May 20, 2015
Crisis: Snowden *2, Bees'  Health, Obama and Police, Scheer & Hedges
  "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


Edward Snowden: ‘If I Had Taken [the NSA] Documents to
     Congress, I Would’ve Gone to Jail’

2. US Officials Leak Information About the ISIS Raid That’s
     More Sensitive Than Anything Snowden Ever Leaked

3. 'The Bees Can't Wait': White House Plan to Save   
     Pollinators Falls Short, Say Experts
4. President Obama Bans Federal Government From Giving
     Police Militarized Gear

5. Scheer and Hedges: They Know Everything About You

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, May 20, 2015.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about a recent interview with Edward Snowden (I have a few quotes but the full interview will only be published in 50 days); item 2 is also about Snowden, and presents evidence that the CIA recently published information (with the government's consent) that is far more dangerous than anything Snowden helped publish; item
is another item on bees' health (that is very important to our food), and shows the White House didn't do the right things; item 4 is about a decision by Obama that the American police will not be allowed to buy or get all the army gear they
acquired the last years: I take it this signifies the police have what they need; and
item 5 contains two links to two videos with parts of an interview by Chris Hedges of Robert Scheer, that I find quite interesting, and that I strongly recommend you see.

This file is uploaded a bit earlier than is normal for me.

Edward Snowden: ‘If I Had Taken [the NSA] Documents to Congress, I Would’ve Gone to Jail’

The first item today is an article by Natasha Hakimi Zapata on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:
Addressing an audience at Stanford University via video chat on Friday, Edward Snowden discussed the moral conundrums he faced as a whistleblower. He also revealed the fears he still harbors about government surveillance, and he made some recommendations on how authorities should address whistleblowers and surveillance.
"Friday" is May 15, 2015, and I say so because the full interview will be made available, it says in the next paragraph, on July 3, 2015. That is 50 days later.

This is no fault of Truthdig, for they did not make the interview. Indeed, I am not saying this is anybody's fault, though I do find a full 7 weeks a very long time to type out the text of an interview.

Anyway - here are a few bits:
“I don’t think about myself or how I will be perceived. It’s not about me. It’s about us. I’m not a hero. I’m not a traitor. I’m an ordinary American like anyone else in the room,” said Snowden. “I’m just trying to do the best that I can.”
I disagree - and see June 10, 2013, when I first heard and wrote about Snowden:
He clearly is an extra-ordinary man (as I said on June 10, 2013, and as indeed I think quite a few agree with me), and my reasons are simply first, that he did what he did, which took extra-ordinary courage, and second, that nobody else (or hardly anybody else [1]) had the same courage as he did.

Also, while I don't expect Edward Snowden to agree with me (and indeed it would be rather odd for him to agree that he is extra-ordinary and a hero: I do understand that much) but I think quite a few good judges of character - Daniel Ellsberg (<- Wikipedia), for example - do agree with me.

There is also this, with which I agree:
“The Internet goes into our homes and also into the confines of our mind. That’s where we confide in friends, that’s where we express ourselves, that’s where we develop our thoughts. It’s where we decide what we believe in and who we want to be.”...Snowden recommended two major policy changes: ending mass surveillance and better protecting whistleblowers. On the first point, he cited the “infective” nature of surveillance projects and the ineffectuality of the NSA’s data collection in producing any concrete security outcome. On the second point, he argued for creating independent agencies staffed by civil liberties advocates to handle cases like his.
Yes, and in fact I think still far too few really understand that the whole relation of the very few who are in government and everyone they govern has totally changed with the NSA and with universal surveillance and has given all powers to the very few who do the surveillance and those who command them: Now the very few know everything about anyone, and also can manipulate everyone as they please, and in complete secrecy. [2]

There also is this, which in fact outlines modern western government:
Snowden spoke at length about the institutional failures in the U.S. government that allowed for the NSA activities in question to occur.

"The courts were frozen out, the majority of Congress was frozen out, the populace was frozen out," he said.
That is: Everyone who should have known, and everyone who should have had the information to base their consent or disagreement on, were lied to, deceived, misinformed and not informed by the few holders of real power in the goverment and the NSA.

That is: the judges, the members of Congress and the population were betrayed by their governments, and treated as if they were already second or third class subservients who had no right to know the information that could in the end decide over their lives, their health, their incomes and their chances.

This also has become the norm: The U.S. government simply classifies everything it wants to keep secret, also if this involves the chances on life, happiness, freedom, income and status of - literally - hundreds of millions of its subservients who pay it by paying their taxes, and does what it pleases.

Two of the worst examples are the TTP and the TTIP that, if they become law, will
steal the sovereignty of the states and of the peoples they govern, and give them to the bosses and owners of the few multi-national corporations, who will be able to block any law that might endanger their profitability.

2. US Officials Leak Information About the ISIS Raid That’s More Sensitive Than Anything Snowden Ever Leaked

The next item today is an article by Trevor Timm on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Over the weekend, the US government announced that special forces soldiers entered Syria to conduct a raid that killed an alleged leader of ISIS, Abu Sayyaf. In the process, anonymous US officials leaked classified information to the New York Times that’s much more sensitive than anything Edward Snowden ever revealed, and it serves as a prime example of the government’s hypocrisy when it comes to disclosures of secret information.

Here’s how the New York Times described how the US conducted this “successful” raid:

The raid came after weeks of surveillance of Abu Sayyaf, using information gleaned from a small but growing network of informants the C.I.A. and the Pentagon have painstakingly developed in Syria, as well as satellite imagery, drone reconnaissance and electronic eavesdropping, American officials said. The White House rejected initial reports from the region that attributed the raid to the forces of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

Read that carefully and pretend it was Snowden who leaked this information, instead of nameless Pentagon spokesmen. US officials would be screaming from the rooftops that he leaked extremely timely and sensitive intelligence (it was literally only hours old), that he will cause specific terrorists to change their communications behavior, and most importantly, he put the lives of informants at risk. (Note: none of Snowden’s leaks did any of these things.)

Yes, indeed. The rest of the article explains this in some detail, and I will leave it to your interests.

3. 'The Bees Can't Wait': White House Plan to Save Pollinators Falls Short, Say Experts

The next item is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
Faced with the growing crisis of declining bee populations, the White House on Tuesday released its strategy for improving pollinator health. Almost immediately, experts decried the plan, saying it "misses the mark" by refusing to acknowledge the overwhelming role that pesticides play in driving bee deaths.
Yes indeed - and I have been (more or less) following the story of the bees simply because I realized that without bees we are all dead. It really is as simple as that. Clearly, we aren't there yet, but there are very much more deaths of colonies of bees, and meanwhile scientists have found the probable cause: neonicotonoids.
Also, we do not need to kill all bees to get very serious difficulties with food supplies: considerably less bees than are needed to pollinate is all that is needed.

But the White House chose to ignore
neonicotinoids (<- Wikipedia), also while unfolding a lot of baloney:

However, experts note that absent from the plan is any immediate action restricting the use of pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, which studies have shown to be one of the leading causes of bee deaths. Nor does the plan outline restrictions for pesticide-coated seeds, which advocates say are "one of the largest uses of bee-harming pesticides."

"The plan focuses heavily on improving pollinator habitat, but is blind to the fact that new habitat will simply become contaminated by insecticides still heavily in use, ultimately harming pollinators," said Larissa Walker, pollinator campaign director at Center for Food Safety. "We can’t just plant more wild flowers near crop land and expect insecticides to stop being a problem."

And Lisa Archer, Food and Technology Program director with Friends of the Earth, said the strategy "misses the mark by not adequately addressing the pesticides as a key driver of unsustainable losses of bees and other pollinators essential to our food system."

Yes. How much did Shell and Bayer contribute to Obama's re-election? (I don't know: I am just asking. But the neonicotinoids have been developed by them, and are now known for something like seven years as bee killers.)

Here are some more reactions:

"The actions described in this report aren’t enough to save our pollinators as long as bee-killing neonicotinoids are being used on more than 100 million acres in this country," said Lori Ann Burd, director of the Environmental Health Program at the Center for Biological Diversity.

"Our bees can’t wait for more reports and evaluations," Burd continued. "For bees and pollinators to survive and thrive, President Obama needs to order an immediate ban on neonicotinoids. And the EPA needs to stop dodging its consultation obligations and fully assess the impacts of neonicotinoids under the Endangered Species Act."

I agree, and there is more in the article. The only good news I have in this context is that fifteen European nations decided in 2013 to ban neonicotinoids for two years. (But I do not know how this stands today.)

4. President Obama Bans Federal Government From Giving Police Militarized Gear

The next item is another article by Natasha Hakimi Zapata on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
In an attempt to rein in the reckless federal transferral of military equipment to local police forces, the president made a “surprise announcement” Monday ordering that certain gear stop being provided to local police departments, which were starting to look like “occupying forces.” Although Obama did not ban all items on the list of gear being given to officers, the act is being viewed as a “symbolic” change.
I say. What is the reason for that? I must say that since I do not trust Obama at all (or any president or governmental official who is trying to push through the TPP and the TTIP without almost any discussion and with no amendments) my own best explanation is simply that by now the American police has bought or gottten most of the weapons it needs to suppress widespread protests.

Here is part of a quotation from The Los Angeles Times:

Speaking to a crowd in Camden, N.J., Obama contended that the heavy use of war zone equipment gives people the wrong impression about the role of police and fuels a sense of fear and anger.

“We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force, as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them,” Obama said. “It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message.”

But while the change stops the handover of some equipment, including weaponized aircraft, bayonets, grenade launchers and armored vehicles that run on tracks, it still allows police departments to acquire riot gear, specialized firearms and armored trucks with tires, as long as they get training and special permission from local authorities…
And indeed - as usual - the president said one thing, while doing another: He still allowed "police departments to acquire riot gear, specialized firearms and armored trucks with tires": he merely made it a bit more difficult for police departments to get weaponry they anyway will find little use for.

5. Scheer and Hedges: They Know Everything About You (2/7) + (3/7)   
The final item today is not an article but consists of links to two videos, namely parts 2 and 3 of Chris Hedges' interview of Robert Scheer, who recently published a book on surveillance and spying, They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies are Destroying Democracy:
Part 1 of the interview is here, on May 14, 2015. I strongly recommend that you watch these: they are two of the most knowledgeable and accomplished U.S. journalists, and the interviews are very well done.

I probably will make some remarks on this long interview, but not today, for I need to do some other things.
[1] I do recall some enthusiasm (and promises) for "more Edward Snowdens!" but so far, that is: nearly two years later, I am not aware of any. This doesn't mean there are none, but surely there are very few, if any, other persons who work in a similar capacity and who did what Snowden did.

[2] I think this is a decent summary paragraph - and please note that no one outside the NSA really knows what they are up to and have. Also please note that the situation sketched in the paragraph is completely new: Never in human history
have so few known so much about so many, largely also without the many knowing this and without knowing what they know about them and indeed also without having given any consent to gather all this information, in secret, without any permission.
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