16, 2014
Crisis: UN Report, Strike in UK, Markets Panick, NSA, TTIP
  "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

UN Report Finds Mass Surveillance Violates International
     Treaties and Privacy Rights

Public service strikers are standing up for the real Britain
3. Markets Panicked Over Deteriorating Fundamentals

4. NSA Documents Suggest a Close Working Relationship
     Between NSA, U.S. Companies

5. Hidden Agenda Behind Free Trade Deals: “Everyone but

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, October 16. It is a
crisis log.

Although today is Thursday, I did not manage to find more than five crisis items, that follow. Item 1 is the most important, and you should read all of the text: Glenn Greenwald on the UN Report. The other items are less important, and mostly provide background or extensions to previous materials.

In any case, I do my best, but I can't deal with more than I can find.

1. UN Report Finds Mass Surveillance Violates International Treaties and Privacy Rights

The first item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
The United Nations’ top official for counter-terrorism and human rights (known as the “Special Rapporteur”) issued a formal report to the U.N. General Assembly today that condemns mass electronic surveillance as a clear violation of core privacy rights guaranteed by multiple treaties and conventions. “The hard truth is that the use of mass surveillance technology effectively does away with the right to privacy of communications on the Internet altogether,” the report concluded.
Quite so. In fact, I reviewed this UN report yesterday (here) and it is well to notice right at the start that I liked all of it, except that I think that "the right to privacy of communications on the Internet" is asssured by the right to privacy of communications outside the Internet, and in ordinary mail.

Indeed, the position of the U.S. government is crooked (and intentionally so):

They have the private data of all of their citizens illegally stolen by the NSA, and argue this is allowed (in secret, also) because communication by internet is not supposed to be private, by them, while ordinary mail clearly is and has been for 150 years at least. They lie.

Anyway, the report is quite good:

Central to the Rapporteur’s findings is the distinction between “targeted surveillance” — which “depend[s] upon the existence of prior suspicion of the targeted individual or organization” — and “mass surveillance,” whereby “states with high levels of Internet penetration can [] gain access to the telephone and e-mail content of an effectively unlimited number of users and maintain an overview of Internet activity associated with particular websites.” In a system of “mass surveillance,” the report explained, “all of this is possible without any prior suspicion related to a specific individual or organization. The communications of literally every Internet user are potentially open for inspection by intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the States concerned.”

Mass surveillance thus “amounts to a systematic interference with the right to respect for the privacy of communications,” it declared. As a result, “it is incompatible with existing concepts of privacy for States to collect all communications or metadata all the time indiscriminately.”

Quite so - and note the "existing concepts of privacy", which in my eyes are sufficient to cover the use of the internet as well, which is not to say I object to new laws, but is to say I insist these are supplementary rather than new.


In concluding that mass surveillance impinges core privacy rights, the report was primarily focused on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty enacted by the General Assembly in 1966, to which all of the members of the “Five Eyes” alliance are signatories. The U.S. ratified the treaty in 1992, albeit with various reservations that allowed for the continuation of the death penalty and which rendered its domestic law supreme. With the exception of the U.S.’s Persian Gulf allies (Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar), virtually every major country has signed the treaty.

Article 17 of the Covenant guarantees the right of privacy, the defining protection of which, the report explained, is “that individuals have the right to share information and ideas with one another without interference by the State, secure in the knowledge that their communication will reach and be read by the intended recipients alone.”

Quite so - and mark that the U.S. ratified the treaty as did almost any other country.

There is rather a lot more under the last dotted link, but I am going to leave that to you, noting that I think you should read all of it. Here is one more bit:

The report was most scathing in its rejection of a key argument often made by American defenders of the NSA: that mass surveillance is justified because Americans are given special protections (the requirement of a FISA court order for targeted surveillance) which non-Americans (95% of the world) do not enjoy. Not only does this scheme fail to render mass surveillance legal, but it itself constitutes a separate violation of international treaties (emphasis added):

The Special Rapporteur concurs with the High Commissioner for Human Rights that where States penetrate infrastructure located outside their territorial jurisdiction, they remain bound by their obligations under the Covenant. Moreover, article 26 of the Covenant prohibits discrimination on grounds of, inter alia, nationality and citizenship. The Special Rapporteur thus considers that States are legally obliged to afford the same privacy protection for nationals and non-nationals and for those within and outside their jurisdiction. Asymmetrical privacy protection regimes are a clear violation of the requirements of the Covenant.

That principle — that the right of internet privacy belongs to all individuals, not just Americans — was invoked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden when he explained in a June, 2013 interview at The Guardian why he disclosed documents showing global surveillance rather than just the surveillance of Americans: “More fundamentally, the ‘US Persons’ protection in general is a distraction from the power and danger of this system. Suspicionless surveillance does not become okay simply because it’s only victimizing 95% of the world instead of 100%.

Quite so - and do not forget to read the rest.

2. Public service strikers are standing up for the real Britain 

The next item is an article by Seumas Milne on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

After years of real pay cuts, public service workers are striking back. Up to a million public sector employees walked out in July in protest against continuous cuts in living standards. On Monday, hundreds of thousands of health service workers went on strike after the government refused them even a 1% pay award.

Midwives took action for the first time. On Wednesday, they were joined by low-paid workers from courts and job centres to airports and driving test centres – some of whose take-home pay has fallen by 20%, courtesy of year-on-year wage freezes, pay caps and rising pension contributions.

The reason this is here is mainly to point out - once again - that the current English government steals from the many poor to give the results to the few rich, as I think is quite clear, and which also is obvious from this:

British workers have had the longest and deepest fall in real earnings since the 1860s: an average 8% cut since 2007. Even as inflation has fallen to 1.2% – and the rate is double that for the low paid – pay is still lagging behind, as rising inequality in the UK has outstripped the other leading economies.

When you add in four years of sweeping cuts in benefits, the impact is severe. You can see it on the streets of a town like Blackpool, where each working-age resident will have lost £900 a year as a result by 2015. Ministers trumpet the drop in unemployment, but the swelling number of involuntary part-time, self-employed and zero hours workers tells another story.

There is rather a lot more in the article, that ends like so:

Turning round the living standards crisis demands a radical programme of public intervention and investment, not a slower programme of austerity. But this week’s strikes – and the TUC’s pay march at the weekend – offer a chance to shift the political focus from Westminster infighting and the arch privatiser Nigel Farage, to the crisis actually faced by the majority. It’s Care UK, health and public service workers who represent the real Britain.

3. Markets Panicked Over Deteriorating Fundamentals (Updated)

The next item is an article by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:
This is here mainly to show that the next crisis will be rather sooner than later, and that mainly because the US government chose not to prosecute the fraudulent bankers, and instead forced the ordinary people to pay for the billions these bankers wasted. For that is the brief summary of what happened since 2008.

This starts like this:
The S&P 500 has been falling even more while I compose this this short post. It went from down over 2.2% to off 2.9% of this writing and the Dow went from down 2.1%. to down 2.6%, Ten-year Treasury yields dropped to below 2%. They recovered briefly to 2.05% but are now 1.99%. Oil fell sharply overnight.
There is a considerable amount more, at least for those who are fairly familiar with this kind of facts.

4. NSA Documents Suggest a Close Working Relationship Between NSA, U.S. Companies

The next item is an article by Jeff Larson and Julia Langwin on ProPublica:

This starts as follows:

Newly disclosed National Security Agency documents suggest a closer relationship between American companies and the spy agency than have been previously disclosed.

The documents, published last week by The Intercept, describe "contractual relationships" between the NSA and U.S. companies, as well as the fact that the NSA has "under cover" spies working at or with some U.S. companies.

While not conclusive, the material includes some clear suggestions that at least some American companies are quite willing to help the agency conduct its massive surveillance programs.

The precise role of U.S. companies in the NSA's global surveillance operations remains unclear. Documents obtained by Edward Snowden and published by various news organizations show that companies have turned over their customers' email, phone calling records and other data under court orders. But the level of cooperation beyond those court orders has been an open question, with several leading companies, such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, asserting that they only turn over customer information that is "targeted and specific" in response to legal demands.

Well...I'd say that as long as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook cheat with their taxes, which all seem to do in very major ways, which also means in fact stealing large amounts of money from ordinary people, I would also not trust their honesty in these matters.

There is more under the last dotted link.

5. Hidden Agenda Behind Free Trade Deals: “Everyone but China” 

The next item is an article by Don Quijones on Wolf Street:

This starts as follows:

On Saturday, people hit the streets of Europe to protest the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Deal (TTIP), a hyper-secret, so-called “free” trade agreement that aims to bind together two of the world’s biggest markets that together represent more than 800 million consumers and 45% of global trade.

But “free trade” is at best a misnomer, at worst an oxymoron: TTIP contains surprisingly little related to trade, as Ben Beachy of the Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch explains.

In the TPP deal (DQ: TPP stands for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is currently stalled in the U.S. Congress but which Obama seeks to revive during the lame duck session)… only five of 29 chapters have anything to do with what is traditionally defined as trade (i.e. customs, tariffs and other barriers to trade). [Most are] so-called “non-traditional” trade issues, which would include, for example, the right of a corporation to have a monopoly patent over some drug that it produces, a right that is fundamentally antithetical to free trade.

Indeed, what gets rarely mentioned in the debate is the fact that trade between the U.S. and Europe has never been freer, with the average tariff between the two regions already as low of 3%. Which begs the question: why the sudden need for a new, game-changing transatlantic trade agreement?

This question gets answered in the article, along lines such as these (that I think are quite correct):

So, if it’s not about trade, what is the TTIP really about? As I previously reported (here and here), one of the primary goals of 21st century trade deals like TTIP is to enshrine into law the corporate takeover of the political, cultural, economic, financial, agricultural, scientific, digital and public space, as well as remove any remaining barriers on the ability of multinational corporations to exploit the world’s resources – including, of course, its human resources.

Also, the TTIP is deeply secret. There is a lot more under the last dotted link.

[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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