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Nederlog


  November
29, 2014
Crisis: Tracking, Torture, Terrorists, Lawlessness, Supreme Court, Norman Lear
  "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.
 Europe’s next privacy war is with websites silently
     tracking users

2.
UN torture report condemns sleep deprivation among US
     detainees

3. The bigger the haystack, the harder the terrorist is to
     find

4. Rioting Elites and a Nation Built on the Rule of
     Lawlessness

5.
Why the Supreme Court should be the biggest issue of
     the 2016 campaign

6. Norman Lear: Politicians just wanted my money

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

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.

And here goes:

1. Europe’s next privacy war is with websites silently tracking users

The first item today is an article by Samuel Gibbs on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

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 technical processes to try to bypass the need for a “cookie policy 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.”

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 cookies).

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".)

2. UN torture report condemns sleep deprivation among US detainees 

The next item is an article by Ed Pilkington on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

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.

I say, again.

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 rules:
(...) the rulebook goes on to give permission for detainees to be kept awake for up to 20 hours a day.

It says: “Use of separation must not preclude the detainee getting four hours of continuous sleep every 24 hours.”

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.

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 [2], 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...

3. The bigger the haystack, the harder the terrorist is to find

The next item is an article by Coleen Rowley on The Guardian:

This starts 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.

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:
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 Rule of Lawlessness 

The next item is an article by Rick Salutin on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows (and is by a white Canadian):

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 pipeline. 

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 routinely.

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:

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 trouble. 

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 buyers.) 

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.

Yes, indeed: Quite so. There is more in the article, but Rick Salutin does seem to see it as I do.

5. Why the Supreme Court should be the biggest issue of the 2016 campaign

The next item is an article by Paul Waldman on The Washington Post:

This contains the following:
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.
(...)
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.
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.

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 money

The next and last item is an article - in fact: an excerpt from a recent book - by Norman Lear (<- Wikipedia):

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 [3]).

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 few presidents.

“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 any kind,
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.
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] 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.

[3] 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.


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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