures and bank repossessions, a forgiveness of student debt, universal health care for all and a massive jobs program, especially targeted at those under the age of 25. But the corporate state, by mounting a coordinated federal effort led by Barack Obama to shut down the Occupy encampments, illustrated that the only language it will speak is the language of force.

Yes - and indeed these two things are quite recent, and seem to date mostly to circa 2008. For then two things became obvious, at least to politicians:

First, the enormous betrayal of the common people by the banks and their managers could be sold to the public as necessary to save the very banks who had created the enormous mess; and second, it became clear, and remained mostly hidden till 2013, that from 2008 onwards the U.S. government "knows everything", because it surveils everything and everyone anywhere, and quite successfully so.

Neither of these projects was bound to win, but win they did, in part because most people are not bright; in part because most parliamentarians have been corrupted by lobbyists and money; and in part because it is quiten strange, in the West, to have to assume that you yourself, your neighbors, and everybody else is an inspectable item for a couple of thousands or tenthousands of willing servants of the NSA, and virtually nothing - that is on a computer or cell phone - can be hidden from them.

Then Hedges says (and I am skipping):

“Evolution becomes revolution.”

This is where we are headed. I do not say this because I am a supporter of revolution. I am not. I prefer the piecemeal and incremental reforms of a functioning democracy. I prefer a system in which our social institutions permit the citizenry to nonviolently dismiss those in authority. I prefer a system in which institutions are independent and not captive to corporate power. But we do not live in such a system. Revolt is the only option left.

I believe he is mostly right, though I disagree with "Revolt is the only option left":
My reasons to disagree are mainly that (i) revolt without good ideas is pretty hopeless, and (ii) it need not come so much to a revolt of the downtrodden and discriminated against the strong and powerful, as to a collapse of the economic system that so far has tottered and creaked and groaned, but did not collapse - yet.

Indeed, I think it may well collapse, but I agree this is mostly so (i) because it almost did collapse in 2008, while (ii) the same conditions that led to its near collapse are present today, and in worse form then in 2008, for none of the things that are necessary to tame the banks and their managers have been done.

Finally, the reason that I expect more from a collapse than from a revolt without a prior collapse: The system must be widely seen to have collapsed and to have collapsed irrepairably; if so, most of the politicians can be discarded as part of the problem and not part of any solution; some sort of revolt is a necessity after a collapse; and a collapse makes the revolt a lot easier.

This is from near the end:

Look within.

We too are powerless. We have undergone a corporate coup d’état in slow motion. It is over. They have won. If we want to wrest power back, to make the consent of the governed more than an empty cliché, we will have to mobilize, to carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience to overthrow—let me repeat that word for the members of Homeland Security who may be visiting us this afternoon—overthrow the corporate state.

Yes, indeed we are powerless, and a good part of the reason is that the leftist politicians have betrayed their electorates, their leftness, and their personal integrity, indeed mostly for pay; and yes: there has been "a corporate coup d’état in slow motion".

It depends on how you date this coup d'état: it may be variously dated to the seventies (Powell Jr.), the eighties (Reagan), the nineties (Clinton), the 2000s (Bush, Cheney, Greenspan), or the 2008s and after (Alexander, Obama, too big to fail), but it did happen, and indeed most of it dates back to the 2000s and 2008s, at least for its successful implementation.

Finally, as to overthrowing the corporate state: It may not be necessary, for it will probably collapse, and if it collapses, it will collapse radically, that is, without a hope it can be repaired and retained as is.

But OK - I do not know either, and you can read all Chris Hedges has to say by clicking the last dotted link.

5. Naomi Klein: ‘We don’t have another decade to waste’ 

The next item is an article by Suzanne Goldenberg on The Guardian.

It seems that mostly this is a review of Klein's "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate", that is to be published tomorrow. This starts as follows:

Naomi Klein is the star of the new American left. At 44, the writer and activist has twice written blockbusters combining ground-level reporting and economic analysis that challenged people to take a hard look at what they took for granted: their shopping choices, America’s place in the world, and the devastating effects of arcane trade policy and rampant free market ideology. Along the way she gained a following that spans academics, celebrities and street and factory protesters.

I must say Naomi Klein is not a star of mine - but then I am 64 (though I look a lot younger), not American, and I also am not at all a fan of "the new American left", which I am not because it does not appear to be left to me - and my parents and grandparents were sincere and intelligent marxists and anarchists.

Also, while I have heard of her, I have not read her books, which is in good part because I did not regard them as interesting, and it seems to me her last book is based on a false premiss: That one can radically improve the climate under capitalism. I think one cannot, simply because the task is too big, and capitalism is too profit-oriented.

Anyway - I've read all of the article, and I haven't learned much, though that may not be Klein's fault.

6. The TTIP deal hands British sovereignty to multinationals

The next item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

“It’s a serious threat to British democracy from Brussels.” “Faceless EU bureaucrats threaten to impose laws without the consent of the British people.” Both these statements could succinctly, and accurately, describe the proposed transatlantic trade and investment partnership – TTIP – between the European Union and the United States. But David Cameron is not scuttling to Brussels to display his bulldog spirit as he vetoes an attack on our country’s sovereignty. Nor will you catch Ukip issuing chilling warnings about EU rule. On the contrary, the Ukip MEP Roger Helmer says: “We have no alternative but to support the deal.”

And don’t expect any front-page splashes from the Daily Mail – keen as it is to berate the EU over everything from regulations on the shape of bananas to imperial measurements – about the TTIP threat. In fact, there has been all too little media scrutiny of this menace, with the notable exception of my crusading colleague George Monbiot.

Yes indeed - but one reason may be that the TTIP is secret (which itself is totally undemocratic). But some things are known about it, and here is Owen Jones's summary:

It is presented as a free trade agreement, but existing tariffs on either side of the Atlantic are already weak because of common membership of organisations such as the World Trade Organisation. The actual aim is to strip away obstacles to large corporations making profits – such as regulations that protect our privacy, the environment, food safety and the economy from a rapacious financial sector. And – crucially – TTIP further opens up public services to private companies motivated primarily by profit rather than people’s needs.

Yes. Here is a last bit by Owen Jones, that explains why the TTIP dealings are mostly in secret:

The majority of people oppose privatisation: 84% believe the NHS should be run in the public sector; two-thirds say the same about railways, energy and the Royal Mail. With such a consensus against running public services for profit, no wonder TTIP’s promoters have worked in so much secrecy.

There is considerably more in the article, and I agree with Owen Jones that the TTIP is a very dangerous and very anti-democratic plan: It serves only the rich, and will do so by stealing from the poor, on the pretense that this is "justice".

7. The NSA and GCHQ Campaign Against German Satellite Companies

The next item is an article by the same authors of item 3 on The Intercept:

In fact, this seems to be a somewhat rewritten version of item 3, with some additional material on spying.

Since I have already more than 60 Kbs, I leave it to your attention: It is interesting, but also in part duplicates item 3.

8. Self, Orwell and the English language

The next item is an article by Bruno Waterfield on Will Self's recent attack on Orwell as a writer:

It starts as follows:

'This whole imbroglio is epiphenomenal.’ I wonder what George Orwell would have made of this statement of Will Self’s to describe the closure of the News of the World amid mounting hysteria against press freedom a few years ago.

It was easy to snigger, and many did, when Self, a self-styled sesquipedalian (look it up), recently launched an attack on Orwell as a mediocre bigot who sought to impose his own Big Brother authoritarianism on the use of the English language. (...) Self’s diatribe against Orwell cannot easily be dismissed as the defensive posturing of Britain’s most pretentious media commentator. Unfortunately, though wildly inaccurate and downright dishonest, Self’s arguments about Orwell epitomise the evasions and malaise at the heart of contemporary liberal intellectual life.

Actually, I think Self's attack on Orwell can be dismissed as "wildly inaccurate and downright dishonest", and in fact I did so when I read the attack, and therefore also did not report it.

But this is a decent defense of Orwell, that I leave to you.

I only want to clarify here what I like and do not like about Orwell:

I really like six books of his, I think, which already is a lot more than from other writers I do like: "Homage to Catalonia", "Animal Farm" and the four volumes of "The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell".

I like these both because of their ideas and because of their language, which in either case is simple and very clear, and I liked them from my teens and twenties onwards, since I had read all of these by then.

Anybody who rejects these will - unless he is Will Self, who is quite unclear - reject it mostly because he disagrees a lot with Orwell's ideas and values, and not because of the language, for the language is both simple and very clear.

Also, I read most but not all of his other books, and while I liked some, such as "Down and out in Paris and London", I did not much like his novels, apart from "Animal Farm": They seem to miss the great directness and clarity of, especially, Orwell's journalistic writing, and while I like "Nineteen-eighty four" it is, when compard to "Animal Farm", considerably less, I think also in Orwell's own opinion, and for his kind of reasons: He was in fact dying when he revised it, and ill when he wrote it.

But as a journalistic writer, very few are better than Orwell, and not to be able to see this shows considerable blindness, even if you disagree with Orwell's ideas and values.

9. Wall Street’s Lies Brought To Light In Court & The Result Stuns

The next item is not an article but a video of 7 m 57 s by The Young Turks:
This has the following explanation under it:
"The Tea Party regards Barack Obama as a kind of devil figure, but when it comes to hunting down the fraudsters responsible for the economic disaster of the last six years, his administration has stuck pretty close to the Tea Party script. The initial conservative reaction to the disaster, you will recall, was to blame the crisis on the people at the bottom, on minorities and proletarians lost in an orgy of financial misbehavior. Sure enough, when taking on ordinary people who got loans during the real-estate bubble, the president’s Department of Justice has shown admirable devotion to duty, filing hundreds of mortgage-fraud cases against small-timers.

But high-ranking financiers? Obama’s Department of Justice has thus far shown virtually no interest in holding leading bankers criminally accountable for what went on in the last decade. That is ruled out not only by the Too Big to Jail doctrine that top-ranking Obama officials have hinted at, but also by the same logic that inspires certain conservative thinkers—that financiers simply could not have committed fraud, since you would expect fraud to result in riches and instead so many banks went out of business."
Actually, the bankers have committed makor fraud, and it is indeed corporate fraud, which is well explained by Bill Black here.

[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.) 

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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