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Nederlog

February 27, 2015
Crisis: Net neutrality*2, FBI, Black Site, Keystone Pipeline, Constitutional Rights, me
  "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. Net Neutrality Is Here — Thanks To an Unprecedented
     Guerrilla Activism Campaign

2. Why Does the FBI Have to Manufacture its Own Plots if
     Terrorism and ISIS Are Such Grave Threats?

3.
'Gestapo' tactics at US police 'black site' ring alarm from
     Chicago to Washington

4.
Victory in D.C.: FCC Votes in Favor of New Net Neutrality
     Rules (Video)

5.
How NAFTA Could Spoil a Keystone XL Rejection
6. Pop Quiz: How Many Constitutional Rights Have We Lost?
7. This is early, for I am going to cycle


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, February 27, 2015.

This is a crisis blog and there are 7 items in it with 6 dotted links: Item 1 and item 4 are about net neutrality (that was passed); item 2 is about the FBI; item 3 is about the black site employed by the Chcago police; item 5 is about the Keystone pipe line veto (that may still be upset); item 6 is a - long and thorough - article about the major decline in constitutional rights in the U.S. and item 7
is a brief explanation why I am glad that I can go cycling this afternoon. (In part: Because I just couldn't, from 1998-2013: I was too miserable and ill).

1. Net Neutrality Is Here — Thanks To an Unprecedented Guerrilla Activism Campaign

The first item today is an article by Lee Fang on The Intercept:

This starts as follows (and "this morning" is on February 26, 2015):

This morning, the Federal Communications Commission voted to guarantee the open Internet through so-called net neutrality rules, and with it, forged ahead with one of the biggest policy accomplishments of the Obama administration.

“This is probably the most important ruling in the history of the FCC,” says Tim Karr, campaign director for Free Press.

Net neutrality, a principle that all Internet traffic must be treated equally, was a founding concept for the web. But many Internet service providers have attempted to change that. Cell phone companies have attempted to block apps that could compete with their services and cable companies have pressed for paid prioritization, seeking extra income by forcing users to pay for faster connections to select websites.

I say! Well, this is Really Good News, it seems. And as to the attempts sketched in the last paragraph:

Now, with the FCC voting to reclassify Internet access providers under Title II of the Communications Act, net neutrality rules are stronger than ever. The credit for such a seachange, say activists who agitated for the decision, belongs to a mix of online and traditional activism.

There is also this:
To be sure, telephone and Internet companies are likely to try to undermine the rules that were voted on today.

But it seems the first and the biggest fight has been won. There is more under the last dotted link, and the fight isn't over yet, but this is a good result.

2. Why Does the FBI Have to Manufacture its Own Plots if Terrorism and ISIS Are Such Grave Threats?

The next item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

The FBI and major media outlets yesterday trumpeted the agency’s latest counterterrorism triumph: the arrest of three Brooklyn men, ages 19 to 30, on charges of conspiring to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS (photo of joint FBI/NYPD press conference, above). As my colleague Murtaza Hussain ably documents, “it appears that none of the three men was in any condition to travel or support the Islamic State, without help from the FBI informant.” One of the frightening terrorist villains told the FBI informant that, beyond having no money, he had encountered a significant problem in following through on the FBI’s plot: his mom had taken away his passport. Noting the bizarre and unhinged ranting of one of the suspects, Hussain noted on Twitter that this case “sounds like another victory for the FBI over the mentally ill.”

In this regard, this latest arrest appears to be quite similar to the overwhelming majority of terrorism arrests the FBI has proudly touted over the last decade.

Yes, indeed. Glenn Greenwald also quotes from an article he and Andrew Fishman wrote last month:

The known facts from this latest case seem to fit well within a now-familiar FBI pattern whereby the agency does not disrupt planned domestic terror attacks but rather creates them, then publicly praises itself for stopping its own plots.

Precisely - and this is in fact a very dangerous strategy: the FBI (and the CIA, the NSA, the GCHQ etc.) should be forbidden to create (apparent) "domestic terror attacks", for then they can (and do) secretly create the terror they themselves are supposed to secretly foil.

Glenn Greenwald also says:

One can, if one really wishes, debate whether the FBI should be engaging in such behavior. For reasons I and many others have repeatedly argued, these cases are unjust in the extreme: a form of pre-emptory prosecution where vulnerable individuals are targeted and manipulated not for any criminal acts they have committed but rather for the bad political views they have expressed. They end up sending young people to prison for decades for “crimes” which even their sentencing judges acknowledge they never would have seriously considered, let alone committed, in the absence of FBI trickery.

Precisely - and you should, in a free and democratic state, not prosecute people for the opinions they hold. You may disagree with them, discuss them,
and point out why they are mistaken (in your opinion), but that's it, as long
as it remain mere opinions (as they usually are, also often of very young men with little education).

But Glenn Greenwald puts the question aside, and instead discusses how real  "the threats of terrorism" are, and points out - among other things - that there have been nearly 120,000 gun murders in the U.S. between 2002 and 2011, while there were no more than around 3000 victims of terrorism, and nearly all on 9/11.

I'll leave that to your interests, but I do want to quote an UPDATE that was later added, because it seems as if the FBI's assistant director has learned from Hermann Goering:

UPDATE: The ACLU of Massachusetts’s Kade Crockford notes this extraordinarily revealing quote from former FBI assistant director Thomas Fuentes, as he defends one of the worst FBI terror “sting” operations of all (the Cromitie prosecution we describe at length here):

If you’re submitting budget proposals for a law enforcement agency, for an intelligence agency, you’re not going to submit the proposal that “We won the war on terror and everything’s great,” cuz the first thing that’s gonna happen is your budget’s gonna be cut in half. You know, it’s my opposite of Jesse Jackson’s ‘Keep Hope Alive’—it’s ‘Keep Fear Alive.’ Keep it alive.

That is the FBI’s terrorism strategy — keep fear alive — and it drives everything they do.

And this is one possible source for it:

 

"It works the same in every country".

3.'Gestapo' tactics at US police 'black site' ring alarm from Chicago to Washington

The next item is an article by Spencer Ackerman, Zach Stafford, Mark Guarino, and Oliver Laughland on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The US Department of Justice and embattled mayor Rahm Emanuel are under mounting pressure to investigate allegations of what one politician called “CIA or Gestapo tactics” at a secretive Chicago police facility exposed by the Guardian.

Politicians and civil-rights groups across the US expressed shock upon hearing descriptions of off-the-books interrogation at Homan Square, the Chicago warehouse that multiple lawyers and one shackled-up protester likened to a US counter-terrorist black site in a Guardian investigation published this week.

As three more people came forward detailing their stories of being “held hostage” and “strapped” inside Homan Square without access to an attorney or an official public record of their detention by Chicago police, officials and activists said the allegations merited further inquiry and risked aggravating wounds over community policing and race that have reached as high as the White House.
There is a lot more in the article.

4.  Victory in D.C.: FCC Votes in Favor of New Net Neutrality Rules (Video)

The next item is an article by Kasia Anderson on Truthdig, with some further details on the event reported in item 1:
This starts as follows:

Score one for net neutrality advocates, and strike one for big telecom and cable companies—not to mention a good many Republicans.

The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday, on a 3-2 tally, to approve the new guidelines for Internet regulation that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed Feb. 4.

Also read: The Activists Won: FCC Chairman Proposes Strongest-Ever Protection of Internet Freedom

The vote represents a big victory for supporters of a more open Internet than many vested corporations would prefer, as Variety reported after the announcement:

The FCC’s approach is one favored by many public interest groups, Hollywood content creators and a large number of web companies including Netflix and Twitter: It is reclassifying Internet service as a Title II telecommunications service, a regulatory designation akin to that of a utility.

OK - and this last decision ("It is reclassifying Internet service as a Title II telecommunications service, a regulatory designation akin to that of a utility") is one I missed in the other report.

Is the battle over? No:
The sharply divided 3-2 vote on Thursday may not spell the end of a decade-long debate over net neutrality but a new period of contentiousness. The FCC’s approach is strongly opposed by cable and telecom companies which provide wired and wireless Internet service, along with congressional Republicans who have already launched hearings and inquiries into the FCC’s rulemaking.
But the beginning of the present article ("Score one for net neutrality advocates, and strike one for big telecom and cable companies—not to mention a good many Republicans") is accurate.

5. How NAFTA Could Spoil a Keystone XL Rejection

The next item is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows - and this explains in part why I was skeptical about Obama's rejection of the Keystone pipeline (also in part because Obama is a strong proponent of the horrible - and secret - TTP and TTIP,  that bring
much more of the same as NAFTA did):

Environmental campaigners cheered this week when President Barack Obama vetoed a Congressional bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline, and urged him to stand up for the climate and fully reject TransCanada's tar sands pipeline project.

Yet if that rejection happens, observers point out that it could put a costly burden on U.S. taxpayers.

That's because of the corporate-friendly North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

And the problem with NAFTA (and the TTP and the TTIP) gets explained by Senator Elizabeth Warren as follows, in a recent op-ed in The Washington Post:
Imagine that the United States bans a toxic chemical that is often added to gasoline because of its health and environmental consequences. If a foreign company that makes the toxic chemical opposes the law, it would normally have to challenge it in a U.S. court. But with ISDS, the company could skip the U.S. courts and go before an international panel of arbitrators. If the company won, the ruling couldn’t be challenged in U.S. courts, and the arbitration panel could require American taxpayers to cough up millions — and even billions — of dollars in damages. If that seems shocking, buckle your seat belt. ISDS could lead to gigantic fines, but it wouldn’t employ independent judges. Instead, highly paid corporate lawyers would go back and forth between representing corporations one day and sitting in judgment the next.
In fact, that is a very real possibility:
"If the pipeline is actually vetoed on so-called environmental grounds, I think there is a very strong case for a NAFTA challenge," former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. Derek Burney, a senior negotiator on the landmark North American trade deal and its U.S.-Canada predecessor, said in an interview Wednesday.
There is more in the article, that ends as follows, with a quote from Lori Wallach, who is the director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch:
Given NAFTA’s record of damage, it is equal parts disgusting and infuriating that now President Barack Obama has joined the corporate Pinocchios who lied about NAFTA in recycling similar claims to try to sell the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is NAFTA-on-steroids.
Yes, indeed.

6. Pop Quiz: How Many Constitutional Rights Have We Lost?

The last item for today is an article by Washington's Blog on his site:
This starts as follows (colors in the original):

How Many Constitutional Freedoms Have We Lost?

This post explains the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights – the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution – and provides a scorecard on the extent of the loss of each right. (This is an updated version of an essay we wrote in February. Unfortunately, a lot of information has come out since then.)

It is the beginning of a long, thoughtful article with many links, that I leave to your interests. This is a brief quotation from near the end:

Indeed, the federal government is doing everything it can to stick its nose into every aspect of our lives … and act like Big Brother.

Conclusion: While a few of the liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights still exist, the vast majority are under heavy assault.

I agree.

7. This is early, for I am going to cycle

This is merely to explain the title of this section: I heard yesterday on the radio that it will be dry and sunny in Amsterdam today, which indeed so far it is, and
so I decided to go cycling this afternoon.

This may not sound like much to most - indeed it isn't - but I have not been able to cycle since 1998 (I think - anyway: since the previous millenium) and did not have a bike till September 2013, when I started again, and have since kept this up (carefully, and not more than an hour maximally, and not more than maximally twice a week).

You ask why I was so miserable for at least 15 years?

Because mayor Van Thijn of Amsterdam did not answer any of my mails about the Amsterdam corrupt city police, who helped the illegal drugsdealers
that were given illegal "personal permission" by Van Thijn to deal illegal drugs from the bottom floor in the house where I lived (not where he lived); illegal drugsdealers who threatened me repeatedly with murder when I complained about their noise, that the City police refused to take any complaint about, for years on end; who tried to gas me and almost succeeded (I did fall unconscious to the floor); and who were defended ever since, even when they were arrested with 2 kilos of heroin and 1 kilo of cocaine in the summer of 1991, by everyone who worked in any capacity for the City of Amsterdam (where most of the at least 10 billion euros only in marijuana and hashish that are turned over illegally in Holland each year since the 1980ies). [1]

And because no official medical doctor - employed by the City of Amsterdam - saw it fit to rule that I was ill, in spite of the fact that I fell ill on 1.I.1979 as a first year student, and finished with a 9.3 average (out of maximally 10) with an M.A. in psychology. I did not even get 10 euros a week to clean my house, and
mayor Cohen, like mayor Van Thijn, pretended for nearly 10 years that I do not exist, and certainly deserve no answer for being gassed, for being threatened with murder, and for not being able to sleep properly for nearly four years.

So yes...it is pretty amazing I am still alive, and well enough to cycle.
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Note

[1] This is also why I think illegal drugsdealing was and is the main business that is being done in Amsterdam since 30 years - billions of illegal euros turned over each year - simply because it is extremely profitable to very many, and is being presided by the mayor, the aldermen and the lawyers of the City of Amsterdam, who act like criminals every since Van Thijn started it his illegal protection of illegal drugsdealers. (Can there be done anything about it? Not by the Dutch: They profited far too much, far too long, and are far too corrupt.)

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