16, 2014
Crisis: Scotland, GCHQ, Sanders, NSA "Reform", Sweden, Obama, CIA
  "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

 David Cameron makes emotional plea to Scotland as
     independence vote looms

2. European court to investigate laws allowing GCHQ to
     snoop on journalists

3. Sanders Talks 'Political Revolution' in Iowa as Clinton
     Declares: 'I'm Baaack'

4. 'More Harm Than Good': Congressional NSA Reforms a
     Sham, say Critics

5. In Swing to Left, Swedes 'Turn Their Backs' on Austerity
6. Liberals and Conservatives Join Together to Slam Obama
     for Sidestepping Congress on ISIS Fight

7. From the Very Start, the CIA Has Engaged In Covert
     Terrorism to Give Government Plausible Deniability

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, September 16. It is a
crisis log.

There are 7 items with 7 dotted links. This got uploaded a little earlier than is normal for me.

1. David Cameron makes emotional plea to Scotland as independence vote looms

The first item is an article by Watt, Carrell, Clark, Treanor and Roberts on The Guardian:

This is here mostly because the Scots vote on Thursday on their independence. It starts as follows:

David Cameron has spelled out to the people of Scotland the stark costs of a "painful divorce" from the rest of the United Kingdom as a poll showed nearly two-thirds of voters in England and Wales objected to the idea of sharing the pound.

In an emotional but at times hard-edged speech on his last visit to Scotland before Thursday's independence referendum, the prime minister warned that a yes vote would end the UK "for good, for ever" and would deprive the Scottish people of a shared currency and pooled pension arrangements. He also asked people not to mix up the temporary and the permanent, saying neither he nor the government would "be here forever".

A Guardian/ICM poll shows that 63% of voters in England and Wales objected to the post-independence currency union sought by Alex Salmond, the Scottish first minister. Most people in Scotland, previous polls have shown, want a deal on sterling.

Cameron, whose voice was close to breaking, spelled out what he believed would be the costs of independence. "It is my duty to be clear about the likely consequences of a yes vote. Independence would not be a trial separation. It would be a painful divorce," he said.

The British PM was almost weeping, or possibly "weeping", for you never know whether a politician is lying. What strikes me is that he is not being very consistent: On the one hand, he says neither he nor the government will be there forever; on the other hand he warns a separation would be a painful divorce (with elections coming May?) that will last forever.

But then it may be possible to hold both positions. As I have said before, I am for Scottish independence, basically because I am for change and against the Tories.  (If you are not for change or like the Tories, my argument does not apply.)

Whether it will work out I don't know. There is rather a lot more in the article, but nothing is conclusive.

2. European court to investigate laws allowing GCHQ to snoop on journalists

The next item is an article by Lisa O'Carroll on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The European court of human rights (ECHR) is to investigate British laws that allow GCHQ and police to secretly snoop on journalists.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has gone straight to Strasbourg in a bid to get a finding that domestic law is incompatible with provisions in European law which give journalists the right to keep sources confidential from police and others.

Its application was filed on Friday and has been accepted by the ECHR, which has indicated in the past it will expedite cases on surveillance through its legal system.

The move follows concerns arising out of Edward Snowden’s revelations last year that GCHQ had been secretly gathering intelligence from the country’s largest telecoms companies using a secret computer system code-named Tempora without the knowledge of the companies.

This seems good to me, and indeed rather late. What the BIJ is protesting against is especially the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act or RIPA (<- Wikipedia), which goes back to 2000. Here is a summary from Wikipedia:

RIPA regulates the manner in which certain public bodies may conduct surveillance and access a person's electronic communications. The Act:

  • enables certain public bodies to demand that an ISP provide access to a customer's communications in secret;
  • enables mass surveillance of communications in transit;
  • enables certain public bodies to demand ISPs fit equipment to facilitate surveillance;
  • enables certain public bodies to demand that someone hand over keys to protected information;
  • allows certain public bodies to monitor people's Internet activities;
  • prevents the existence of interception warrants and any data collected with them from being revealed in court.
To me, that sounds like: All surveilling powers to the government and also they are to be kept a deep secret. That is not a democratic law: it is an authoritarian law, or indeed a fascist law. But it does seem to be the basis for the GCHQ's activities, and its phony assurances that "it is acting within the law".

As to the RIPA, here is a little more from Wikipedia:
Critics claim that the spectres of terrorism, internet crime and paedophilia were used to push the act through and that there was little substantive debate in the House of Commons. The act has numerous critics, many of whom regard the RIPA regulations as excessive and a threat to civil liberties in the UK.
Especially contentious was Part III of the Act, which requires persons to supply decrypted information (which had been previously encrypted by the owner) and/or the cryptographic key to government representatives. Failure to disclose these items is a criminal offence, with a maximum penalty of two years in jail.
That last part is fascistic: I have the right and I should have the right to keep things secret, and no democratic or free and open government should have the right to force me to make everything I wrote or did and filmed not a secret. (This holds for terrorists as well as for me: Neither of us need to trust the government, and indeed I am not a terrorist and do not trust many governments, and especially not those which act as state terrorists - such as the British government.)

3. Sanders Talks 'Political Revolution' in Iowa as Clinton Declares: 'I'm Baaack' 

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This is basically about possible plans of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to run for president in 2016. I think Hillary Clinton for president would be a bad idea, which is not to say she may not win, but I like Bernie Sanders.

Then again, this is a fairly early day, so I only copy the last part of the article, that shows Sanders is realistic:
(...) Sanders spoke plainly about the shortcomings of the Democratic Party leadership, the need for a candidate willing to take on the power of Wall Street and the corrupting influence of money in politics, his vision for a winning populist agenda, and what it would actually take for a progressive candidate to win.

“For me to win, it would require a grassroots effort on the part of literally millions of people. Unprecedented,” Sanders said. “What we need now is a political revolution.”

Yes. I do not know whether that is possible, but then again I do not know what the economy will be like in 2016: If it gets considerably worse, as very well may happen, Sanders has a fair chance.

4. 'More Harm Than Good': Congressional NSA Reforms a Sham, say Critics

The next item is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

The current "gutted" version of the U.S.A. Freedom Act (S. 2685) will only serve to legalize government's currently illegal surveillance of innocent civilians, charged a coalition of whistleblowers and civil liberties organizations in a letter published Monday calling on members of Congress to reject the empty reform.

"Governmental security agencies' zeal for collecting Americans' personal information without regard for cost, efficacy, legality, or public support necessitates that Congress act to protect the rights of residents across the United States and around the globe," writes the group under the banner of the OffNow campaign. The letter is signed by a number of intelligence community whistleblowers, including Thomas Drake and Daniel Ellsburg, as well as over 15 publications and organizations, such as, CREDO ActionFight for the Future, Restore the Fourth and the Sunlight Foundation.

The U.S.A. Freedom Act, they charge, "is not the substantive reform originally envisioned and supported by the public" after it was introduced to both houses by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) in October 2013. In late May, H.R 3361 passed the House of Representatives—after being heavily marked up by the House Judiciary subcommittee—and moved on to the Senate where it has languished in the Senate Judiciary subcommittee.

In its current form, the group says that the legislation now threatens to embolden the same violations it alleges to deter and has numerous ambiguities which make it "ripe for abuse."

The Act, they write, "legalizes currently illegal surveillance activities, grants immunity to corporations that collaborate to violate privacy rights, reauthorizes the PATRIOT Act for an additional 2.5 years, and fails to reform EO 12333 or Section 702, other authorities used to collect large amounts of information on Americans."

I quite agree. You can add your name to the OffNow campaign by clicking on the last dotted link, and clicking once again at the end of the article.

5.  In Swing to Left, Swedes 'Turn Their Backs' on Austerity 

The next item is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams (as was the previous item):

The beginning of this is as follows, and seems good news:

Turning their backs on the prevailing austerity government, Swedish voters on Sunday elected the Social Democrat Party and its head Stefan Löfven to lead the country, allowing the center-left parties to reclaim power in the historically socialist state.

The Social Democrat Party, along with the Green Party and the Left Party, won 43.7 percent of the vote and 159 parliamentary seats forcing current Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt—who championed lower taxes for the wealthy and the privatization of public services, such as education— to declare his resignation. The left-leaning parties have yet to establish a formal bloc.

"The Swedish people have turned their backs against tax cuts and privatizations. The Swedish people demanded change," said Löfven, a former welder and union organizer, during his victory speech. Though Sweden has fared better than others in the wake of the global economic collapse, the wealthy, Nordic state has mounting unemployment and complaints of failing standards of public services under increased privatization.

However, Löfven will lead a minority cabinet, and as it is stated at the end of the article:

(...) the country's far-right, anti-immigration party the Sweden Democrats (which reportedly had early ties to the Swedish Nazi movement) also gained 48 parliamentary seats and won 13 percent of the vote (...)

So while the news that the right has lost is good, the extreme right has also won.

As an aside: I would not call Sweden a "historically socialist state". It never had a socialist economy; it has been capitalist for quite a while now, and was regulated quite well until the last rightist government; and what is leftish is mostly social democracy (<- Wikipedia) which - in Europe - is not at all the same as "socialist" (<-Wikipedia). (But I agree some political terms - notably: "liberal", "socialist" - have a rather different meaning in the U.S. than they have in Europe.)

6.  Liberals and Conservatives Join Together to Slam Obama for Sidestepping Congress on ISIS Fight

The next item is an article by Erika Eichelberger on Mother Jones:

This starts as follows:

In his speech Wednesday night, President Barack Obama said he would "welcome congressional support" for his expanded-but-limited plan to destroy ISIS, the terror organization wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria. But Obama conspicuously did not say he would ask lawmakers to vote on whether to approve this military action. The White House insists that a previous congressional authorization approving military action against Al Qaeda and its affiliates allows Obama to go forward without seeking another explicit green light from Capitol Hill. And once again, the nation is witnessing another round in the decades-long tussle between the legislative branch and 1600 Pennsylvania over the limits of the president's war-making power.

The White House is simply telling bullshit if it says that war in Iraq and Syria against ISIS gets permitted by "a previous congressional authorization approving military action against Al Qaeda and its affiliates": That is like saying marrying one's new wife is not necessary, namely because one married another one before, and that marriage can do as well for this marriage.

Then again, as the article also makes clear, there are not very many Congressmen who seriously criticize Obama in this matter, for his decision mostly serves their interests, whether they are Republicans or Democrats.

Even so, it seems to me that this is a war, and Obama should ask Congress's agreement to his bombing Iraq and Syria. In fact:

The White House's contention that no new authorization is necessary has been challenged by assorted constitutional law experts. Several note that ISIS is not an Al Qaeda affiliate. In fact, Al Qaeda formally renounced the group in February. So the 2001 military authorization targeting Al Qaeda should not apply to the current situation, says Bruce Ackerman, a professor of law and political science at Yale.

Quite so - but it may be that the majority of Congress rather looks away, for reasons that the article explains quite well.

7. From the Very Start, the CIA Has Engaged In Covert Terrorism to Give Government Plausible Deniability

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

There is considerably more there, but I quote just a directive of the National Securities Council of 1948, nine months after the CIA was formed (bolding is in the quotation):

As used in this directive, “covert operations” are understood to be all activities (except as noted herein) which are conducted or sponsored by this Government against hostile foreign states or groups or in support of friendly foreign states or groups but which are so planned and executed that any US Government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons and that if uncovered the US Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them. Specifically, such operations shall include any covert activities related to: propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberation groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world. Such operations shall not include armed conflict by recognized military forces, espionage, counter-espionage, and cover and deception for military operations.

That is from 66 years ago, and I note the CIA has been doing a lot of the above - but it now seems also as if the last statement has a "not" too many, which should have been an "also".

There is considerably more in the article, and in case you are interested, it makes also sense to consult Central Intelligence Agency on Wikipedia.


[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)

       home - index - summaries - mail

Crisis: Scotland, GCHQ, Sanders, NSA "Reform", Sweden, Obama, CIACrisis: Scotland, GCHQ, Sanders, NSA "Reform", Sweden, Obama, CIA