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Nederlog


  December
1, 2014
Crisis: Greenwald on Rifkin, Boris Johnson, Wealth Gap, UN Talks, Changes
  "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.
The US/UK Campaign to Demonize Social Media
     Companies as Terrorist Allies

2.
Boris Johnson to seek control of CPS and court system in
     London

3. Graphic Stories of America's Huge Wealth Gap
4. Ahead of UN Talks, Real Hope Placed in 'Contagious
     Courage' of Global Climate Justice Movement

5.
On some changes

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, December 1. It is a
crisis log.

It has 5 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is on Glenn Greenwald on Malcolm Rifkind; item 2 is on a plan of Boris Johnson to get more power (or so it seems);
item 3 is an interesting item on the ever growing wealth gap in the U.S.; item 4 is on UN talks on climate change (that I, for one, expect very little from); and item 5 is a brief personal item.

And here goes:

1. The US/UK Campaign to Demonize Social Media Companies as Terrorist Allies  

The first item today is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

In May, 2013, a British Army soldier, Lee Rigby, was killed on a suburban London street by two Muslim British citizens, who said they were acting to avenge years of killings of innocent Muslims by the British military in, among other places, Afghanistan and Iraq. One of the attackers, Michael Adebolajo, had also been detained and tortured in 2010 in Kenya with the likely complicity of Her Majesty’s Government. The brutal attack on Rigby was instantly branded “terrorism” (despite its targeting of a soldier of a nation at war) and caused intense and virtually universal indignation in the UK.

In response, the British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee resolved to investigate why the attack happened and whether it could have been prevented. Ensuring that nothing undesirable would occur, the investigation was led by the Committee’s chair, the long-time conservative government functionary Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Yesterday, Sir Malcolm’s Committee issued its findings in a 191-page report. It contains some highly predictable conclusions, but also some quite remarkable ones.

Here are some of the remarkable ones:
The Committee noted that one of Rigby’s killers, Michael Adebowale, had an online conversation (presumably on Facebook) with an “individual overseas” in December, 2012, in which Adebowale said “that he intended to murder a soldier.”

Sir Malcolm’s Committee claimed that the British intelligence agencies such as GCHQ and MI5 – despite being among the most aggressive and unrestrained electronic surveillance forces on the planet – had no possible way to have accessed that exchange. But, the Committee said, the social media company not only had the ability – but also the duty – to monitor the communications of all its users and report anything suspicious to the UK Government. Its failure to do so in this case, claimed the report, was the proximate cause of why the attack was not stopped (had the British agencies had access to this exchange, “there is a significant possibility that MI5 would then have been able to prevent the attack”).

What a great liar is Sir Malcolm! First, all I read is an intention. How many intentions are asserted that are never acted upon? Far more than acts, by everyone. Second, the GCHQ presently illegally accesses over 50 billion messages a day. Third, if they did not get that expression of intent, too bad for the GCHQ. Fourth, the social media did not have the duty "to monitor the communications of all its users": no one has, and those which try to do so - the NSA and the GCHQ - are acting illegally. Fifth, the social media did not have the duty to "report anything suspicious to the UK Government". Sixth, the fact that they did not bring the expression of a mere intention to the attention of the GCHQ was not "the proximate cause of why the attack was not stopped": "proximate causes" need considerably more. Seventh, the "significant possibility" is mere blather.

In fact, there are - I think - more lies: As Glenn Greenwald makes clear, the GCHQ collects far more than it can properly research, but again I think this is on purpose: They want to control everybody, far more than they want to know about the possible intentions of possible future terrorists. This is why they collect all they can get, which indeed is far more than they can properly process. If they were really interested in terrorists, they would act and search quite differently (and see William Binney).

And as Greenwald says:

But it’s never enough. A single attack on a single soldier is instantly and brazenly exploited to demand even more spying powers, to insist on new laws and treaties giving them even more access to more private communications. Nobody – including al Qaeda or ISIS – so effectively terrorizes U.S. and British citizens as much as their own governments do.

The Guardian‘s coverage of Sir Malcolm’s report is superb. Beyond the comprehensive reporting, they have an article detailing the (justifiable) indignation of tech companies over the blame-shifting report, the comments of a former British terrorism official on the stupidity of imposing such obligations on social media companies, an editorial and an op-ed arguing that British intelligence agencies have primary responsibility to stop such attacks yet failed to connect the ample “dots” they had, and, best of all, a piece from the paper’s home affairs editor Alan Travis denouncing the report’s conclusions “as outrageous as it is wrong-headed” as “a case of shooting the messenger.”

Yes, indeed. There is a consoderable amount more, including Greenwald's thesis - correct, I think - that the NSA and the GCHQ are quite afraid of encryption, which got introduced by internet companies in reaction to Snowden's revelations.

I will leave that to your interests, but this is an article that you should read all of.


2. Boris Johnson to seek control of CPS and court system in London 

The next item is an article by Vikram Dodd on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Boris Johnson wants to secure control of the courts and the prosecution service, a move which would put London’s mayor in charge of the criminal justice system in the capital, the Guardian has learned.

The plan would see control wrested from Whitehall and the devolution of the most important pillars of the justice system.

(...)

London’s Conservative mayor is already responsible for the Metropolitan police. He sets its budget and strategic priorities and is able to dismiss its chief.

The plans would see a New York-style system, where its mayor holds to account those responsible for investigation and arrest, through to charging, prosecution and sentencing.

Some in Whitehall will see it as a grab for power from Johnson, who is seen to be in competition with the home secretary, Theresa May, for the Tory leadership if a vacancy were to open up.

I say. In fact, I do not know what to think of it, although it seems to me that the "Some in Whitehall" have it probably right - that is, I am inclined to look on this move as political and personal much more than as legal or financial, though these last two points also enter.

But I may not know enough of British local politics to judge this well, though I do know of the opposite parallel in Holland: There the powers of the mayors of Amsterdam and Rotterdam - that were until recently and for a very long time, especially in Amsterdam, namely since 1948, ruled by Dutch Labour - and also in some other Dutch places, were limited recently by making all of the Dutch police national, which terminated the rule of mayors over their local police forces.

That was clearly a political move rather than a legal or financial one, and indeed the requisite changes still have not been properly implemented.

3. Graphic Stories of America's Huge Wealth Gap

The next item is an article by Paul Buchheit on AlterNet:

This starts as follows: 

Just 70 individuals now own as much wealth as half the world. In the U.S., the richest 40 individuals own as much as half the country, and the 16,000 American households in the top .01% have accumulated an average net worth of over a third of a billion dollars. As extreme wealth continues to grow out of control, inequality worsens for the rest of us, plaguing our country and our world, spreading like a terminal form of cancer. It should be a major news item in the mainstream media. But the well-positioned few are either oblivious to or uncaring about its effect on less fortunate people. 

Quite so. There is considerably more in the article, including graphics, but this seems to be the latest information on inequality. Here is a bit from the end (without the graphics):

Just 35 years ago, the percentage of national wealth in middle-class housing (net of mortgages) was about seven times more than the percentage of national wealth in equities owned by the .01% (12,000 families). Now middle-class housing is only about half the value of those equities. 

Saez and Zucman report that the total of corporate equities, bonds, and savings deposits owned by the .01% amounted to 2.2 percent of total U.S. household wealth in the mid-1980s, rising to 9.9 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, housing for the bottom 90% dropped from 15 percent of total household wealth to 5-6 percent. Since the bottom 50%, according to the authors, own almost zero wealth, the housing figures pertain to the 50-90% families, which can be described as "middle class." 

This is well worth reading all of.

4. Ahead of UN Talks, Real Hope Placed in 'Contagious Courage' of Global Climate Justice Movement

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

With the latest data showing the world experiencing its hottest year in recorded human history and just months after the global climate justice movement expressed itself on the streets of New York City and cities around the world with hundreds of thousands voicing their determination to fight for a more sane energy and economic future as part of the People's Climate movement, diplomats from more than 190 countries are about to convene once again to see if they can finally agree on bold action to mitigate the worst impacts of global warming and resulting climate change.

Though some of the world's top diplomats attending the UN's climate summit that begins Monday in Lima, Peru are reportedly "upbeat" about the ability of the talks to result in a strong draft agreement to curb global emissions of greenhouse gases, many climate campaigners are looking at the summit with more critical and skeptical eyes.

These "critical and skeptical eyes" seem very well justified to me: This is the 20th (twentieth!) summit of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and as far as I know all of these have contributed extremely little, in terms of real results. (They have cost a lot of money and produced mountains of paper: That much is certain.)

There is considerably more in the article, but none of it is hopeful, and it ends as follows:

In her latest book, This Changes Everything, Canadian activist and author Naomi Klein told readers that "only mass social movements can save us now" from the dangers related to climate change and the neoliberal economic policies that have exacerbated the crisis of carbon and greenhouse gas pollution.

That sentiment was echoed recently by Kumi Naidoo, the head of Greenpeace International, who said during a TED talk in Amsterdam that the key to solving the climate crisis—"the biggest challenge that humanity has ever faced"—is what he called "contagious courage" infecting millions of people around the globe.  "When people in large numbers start believing that change is possible," said Naidoo, "only then does change become possible.”

Well... that means that so far real change has not occurred, and will not occur, until far more people appear in the streets (which I do not see happening soon, though that is very unfortunate).

5. On some changes

This is merely a brief note to inform you about some changes I made on the site and on some I have not made (yet).

First some changes I have made the last days that I've hardly mentioned, except today in the summaries : I have added slightly improved versions of my autobio files 11, 13, 14, 15, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and the autobioTOC file, where you also can find the other files. (The stress is on the "slightly": the improvements are real but small. But it is mostly about me and mostly in Dutch, so it will interest few.)

Second, something I have neglected in 2014 (so far): it was my intention to re-upload the whole site. I did not do so, in part because this is a lot of quite boring work, and in part because there were few changes outside Nederlog and the autobiographical section this year, and I also was quite busy with Nederlog (and I will try to upload the site once more, but will not promise this will be done in 2014).
---------------------------------
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.)


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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