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Nederlog


 October
31, 2014
Crisis: Spyware, Intercept, NATO, Money, Hedges &Wolin, Police, "Free Markets", M.E.
  "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
Sections
Introduction

1.
 Secret Manuals Show the Spyware Sold to Despots and
     Cops Worldwide
 
2.
The Inside Story Of Matt Taibbi’s Departure From First
     Look Media

3. Nato frontline in life-or-death war on cyber-terrorists
4. Follow the Money: Big Banks, DOJ Find Benefits in
     Settlement Deals

5. ‘We Never Managed to Relax’ After World War II (Parts 4
     and 5)

6. Police Using Controversial Patriot Act Authority for
     'Everyday' Cases: Civil Liberties Group

7. Corporate Destruction of Free Markets Rules Us
8. Patients with CFS found to have reduced white matter
     and other brain abnormalities


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, October 31. It is a
crisis log.

This is a crisis item with 8 items and 10 dotted links: item 1 is about a new way (it seems) to spy on anyone and avoid encryption; item 2 is about The Intercept itself; item 3 is about NATO's cyberwar; item 4 is about how ordinary people get defrauded by the deals the Justice Department makes with the rich bankmanagers; item 5 is another isssue of the interview Chris Hedges had with Sheldon Wolin on Real News; item 6 is about the abuses of the internet spying;
item 7 is Ralph Nader on the deceptive and totally false myth "the free market";
and item 8 is about a recent finding at Stanford University about people with M.E.: Their brains really are effected.

Also - in case you missed it - there were two NLs yesterday, although the first is
only interesting for people with M.E. or an interest in orthomolecular medicine, and in fact I also uploaded an extended version of my last autobiographical file.
(And I did a lot because I could.)

Here goes:

1. Secret Manuals Show the Spyware Sold to Despots and Cops Worldwide  

The first item is an article by Cora Currier and Morgan Marquis-Boire on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

When Apple and Google unveiled new encryption schemes last month, law enforcement officials complained that they wouldn’t be able to unlock evidence on criminals’ digital devices. What they didn’t say is that there are already methods to bypass encryption, thanks to off-the-shelf digital implants readily available to the smallest national agencies and the largest city police forces — easy-to-use software that takes over and monitors digital devices in real time, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

We’re publishing in full, for the first time, manuals explaining the prominent commercial implant software “Remote Control System,” manufactured by the Italian company Hacking Team. Despite FBI director James Comey’s dire warnings about the impact of widespread data scrambling — “criminals and terrorists would like nothing more,” he declared — Hacking Team explicitly promises on its website that its software can “defeat encryption.”

The manuals describe Hacking Team’s software for government technicians and analysts, showing how it can activate cameras, exfiltrate emails, record Skype calls, log typing, and collect passwords on targeted devices. They also catalog a range of pre-bottled techniques for infecting those devices using wifi networks, USB sticks, streaming video, and email attachments to deliver viral installers. With a few clicks of a mouse, even a lightly trained technician can build a software agent that can infect and monitor a device, then upload captured data at unobtrusive times using a stealthy network of proxy servers, all without leaving a trace. That, at least, is what Hacking Team’s manuals claim as the company tries to distinguish its offerings in the global marketplace for government hacking software.

I say. There is a whole lote more in the article, which does explain how it works.
One problem is that it is, in part at least, derived from manuals, but I am willing
to believe that most of it is true.

In any case, it is not good news, for it does suggest that encryption also may not work, as indeed I thought, but in my case based on the consideration that it may be circumvented if it gets installed on a computer on which a secret key-stroke copier has been installed.

As I said, there is a lot more in the article.

2. The Inside Story Of Matt Taibbi’s Departure From First Look Media 

The next item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Matt Taibbi, who joined First Look Media just seven months ago, left the company on Tuesday. His departure—which he describes as a refusal to accept a work reassignment, and the company describes as a resignation—was the culmination of months of contentious disputes with First Look founder Pierre Omidyar, chief operating officer Randy Ching, and president John Temple over the structure and management of Racket, the digital magazine Taibbi was hired to create. Those disputes were exacerbated by a recent complaint from a Racket employee about Taibbi’s behavior as a manager.

The departure of the popular former Rolling Stone writer is a serious setback for First Look in its first year of operations. Last January, Omidyar announced with great fanfare that he would personally invest $250 million in the company to build “a general interest news site that will cover topics ranging from entertainment and sports to business and the economy” incorporating multiple “digital magazines” as well as a “flagship news site.”

One year later, First Look still has only one such magazine, The Intercept.

There is a considerable amount more. I do not know what to think of it, except that it is a sad story.

3. Nato frontline in life-or-death war on cyber-terrorists 

The next item is an article by Leo Cendrowitz on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

It’s been a busy week in the skies above Europe’s periphery, as Nato has repeatedly scrambled jets to track “unusual” sorties by Russian bombers.

However lively the aerial game of cat and mouse has been, it is nothing compared to the digital skirmishing that goes on in and around the servers and systems that sustain the western alliance.

“The threat landscape is vast, from malware and hacktivists to organised criminals and state-sponsored attacks,” says Ian West, a former RAF officer who now heads up Nato’s cyber-security services. “Things that we thought impossible can be done.”

West’s 200-strong team covers operations for about 100,000 people at 34 Nato sites. Their task is formidable even by the hyperbolic standards of the internet. “Our intrusion detection systems find around 200m suspicious events each day,” West says.

The rest of the article is as uncritical of NATO as the beginning. My guess is
that it is in The Guardian to show that The Guardian does support NATO.
I do not but I agree that it is different from the GCHQ, both in its activities
and its ends.

4. Follow the Money: Big Banks, DOJ Find Benefits in Settlement Deals 

The next item is an article by Donald Kaufman on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

The Justice Department might have talked a good game about punishing major banks like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs for their involvement in the recession that set the the U.S. economy reeling six years ago.

But as Lynnley Browning explains in Newsweek, there is more to the story behind the big-figure settlements that the DOJ required those banks to pay:

Because settlements can be deducted from tax liabilities, for nearly every dollar a bank or lender has pledged to pay in cash or pony up in other ways—such as through buying back soured mortgage-backed securities, extending cheaper loans or forgiving failed loans held by struggling homeowners—up to 35 cents will find its way back into bank coffers, a reflection of the 35 percent federal corporate tax rate.

Deep in the legalese weeds of the settlement documents lies buried treasure. Big banks such as Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase will receive deductions against the corporate tax that will amount to between half and nearly three-quarters of their multibillion-dollar settlements, at least. Meanwhile, midsized banks and nonbank lenders generally get to deduct the whole shebang.

[…] Federal tax rules allow companies to deduct from their tax returns as an ordinary cost of doing business any settlement payments that are construed, explicitly or not, as restitution or compensation. Payments flagged as penalties or fines, typically outlined in criminal cases, are generally not deductible, as opposed to the civil settlements with banks.

Well...I never believed that "The Justice Department might have talked a good game about punishing major banks" because it always seemed to me as if (1) the Justice Department protected major criminals who were bank managers, by (2) freeing them of all guilt, all responsibilities, and from having to appear in court if only they handed part of the loot they stole to the Justice Department.

As I see it, this is and was major governmental corruption serving major crooks. This shows I was quite right - except that the deals made are even sweeter for the criminals who made them: They can claim back up to 35% of every dollar they paid to the state.

Not only that: The Justice Department also is corrupt in a major way:

Another unsettling factor in this mix has to do with what the Justice Department stands to gain by appearing to throw the books at the big banks. As Browning explains, “[t]he agency receives a cut of up to 3 percent of its share of the total settlements for its Working Capital Fund, a slush fund common across major government agencies.”

So, these hefty settlements start to look less like justice being served and more like pockets being lined.

Precisely. The Justice Department protect the major thiefs from the banks by not prosecuting them properly and gets 3% of the billions they settle, that also declare that the corrupt and very rich bank managers do not bear any responsibility or guilt.

5. ‘We Never Managed to Relax’ After World War II (Parts 4 and 5)

The next item is about a six part interview that Chris Hedges did with Sheldon Wolin. This part was written by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig (but contains a link to the interview I use):

In fact, this is from the long video interview that Chris Hedges had with Sheldon Wolin, that is also on the Real News. I have dealt with parts 1-3 here, and with part 4 here, so I will only deal with part 5 in the present item.

Part 5 has the title
and in fact I have already stated my answer: Yes - but there are two fundamental forms of capitalism: regulated capitalism and unregulated capitalism, and the former is quite compatible with democracy, while the latter is not. (The last two links are quite fundamental.)

Now to the text of part 5:

This begins with Chris Hedges asking Sheldon Wolin, who is 92, about his experiences in WW II, in which Wolin was a a bombardier and navigator in the U.S. Air Force, who also flew 51 missions. I will leave most of that to your interests, but I do pick out this, because it seems quite true to me:
WOLIN: Well, you must remember the cardinal fact, which is we were all so young. I was 19. And the other members of our crew, there was only one who was about 23 or 24. So we were all extremely inexperienced and impressionable, and we were flying these giant bombers and going into combat not knowing anything about what it meant except, you know, in sort of formal lectures, which we might have had. So the experience was always quite traumatic in a lot of ways.
I think that is quite correct and indeed also holds for me, though I very probably would have disagreed when I was between 19 and 27 or so: While I got to be an legal adult at age 21, I hadn't even stopped growing then and, speaking for myself, I'd say now - at 64, though still looking 44 or so, after 30 years of megavitamins [2] - I was a child till 16 and an adolescent the next 10 years or so, and only started to be a real adult from my early thirties onwards (which also meant I changed less, from then onwards).

And while it is true that I am a slow developer, I also think this is biologically correct, and indeed was also admitted by the Ancient Greeks, who used various age limits for various functions.

Also, this is important for wars: Most who do the fighting are between 18 and 24 or so, and I'd say they are usually not full adults even if they are legally declared adults.

There is also this exchange, about academic writing, that is quite correct:

HEDGES: Well, see, the difference is you are a writer. I mean, you're quite a good writer, which is not common among academics.

WOLIN: Yeah, I had always enjoyed writing, from the time I was grammar school to the time I went to college. I enjoyed it very much.

Yes, indeed: The vast majority of academics just cannot write, period. There are quite a few other reasons why so much of academic prose is rather awful, but one very important one is that very few can really write - and I know, because I have read very many academics, of all kinds, and it was only rarely that I had to say "he" - Jacob Burckhardt, C. Wright Mills, William James - "can really write", compared with their academic peers, and real writers of novels.

Then there is this (and I am skipping quite a bit):

HEDGES: How much damage do you think those purges, triggered by the McCarthy era in the early '50s, did to the academy?

WOLIN: I think it did a lot to people, but often in ways they weren't quite aware of. It had a definite chastening and deadening effect on academic inquiry and political expression. And what happened was, I think, the worst part of it, was that once that got into the air, it became normal. You accepted those things really unconsciously.

HEDGES: When you say "those things", what are you talking about?

WOLIN: You're talking about how far you question government policies, how far you question dominant values, what you said about the economy, and things of that sort.

This I also like, because I did find the academic stuff, especially in American sociology, that I read in the late Sixties and early Seventies indeed quite boring and quite cramped and articial, indeed also with the exception of C. Wright Mills (who never was fully accepted) and Vance Packard (who had to work as a journalist) and a few others.

Finally, this is from near the end, and is quoted because I was removed - as the only student to whom this happened since WW II - from the faculty of philosophy in 1988, briefly before getting my M.A. there, because of my publicly stated ideas:

WOLIN: Well, yes, it certainly cast a kind of set of constraints, many of which you didn't really recognize till later, about what you could teach and how you would teach and what you wouldn't teach. And its influence was really simply very great, because people--it's not so much what they said as what they didn't inquire into.

HEDGES: Well, and also it's who's let into the club.

WOLIN: Yeah. Oh, yes. Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed.

Note that the constraints are rarely stated, and mostly "understood" (and accepted by all careerists and all conformists), and that they also serve mostly
to exclude topics of research.

Anyway - I found this again quite interesting, although this part is a bit more
personal than other parts.

6. Police Using Controversial Patriot Act Authority for 'Everyday' Cases: Civil Liberties Group

The next item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This has the following subtitle, which does not amaze me one bit:

Created under the guise of fighting terrorism, 'Sneak and Peek' now being used to spy on drug suspects, immigrants, rights group finds

The reason this does not amaze me at all is that I've always said that "terrorism" was a pretext to search and control everyone in everything he or she does (by computer or cellphone, at least) simply because he or she is not one of the very few trusted persons in government.

This starts as follows:

A contentious surveillance provision of the Patriot Act, which allows law enforcement to conduct searches while delaying informing the suspect, is broadly used, but almost never in terrorism cases—despite Justice Department officials arguments to the contrary, according to an analysis by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

"Yet again, terrorism concerns appear to be trampling our civil liberties," writes EFF’s Mark Jaycox.

The rights group analyzed federal reports from 2011, 2012, and 2013, released after an unexplained three-year delay, on warrants that were issued under Section 213, known colloquially as "Sneak and Peek."

Out of more than 11,000 requests for those delayed-notification searches in 2013, a grand total of 51 were used for terrorism cases, EFF found. Almost all of the other Sneak and Peek warrants went to drug investigations.

I'd say that this is sufficient proof that I was right: 51 out of 11,000 requests were related to terrorism, and the rest was not. Note that this is less than 1/2 of 1%.

Here is the EFF's Mark Jaycox:
"Exactly what privacy advocates argued in 2001 is happening: sneak and peak warrants are not just being used in exceptional circumstances—which was their original intent—but as an everyday investigative tool," Jaycox writes.

Precisely.

7. Corporate Destruction of Free Markets Rules Us

The next item is an article by Ralph Nader on his site:
This starts as follows (and is quite important):

The ruling dogma of our political economy is corporatism. Corporatism claims to draw legitimacy from the free market theory that all vendors who do not meet market demands will go under. Corporatism uses this illusion to exert power over all aspects of our political economy.

Free markets, corporatists believe, are the best mechanism to allocate resources for the exchange of goods and services. They believe markets free of regulation, taxation or competition from government enterprises produce the best results. Their favorite metaphor is Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” that produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people by the exertions of many willing sellers and many willing buyers (Adam Smith, they neglected to add, favored public works, public education and social safety nets like decent wages and public welfare as needed.)

I grant that is how it tends to be presented, and I also grant that the majority of the simple minded believe it (more than not), but I cannot believe that frauds
like Milton Friedman believed their own propaganda, simply because it is complete bullshit from the concept of "free markets" onwards, simply because any free market is a free market because it is maintained by legal rules and regulations, and where there is no free market the strongest rule, by rules of force, by rules
of corruption, by massive deceptions, or by military might.

Here are the questions Ralph Nader poses, with the answers deleted: you can find them under the last dotted link:
Can there be a free market without freedom  of contract?
(...)

Can there be a free market if workers cannot join together to bargain with large employers whose investors have expanding freedom to form companies, holding companies, subsidiaries, joint ventures and partnerships to advance their bargaining power?
(...)

Can there be a free market without strong and comprehensive anti-monopoly, anti-cartel and other laws against the myriad of anti-competitive practices that Adam Smith alluded to back in 1776 when he warned of the motives when businessmen gather together?
(...)
Can there be a free market without a free market of retaining lawyers to pursue wrongful injuries and fraud by both direct negotiation with the perpetrators or resorting to open, public courts?
(...)
Can there be a free market when corporatists produce crony capitalism or torrents of corporate welfare tax escapes, subsidies, handouts and bailouts that rig markets against other smaller businesses that are playing by the rules of the market?
(...)
Can there be a free market when corporate-managed trade agreements, such as NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO), subordinate civic efforts to secure better labor, environmental and consumer treatments to the supremacy of commercial trade?
(...)
Finally, can there be a free market when the banks fund and control the powerful, secretive Federal Reserve that tightly regulates interest rates and can buy trillions of dollars in bonds (aka quantitative easing – QE) to juice the stock markets and the banks, while tens of millions of savers receive less than half of one percent in interest on their savings?
(...)
The answers are (in brief): No, no, no, no, no, no and no. And the story billions of people are being told about "free markets" is one big dirty deception, fraud and pack of lies, that are designed defraud the billions and to profit the few.

Or as Ralph Nader puts it, at the end:

Corporatism, in reality, is the corporate state – a tyranny, greased by big money in elections – never envisioned by the framers of our Constitution when they started its preamble with “We the People.”

Wake up call, anyone? (See citizen.org for more information.)

8. Patients with CFS found to have reduced white matter and other brain abnormalities

The next and last item of today is a small article by dr. Speedy, who is a real doctor who really has M.E. as I do, but he has it more seriously:

Or rather, since dr. Speedy provides the link:
The last item contains this:

Lead author Michael Zeineh, assistant professor of radiology, said: 'This is a very common and debilitating disease.

'It's very frustrating for patients, because they feel tired and are experiencing difficulty thinking, and the science has yet to determine what has gone wrong.

'Using a trio of sophisticated imaging methodologies, we found that CFS patients' brains diverge from those of healthy subjects in at least three distinct ways.'

The condition affects between one and four million in the US and millions more worldwide.

And it starts with this sum up (and yes, it was Stanford University):
  • Study at Stanford University examined MRI scans of CFS patients comparing them to those of healthy volunteers
  • Found three distinct differences in different parts of the brain
    CFS patients found to have lower levels of white matter - which carries information and signals between different parts of the brain
  • A tract connecting the frontal and temporal lobes was found to be abnormal
  • And grey matter - which processes information - in those two areas of the brain was thicker in CFS patients
I say.
---------------------------------
Notes
[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.)

[2] Yes indeed - and see yesterday, though this is partially in Dutch: I have taken megavitamins for 30 years now (most of the time) because this helped me, while no one and nothing else helped me (apart from my direct family and a few rare medical doctors). In fact, the taking of megavitamins was argued especially on the basis that it would extend your life: See e.g. the two volumes "Life Extension" by Pearson and Shaw, from 1982. In fact, I was never interested in
extending my life, and at 64 I still do not know whether it does, but I do know
that I still look 20 years younger than I am (as I did also when I was 44). And this may be due to the vitamins I took.
 


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)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
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)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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