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. The Inside Story of How
British Spies Hacked Belgium’s
2. Come clean on British links to torture, MPs tell US Senate
3. Tories accused of ‘trying to buy election’ with 23% hike
to campaign spending
4. Britain to send hundreds
more troops to Iraq, says
5. Low pay and zero-hours
contracts rise dramatically,
6. State surveillance is
enabled by our own sloppy habits
Top 5 Planks of a 2016 GOP Platform: Torture, War,
Bank Corruption and
Declared as Source Reveals DOJ Will Not Force
James Risen Testimony
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
Inside Story of How British Spies Hacked Belgium’s Largest Telco
item is an article by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:
This is a large piece
with an introduction. From the introduction:
Also, there is this:
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.
Snowden told The
Intercept that the latest revelations amounted to unprecedented
“smoking-gun attribution for a governmental cyber attack against
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.”
This was quoted from the
introduction. There is a lot more in the story, that is quite
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
2. Come clean on British links to torture, MPs
tell US Senate
item is an article by Mark Townsend and Jamie Doward on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
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".
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
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.
3. Tories accused of ‘trying to buy election’
with 23% hike to campaign spending
item is an article by Daniel Boffey on The Guardian:
This starts as follows
(and shows the Tories follow the GOP's American example):
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.
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”.
Also, the article shows how far British democracy has disappeared, and
has been replaced by deception
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
item is an article by Mark Townsend on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
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
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.
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
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
"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
item is an article by Yvonne Roberts in The Observer:
This has the following
TUC report shows
one in 12 in labour force now in ‘precarious employment’, huge rise
The article starts as follows:
Well... I'd say that
this is just the Great Britain David Cameron wants: The many
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
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.
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.
surveillance is enabled by our own
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
I agree with the
student, but not at all - it will emerge - with John Naughton.
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.
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
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.
The relevant extract from
the court transcript reads:
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.
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?”
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?
I say?! "We" -
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?!
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 (...)
Not the GCHQ, not the NSA, not the
governments who are keeping all this spying secret: "We" did it
ourselves, according to John
This is as wilfully stupid as Arnold. You cannot rationally
blame the millions or billions of deceived users, who know almost
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
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
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
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
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,
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
My goodness! What utter total crap!
7. The Top 5 Planks of a 2016 GOP Platform:
Torture, War, Bank Corruption and Paid-For Elections
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:
There is considerably
more under the last dotted link, but this is correct, and indeed the
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
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,
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).
Declared as Source Reveals DOJ Will Not Force James Risen Testimony
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.
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.
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."
There is more under the last dotted link.
 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.)
(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: