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Nederlog

January 18, 2015
Crisis: Digital Arms Race, Calls Tracked,  Anti-realist  Neocons,  Public Schools, TV & honesty
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "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
















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Sections
Introduction

1. The Digital Arms Race: NSA Preps America for Future
     Battle

2. Justice Department Tracked International Calls in Secret
3.
Neocons: The ‘Anti-Realists’
4.
'A Nation in Decline': Majority of US Public School
     Students Live in Poverty

5. TV wide shots reveal a different perspective on world
     leaders
 


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, January 18, 2015.

This is a crisis log. It has 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a - long, thorough - article in the international Spiegel, also 36 pdf's of Snowden's materials; item 2 is a brief item that shows international phonecalls to and from the U.S. were tracked since the 1990s; item 3 is a good article on the neo-cons, who indeed have hardly any tie to reality (and this is about politicians rather than Fox News); item 4 shows good evidence that at present over half of the public school pupils in the U.S. live in poverty; and item 5 shows a photo taken from French TV that suggests that "Our Political Leaders" in fact were not part of the "Je Suis Charlie" demonstration in Paris they were supposed to lead (but instead they posed in a site street).

1. The Digital Arms Race: NSA Preps America for Future Battle

The first item today is an article by 9 authors (including Appelbaum and Poitras) on the international Spiegel:
This is a fairly long "two-page" article (on the computer) that also comes with 36 pdfs, that take together over 338 MB. This looks a lot like a continuation of "Prying Eyes: Inside the NSA's War on Internet Security" of December 29, that I reviewed on that day, and that came with 44 pdfs, that took almost 236 MB.

In fact, I've downloaded all (over 500 MB), simply because that is the best way to have a peep into Edward Snowden's materials. In case you are really interested, I recommend you do the same, for indeed I know no other source. (I did look at some 5 of these files, and may return to some later in Nederlog.)

And here are two quotations from the article (which I think you should read all of).

The first is on the wars of the future that the NSA is preparing for:

According to top secret documents from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden seen exclusively by SPIEGEL, they are planning for wars of the future in which the Internet will play a critical role, with the aim of being able to use the net to paralyze computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control, including power and water supplies, factories, airports or the flow of money.

During the 20th century, scientists developed so-called ABC weapons -- atomic, biological and chemical. It took decades before their deployment could be regulated and, at least partly, outlawed. New digital weapons have now been developed for the war on the Internet. But there are almost no international conventions or supervisory authorities for these D weapons, and the only law that applies is the survival of the fittest.

The second is on the safety of civlians and non-combatants:

In this guerilla war over data, little differentiation is made between soldiers and civilians, the Snowden documents show. Any Internet user could suffer damage to his or her data or computer. It also has the potential to create perils in the offline world as well. If, for example, a D weapon like Barnfire were to destroy or "brick" the control center of a hospital as a result of a programming error, people who don't even own a mobile phone could be affected.

Intelligence agencies have adopted "plausible deniability" as their guiding principle for Internet operations. To ensure their ability to do so, they seek to make it impossible to trace the author of the attack.

It's a stunning approach with which the digital spies deliberately undermine the very foundations of the rule of law around the globe. This approach threatens to transform the Internet into a lawless zone in which superpowers and their secret services operate according to their own whims with very few ways to hold them accountable for their actions.

Quite so. For more, use the last dotted link.

2. Justice Department Tracked International Calls in Secret

The next item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as follows (and isn't long):

The U.S. Justice Department kept a secret database of U.S. calls made to and from foreign countries, a new court filing and officials familiar with the program say.

The filing, which was in regard to a man accused of conspiring to illegally export electronics to Iran, did not say how many or which countries were involved.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

A Drug Enforcement Administration official said in the three-page filing that the agency has long used administrative subpoenas—not federal court orders—to collect the metadata of U.S. calls to and from foreign countries “that were determined to have a demonstrated nexus to international drug trafficking and related criminal activities.’’

It is claimed that the secret database started in the 1990s and was stopped in August 2013. And it is claimed the secret database was deleted.

Indeed, I am willing to believe it, for the NSA now has much better access, or so it seems to me. The interesting thing is that - although I can understand why drug traffickers may be tracked - this again seems to have happened illegally (with "
administrative subpoenas—not federal court orders").

3. Neocons: The ‘Anti-Realists’

The next item is an article by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:

Historically, one of the main threads of U.S. foreign policy was called “realism,” that is the measured application of American power on behalf of definable national interests, with U.S. principles preached to others but not imposed.

This approach traced back to the early days of the Republic when the first presidents warned of foreign “entangling alliances” – and President John Quincy Adams, who was with his father at the nation’s dawning, explained in 1821 that while America speaks on behalf of liberty, “she has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. …

“Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

However, in modern times, foreign policy “realism” slid into an association with a cold calculation of power, no longer a defense of the Republic and broader national interests but of narrow, well-connected economic interests. The language of freedom was woven into a banner for greed and plunder. Liberty justified the imposition of dictatorships on troublesome populations. Instead of searching for monsters to destroy, U.S. policy often searched for monsters to install.

It is a good article that I recommend you read all of. It ends as follows:

What the neocons have constructed through their skilled propaganda is a grim wonderland where no one foresees the dangers of encouraging Islamist fundamentalism as a geopolitical ploy, where no one takes heed of the historic hatreds of Sunni and Shiite, where no one suspects that the U.S. military slaughtering thousands upon thousands of Muslims might provoke a backlash, where no one thinks about the consequences of overthrowing regimes in unstable regions, where no one bothers to study the bitter history of a place like Ukraine, and where no one worries about spreading turmoil to nuclear-armed Russia.

Yet, this neocon madness – this “anti-realism” – has been playing out in the real world on a grand scale, destroying real lives and endangering the real future of the planet.

Yes, indeed.

4. 'A Nation in Decline': Majority of US Public School Students Live in Poverty

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

A new study released on Friday shows that more than half of students enrolled in U.S. public schools live in poverty, a measurement that the report's authors say places the U.S. on the road to overall social decline.

Released by the Southern Education Foundation, the new analysis (pdf) used the most recent national census figures available to confirm that 51 percent of the students across the nation’s public schools were low income in 2013.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link - but this illustrates also why the crisis does continue, though indeed not for the top 10% of the incomes: The 90% remain as poor as they were - or grow poorer. 

5. TV wide shots reveal a different perspective on world leaders 

The last item today is an article by Adam Withnall on The Independent:
This contains the following screenshot from French TV News "of the Leaders of the Demonstration" (and the feet in the top of the picture may be anyone's):

And it has - i.a. - the following text:

Now, a different perspective on the leader’s portion of the march has emerged in the form of a wide shot displayed on French TV news reports.

It shows that the front line of leaders was followed by just over a dozen rows other dignitaries and officials – after which there was a large security presence maintaining a significant gap with the throngs of other marchers.

The measure was presumably taken for security reasons – but political commentators have suggested that it raises doubts as to whether the leaders were really part of the march at all.

I say.
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