14, 2014
Crisis: GCHQ, Torture, Tories, Troops, British Poor, Surveillance, GOP, Risen
  "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

The Inside Story of How British Spies Hacked Belgium’s
      Largest Telco

Come clean on British links to torture, MPs tell US Senate
Tories accused of ‘trying to buy election’ with 23% hike
      to campaign spending

 4. Britain to send hundreds more troops to Iraq, says
      defence secretary

 5. Low pay and zero-hours contracts rise dramatically,
      figures show

State surveillance is enabled by our own sloppy habits
The Top 5 Planks of a 2016 GOP Platform: Torture, War,
      Bank Corruption and Paid-For Elections
 8.  'Victory' Declared as Source Reveals DOJ Will Not Force
      James Risen Testimony

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, December 14. It is a crisis log.

There are 8 items and 8 dotted links: Item 1 is about the British spies hacking Belgium's largest telco, and is interesting; item 2 says Rifkind says that he wants the U.S. to reveal the British links to torture (?!); item 3 shows the Tories are copying the GOP by massing money to buy the elections; item 4 shows the British are still fighting in Iraq, also on the ground; item 5 shows dramatic increases in low pay and zero-hours in Great Britain since 2008; item 6 assures us John Naughton knows who is responsible for all the spying: We are (not the spies, not the government, not the secret courts: We, the users); item 7 is about the GOP's planks in the 2016 election; and item 8 is about Risen who may not have to testify in court about his source.

This got uploaded a bit earlier than is normal for me. And here goes:

1. The Inside Story of How British Spies Hacked Belgium’s Largest Telco The first item is an article by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:

This is a large piece with an introduction. From the introduction:

Last year, documents from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden confirmed that British surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters was behind the attack, codenamed Operation Socialist. And in November, The Intercept revealed that the malware found on Belgacom’s systems was one of the most advanced spy tools ever identified by security researchers, who named it “Regin.”

The full story about GCHQ’s infiltration of Belgacom, however, has never been told. Key details about the attack have remained shrouded in mystery—and the scope of the attack unclear.

Now, in partnership with Dutch and Belgian newspapers NRC Handelsblad and De Standaard, The Intercept has pieced together the first full reconstruction of events that took place before, during, and after the secret GCHQ hacking operation.

Also, there is this:

Snowden told The Intercept that the latest revelations amounted to unprecedented “smoking-gun attribution for a governmental cyber attack against critical infrastructure.”

The Belgacom hack, he said, is the “first documented example to show one EU member state mounting a cyber attack on another…a breathtaking example of the scale of the state-sponsored hacking problem.”

And this:

What sets the secret British infiltration of Belgacom apart is that it was perpetrated against a close ally—and is backed up by a series of top-secret documents, which The Intercept is now publishing.

GCHQ declined to comment for this story, and insisted that its actions are “necessary legal, and proportionate.”

This was quoted from the introduction. There is a lot more in the story, that is quite interesting.

2. Come clean on British links to torture, MPs tell US Senate 

The next item is an article by Mark Townsend and Jamie Doward on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The head of the powerful Commons intelligence and security committee is demanding that the US hand over its archive of material documenting Britain’s role in the CIA’s abduction and torture programme developed in the wake of the 9/11 attack.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chair of the parliamentary inquiry into the complicity of British intelligence agencies in the US programme, has told the Observer that British MPs would seek the intelligence relating to the UK that was redacted from last week’s explosive Senate report, which concluded that the CIA repeatedly lied over its brutal but ineffective interrogation techniques.

The move comes amid escalating pressure on the government not to extend an agreement allowing the US to use the British Overseas Territory of Diego Garcia as a military base until its true role in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition has been established.

I say. There is considerably more under the last dotted link, but since the main source seems to be Rifkind I must say I distrust most of it. There is indeed a connection to Diego Carcia, and this may move some other MPs, but even then it seems rather unlikely that - as the title says - the British really want the NSA to "come clean on British links to torture".
3. Tories accused of ‘trying to buy election’ with 23% hike to campaign spending

The next item is an article by Daniel Boffey on The Guardian:
This starts as follows (and shows the Tories follow the GOP's American example):

David Cameron has been accused of an unjustifiable bid to “buy the general election” as it emerged that ministers have quietly slipped through an unprecedented hike in the amount that parties can spend during the campaign.

Before this week’s official start to the runup to the 2015 general election, the Observer can reveal that the Conservatives have ignored Electoral Commission recommendations and secured a 23% increase in spending. With the Tories having amassed a £78m war chest over the past four years, they can now funnel huge amounts of cash into key seats.

The change to the law on candidates’ election spending, passed without parliamentary debate, was made despite a direct warning by the commission against such “excessive spending to prevent the perception of undue influence over the outcome of the election”.

Lucy Powell MP, Ed Miliband’s key general election strategist, admitted that Labour “can’t match the depths of Tory pockets” and accused the prime minister of seeking to “buy an election they don’t deserve to win”.

Of course Cameron tries to buy the British elections, and indeed he may well succeed, since he has a lot more money than the other parties.

Also, the article shows how far British democracy has disappeared, and has been replaced by deception and fraud:
The Observer has learned that ministers changed the law through a statutory instrument, the terms of which were not debated in the Commons, and which is more usually a vehicle for consensual changes in the law. A Labour source said that the move had not been spotted by them at the time and so they missed the chance to force a vote in the Commons. 
4. Britain to send hundreds more troops to Iraq, says defence secretary

The next item is an article by Mark Townsend on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Hundreds more British troops are being sent to Iraq next month to bolster the fight against Islamic State (Isis) militants, compounding fears of “mission creep.”

The defence secretary, Michael Fallon announced an additional deployment of British combat-ready troops numbering “in the low hundreds” to help train local forces battling Isis forces, who control vast swathes of northen Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

Fallon said details of the contribution to an international mission were still being finalised but would likely include a small contingent of combat-ready British soldiers at four US-led “safe” centres, one in Kurdistan and three near the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Translated: The British master of war Fallon simply extends, for the thirteenth year, Tony Blair's war that enriched the Western military-industrial complex so much, and still talks as if war is something up to him and a few governors,
and not at all up to the population whose taxes pay for it.

I mean: I really do not see what the British or the Americans have to do in Iraq, that is: other than increasing the profits of the military-industrial complex, which indeed is the one certain outcome that they will be furthering, next to killing many civilians.

Also, I think Isis is just a pretext: If there were no Isis, there would be another organization that the British master of war would claim "has to be defeated" - and as soon as Isis is defeated, there will be.

It simply is a never ending war, because it is profitable, and ultimately also quite without danger for the West: They risk soldiers' lives, but these are anyway expendable, and they risk loosing material, which means increasing profits.

5. Low pay and zero-hours contracts rise dramatically, figures show

The next item is an article by Yvonne Roberts in The Observer:
This has the following subtitle:
TUC report shows one in 12 in labour force now in ‘precarious employment’, huge rise since 2008
The article starts as follows:

New figures have revealed the dramatic spread of low-paid, insecure and casual work across the British economy since the financial crash of 2008.

In that year, one in 20 men and one in 16 women worked in the casualised labour market. Now, one in 12 of both men and women are in precarious employment, which includes zero-hours contracts (ZHCs), agency work, variable hours and fixed-term contracts, according to new TUC data.

According to the analysis, in 2008 there were 655,000 men in the casualised labour market. That number has risen by 61.8% to 1.06 million. The casualised female workforce has increased by 35.6%, from 795,000 in 2008 to 1.08 million in 2014.

The TUC is also publishing research showing that since 2008, only one in 40 new jobs has been full-time. Over the same period, 60% of net jobs added have been self-employed and 36% have been part-time.

Well... I'd say that this is just the Great Britain David Cameron wants: The many poor working for virtually nothing and having no rights; the few rich all massed around Cameron and demanding more tax breaks and higher profits, while spitting on the poor and the ill; and everything is very, very well for the Tories, except - of course - that there are to be even more tax breaks for the rich.

But everything goes fine in Great Britain, from a Tory point of view: In six years of crisis only 1 in 40 of the new jobs has been full time.

There is more under the last dotted link.

6. State surveillance is enabled by our own sloppy habits

The next item is an article by John Naughton (<- Wikipedia) on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:
One night last week, I had a conversation over dinner with a student who is as puzzled as I am about why people seem so unworried by online surveillance. What would it take, we wondered, to wake people up? If the Snowden revelations did not constitute a “Milly Dowler moment”, then what would?

The next morning, a colleague sent me a link to a TEDx talk given in Brussels by Mikko Hyppönen, the chief research officer of F-Secure, a Finnish computer security company. It’s a terrific, measured account of the mess we’re in and of how we got here, and well worth watching on that account. But for me, two things stood out.

One was Hyppönen’s highlighting of an exchange that took place in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court (Fisa), which supposedly regulates and oversees covert surveillance by US intelligence agencies.
I agree with the student, but not at all - it will emerge - with John Naughton.

But to start with, here is the - secret, until very recently - exchange, with U.S. judge Arnold articulating the U.S. government's point of view as regards spying, with a few introductory and ending remarks by Naughton (and yes, this is quoted from Hyppönen's talk):

The relevant extract from the court transcript reads:

Justice Arnold: “Well, if this order is enforced, and it’s secret, how can you be hurt? The people don’t know that – that they’re being monitored in some way. How can you be harmed by it? I mean, what’s… what’s your… what’s the damage to your consumer?”

Ponder that for a moment. It’s extraordinarily revealing because it captures the essence of the mindset of the people who now rule our democracies.
So, according to this competely degenerate and depraved secret "judge" anyone may do anything whatsoever to you - take all your secrets, all your  (sexual and non-sexual) photographs, all your mails, all your contracts, all your financial dealings, and also not reveal to you that you have a dangerous form of cancer that needs operating, or you will die, and indeed anything else, including your wife's unfaithfulness with your best friend: If you do not know this is done to you, because this is kept a careful secret by the ones who are spying on you, or harming and deceiving you, you cannot be harmed, by loosing your secrets, your photographs, your mails, your contracts, your loves and your life.

This is the exact position of this secret "judge", who neither speaks English as I do, nor has morals as I have. (What does the NSA know about Arnold? Or did he get born this way?)

Now I arrive at the difference between my and Naughton's opinions, who is engaging in a "blame the victim" exercise.

This is Naughton's position - and the initial question refers back to Arnold's opinions:
And it begs the question: who gave these people the right to think and act like this?

The long answer goes back a long way – to Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and maybe Rousseau. The short answer is that we did. We elected these holders of high office (...)
I say?! "We" - half of the electorate with IQs below 100; nearly no one able to program; very few with any relevant knowledge, if only because all the relevant knowledge is carefully kept secret - did it?!?! And/or else Hobbes, Locke and - maybe - Rousseau?!

Not the GCHQ, not the NSA, not the governments who are keeping all this spying secret: "We" did it ourselves, according to
John Naughton.

This is as wilfully stupid as Arnold. You cannot rationally blame the millions or billions of deceived users, who know almost nothing, except what Snowden revealed, about secret surveillance, for being secretly surveilled. You cannot even say that they should have known more about computers: Even the best minds know very little about things that are being successfully kept nearly ciompletely secret.

Also, being a real philosopher, unlike Naughton, I cannot for the life of me see what blame
Hobbes, Locke and - maybe - Rousseau deserve (all of whom died in the 17th or 18th Century, all of whom I've read) for things invented in or after the 1990ies. That is just utter bullshit.

But we are not done yet.

Here is the main reason (it appears: the writing is not really clear) why "We" are responsible, much rather than the spies who spy for the NSA and the GCHQ: Because "We" tend to click and accept user agreements without reading them.

The writers of these user agreements - lawyers - are, of course, in Naughton's eyes, free of all responsibility, as are the corporations who rented them, to make as much money from the naive, the lied to, and the intentionally uninformed as possible.

Besides, I wonder whether Naughton has ever tried to read "a user agreement".
I have, namely - repeatedly - tried to read the "user agreements" Adobe forced its users to agree they "have read", noting (1) these are written in endless legalese bullshit that nobody who is not a trained lawyer (with specific knowledge about the field) can possibly understand, and (2) you do not get any choice but this one: Either you agree to having read what almost no one can read and understand, or else no more movies. (For Adobe has the monopoly.)

As to the understanding: There are, in fact, so many of these "user agreements" that no user has the time to read all or most with any chance of real comprehension, also because (a) the
chance of any real comprehension has been made intentionally as difficult as possible by the legalese minds who crafted the legalese prose, and (b) because even if you may have some understanding, this will probably also fail, because there are other terms that insist that the terms used are not used in the ordinary senses.

But "We", including the half whose IQs are under 100, and covering all of us who may be a lot brighter, but still do not know the greatest part of what our governments do in secret, are responsible for the evils done to us - not the persons doing the evils, not the corporations profiting from tge evils, not the governments who keep it all secret on flimsy pretexts: "We" are responsible.

My goodness! What utter total crap!

7.  The Top 5 Planks of a 2016 GOP Platform: Torture, War, Bank Corruption and Paid-For Elections

The next item is an article by Juan Cole, that I found on Truthdig but that originates on Cole's website:
Note first this is about the platform of the GOP, and not - necessarily - other platforms. Here are the three most important GOP-points, in part:

1.  With a few noble exceptions like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Republican Party spokesmen, Republican politicians, and Republican media like Fox Cable News, defended torture.  This defense was mounted from so many directions by so many Republicans that it now seems indisputable that the party stands for the principle of rectal hydration.  Since torture is illegal in American law, presumably they want to repeal the 5th and 8th amendments to the constitution.

2.  The Republican Party stands for the principle that elections should be stolen by the rich who pay the most for them.  The new bill multiplies permitted donations by a factor of ten.

3.  The GOP wants the US taxpayer to be made to bail out risky, casino-like “derivatives.”

There is considerably more under the last dotted link, but this is correct, and indeed the GOP now
(...) represents the 3 million wealthiest Americans, and has no scruples that might interfere in doing exactly what the 1% tells them to do.
Whether the program will work remains to be seen (but they have an enormous amount of dollars to convict the half with IQs under 100, and these are all that need to be convinced to win the elections).

8. 'Victory' Declared as Source Reveals DOJ Will Not Force James Risen Testimony

The next and last item for today is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams, and is the only bit of good news - if it holds up, that is:
This starts as follows:
In what supporters are calling a "big victory for defying illegitimate authority," the Department of Justice will reportedly not force New York Times journalist James Risen to testify against a source in court, an unnamed official told news outlets on Friday.

According to a senior Justice Department official, Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered that if the Pulitzer prize-winning investigative reporter is called to testify, that he must not be required to reveal "information about the identity of his source."

Well...yes...but...Holder is scheduled for replacement. And a trial may take a long time. And the replacement of Holder may not feel like Holder seems to feel.

There is more under the last dotted link.
[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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