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."
1. Planet on the Brink: Human
Activity Killing the Planet's
2. Failure Is Success: How
American Intelligence Works in
the Twenty-First Century
3. Bernie Sanders: Longterm Democratic strategy is
4. Why stop at Isis when we
could bomb the whole Muslim
‘Extremism disruption orders’: it’s the IRA broadcasting
ban all over again
6. Eric Holder raises concerns
over privacy advances by
7. The Guardian wins an Emmy
for coverage of NSA
8. Apple may have to repay
billions from Irish government
This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, October 1. It is a crisis log.
There are eight items and nine dotted links, and there are quite a few
interesting items, especially items 1, 2 and 3.
1. Planet on the Brink: Human Activity Killing
the Planet's Life-Supporting Systems
item is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Human activity has
brought the planet's life-supporting systems to the brink of tipping
points, causing an "alarming" loss in biodiversity and critical threats
to the services nature has provided humankind.
In fact, here is a
graphic (from The Young Turks, who borrowed it from the WWF - and I am
sorry for having had to squeeze it a little to fit in):
So finds the newest state
of the planet report
(pdf) from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which offers a damning look
on the health of the Earth.
destroying our planet’s ability to support our way of life," stated
Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF.
Among the report's
findings is a dramatic loss in biodiversity. Its Living Planet Index,
managed by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and based on over
10,000 populations of over 3,000 species, shows a 52 percent decline in
global wildlife between 1970 and 2010. And that's a trend that "shows
no sign of slowing down."
Among the causes of the
decline are climate change, habitat loss and degradation, and
Breaking these losses
down further, the report states that populations of freshwater species
have declined 76 percent, compared to losses of 39 percent each for
marine species and terrestrial populations.
more in the
article, but all I want to do here is to note that Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring"
was first published in 1962, while Dennis Meadow's
"The Limits to
Growth" was first published in 1972: it is not as if nobody knew,
nor as if nobody warned.
Is Success: How American Intelligence Works in the Twenty-First Century
item is an article by Tom Engelhardt that I found on Common Dreams but
that originated on tomdispatch:
This starts as follows:
This continues for
quite a while - and you should read the original - and then comes to
What are the odds? You
put about $68 billion
annually into a maze of 17
glorious headquarters. You create a global surveillance state
the ages. You listen in on your citizenry and gather their
communications in staggering quantities. Your employees even morph
into avatars and enter video-game landscapes, lest any Americans betray
a penchant for evil deeds while in entertainment mode. You collect
information on visits
to porn sites just in case, one day, blackmail might be useful. You
pass around naked
photos of them just for... well, the salacious hell of it.
Your employees even use aspects of the system you’ve created to stalk
former lovers and, within your arcane world, that act of "spycraft"
gains its own name: LOVEINT. major intelligence
outfits. You build them
in on foreign leaders and politicians across the planet. You
bring on board hundreds
of thousands of crony corporate employees, creating the sinews
of an intelligence-corporate complex of the first order. You break
into the “backdoors” of the data centers of major Internet outfits
to collect user accounts. You create new
outfits within outfits, including an ever-expanding secret military
and intelligence crew embedded
inside the military itself (and not counted among those 17
agencies). Your leaders lie
to Congress and the American people without, as far as we can tell, a
flicker of self-doubt. Your acts are subject to secret courts,
which only hear your versions of events and regularly rubberstamp
them -- and whose judgments and substantial
body of lawmaking are far too secret for Americans to know about.
Again there is a lot
more, which I think you should read: It is a very good overview of what
the 17 American intelligence agencies have wrought for their 68 billion
in tax dollars each year: Extremely little, in so far as this relates
to terrorism, for they tended strongly not to know what
is really happening.
Whatever the case, while
taxpayer dollars flowed into your coffers, no one considered it a
problem that the country lacked 17 overlapping outfits bent on
preventing approximately 400,000 deaths
by firearms in the same years; nor 17 interlocked agencies dedicated to
safety on our roads, where more than 450,000
Americans have died since 9/11. (An American, it has been
calculated, is 1,904
times more likely to die in a car accident than in a terrorist attack.)
Almost all the money and effort have instead been focused on the microscopic
number of terrorist plots -- some spurred on by FBI
plants -- that have occurred on American soil in that period.
On the conviction that Americans must be shielded from them above all
else and on the fear
that 9/11 bred in this country, you’ve built an intelligence structure
unlike any other on the planet when it comes to size, reach, and
It’s quite an achievement,
especially when you consider its one downside: it has a terrible record
of getting anything right in a timely way.
The two possible criticisms I have (but the article is very good) are
that (1) I have never believed the surveillance state these
agencies have created were primarily directed against terrorism (in
which they also fail, intentionally or not): they were primarily for
surveilling what everyone does and making dossiers of that, and (2) I
see these surveilling activities, that continue and continue, as some
of the signs of the arrival of a new authoritarian state, that
is designed to replace democracy, though indeed more is needed for that
than the dossiers that have been compiled by these agencies on anyone
who does not conform.
But as I said, you should read all of this article.
3. Bernie Sanders: Longterm Democratic
strategy is “pathetic”
item is an article by Thomas Frank on Salon:
In fact, this is a long
and good interview with Senator Bernie Sanders, who is one of the very
few senators that I can take seriously. Again I think you should read
all of it, but I give four quotations, all by Sanders. Please note
these are small pieces from the interview, that comprises much more.
Here is the first quotation, about wealth and income:
I give a lot of
speeches and large crowds come out. People are very, very concerned
about the overall impact of income and wealth inequality in terms of
morality, in terms of economics, in terms of—with Citizens United—what
it means to our political system.
And this is the next
quotation, on what I think is the major American problem: The enormous
income inequalities. Also, Senator Sanders considers these enormous
inequalities very good evidence that in fact the present U.S. is an
oligarchy or also a plutocracy (and I agree):
The Koch brothers are not
tucking their money under the mattress. They’re spending it very
significantly trying to buy elections so that candidates representing
the wealthy are going to get elected. So it is a huge issue, which
people are keenly concerned about. But you have a Congress
significantly dependent on the one percent for their campaign
contributions and you have the media that is owned by multinational
corporations who are not excited about dealing with this issue.
So if you look at
the grotesque distribution of wealth in America, in which the top 1
percent today own 37 percent of the wealth, and the bottom 60 percent
own 1.7 percent of the wealth; where one family—the Walton family, of
Wal-Mart—own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent; where the top 1
percent owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent, that smacks to me
Next, this is about
Sanders' appraisal of his own position:
And what it is, is the
worst level of wealth inequality that exists among major countries, and
worse than any time since 1929, before the Great Depression. That’s
wealth. And then if you look at income since the Wall Street crash [of
2008], 95 percent of all new income generated in America goes to the
top 1 percent. That smacks to me like oligarchy.
My final quotation is
about something I regularly worry about: The intellectual level
and the knowledge of the average person:
But, at the end of the
day, when you talk about where the American people are and what they
need, I think what they want and need is a progressive agenda which
addresses the needs of a collapsing middle class: Many, many people
living in poverty; high unemployment; 40 million people without any
health insurance; a campaign finance system rigged for the rich; a
climate change situation where if we don’t take aggressive action, the
planet is in serious trouble.
I am comfortable in
saying that, as a progressive, I think my agenda is — not in all cases,
but in most cases — actually what the American people want. And, by the
way, not just Democrats.
I start off,
Thomas, from the position that we need a political revolution in this
country and that’s not just rhetoric. What I mean by that is that we
need—and a president certainly can play a very, very important role in
this—we need a massive change in citizen participation and in political
consciousness. There was a poll that just came out I think yesterday.
Gallup tells us that… I believe it is 63 percent of the American people
cannot name which parties control the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.
So you have consciousness so low, a significant majority of the
American people who are very concerned about what’s going on for
themselves and their kids, they don’t know who controls the House and
the Senate. They can’t name which party controls both bodies. You have
what the political scientists tell us is a situation where in this
coming election, 60 percent of the American people will not bother to
I agree, and it is
pleasant to see a prominent politician who says this, even though this
is also one of the main dangers for his own political program.
Why stop at Isis when we could bomb the whole Muslim world?
item is an article by George Monbiot on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Let’s bomb the Muslim
world – all of it – to save the lives of its people. Surely this is the
only consistent moral course? Why stop at Islamic State (Isis), when
the Syrian government has murdered and tortured so many? This, after
all, was last year’s moral imperative. What’s changed?
How about blasting the
Shia militias in Iraq? One of them selected 40 people from the streets
of Baghdad in June and murdered them for being Sunnis. Another massacred 68 people at a mosque in August. They now
talk openly of “cleansing” and “erasure” once Isis has been defeated. As a senior Shia politician warns, “we are in the process of
creating Shia al-Qaida radical groups equal in their radicalisation to
the Sunni Qaida”.
What humanitarian principle
instructs you to stop there?
Indeed, also seeing the
very humanitarian inspirations of Cameron and the UK parliament:
arguments aired in parliament last week, if consistently applied,
could be used to flatten the entire Middle East and west Asia.
By this means you could end all human suffering, liberating
the people of these regions from the vale of tears
in which they live.
Perhaps this is the plan:
Barack Obama has now bombed seven largely Muslim countries, in each
case citing a moral imperative. The result, as you can see in Libya,
Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan,Yemen, Somalia and Syria, has been the
eradication of jihadi groups, of conflict, chaos, murder, oppression
and torture. Evil has been driven from the face of the Earth by
the destroying angels of the west.
In case you did not know:
This is satire, but indeed it is justified by the moral stances of
Western governments. There is considerably more under the last dotted
link, and it ceases to be satirical at the end.
‘Extremism disruption orders’: it’s the IRA broadcasting ban all over
item is an article by Jean Seaton on The Guardian:
This starts as
Theresa May, backed by a
casually enthusiastic prime minister on the Today
programme, has suggested that a ban on some nonviolent extremist groups and speakers
appearing on television and social media should be introduced. It seems
a shame neither politician seems to have spoken to that wily,
principled Conservative former home secretary Douglas Hurd before they proposed something as
unworkable, ineffective and dangerous.
Hurd, pushed by Margaret
Thatcher but also perhaps by a bomb in Belfast, introduced a “broadcasting ban” in 1988 against the IRA and other
“extremist” organisations’ spokespeople. This was put in place because
the alternative – proscribing organisations that held seats in the
Commons – would have been worse. It would have damaged the constitution
and parliament, so the broadcasters were sacrificed instead.
I agree the idea of
May and Cameron is pretty crazy - but it may succeed.
Then again, I agree with Jean Seaton it is not the British way
as I understand
it - and indeed she has a fine quotation by "one weary legal officer"
“Many people want to ban
many things. Many people want to ban things they do not like. But there
is no evidence that any such ban is effective. It is not the British
way. The British way is to hold up vile people to account and scrutiny.”
Quite so. And
I am against censorship.
6. Eric Holder raises concerns over privacy
advances by tech companies
item is an article by Dominic Rushe on The Guardian:
This starts as
US attorney general Eric
Holder said on Tuesday he was worried that attempts by technology
companies to increase privacy protections were thwarting attempts to
crack down on child exploitation.
Speaking at the biannual
Global Alliance Conference Against Child Sexual Abuse Online in
warned that encryption and other privacy technologies are being
used by sexual predators to create “more opportunities to entice
trusting minors to share explicit images of themselves.”
This shows you what
manner of man Eric Holder is: He wants to surveil everyone
because... this might catch some child pornographers. (And see the opening mottos for the crisis series.)
Happily, there is
also this in the article:
His comments come as
Apple, Google and others have sought to increase the use of encryption
in the wakes of the Guardian and Washington Post’s disclosure of the
National Security Agency’s (NSA) massive domestic spying operations.
All the major tech firms are now working on giving customers’ greater
control of their information. Apple’s move came shortly before Google,
DropBox and others announced the launch of Simply
Secure, a group that aims to make encryption and other privacy
tools more readily available in consumer-friendly formats.
O yes, as to child
pornography, that indeed I don't like: Holder can try to catch them,
but there is the Fourth Amendment, which he always seems to
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,
supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place
to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Amendment to the US Constitution
That is: You can
spy on child pornographers, if you have some evidence. But you cannot
spy on everyone in order to catch some sleazy criminals: That
is not the democratic way.
Guardian wins an Emmy for coverage of NSA revelations
next item is an article by Helen Davidson on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
And very well-deserved
it is! Incidentally, the link to
The Guardian US has won
an Emmy for its groundbreaking coverage of Edward Snowden’s disclosures
about mass surveillance by US intelligence agencies.
The Guardian’s multimedia
interactive feature NSA
Decoded was announced as the winner in the new approaches: current
news category at the news and documentary Emmy awards in New York on
interactive walks the audience through the facts and implications of
the NSA’s mass surveillance program, revealed by the Guardian last year
in coverage based on leaks by Snowden.
The interactive includes
interviews and discussions with key players including the journalist
Glenn Greenwald, former NSA employees, senators and members of US
The project was led by
interactives editor and reporter Gabrielle Dance, reporter Ewen
MacAskill and producers Fielding Cage and Greg Chen.
is very well worth looking
into, and is therefore repeated here.
have to repay billions from Irish government tax deal
next and last item if today is an article by Charles Arthur and Samuel
Gibbs on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
I say. There is rather a
lot more in the article, and indeed it seems more likely that they have
to pay back between a 100 million and 800 million pounds, for this
specific misdemeanor - Irish state aid for Apple - but this seems an
advance, though the investigation has just started.
Apple may have to repay
tax linked to billions of euros of revenues after Brussels criticised
“illegal state aid” that the US group received through deals with the
Irish government between 1991 and 2007.
The European commission
formally opened an investigation into the deal
on Tuesday as the outgoing competition commissioner, Joaquín
Almunia, warned that the recipient of any illegal state aid – in this
case Apple – would be liable to repay it.
The investigation, which
could take up to 18 months to conclude, comes as European governments
become increasingly critical of tax arrangements used by US technology
companies to shift revenues to low-tax countries. Apple, Google, Amazon
and Facebook have all come under scrutiny for the methods they use to
cut the tax they pay on their non-US revenues, especially for
transactions in the EU.
 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
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
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: