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. Europe’s next privacy war is
report condemns sleep deprivation among US
3. The bigger the haystack, the
terrorist is to
Elites and a Nation Built on the Rule of
the Supreme Court should be the biggest issue of
the 2016 campaign
Lear: Politicians just wanted my money
This is a Nederlog of Saturday, November 29. It is a crisis log.
There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is on
a European idea about tracking users; item 2 is
about torture that the U.S. engaged or engages in; item
3 is about surveillance (and while I mostly agree, I also insist
surveillance of all was
the end, and not a mere by-product); item 4 is a
good item on how the present
U.S., since 2001, has been based on lawlessness rather than law, in
spite of what
Obama says; item 5 is about the U.S. Supreme Court
(but I hold the title is mistaken); and item 6 is
about an opinion of Norman Lear, that I believe.
Europe’s next privacy
war is with websites silently tracking users
item today is an article by Samuel Gibbs on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
I say. I did not know
about this. And I do know about cookies, and indeed normally refuse
most sites which have them (though I cannot look at Youtube without
The pan-European data
regulator group Article 29 has issued new opinion on how websites and
advertisers can track users and the permissions they require.
The new opinion dictates
that “device fingerprinting” – a process of silently collecting
information about a user – requires the same level of consent as
cookies that are used to track users across the internet.
“Parties who wish to
process device fingerprints which are generated through the gaining of
access to, or the storing of, information on the user’s terminal device
must first obtain the valid consent of the user (unless an exemption
applies),” the Article 29 Working Party wrote.
It means that some
websites, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, that have used alternative
notice” will have to show a notification after all.
“The Article 29 Working
Party has made it clear that companies cannot bypass consent by using
covert methods to track users through their devices,” said Jim Killock,
executive director of the Open Rights Group. “Building profiles to
deliver personalised content and adverts clearly falls under e-privacy
and data protection law.”
There is more in the article, and I suppose I should welcome this, if
only because it is better than doing nothing. (But note that so far
this is merely an "opinion".)
torture report condemns sleep deprivation among US detainees
item is an article by Ed Pilkington on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
I say, again.
The US military has
retained the power to inflict prolonged sleep deprivation on detainees,
despite moves by the Obama administration to eliminate interrogation
techniques that amount to torture and ill-treatment, the United Nations
warned on Friday.
In a review of the human
rights record of the US, the first of its kind since 2006, the world
body’s committee against torture has slammed the country for its
ongoing violations of international treaties. The review’s many
complaints address indefinite detention without trial; force-feeding of
Guantanamo prisoners; the holding of asylum seekers in prison-like
facilities; widespread use of solitary confinement; excessive use of
force and brutality by police; shootings of unarmed black individuals;
and cruel and inhumane executions.
The committee’s conclusions,
released in Geneva on Friday, praise President Barack Obama for having
banned excessive interrogation techniques such as waterboarding that
were widely used under the previous Bush administration in the wake of
9/11. But it cautions that one important method that was central to
Bush’s so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” – sleep
deprivation – continues to be approved for use.
First, and though I agree, I am missing something in the second
paragraph: renditioning. For supposed "terrorists" have also
been sent to places outside the United States - Poland and Egypt, for
example - where they could be tortured more thoroughly. Indeed, I
recall a CIA spokesperson being quoted, on the BBC, around 2008, to the
following effect: "Prisoners are a lot more cooperative if they've lost
a few nails".
Second, I know a lot about sleep deprivation, and have been exposed to
it, on purpose, I must conclude, given that I have extensively
complained about it in writing, generally without receiving any
answer, in Amsterdam, from 1981-1983, and in Amsterdam, from 1988-1991.
(Since 1993 I've lived in a decent house in
a quiet neighborhood, and have not been troubled. But by then my health
had been destroyed, again, for - at least - the next twenty years.)
In the first case, nothing was done by anybody, including the
police, "because we were students". In the second case, nothing
was done by anybody, because the lawyers of the City of Amsterdam
insisted, as degenerate sick and sadistic liars, who were paid, it
seems, to protect the financial interests of the illegal
drugs- dealing in Amsterdam, that was worth several billions of
dollars a year, that I was lying: that there was no hole in
the chimney, that I wasn't ill, that the drugsdealers were good
citizens, and that if I didn't like 4 terraces within 15 meters from
where I had to sleep, why didn't I move (as a very poor, quite ill
person in a city where there are far too few payable houses)?!
But OK... it is also true that I tended to sleep between 5 and 6 hours,
for many years, needing 8, while Obama's administration uses these
(...) the rulebook
goes on to give permission for detainees to be kept awake for up to 20
hours a day.
Anyway... I can assure
you that it is not healthy, and indeed the City of Amsterdam,
led by mayor Ed van Thijn, whom I suspect to be extremely rich
these days, with illegal money, though he will never admit so,
succeeded in destroying all the gains of health I had made from
1984-1988; succeeded in destroying my health for the next 20 years;
and did so for the interests and the money from illegal drugsdealers
they had given permission to deal, illegally, from the
bottom floor of the house where I lived, without asking me or
anyone any permission, and without ever answering any
letter of protest.
says: “Use of separation must not preclude the detainee getting
four hours of continuous sleep every 24 hours.”
But yes: they did help an enormous illegal and untaxed industry
in drugs that turns over at least 10 bilion dollars in
marijuana and hashish alone, each year in Holland, and mostly
in Amsterdam, and since 25 years almost no one even questioned this , including all Dutch judges, none
of whom saw anything worth complaining about or even asking questions, just
like the Dutch judges nearly all collaborated with the Nazis in WW II.
And none of these was ever punished or even legally prosecuted either...
bigger the haystack, the harder the terrorist is to find
item is an article by Coleen Rowley on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
And it proceeds with
giving some details on quite a few of these "previous terrorist incidents" that all support the title, with
which I agree. It ends - after rather a lot more - as follows:
The UK parliament’s
intelligence and security committee report this week into the murder of Lee Rigby described British
intelligence and law enforcement agencies’ multiple failures to prevent
the terrible crime.
Rigby’s killers together
had figured in seven prior surveillance operations during the course of
which officials learned that one of them had travelled to Kenya in an
attempt to join the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab.
The shocking failures and
bungling that ensued in the years the two men were tracked is,
tellingly, chalked up to the “extreme pressure” brought on by the fact
that at any one time, MI5 is investigating several thousand individuals
suspected of links to Islamic extremist activities in Britain.
Yet this is a similar
narrative to that which underpins many previous terrorist incidents.
Leaving aside the
privacy implications, what people need to grasp is that this is the
kind of security thinking that doesn’t just fail to protect us, it
makes us less safe.
However, while I agree
mostly with the article, I do not want to "leave aside the
privacy implications", if only because these are very relevant, and
because they show the snooping on everybody is illegal, and also
because I still think - as I first
outlined in 2005, in Dutch - that the snooping on everybody is not a side-effect
of an ill-conceived attempt to deal with terrorism, but is and was the
main end of the whole propaganda about terrorism, for that never
was and still is not as dangerous as 1% of 1% of 1% of the dangers that
the Soviet Union and China - with big territories, with huge and
well-trained armies, with atomic weapons, all quite unlike "the
terrorists" - posed for the West until 1989.
That is, I really think almost everyone has been and is being deceived
about the work and the ends of the surveillance of everyone: that was
and is the end of all the talk about "terrorism" I have heard: Scaring
the people into giving up their
privacy and handing it over to the secret services.
Tĥe bigger the haystack, the more powerful the secret services, and that
is and was the end: very much more control of everyone, and no
secrets of any kind - including economic secrets - that are not known
by the NSA and the GCHQ.
4. Rioting Elites and a Nation Built on the
item is an article by Rick Salutin on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows
(and is by a white Canadian):
Yes, indeed. And after
explaining the position of - especially - blacks in American cities
("Even when they're wrong, they're right") he turns to this:
Barack Obama looked at
his most clueless, responding to the riots and rage in Ferguson,
Missouri. He hasn't seemed so callow since the BP oil spill. Like he
just wished it was over and could get on to the delights of his
post-presidency. Or back to immigration reform and stalling that damn
Using his slow voice, as
if he's explaining something so basic that it's hard to understand, he
declared that the U.S. is a "nation built on the rule of law" and added
next day, he has "no sympathy" for those who go violent. The problem
with this, at least for those in the streets, is the U.S. is not a
nation of laws and resorts to official violence and/or illegality
Yes, indeed: Quite
so. There is more in the article, but Rick Salutin does seem to see it as I do.
The lawlessness though is
more extensive -- as in global. The U.S. attack on Afghanistan was
scantily justified; the invasion of Iraq, not at all. The disastrous
attack on Libya and the ongoing drone strikes received perfunctory
justifications at best. It's as if it wasn't even worth the
Lawlessness also pervades
the U.S. economy, more or less legally. Banks lied to and defrauded
homebuyers, creating a bubble that led to a catastrophe. (The
oft-mentioned "near catastrophe" applies to the banks, not the
Nothing has changed
since. Banks now routinely pay billions in fines, which they build into
their costs, since profits far outpace them. No major banker has gone
to jail over this. People who miss a payment or jump a subway turnstile
do their time. It's the theme of Matt Taibbi's The Divide.
I'm not screaming for social justice here. I'm talking about fatuous
claims praising a society built on laws.
The version that riles me
most is deregulation, a weasel word for lawlessness. Deregulation means
you abolish rules or simply ignore them. The banks deregulated through
Bill Clinton. But environmental rules, food safety, drug and workplace
controls have been formally deregulated or, in a subtler way, allowed
to lapse through cutbacks in staff, inspection and enforcement.
the Supreme Court should be the biggest issue of the
item is an article by Paul Waldman on The Washington Post:
This contains the
Whether a Democrat
or a Republican wins in 2016, he or she may well have the chance to
shift the court’s ideological balance. Ginsburg is the oldest justice
at 81; Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy are both 78, and Stephen
Breyer is 76. If the right person is elected and the right justice
retires, it could be an earthquake.
Well...yes and no. I
agree with both paragraphs, but I do not agree with the title, though I
agree that chosing the judges of the Supreme Court is very important,
precisely because the present Supreme Court, and indeed Rehnquist's
court, that handed the election results to the Republicans in 2000, who
in fact had lost, is not so much a court of law as a conservative
extension - in
majority, it is true, but they take their decisions by majority - of the GOP.
Look at what the Supreme
Court has done recently. It gutted the Voting Rights Act, said that
corporations could have religious beliefs, simultaneously upheld and
hobbled the Affordable Care Act, struck down a key part of the Defense
of Marriage Act and moved toward legalizing same-sex marriage, all but
outlawed affirmative action, gave corporations and wealthy individuals
the ability to dominate elections and created an individual right to
own guns — and that’s just in the last few years.
The reasons why I do not agree with the title are especially these two:
I do not think that nominating the Supreme Court is an issue
for the 2016 campaign, simply because it isn't (it is a privilege of
the president and the Congress, and these indeed are voted for), and
also because I do think there are far more important issues for
the 2016 campaign, such as inequality and factual illegality of many
things that do happen as a matter of course, and also surveilling
everyone as if that were legal or moral in any democracy.
6. Norman Lear: Politicians just wanted my
and last item is an article - in fact: an excerpt from a recent book -
by Norman Lear
I like Norman Lear,
especially because he is a genuine progressive and because he produced "All
in the Family", still my favorite TV-series (though I haven't had a
TV for 44 years, mostly because I like reading books a lot better ).
He is 92 at present, and just published his first book, "Even This I
Get to Experience", from which the article under the last dotted
link was excerpted.
This starts as follows:
My political life shot
into high gear in the mid- to late seventies. The aroma of the
dollars in my success led to my being solicited, it seemed, by
every liberal, moderate, or progressive who held or ran for office
in all fifty states. And calling me, from then to now, have been
current leaders of the House and Senate, staff members and
political advisers, the heads of political organizations, and a
“Basically, you in
Hollywood and we in D.C. are in the same business,” they would
tell me. “We each seek the affection and approval of the American
people and, most important, we seek to communicate with the
American people.” Clearly I was doing better at that, they said,
and oh so humbly they asked for my help. For forty years or so
I’ve spent untold hours in meetings; at breakfasts, lunches, and
dinners; and on phone calls offering up my thinking for this
campaign and that cause, but—as unbelievable as this is to me even
now—no matter how sincerely they seemed to listen, or how grateful
they were for suggestions they couldn’t wait to put into effect,
no one ever acted on a single idea I presented. Not ever. Every
bit of contact following versions of that speech had to do with my
checkbook and my Rolodex.
I believe him - which
means that for something like forty years (!) Norman Lear has
had to deal with so-called "liberal,
moderate, or progressive"
political leaders in the U.S. who only pretended to be
interested in him and his ideas, while they were in fact only
out for money, addresses or publicity for themselves.
What does this mean? That you can't trust American political leaders of
it seems to me, though indeed there are - probably - a few exceptions.
P.S. Nov 30, 2014: Added a link
to the Van Traa report in Note 2.
 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.)
 The one exception was the Parliamentary Van Traa
Report of 1996. This was honest and fair, if not great prose (see my
site if you read Dutch), but after Van Traa got killed in 1997
(murdered or by accident) hardly anyone ever paid any serious attention
to the illegal drugsdealing that was protected by mayors, aldermen and
judges in Holland, I am certain because its monetary value is
over 10 billion - that is: 10,000 million - dollars each
year in sales of marijuana and hashish alone. It still is, and
it still makes many quite illegal and quite untaxed billions a year,
and still hardly any Dutchman cares.
 But I have - meanwhile, thanks to Youtube - seen
nearly all of "All in the Family", and while I cannot pretend
any real knowledge of TV (since 1969), it certainly is true that this
still is one of the most successful TV-series that was ever made.
(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: