21, 2014
Crisis: Assange, Amnesty, Groupthink, Impeach Roberts, Exit NHS, Free Encryption
  "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

Julian Assange: Swedish court rejects appeal to lift arrest

Amnesty backs Detekt tool to scan for state spyware on
3. Delusional US ‘Group Think’ on Syria, Ukraine
4. Should We Impeach Chief Justice John Roberts?
5. 'Shock' As Global Arms Manufacturer Jockeys to Get
     Piece of UK's Privatized Health System

6. How to Encrypt the Entire Web for Free

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Friday, November 21. It is a
crisis log.

There are 6 items with 6 dotted links and while, as usual, most of the news I report is not good, items 2 and 6 are quite good: Item 1 is about Julian Assange and the Swedish court; item 2 is about a new tool supported by Amnesty and quite a few others to scan for spyware on computers; item 3 shows how much
of the press in the U.S. engages these days in neocon groupthink; item 4 asks a very good question:Should U.S. chief justice Roberts be impeached; item 5 charts another sickening step in Cameron's selling out Great Britain, this time the National Health System; and item 6 gives very good news about encrypting the entire web, for free also.

Also, this was uploaded a bit sooner than is normal for me.

And here goes:

1. Julian Assange: Swedish court rejects appeal to lift arrest warrant

The first item today is an article by David Crouch on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Stockholm’s appeal court has rejected a demand by Julian Assange’s lawyers to lift the arrest warrant against him, leaving the WikiLeaks founder still facing extradition to Sweden should he renounce his asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy.

“In making this assessment, account must be taken of the fact that Julian Assange is suspected of crimes of a relatively serious nature,” the court said in a statement on Thursday. A Swedish prosecutor first sought Assange’s arrest four years ago following sexual assault and rape allegations, which he denies.

“There is a great risk that he will flee and thereby evade legal proceedings if the detention order is set aside. In the view of the court of appeal, these circumstances mean that the reasons for detention still outweigh the intrusion or other detriment entailed by the detention order.”

Well, that is basically cowardly nonsense - and no, I am not taking a position on Assange's accusations.

It is nonsense because the court apparently completely disregarded why Assange is effectively locked up in the Ecuadorian embassy: Because he fears being handed over in Sweden to the U.S. - and this is a quite realistic fear. It is cowardly, because the least the court ought to have done is to explicitly discuss and weigh his special situation.

Here is part of my reason to call this cowardly:
Assange has always claimed he is innocent and that he would be prepared to face a Swedish court were it not for a threat that he would be extradited to the US for political crimes. Neither the US nor Swedish governments have responded to his requests for guarantees. Assange has not been charged with any crime, but is being investigated over allegations of rape and sexual molestation.
Note Assange has not been charged with any crime, as yet - but even so, the Swedish prosecuter refuses to go to London to interview him, though this would be quite easy, and in the circumstances - there still is no position whatsoever on guaranteeing Assange will not be handed over to the U.S. - also quite justified.

But no:
In response to the appeal, the Swedish prosecutors in the case, Marianne Ny and Ingrid Isgren, said they accepted there was “a temporary obstacle” to executing the arrest warrant, but that it was nonetheless essential to prevent Assange from evading justice. His presence in the Ecuadorian embassy was voluntary and so did not constitute a deprivation of liberty, they said, thereby nullifying defence arguments about disproportionality.
Here Ms Ny and Ms Isgren are clearly lying: Assange's presence in the Ecuadorian embassy is as "voluntary" as saying that the persons waterboarded by the CIA were waterboarded "voluntary" because they did not give the information asked from them.

2. Amnesty backs Detekt tool to scan for state spyware on computers 

The next item is an article by Matthew Taylor on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Human rights experts and technology groups have launched a new tool allowing members of the public to scan their computers for surveillance spyware used by governments.

Amnesty says Detekt is the first tool freely available that will allow activists and journalists to find out if their PCs are being monitored without their knowledge.

Marek Marczynski, head of military, security and police at Amnesty, said: “Governments are increasingly using dangerous and sophisticated technology that allows them to read activists’ and journalists’ private emails and remotely turn on their computer’s camera or microphone to secretly record their activities. They use the technology in a cowardly attempt to prevent abuses from being exposed. Detekt is a simple tool that will alert activists to such intrusions so they can take action.”

I say: that seems quite good news to me, although I am not sure it will work - but that will also be always the case: Can you trust any program that says it can't find anything? No, probably not - but it is nice to be able to have a program that looks for spying malware.

Here is some more:
Detekt was developed by Germany-based security researcher Claudio Guarnieri after discussions with human rights activists. It will be launched on Thursday in partnership with Amnesty International, British charity Privacy International, German civil rights group Digitale Gesellschaft and US digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
So this is supported by quite a few good organizations. There is more under the last dotted link, but this is a good idea.

3. Delusional US ‘Group Think’ on Syria, Ukraine

The next item is an article by Robert Parry on Consortium News:

This starts as follows:

Neocon ideology appears to have seized near total control over the editorial pages of America’s premier news organizations, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, contributing to an information crisis inside “the world’s superpower,” a development that should unnerve both Americans and the world community.

The rest of the article makes a good case why indeed there is a kind of groupthink going on in "the editorial pages of America’s premier news organizations, including the New York Times and the Washington Post". (The last link is my own, and explains it quite well.)

I will leave that to your interests. Here is the last paragraph, that states quite well why this neocon groupthink is very dangerous, not only for the U.S. but also for everybody else:

But it is really the whole world that is on the hook of neocon ideology with the major U.S. news media now incapable of wriggling off and presenting anything approaching an objective analysis of what is happening in either the Middle East or Eastern Europe.

Yes indeed.

4. Should We Impeach Chief Justice John Roberts?

The next item is an article by William Greider on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Republicans like to talk about impeaching President Obama, but there is a far more deserving candidate for impeachment—Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court. While the Republicans in Congress have blocked Democrats from enacting much of substance, the GOP majority in control of the Court has been effectively legislating on its own, following an agenda neatly aligned with their conservative party. Step by step, the five right-wing justices are transforming the terms of the American political system—including the Constitution.

They empowered “dark money” in politics and produced the $4 billion by-election of 2014. They assigned spiritual values to soulless corporations who thus gained First Amendment protection of free speech and religion. The justices effectively gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, even as they allowed state governments to create new obstacles for minority voting. The High Court made it okay to take guns to church and more difficult to keep guns from dangerous people. It rendered a series of decisions that collectively shifted political power from the many to the few.

Yes, indeed! For these were utterly crazy decisions, also without the least properly legal justifications. And there is this:
This power grab by the unelected—and supposedly non-partisan—justices has already produced a historic rewrite of America democracy. But it was done by blatantly usurping the decision-making authority that belongs to the elected government in Congress and the executive branch. The Republican justices are not finished with their undeclared revolution. They will continue unless and until people rise up and stop them.
Of course, in Roberts' opinion Roberts did never anything wrong, underhanded, immoral or illegal:

Roberts himself takes offense at accusations that the Roberts Court renders politicized decisions. He has frequently denied the charge. “We’re not Republicans or Democrats,” Roberts told students at the University of Nebraska law school. Unlike some of his right-wing colleagues, Roberts wants to have it both ways. He’s not an ideologue, just an earnest umpire calling balls and strikes.

Precisely. There is a considerable amount more under the last dotted link, but yes: I'd much like to see Roberts in court, even though I expect the chances are slim.

5. 'Shock' As Global Arms Manufacturer Jockeys to Get Piece of UK's Privatized Health System

The next item is an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

As one of the largest arms manufacturers in the world, Lockheed Martin has made billions off wars waged by governments from the United States to Colombia. Now the company appears to be maneuvering to profit from the British public's need for health care as the English government moves to privatize and outsource what's left of its National Health Service.

At stake is a lucrative NHS England contract to operate support services—from maintaining medical records to administering prescription payments—for primary care providers. The deal has a value of £1 billion (more than US$1.5 billion) over the course of ten years, making it NHS England's sweetest yet, Health Service Journal reports.

I say. There is also this, if this does not upset you:

Lockheed isn't the only multinational among the potential bidders that makes money from state violence. Private Security Company G4S—which is implicated in torture and unlawful incarceration of Palestinians, as well as human rights abuses in Britain and South Africa—also reportedly participated in the meeting.

Let's all thank David Cameron for this...

6.  How to Encrypt the Entire Web for Free

The next item and last item today is an article by Micah Lee on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

If we’ve learned one thing from the Snowden revelations, it’s that what can be spied on will be spied on. Since the advent of what used to be known as the World Wide Web, it has been a relatively simple matter for network attackers—whether it’s the NSA, Chinese intelligence, your employer, your university, abusive partners, or teenage hackers on the same public WiFi as you—to spy on almost everything you do online.

HTTPS, the technology that encrypts traffic between browsers and websites, fixes this problem—anyone listening in on that stream of data between you and, say, your Gmail window or bank’s web site would get nothing but useless random characters—but is woefully under-used. The ambitious new non-profit Let’s Encrypt aims to make the process of deploying HTTPS not only fast, simple, and free, but completely automatic. If it succeeds, the project will render vast regions of the internet invisible to prying eyes.

Very good! Here is a video that explains it (in outline) with some more text by Micah Lee:

What does Let’s Encrypt do differently?

Let’s Encrypt, which was announced this week but won’t be ready to use until the second quarter of 2015, describes itself as “a free, automated, and open certificate authority (CA), run for the public’s benefit.” It’s the product of years of work from engineers at Mozilla, Cisco, Akamai, Electronic Frontier Foundation, IdenTrust, and researchers at the University of Michigan. (Disclosure: I used to work for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and I was aware of Let’s Encrypt while it was being developed.)

As I said: Very good! I will certainly try to install it on my Danish site. And this is really good news, that is also quite rare in this series.

[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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