19, 2014
Crisis: Scotland, Israel, Cameras, President, Population, Money & Politics
  "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

Scotland says no: newspaper front pages – in pictures
2. Israel’s N.S.A. Scandal
3. Cameras to Detect ‘Abnormal’ Behavior
4. Is this the world’s most radical president?
5. World population to hit 11bn in 2100 – with 70% chance
     of continuous rise

6. 5 Signs the Dark-Money Apocalypse Is Upon Us

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Friday, September 19. It is a
crisis log.

There are six items with six dotted links: Scotland said "No" (for 55%); Israel blackmails its Palestinians with NSA-materials it gets without any "minimization";
the Dutch have a strange, but no doubt lucrative, experiment with "security cameras"; one of the few radical presidents gets treated; world population may hit 11 billion in 2100; and dark money is moving into American politics in a big way (thanks to the American Supreme Court).

I'd say most articles give backgrounds, but there is nothing wrong with that.

1. Scotland says no: newspaper front pages – in pictures

The first item is an article by Dave Johnson on The Guardian:
The Scots said "No" to the question whether they want independence, with 55% against and 45% for. It seems a pity to me, for they could have gotten rid of English politics, though indeed I also do not know what a Yes vote would have meant (but no one really did, it seems to me, though quite a few knew more than I do).

The article under the last dotted link gives a survey of the first pages of quite a few British daily papers that report the news (some not yet, but it is early in the day).

I chose this article mostly because there is little to say (which would have been different if the vote had turned out the other way), and also because I do not often look at many British papers, not having lived in Great Britain since the early 1970ies, but they do look rather similar to how they used to look: Enormous photographs, very big letters, all as if they are addressed to people who hardly can read.

That is not true, and so it must be a policy. It is a bit interesting that it lasted for 35 years, at least: it seems as if the editors of the papers have thought roughly the same all these years about how an English paper should look. (I don't like it, but that is hardly relevant.)

2.  Israel’s N.S.A. Scandal

The next item is an article by James Bamford on the New York Times:

This starts as follows:
IN Moscow this summer, while reporting a story for Wired magazine, I had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden. It gave me a chance to get a deeper understanding of who he is and why, as a National Security Agency contractor, he took the momentous step of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.

Typically, when such sensitive information is transferred to another country, it would first be “minimized,” meaning that names and other personally identifiable information would be removed. But when sharing with Israel, the N.S.A. evidently did not ensure that the data was modified in this way.

I did review Bamford's article on his meetings with Snowden om August 14 (and I copied the start mostly to make that last link). Next, as to Unit 8200:

Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications — email as well as phone calls — of countless Arab- and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications. “I think that’s amazing,” he told me. “It’s one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen.”

It appears that Mr. Snowden’s fears were warranted. Last week, 43 veterans of Unit 8200 — many still serving in the reserves — accused the organization of startling abuses. In a letter to their commanders, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to the head of the Israeli army, they charged that Israel used information collected against innocent Palestinians for “political persecution.” In testimonies and interviews given to the media, they specified that data were gathered on Palestinians’ sexual orientations, infidelities, money problems, family medical conditions and other private matters that could be used to coerce Palestinians into becoming collaborators or create divisions in their society.

Note what it is that got Edward Snowden upset: That the Israeli's used materials of the NSA, gathered in the U.S., and rendered to them without any "minimization" or redaction, it would seem to help them blackmail Palestinians.

There is rather a lot more in James Bamford's article, that also includes the  information that the NSA has been tracking visits to porno sites that may be used to damage the reputations of what the agency considers "radicalizers", which seems to be anyone who is not strongly pro-government (and no, a "radicalizer" does not at all need to be a "terrorist").

It did recall information I read in 1972, that was mostly too vague to recall, but which did include repeated statements to the effect that "But we Israelis don't do such things", meaning that they did not use terrorist tactics. Well, that also may have been propaganda (I simply don't know) but now they do, and they get a lot of help doing it by the U.S.A.

3. Cameras to Detect ‘Abnormal’ Behavior

The next item is an article by Sander Venema on Consortiumnews:
I admit I selected this because it is about Holland, but it does apply elsewhere as well. It starts as folkows:

A few days ago I read an article about how TNO (the Dutch Organization for Applied Scientific Research, the largest research institute in the Netherlands) developed technology for smart cameras for use at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. These cameras — installed at Schiphol airport by the Qubit Visual Intelligence, a company from The Hague — are designed to recognize certain “suspicious behavior,” such as running, waving your arms, or sweating.

Curiously enough, these are all things that are commonly found in the stressful environment that an international airport is to many people. People need to get to the gate on time, which may require running (especially if you arrived at Schiphol by train, which in the Netherlands is notoriously unreliable); they may be afraid of flying and trying to get their nerves under control; and airports are also places where friends and family meet after long times abroad, which (if you want to hug each other) requires arm waving.

Incidentally, the Dutch railways were very reliable for at least a 100 years, but then they got privatized, with great clamor about All The Good this would do to Everyone - and since then it has been a major mess (as in England, indeed):

Every autumn news about "leaves making wheels square"; if there is snow the rails will be blocked; people are pressed like sardines into cars that may also lack toilets, and more. In brief, privatization was a triumph for the managers (who got a whole lot richer) and a mess for everybody else.

There is - among other things - this about "abnormal behavior":
Another TNO report entitled: “Afwijkend Gedrag” (Abnormal Behavior) states under the (admittedly tiny) section that deals with privacy concerns that collecting data about abnormal behavior of people is ethically just because the society as a whole can be made safer with this data and associated technology. It also states (and this is an argument I’ve read elsewhere as well), that “society has chosen that safety and security trumps privacy.”
I do not know whether this is typically Dutch, but the argument is extremely shoddy (as nearly all Dutch arguments tend to be): First, that "society as a whole can be made safer" is both speculative and no reason at all, by itself, to try to make it safer (for this may lead to all manner of consequences that make life a lot more difficult, less pleasant and more expensive), and second it is false bullshit to say that “society has chosen that safety and security trumps privacy”: There has been no choice; "society" never choses: it is an abstraction; and this is merely a piece of cheap and sick propaganda.

But no, I am not amazed that TNO these days publishes this nonsense: There'll be money involved, and most of the Dutch do almost anything for money, including running an illegal drugstrade that turned over at least 260 billion dollars just in soft drugs alone, the last 26 years. (But Dutchmen didn't care, the last 26 years, also not if hard drugs are included, for then the amounts double: See the Parliamentary Van Traa-report, if you read Dutch. The amounts are from here, and elsewhere.)

4. Is this the world’s most radical president?

The next item is an article by Giles Tremlett on The Guardian:
The president is José Mujica (<- Wikipedia) and he is currently, at 79, president of Uruguay. As president, he got most famous for legalizing marijuana, making abortion legal (the first three months), and gay marriage, and also for living extremely simply, on a small farm owned by his wife, transporting things with a Volkswagen Beetle, and giving away 90% of his presidential salary to single mothers.

Before becoming president, he was jailed for 12 years for being a guerilla of the Tupamaros, and he is now the first former guerilla fighter to have become president of Uruguay.

Anyway - the article is fairly long but interesting, as is the Wikipedia entry (that gives more facts). He is very probably not the world's most radical president, but I like him.

5. World population to hit 11bn in 2100 – with 70% chance of continuous rise

The next item is an article by Damian Carrington on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The world’s population is now odds-on to swell ever-higher for the rest of the century, posing grave challenges for food supplies, healthcare and social cohesion. A ground-breaking analysis released on Thursday shows there is a 70% chance that the number of people on the planet will rise continuously from 7bn today to 11bn in 2100.

The work overturns 20 years of consensus that global population, and the stresses it brings, will peak by 2050 at about 9bn people. “The previous projections said this problem was going to go away so it took the focus off the population issue,” said Prof Adrian Raftery, at the University of Washington, who led the international research team. “There is now a strong argument that population should return to the top of the international agenda. Population is the driver of just about everything else and rapid population growth can exacerbate all kinds of challenges.” Lack of healthcare, poverty, pollution and rising unrest and crime are all problems linked to booming populations, he said.

I say. I tended to believe that the world's human population would "peak by
2050 at about 9bn people
", but indeed I am not much amazed it may not, basically because there are very many uncertainties involved. Indeed, the
present investigation also presumes no major economic changes - which
seems a pretty radical assumption to me.

Anyway, here are some of the main causes that work for an expansion towards 11 billion people by 2100:

The cause of the stalled fertility rate is two-fold, said Raftery: a failure to meet the need for contraception and a continued preference for large families. “The unmet need for contraception - at 25% of women - has not changed in for 20 years,” he said. The preference for large families is linked to lack of female education which limits women’s life choices, said Raftery.

Then again, nearly everyone who lives today will be dead in 2100, and very much may change in the coming 86 years.

Even so, it does look strange that in 1950, when I was born, there were less than 2 billion people; now there are 7 billion; and by 2100, if the present trend continues, there may be 18 billion people.

Then again, I consider it quite improbable that the present trend will continue (unless a source of cheap and renewable energy gets found, and pretty fast as well).

6. 5 Signs the Dark-Money Apocalypse Is Upon Us

The next and last item today is an article by Andy Kroll on Mother Jones:

This starts as follows:

It's the home stretch of the 2014 election season. No single theme or issue has dominated the midterms, but 2014 is on pace to be the Year of Dark Money.

Nonprofit groups, some well known (such as the US Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity, founded by the Koch brothers) and some obscure (America Inc., anyone?), have dumped huge sums of anonymous money into every competitive Senate race and many House contests. Here are five eye-opening indicators showing the rapid spread of dark money in this year's campaign season—and why it's going to get worse as Election Day approaches.

If you want to see the "five eye-opening indicators" you will have to check out the last dotted link, but the main evidence is in this graph (that was squeezed a bit):


In 2014 alone, 63 milion dollars have been spent, sofar, which is very much more than was the case until 2008 (if the chart is correct).

Also, while the Republicans spent the most, the Democrats are not far behind, and they seem also not more honest.

In any case, it seems that the above graph tells the story of the blessings of money in politics. And this is just the beginning.


[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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