March 14, 2015
Crisis:  Greenwald, Patriot Act 2.0, Assange, Iceland, What is the crisis series?
  "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

Prev- crisis -Next

1. The Orwellian Re-Branding of “Mass Surveillance” as
     Merely “Bulk Collection”

2. 'Patriot Act 2.0'? Senate Cybersecurity Bill Seen as Trojan
     Horse for More Spying

Breakthrough? Swedish Prosecutors Drop Refusal to
     Interview Assange in UK

Iceland Does The Unimaginable To Its Criminal Bankers
5. What is the crisis series?


This is a Nederlog of Saturday, March 14, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about Glenn Greenwald who explains some recent intentionally misleading baloney on mass surveillance; item 2 is about a recent cybersecurity act that seems like a Patriot Act 2.0; item 3 is about Sweden's decision to - after more than 4 years - interview Assange in London; item 4 is about Icelandic bankers who did have to go to court and who were convicted; and item 5 is my answer to the question what is the crisis series (and may be skipped if you think you know).

1.  The Orwellian Re-Branding of “Mass Surveillance” as Merely “Bulk Collection”

The first item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Just as the Bush administration and the U.S. media re-labelled “torture” with the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” to make it more palatable, the governments and media of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance are now attempting to re-brand “mass surveillance” as “bulk collection” in order to make it less menacing (and less illegal). In the past several weeks, this is the clearly coordinated theme that has arisen in the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the last defense against the Snowden revelations, as those governments seek to further enhance their surveillance and detention powers under the guise of terrorism.
That seems a good guess - and I refer to the re-branding of “mass surveillance” as “bulk collection”. And here is Glenn Greenwald's explanation of how this works:

This re-definition game goes as follows: yes, we vacuum up and store literally as much of the internet as we possibly can. Then we analyze all the data about what you’re doing, with whom you’re speaking, and who your network of associates is. Based on that analysis of all of you and your activities, we then read the communications that we want (with virtually no checks and concealing from you what percentage of it we’re reading), and store as much of the rest of it as technology permits for future trolling. But don’t worry: we’re only reading the Bad People’s emails. So run along then: no mass surveillance here. Just bulk collection! It’s not mass surveillance, but “enhanced collection techniques.” 

One of the many facts that made the re-defining of “torture” so corrupt and indisputably invalid was that there was long-standing law making clear that exactly these interrogation techniques used by the U.S. government were torture and thus illegal. The same is true of this obscene attempt to re-define “mass surveillance” as nothing more than mere innocent “bulk collection.”

Yes, indeed - and I like to remark that I have discussed Hazel Blears yesterday,
and indeed used the term "Orwellian" for her.

Here is Glenn Greenwald's reason:

As Caspar Bowden points out, EU law is crystal clear that exactly what these agencies are doing constitutes illegal mass surveillance. From the 2000 decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Amann v. Switzerland, which found a violation of the right to privacy guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and rejected the defense from the government that no privacy violation occurs if the data is not reviewed or exploited:

The Court reiterates that the storing of data relating to the “private life” of an individual falls within the application of Article 8 § 1  . . . . The Court reiterates that the storing by a public authority of information relating to an individual’s private life amounts to an interference within the meaning of Article 8. The subsequent use of the stored information has no bearing on that finding (emphasis added).

Yes, although it seems to me that Article 8 may be pretty useless - but I agree with Greenwald's argument, and will leave this to lawyers (which I am not).

There is considerably more in the article, which is recommended reading.

2. 'Patriot Act 2.0'? Senate Cybersecurity Bill Seen as Trojan Horse for More Spying 

The next item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee approved a cybersecurity bill during a secret session on Thursday, marking the next step in a process that critics warn will nefariously expand the government's already substantial surveillance powers.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which passed by 14-1 vote, would ostensibly protect against large-scale data thefts of private consumer information, exemplified by recent hacks of Target, Sony, and Home Depot. But critics—including the lone dissenting voice on the committee Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Or.)—say it would open the door for continued invasive and unlawful government spying operations.

Although Wyden denounced the measure as "a surveillance bill by another name," his opposition was unable to stop the proposal from being approved by the committee.

There is also this on the real impact:

However, as ACLU media strategist Rachel Nusbaum noted on Thursday, making information-sharing "voluntary" during criminal proceedings means that the government would be able to obtain private data without a warrant.

That includes any instance in which the government uses the Espionage Act to go after whistleblowers, who, according to Nusbaum, "already face, perhaps, the most hostile environment in U.S. history." The new measure, she continued, "fails to limit what the government can do with the vast amount of data to be shared with it" by the these companies." Nusbaum called the measure "one of those privacy-shredding bills in cybersecurity clothing."

"This bill is arguably much worse than CISPA [Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act] and, despite its name, shouldn't be seen as anything other than a surveillance bill—think Patriot Act 2.0," Nusbaum said.

There is considerably more in the article, which is also recommended reading.

3. Breakthrough? Swedish Prosecutors Drop Refusal to Interview Assange in UK

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

This starts as follows (and continues a Nederlog of February 25, last)

Both a lawyer and spokesperson for WikiLeaks expressed relief on Friday that Swedish prosecutors are now willing travel to London to interview founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, even as they characterized as ridiculous that fact that it took well over four years to accept such an arrangement.

Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than three years under asylum protection after allegations over sexual misconduct in Sweden sparked a legal battle over extradition. Assange has denied wrongdoing but repeatedly said he would be willing to answer all questions regarding the accusations and details of the case. However, he refused to return to Sweden stating fears of being extradited to the United States over a sealed indictment in that country related to his work with WikiLeaks exposing government and military secrets contained in leaked documents provided by U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

This is a success for Julian Assange, although it is hard bought. For as John Pilger said (also in the article):
I have closely followed the Julian Assange case from the beginning. The Swedish prosecutor's move is demonstrably cynical. In finally agreeing to come to London to interview Assange  - something Assange and his legal team have been asking her to do for more than four years - she has waited until just before Sweden's statute of limitations nullifies her patently threadbare case against him and kept Assange trapped in the UK while the US continues to pursue its unprecedented espionage case against Assange and WikiLeaks. She has wasted four and a half years of Assange's life -- against whom she has never produced a shred of evidence with which to formally charge him with any crime. Moreover, she is directly responsible for wasting millions of pounds of British taxpayers' money that have been spent on the policing of the Ecuadorean embassy in London. Her behaviour is scandalous.

Yes indeed - and Ms Ny is not coming to London because she sympathizes with Assange; she comes to London because otherwise she must drop her case.

4. Iceland Does The Unimaginable To Its Criminal Bankers

The next item is not an article but a video, namely by The Young Turks. The video takes 4 m 1 s: The video is here mostly because I could not find an article, and while I mostly agree with it, it also shows why I show less TYT videos than I used to:

The video outlines that a number of Icelandic bankers have been convicted to between 4 and 5 years jail for their roles in bringing down Iceland in 2008, but goes on to suggest that Iceland (with a little more than 325,000 inhabitants) can be compared with the U.S. (with over 300 million inhabitants), which seems a bit misleading.

And while I strongly agree that bankers ought to be prosecuted, also in the U.S., I suggest one main reason that the Icelandic bankers could be prosecuted is that they were not part of Goldman Sachs.

5. What is the crisis series?    

The last item today is not about an article by someone else, but is a brief answer to the question

The answer, in turn, is motivated by the facts that (1) there were not many crisis items today, and (2) there are now around 800 crisis items (as you can see by clicking the last link), while also (3) most of the entries in Nederlog since June 10, 2013 are crisis items, which was not the case until then.

Here are some brief comments on the last two facts.

The crisis series is a series in Nederlog whose title starts with "Crisis" and whose subject is the crisis that broke out in the second half of 2008 in the Western economies, after the banks failed in major ways.

I think it was crisis then, and wrote the first item of the future series on September 1, 2008, in Dutch, and I still think it is crisis now, at least for the 90% that are not financially well off or rich.

But it also is a fact that I understand the term "crisis" in a somewhat wider sense than is usual, and that is well explained here:
Second, the crisis series is written by me, and I am somewhat special: I am the son and grandson of Dutch communists; my father and grandfather were arrested in 1941 by the Nazis, and convicted by collaborating Dutch judges as "political terrorists" to the concentration camp, that my grandfather did not survive (and in fact I do not know of anyone else in Holland with such a father and such a  grandfather); I was a communist till 20, when I gave up on both communism and on politics (thinking science was a a much better instrument to emancipate people than politics); I have studied philosophy, in which I got an excellent B.A. but was removed from the faculty of philosophy as a student because I - with complete justification - said, as an invited speaker, that the professors and lecturers I had had were nearly all incompetent, lazy and only interested in their own status and in money; I am ill for 37 years now with a rare and difficult disease; after having been removed from philosophy, I made - still ill - a brilliant M.A. in psychology (average 9.3 out of 10 maximally); and also I was from august 1988 till February 1992 the victim of illegal drugsdealers who had been given personal permission by Amsterdam's mayor to deal illegal drugs from the bottom floor of the house where I lived (not: where he lived), who made an awful amount of noise and threatened me with murder when I protested, and who also tried to gas me, and almost succeeded in doing so.

But none of these facts were ever taken up by Amsterdam's municipal police or anyone else: The Dutch love their illegal drugs, and mayors and aldermen of Amsterdam have started an enormous business in illegal drugs that the mayors and aldermen personally permit to be dealt anyway, that turns over at the very
least 10 billion euros a year merely in soft drugs (marijuana and hashish), according to the 1996 Parliamentary Report. According to themselves, they know nothing except that they permit it; according to me it is far more probable they - somehow: I don't know how - make a percentage.

Also, apart from my rather special - communist, antifascist - family background I am special in being uncommonly intelligent (which is what enabled me to finish my studies brilliantly while being ill and much discriminated) and quite learned.

Finally, about Nederlog and my site.

Nederlog is a series of files that got started in August of 2004, when I got a new site, and has grown into a daily (mostly) reflection on the things that interest me. At present, there are some 3000 Nederlogs on my site, that take over 150 MB of html.

And my site exists since the end of 1996, and is now around 500 MB, that are split up into directories of directories, that are about philosophy, logic, computing and M.E (the disease I have since 1.i.1979), apart from Nederlog and M.E. in Amsterdam (in Dutch).

P.S. March 15, 2015: Corrected a "there" to "their".

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