May 28, 2015
Crisis: Snowden, Assange, Greenwald, Sanders
  "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 a 'Total Hero,' Says Apple co-founder
     Steve Wozniak

2. Julian Assange on the TPP, NSA Spying, and his Own
     Ambiguous Future

On Patriot Act Renewal and USA Freedom Act: Glenn   
     Greenwald Talks With ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer

4. 20 Big Ideas From Bernie Sanders to Reverse Inequality,
     Expand Safety Nets and Stop America's Plutocrats

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, May 28, 2015.

This is a crisis log. There are 4 items but 8 dotted links, and indeed all items today are related to Snowden, Assange, Greenwald and Sanders: Item 1 is about a - nice and honest - reaction of the maker of the Apple I and II, Steve Wozniak; item 2 links no less than 5 interviews with Julian Assange by Amy Goodman, but doesn't
discuss them, because I had problems with locating the videos on Truthdig and Common Dreams, and I have problems with copying the text on Democracy Now!;
item 3 is about an interview Glenn Greenwald had with the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer that does clarify some about the current position in the Senate; and item 4 is basically a list with 20 proposals Sen. Sanders made recently (and I quote the proposals, but not Sanders' texts: check the link if interested).

So all in all this got to be a bit different than I originally expected, but at least
you can read Assange's texts.
1. Edward Snowden a 'Total Hero,' Says Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak

The first item today is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This also has a subtitle, with which I start, because it is quite adequate:
"It's almost like you can't have any secrets anymore," Steve Wozniak says. "And the modern generation just accepts this as the status quo."
Yes, indeed. I could say rather a lot about this, but will leave it out, except for saying that I don't like the modern consumers, if that is what they are. (But yes,
there always is a minority of gifted and sensible people, though these now - for the first time in history - may be found and "neutralized" by governmental spying. And no, I am not saying this will happen, only that now it may, which I find personally frightening enough, and something that should be completely impossible in any real democracy.)

Also by way of introduction: As it happened (around 1979/1980, in my case, for the most part, namely when a good friend bought an Apple II) I always disliked Steve Jobs, while I liked and admired Steve Wozniak, who seemed and seems to me the big man behind Apple: He built it; Jobs sold it. [1]

This starts as follows:

Privacy advocate and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak considers NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be a "total hero" and laments a missed opportunity to build more privacy protections into modern computer operating systems, according to a recent interview.

Asked about Snowden in an interview with the Middle East technology website published late last week, "Woz" said: "Total hero to me; total hero. Not necessarily [for] what he exposed, but the fact that he internally came from his own heart, his own belief in the United States Constitution, what democracy and freedom was about. And now a federal judge has said that NSA data collection was unconstitutional."

There is more under the last dotted link. And I like it that a man like Steve Wozniak strongly supports Edward Snowden.

2. Julian Assange on the TPP, NSA Spying, and his Own Ambiguous Future

The next item today... well, here there was a considerable problem, that I explain in a minute after providing five links to files with video and texts on Democracy Now!:
The problem I had with these is that these files (without text: only the videos) are or were also available on both Truthdig and on Common Dreams, but in spite of having a lot of experience with computers, programming and NoScript (that blocks Javascript, which is quite OK with me, and unblocks it in various ways on command, which also is sometimes OK with me), I could not get any of the above, neither on Truthdig nor on Common Dreams (where they are all listed).

I do not know what is the cause of the problem (and usually Noscript works unproblematically for me). What I did do was assemble the links to Democracy Now! on which I also cannot get the videos to play, but that has at least the texts - except that these cannot be quoted as most texts can, because screengrabbing doesn't work, which is the case since years now, and is a setting made by the owners of Democacy Now!

So for the moment, all you get is five links to interviews with Julian Assange that were recently made by Amy Goodman in London. I think they are interesting, but having had considerable problems to get the above,
I do not have time to comment today.

3.  On Patriot Act Renewal and USA Freedom Act: Glenn Greenwald Talks With ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer 
The next item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

Even in the security-über alles climate that followed 9/11, the Patriot Act was recognized as an extreme and radical expansion of government surveillance powers. That’s why “sunset provisions” were attached to several of its key provisions: meaning they would expire automatically unless Congress renewed them every five years. But in 2005 and then again in 2010, the Bush and Obama administrations demanded their renewal, and Congress overwhelmingly complied with only token opposition from civil libertarians.

That has all changed in the post-Snowden era. The most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act are scheduled to “sunset” on June 1, and there is almost no chance for a straight-up, reform-free authorization. The Obama White House has endorsed the so-called “reform” bill called the USA Freedom Act, which passed the House by an overwhelming majority. Yet the bill fell three votes short in the Senate last week, rendering it very unclear what will happen as the deadline rapidly approaches.

In fact, this is mostly a fairly long interview that Glenn Greenwald had with Jameel Jaffer, who is the ACLU's Deputy Legal Director, that tries to clarify the present position in the Senate (and the House) with regards to the Patriot Act, the Freedom Act, and spying on the American and world populations.

I quote some bits, all by Jameel Jaffer, and do so to clarify these matters (in so far as possible: there is a lot only very few know because it is secret and classified).

These are nearly all bits from much longer answers, so if you want to know the proper context, you'll have to click the last dotted link.

To start with, here is Jaffer's summary of the present situation:

JAFFER: Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which was enacted in 2001, gave the government broad surveillance power, but also had language that said the law would disappear unless Congress reauthorized it periodically. And the sunset is scheduled to take place on June 1; in other words, the law – Section 215 – is going to disappear. Two other provisions too, but Section 215 is the most controversial of them. That law is going to disappear on June 1 unless Congress re-authorizes it. That’s why we find ourselves in the situation we find ourselves in now.
And here is Jaffer on the background of how these laws were adopted in the first place:

JAFFER: (...) Right after 9/11, there was a demand on the part of the intelligence community for more power. In fact, they’d been asking for some of these powers even before 9/11, but in the wake of 9/11, there was the opportunity to ask once more for powers that had been rejected in the past. And nobody really knew what these powers meant, in part because the surveillance laws are very complicated.

(...) So really what happened was that the intelligence community proposed these powers, and most legislators declined to ask questions.

Which is not how laws should be approved, to say the least. And here is Jaffer's summary of the ACLU's position:
JAFFER: Our position from the beginning has been very bureaucratic sounding: “We take no position. We are neither in support nor in opposition to the USA Freedom Act.” But between USA Freedom as it’s drafted right now and sunset, our preference is sunset.
In fact, this situation is mostly due to the fact that earlier proposed new legislation, that was supported by the ACLU, was voted down, whereas the ACLU
is an opponent of Mitch McConnell's new law that seeks to continue spying as before (the Patriot Act, new version), while it also is not much in favor of the Freedom Act. (And both laws have very propagandistic names, that were chosen to mislead.)

Here is Jaffer on the laws (in this case):
JAFFER:  The laws are abstract, and they’re malleable, and especially when they are interpreted in secret, it’s relatively easy for an executive agency to read them to mean one thing when the world thinks they mean something else. And so you need to have multiple safeguards.
Finally, here is Jaffer on the debt Americans and the world owes to Edward Snowden:

JAFFER: I think that we owe Snowden a huge debt, collectively. We really owe him a huge debt. Because this kind of stuff was kept secret for almost fifteen years. Behind closed doors, these powers got broader and broader. The government learned to use them in new ways, and more and more intrusive ways. The checks and balances that were meant to limit those activities failed, one after another.

And all of that would just have continued, but for Snowden’s courage. So I think we owe him a huge debt, and I think it’s a travesty that he is stuck in Russia. He ought to be here, but there’s no reason he should be here behind bars. So I hope that debate goes in the way that you speculate it might.

Yes, indeed. Note there is considerably more in the original, which is recommended.

4. 20 Big Ideas From Bernie Sanders to Reverse Inequality, Expand Safety Nets and Stop America's Plutocrats

The final item today is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:
This starts as follows - and please note that each of the proposals comes with text by Sen. Bernie Sanders, that I suppressed in this report:
On Tuesday, Vermont Independent Sen. Bernard Sanders gave a major speech in Burlington, Vemont, where his political career began three decades ago when he was elected mayor of his state’s largest city. Sanders, who is seeking the 2016 Democratic nomination for president, described 20 ideas that will be the hallmarks of his campaign.

1. Time for big thinking and new ideas
2. America’s problems are worse than ever
3. Economic inequality is the top issue
4. The middle class is being destroyed
5. Poverty is worse than is acknowledged
6. The country needs a real jobs program
7. Raise the minimum wage and fight for living wages
8. Close the pay equity gap for women
9. Provide basic government healthcare for all
10. Expand Social Security and other safety nets
11. College and universities must be free
12. The rich must pay fair taxes
13. Break up the largest financial institutions
14. No more bad international trade agreements
15. Move away from carbon-based energy
16. Climate change must be addressed
17. The US must not fight endless wars
18. Americans can’t afford to be apathetic
19. Democracy reform starts with the plutocrats
20. The Supreme Court must be changed
As I said above, each proposal comes with - clear and good - texts by Sen. Bernie Sanders, and indeed I agree with all points, including this one:
3. Economic inequality is the top issue
For no, the climate is important, but it is not the main issue, and especially not in presidential elections.

Anyway, this is another recommended article: it does give a good survey of Sanders' positions.

[1] Here there also are stories I could tell that I mostly repress except for the following:

I learned to program some Algol in 1973 on a mainframe, but soon gave up because I thought it far too commercial and not interesting enough. Around 1980 a good friend bought several computers (he had money, I hadn't) of which the Apple II was by far the best, and mostly because it had Applebasic, that could be programmed and processed quite easily, even though the results had to be stored on cassettedeck tapes. He and I programmed in Basic, but since it was his computer, he could do far more. By 1987, I had a girlfriend who had a father who was a middle manager at Philiips, and he had an Osborne computer since 1982, with which he succeeded doing very little. Once this got working, in the autumn of 1987, I started daily computing, although I soon switched in the beginning of 1988 to a Philips desktop, that had all of 256 Kb working memory (4 times that of the Osborne) and worked on DOS 2.1 I think. Since then I have been computing every day.

So my guess is that I belong to the first 10.000 or so Dutchmen who had a PC (originally an Osborne). I take no pride in this at all but I do have a fair amount
of computing experience.
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